Tag Archives: Muskingham County Farm


There could be no greater dis-recommendation for Democracy, and this Internet place, than the documentary about all the little critics on Trip Advisor. Perhaps being bullied at school brings out those gloopy figures, fighting back late in life, so we should teach our kids to fight harder, and earlier on. Perhaps the Internet glories in all the awful voices, but Bukowski was right, ‘there’s enough hate in the average man to destroy you’. William Hague has just advised, at this London Cyber Conference, on the world threat of Internet attacks, but he forgot the enemies within. It’s not that the small hotel review service does not have some useful function, it is the glee with which some self-appointed, self-aggrandizing critics seem to go about it all, and with very little right of come back. At least when it used to be about professional Newspaper Reviews, those little establishments mostly got ignored, or if you wanted to play in a big kitchen, you had no right not to expect the heat. Now anything can be splashed over the net and stay there, written often before the semi-detached flick knifers have even left, while people seem to expect the Ritz at the price of a Camper van. With it goes all that little England indignation about rights and freedoms and the rest. Sure, but go and do something more inspiring with existence.

We think most of the critics should be fed to the ‘exotic’ animals on Louis Theroux’s journey into the half wilds of middle America. It is a pity the documentary could not have added some note about The Muskingham County Farm tragedy, last week, because that lay at the other end of the explosion of private owners – majestic, meant-to-be-wild animals, lying dead in the American mud. Theroux’s big-girl’s-blouse whimsy though got a little irritating, because for a programme like that you need someone who really loves or understands animals, to roll up their sleeves, get in the cages and see if it is all right or wrong. Theroux does not like them at all. Of course, the animal Theroux really studies is the Human one and a weirder bunch of primates you could not have encountered this side of Regent’s Park. Not that that put us necessarily on the side of the critics snarling at animal cruelty either, because at least some of those eccentrics do glory in animals. What they mostly do not like is people, and if they’ve been watching the Trip Advisor show, how could you blame them?

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Filed under America and the UK, Culture, Environment


Forgive us for saying it, but there seems something surreal and so tragically middle American about the scenes from Muskingham County Farm in Ohio. Terry Tompson shot himself, probably releasing his own animals, and so began a town lock down in Zanesville, and the shooting of 49 out of 56 ‘exotic’ creatures, including 18 tigers, lions, cheetahs and leopards. To see their bodies lying there in the mud, not denying some vital defence in responding to the immediate danger to people, is rather tragic. Somehow symbolic of how we have lost touch so incredibly badly.

There was something in that American ‘right’ to big pets, or to big guns, the official gun response too, that seems to us to have resulted in the whole thing. There is a clear personal tragedy there, or madness, but how did it go so unregulated, and was it impossible more animals might have been darted instead? Perhaps that is unfair, but the big voiced official response, ‘people above all else’, almost a cowboy response, may be what defines us, but is also not particularly inspiring either.

Talking of cowboys, how had Terry Tompson so stepped beyond the ‘normal’ himself? The man had been in prison, lost his wife, but what he was trying to do with those creatures in Ohio and who else was involved? It speaks of isolation and a failure to bridge the gulf between the wild and the human. But there is some great blandishment also involved and for us it relates to culture and especially the catch all, that catches nothing, in that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which had investigated him, that is so bleak too, really. It is that classic American dilemma as well, when faced with its own visceral, deeply instinctive sense of frontier still, the ‘right’ to the ‘wild’, in both defence and longing. But this was not wild Ohio, or man in harmony with his own biosphere, but the ‘exotic’ relocated with a sense of the big, wild west. So lions, leopards and tigers, endangered, and wildly out of their real habit, lie dead in the American mud, next to bears, monkeys and wolves. A monkey with Herpes is still on the loose! Human madness and sadness is as big as the potential nastiness in wild nature, except we think about it, and it is part of our own agony, both to be free and instinctive ourselves, and to understand and protect. “Tiger, Tiger, burning bright, in the forest of the night, what immortal hand or eye can frame thy fearful symmetry?‘ But of course, in Blake’s poem, the symmetry is all of nature’s, and most especially man’s.

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Filed under Environment, Uncategorized