15 Oct 2006

Panic in Northern Minnesota

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Koochiching County (population 13,907) is located at the center of the northern end of Minnesota, bordering the wilderness of Northern Ontario. Its principal claim to fame is probably that county’s leading metropolis International Falls (population 6703) having been fictionalized in 1959 on television as “Frostbite Falls,” home of cartoon characters Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Indus Elementary & Secondary School, located 30 miles west of International Falls, has 194 pupils (79 elementary – 115 secondary) attending grades K through 12 from families residing in western Koochiching County.

I mention all this just to make clear the rural character of the setting of today’s headline news item.

The Associated Press yesterday evening ran the alarming headline: Principal quits after shooting kittens at school, followed by this lead:

A school principal has resigned and could face felony firearm charges after he shot and killed two orphaned kittens on school property last month.

That sounds absolutely terrible, of course. But the reality was rather different.

Principal Wade Pilloud, who resided weekdays in a mobile home on school property, had placed one or more traps underneath the trailer “to catch pests,” WCCO‘s version of the story reports.

Since the trap was large enough to kill an adult cat, Principal Pillaud was almost certainly using a conibear trap, rather than a leghold trap. Conibear traps are designed to kill the animal. A conibear trap large enough to kill a cat would have to have been set for something larger than a rat or a squirrel. Chances are that a skunk took up residence under Mr. Pillaud’s trailer, and he was taking action to remove a rather drastic problem.

Unfortunately, Mr. Pillaud discovered he had trapped a (presumably feral) female cat, whose death left orphaned a pair of young kittens. A cat-owner himself, Mr. Pillaud did not want the kittens to starve to death; so, after school, one night last month when all this happened, he took his shotgun, and “put them out of their misery,” as people say in the country.

But several children on the schoolgrounds for after hours activities heard the shooting, and went home and told their parents all about it.

This being the day and age it is, even in rural Northern Minnesota, you have nincompoops.

There were parents who felt, apparently some rather strongly, that there were concerns about the safety of their children,” said Joseph Flynn, an attorney for the South Koochiching/Rainy River School District. “The district’s position is that safety was not compromised.”

John Mastin, acting sheriff in Koochiching County, said Pilloud could be charged with felony possession of a firearm on school property and reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor.

County Attorney Jennifer Hasbargen said Friday that the case was under review.

Mastin said the shooting put no one in danger but said Pilloud used “poor discretion and poor timing,” especially amid the growing fear of gun violence in schools.

The district put Pilloud on administrative leave after the incident. Flynn said Pilloud agreed to an undisclosed settlement and resigned.

This type of incident demonstrates that nowhere in America is non-suburban enough today to assure the safety of gun-owners from the ritualized hoplophobia of journalists, politicians, and anti-weapons bigots. The NRA and other gun rights litigation centers need to intervene and contest every such case of the marginalizing of gun ownership and the stigmatization of the legitimate use of firearms. Otherwise, ultimately, a gun ban British and Australian-style is inevitable.

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Bird Dog

Hoplophobia. A growing crisis in mental health, requiring thousands of (unionized)govt. employees and programs to effectively deal with this scourge.

Dominique R. Poirier

I spent most of my childhood in Creuse, the reputedly most rural and poorest French countryside, and my family and I love cats, like many other people do. In this region, I often used to see what this school principal did; not for the same accidental reasons in that case, but just because cats use to reproduce really like rabbits do, and because there is no reasonable and arguable ground either to feel compelled to feed all those domestic animals or to get them becoming wild animals.

So, usually, most farmers and inhabitants of this region kill kitten as soon as they are born. Sadly enough, it looks like there is no elegant way to do the dirty task. In most instances, some people put them in a canvas bag weighted down with a stone before they threw the whole thing in a river where the kittens drown within a minute (kitten are able to swim as soon as the very day of their birth). Some others throw the kittens against a wall so that they die instantly. It happened sometimes I had to do the dirty task and I found it very painful and saddening; and I even cried sometimes. I never heard of someone doing the sad task with a gun, but I assume, it happens. Veterinarians can sterilize female cats, but in an area where people scarcely make their living, it is too expensive. Beside, that’s the way people use since forgotten times over there.

I don’t think so people living in some isolated French rural areas are much different of their American counterparts. Because they live in a much more isolated fashion than townfolks, they are just less exposed to the tide of left-leaning, tree-hugger, and “universalistic”, and so on propaganda raging in France.

So, my point, which some, doubtless, will find disputable, is that this school principal acted in a typical and very common manner, which is in no way disputable. Doubtless, the man has been as embarrassed as I was when he had to choose the “best” way to end the life of the kitten.
He certainly couldn’t imagine he would be sacrificed as example on the altar of zealous observance to obscure ready-to-consume political correctness for that. I find this case is somehow quite similar to this of the English schoolgirl who got into trouble because she had complained of being placed in a study group with five Urdu-speakers with whom she could not communicate (see: British Schoolgirl Arrested for “Racism” in this same weblog). But the peculiarity one may find in that case is that some self-deluded folks have shrewdly seen in it a chance to demonstrate how able they are to howl louder than the wolves do.

Meanwhile, it didn’t prove to be of any good for the kittens, and it certainly wrecked the life of a school principal somewhere in Northern Minnesota. Such a deed of valor! Such nice demonstration of dedicated patriotism!


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