Is there a rat in the cat?

Is it time to "call the whole thing off" because Theo Van Gogh filmed kittens being mangled to death in a washing machine, and further because he thought that was funny?

I'm having a bit of trouble with this logic, which derives from the following assertion by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph:

A shrill provocateur, Mr van Gogh was not to everybody's taste. He once filmed kittens being mangled to death in a washing machine, which he thought was hilarious.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

OK, I Googled and Googled, and I still haven't been able to locate the mangled cat link. And, much as I am appalled by cruelty to animals of any sort, I don't think two wrongs (mangled cats plus Islamic assassination) make a right. Nor do I see how three wrongs ("calling the whole thing off") improves the situation.

I have to say that I wasn't especially reassured by some of the comments at the credited link to the Telegraph piece either. Like these:

  • Reply 23 - Posted by: Talk2, 12/11/2004 6:02:38 AM

    ....Liberalism has given the Dutch an army of unionized homosexuals and pretend soldiers. Liberalism has given the Dutch rampant drug use and an immigrant population which can refuse to learn the language or customs and culture of the country. Liberalism has provided the skids upon which the Dutch now find themselves.

    The rest of Europe as well as the USA had better wake up to the long term evils of liberalism.

  • Reply 27 - Posted by: LetGeorge1, 12/11/2004 7:51:31 AM

    We have over 600,000 illegal aliens in jails and prisons all across the US. Once these people become US citizens there will be welfare and other programs for them paid for by US hardworking citizens. I don't think we are too far behind Europe in this country being taken over by foreigners. Activist judges that block every attempt by concerned citizens,the ACLU, which stands for AntiAmericans Communist Liberals United, and foreign organizations that operate here are destroying this country.
    So Americans shouldn't feel too smug when they read such stories as this one.

  • Smugness is hardly what I felt. I'm just trying to figure out whether Van Gogh mangled cats, and the logical connections of stuff like "an army of unionized homosexuals", America's aliens and the ACLU.

    Islamofascism is hardly a friend to homosexuals, regardless of whether "unionized" in an "army" or not. The ACLU, in my opinion, needs to be infiltrated and taken over by Second Amendment supporters, but whether it is "destroying this country" is at least debatable. As to our aliens, well, they're mostly Catholic, and Western. (Not much different than the immigrants who upset so many people in the 19th Century.)

    But I want to return to the assertion about the mangled cats. A cat would probably drown in a washing machine, but it would not be mangled. That bit of hyperbole makes me wonder whether there might be a bit more hyperbole. Hyperbole is not helpful in assessing very serious matters like this.

    Normally, this wouldn't have bothered me, but I've been reading too many reports about "homeless Iraq War veterans."

    Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition, a consortium of community-based homeless-veteran service providers. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, according to the coalition.

    Some homeless-veteran advocates fear that similar combat experiences in Vietnam and Iraq mean that these first few homeless veterans from Iraq are the crest of a wave.

    "This is what happened with the Vietnam vets. I went to Vietnam," said John Keaveney, chief operating officer of New Directions, a shelter and drug-and-alcohol treatment program for veterans in Los Angeles. That city has an estimated 27,000 homeless veterans, the largest such population in the nation. "It is like watching history being repeated," Keaveney said.

    Is history being repeated? Are we really being inundated with homeless Iraq War vets? Or are the stories as phony as the innumerable tearjerkers about homeless Vietnam war vets? I'm reminded of the crack baby/child molesting crazes of the 1980s. . . The Pulitzer Prize winning story about Jimmy the child heroin addict. . .

    Who checks these things, and why are statements of reporters treated as facts?

    Here's a typical story of the sort I tend to distrust:

    Veteran Glenn Hubbard lives in a culvert behind the trailer. Frank’s girlfriend, Mary, lives in the trailer.....

    Staying in a nearby concrete culvert about four feet high is Hubbard, 50, who said he spent 16 years in the service, including hitches in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

    He said he was injured in the service and was honorably discharged in 1987. He spent 18 months at the domiciliary.

    "But they are pretty much phasing out long-term treatment over there so here I am," he said.

    Several empty bottles of Magnum 40 stand near his culvert.

    "I got a couple of sleeping bags in there and collect empty bottles and cans," Hubbard said. "I pretty much eat just canned goods."

    He goes to the Medford Gospel Mission a couple of times a week to check his mail.

    "I just try not to get in a rut," said Hubbard, who is an outpatient at the domiciliary.

    Army, Navy, AND Marine Corps? Might be possible, but it doesn't pass my smell test. Yet there's no way to verify it; we just have to take at his word the reporter who took this "Glenn Hubbard" at his word. (Just like we have to take the word of this one too.)

    Yet the largely unreported stories of fake Vietnam War veterans are so legion as to not require serious discussion. There are web sites devoted to debunking them. But nevertheless, every large city has a bureaucracy of dupes waiting to take them at their word, pander to their lies, and and make the rest of us feel guilty.

    None of this is to suggest that the story of cats mangled in the washer is not true. It's just that I wonder how many poorly documented stories are planted and thrive in the hungry minds of readers who want to read stories confirming what they want to believe. Not that there's anything wrong with finding confirmation of what you want to believe. But isn't it a good idea to confirm the "confirming" story?

    MORE: A commenter at sisu has more on the cat story:

    I found two articles on the kittens thing. One said the scene was faked, the other said it was real. For whatever it's worth, the scene was not "because Van Gogh thought it was hilarious" but involved a woman who was kidnapped and the kidnappers killed her cats. It doesn't sound like the kind of scene that would "require" real kittens.
    No, it wouldn't require real kittens. The mangling is what strikes me as odd. Kittens have supposedly been accidentally thrown in washing machines and survived. (And yes, that is what I want to believe, so I can't vouch for its accuracy any more than the accuracy of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard!)

    More on Milo the kitty from the BBC.


    I'm more curious than I am critical. I know, I know, curiosity can kill. I'd rather avoid, er, critical condition.

    UPDATE: Link to Jimmy story added; grammatical and spelling errors fixed per my usual twenty minute editing deadline. (God, how my tired eyes would love true WYSIWYG editing capability.)

    MORE: A group connected with Van Gogh's assassin has been implicated in a plot to attack Amsterdam's red light district:

    Muslim extremists, the paper said, were allegedly furious at the lack of morals in the prostitution zone.

    Justice authorities took the tips very seriously and arrested the pizza deliverer at the Nasr mosque in the Celebesstraat in Amsterdam East. The man has been identified as a 20-year-old Amsterdam resident of Moroccan descent, Bilal L., alias Abu Qataadah.

    L. was allegedly in contact with Syrian Redouan al-Issa, the fugitive leader of the terror network Hofstadgroep (Main City Group). The Syrian was an illegal immigrant in the Netherlands and gave Koran lessons in the home of Mohammed B., the suspected murderer of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. B. is also a member of the Main City Group.

    Kitties aside, I'm glad Dutch authorities aren't pussyfooting around with these people.

    And what's with the targeting of sex? I just wish there weren't a lingering aroma of divide and conquer in all of this . . .

    MORE: My concern is that the Islamofascists are smart enough to exploit the tendency of people to commit logical errors like this:

  • A. The Netherlands has legal drugs and prostitution;
  • B. Amsterdam's red light district was attacked, and therefore;
  • C. Drugs and prostitution were the cause of the attacks.
  • By attacking red light districts and other sinful places, Islamists are deliberately encouraging moral conservatives (who naturally do not want to be in a position of defending red light districts or legal drugs) to acknowledge their moral authority, in classic divide-and-conquer fashion.

    I am not arguing that moral conservatives should suddenly favor red light districts or drugs; only that it be kept in mind that they are part of the strategy and not the reason for the attacks. To grant the attackers moral high ground when these things happen is almost like saying a woman deserved rape for wearing a miniskirt. (In fact, the attackers do not distinguish between promiscuous sex and the wearing of miniskirts. Similarly, licensing women to sell their bodies is as acceptable to Islamists as allowing them to enter male professions.)

    I may sound paranoid, but I have a long memory about September 11, and some of the things I'm reading now about the Netherlands remind me of statements like this:

    I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
    As I've said before, the Blame America crowd is not limited to one side of what passes for a political spectrum.

    AND MORE: Is what we call the "Culture War" a modern vestige of ancient, poorly understood (but long-simmering) war between spirituality and sex? Might it never have been necessary in the first place? Newer readers who are interested might enjoy a long essay I wrote over a year ago, titled "Before the Fall."

    UPDATE (Sunday, December 12): Another inaccuracy in the Evans-Pritchard piece was noted by "Kozinski" in a comment to sisu's post:

    Pim Fortuyn was the Netherland's first political assassination since 1584? Tell that to the De Witt brothers, who ruled Holland in the 17th century. John and Corneilius were literally torn apart by a frenzied mob in 1672 when their policy of appeasment towards France resulted in an uprovoked invasian by Louis XIV.

    22 year old William of Orange (later Englands's William III) then took control, opened the dykes, and drove the French out. It helps to be reminded that the Dutch used to be made of sterner stuff.

    Excellent point, and excellent research. (And, er, not to quibble, but I thought it was politically incorrect to say "dykes.") William of Orange. Now there's a guy who's historically and politically complicated.

    MORE: Out of idle curiosity, I did a little more research on Mr. Evans-Pritchard's statement that Pim Fortuyn's killing was "the country's first political assassination since 1584." As Kozinski already proved, Evans-Pritchard either ignored older history or failed to do any research. I might be able to forgive a reporter for not being well-versed in the William of Orange period, but what about a political assassination carried out by terrorists in 1979?

    1979: British ambassador assassinated in Holland
    British ambassador in Holland Sir Richard Sykes has been shot dead outside his Dutch home.

    Two gunmen opened fire on Sir Richard and his Dutch footman as they left his residence at The Hague to make the short five minute car journey to the embassy.

    1979 was not all that long ago. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is, I believe, British.

    What's up with this guy? Is he a reporter or some sort of hatchet man? I don't think it's necessary to spend any more time refuting his assertions to prove my point, which is simply that assertions by reporters should be viewed no differently than assertions by anyone else, anywhere else. The mere fact of publication does nothing to render an assertion true, nor does it matter how many people are gullible enough to believe it.

    Ditto for Eric Boehlert at

    Once again, thank God for the blogosphere.

    posted by Eric on 12.11.04 at 10:55 AM


    >>>Nor do I see how three wrongs ("calling the whole thing off") improves the situation.

    I believe you've missed the point of that sentence... it's a jokey reference to an old song. Surely you've heard of it... You say to-MAY-to, I say to-MAH-to, let's call the whole thing off? Doesn't ring a bell? I would have thought that every English-speaking person on the planet had heard of that song, but apparently not.

    Anyway, my point is that the author was not suggesting that anything be called off. He was merely referencing an old song.

    Ron Moses   ·  December 11, 2004 12:50 PM

    And what's with the targeting of sex?

    Islamism is extremely gynophobic .. the males truly fear female sexuality and its power over them ... indeed, a fleeting glimpse of female hair has to be avoided.

    Notice the difference between that and Christian extremists that would protest a Red-light district. Islamists primarily worry about the effect on men (and thus, have no problem with blowing up the offending females), Christians primarily worry about the effect on the women (thus would close down the places through protest and legislation).

    Darleen   ·  December 11, 2004 1:34 PM

    "Muslim extremists, the paper said, were allegedly furious at the lack of morals in the prostitution zone."


    Why would anybody expect morals in a prostitution zone?

    Um, and well, I confess the "Cat in the Mat" strikes me as pretty funny.

    Anthony   ·  December 11, 2004 2:15 PM

    My main concern is: will the homeless Iraqui vets get here before the killer bees arrive? Protective bee suits will be a priority, regardless, hence let's get to work before its too late. You can send your donation to....

    I, frankly, don't care about the homeless. You can't really tell who they are anyway. And special schools for homeless children already exist, because they certainly can't go to just regular ones, mainstreaming being out of the question for these sad waifs. Busses travelling routes from under bridges and over culverts pick them up daily, and deliver them happy, back.

    The rest of the homeless either won't come out, or are living in apartments, but, tragically, have no homes or are living with someone else, thus having no homes, in which case "tragically" loses meaning for me, mean spirited as I am.

    I'm nearly tempted to get on down to the food kitchens myself for some free grub. The free summer food programs at the park fattened me up for winter, but I seem to have lost a few pounds of insulation since.

    J. Peden   ·  December 11, 2004 3:04 PM

    "Why would anybody expect morals in a prostitution zone?"
    I was thinking that myself. Though I must say that prostitutes are honest about what they do, and so to that degree at least, they are moral. More so than most politicians.

    Loving the children of Bast as much as I do, I was mad about what was done to the cats, and it would have to that degree reduced my respect for Theo Van Gogh. But I see it turns out to be another smear, a distortion of the facts. Obviously, he is hated because he dared to take a Politically Incorrect stand in defense of women's rights, as did Pim Fortuyn.

    Darleen is right about the differing attitudes toward women. It's something I've been thinking about for some time: Both Islam and the West (like all or nearly all societies throughout history) are or have been patriarchal, male-dominated (Transcendental Science?). The difference is in the kind of men who dominate. In Islam, the men are gynophobic or misogynist, while Western men tend to be gynophilic and chivalrous.

    Not all Muslims are like that. Dean Esmay (a true liberal) has managed to find a few liberal Muslims such as the Turks who abhor terrorism and totalitarianism. But the radical, totalitarian Muslims seem to be the dominant element in Islam today. It's as if contemporary Christianity was under the sway of the Christian Reconstructionists. Here's something that gets a burr up my behind:

    The radical Muslims have been deftly using the modern West's biggest weakness, Political Correctness, against us. Out of one side of their mouths, they scream "imperialist!" and "how dare you impose your Western values on our Muslim countries!" And yet they swarm into our Western countries and demand the right to impose their values on us, including through terror, and scream "bigot! xenophobe!" when we object.

    I have had it with such hypocrisy.

    People will flail about for any excuse for the murder and mutilation of any victim of fascism. It is much less scary to blame an oddball (deceased) film-maker than condemn the folks who responsible for his death. We saw the same sort of fabrications levelled at Pym Fortuyn. And, for that matter, Matthew Shepard, Martin Luther King Jr., every Jew murdered in WWII, etc. and so forth.

    I do not need to know anything about cats in washing machines to know Theo van Gogh had all sorts of offensive nonsense to say. The repulsive thing is that the very people who rushed to give him arts grants and award his films are now eager to justify his murder. And as for anything the "religious" right has to say on this subject, prostitution, or any other I find I care less and less.

    Flea   ·  December 11, 2004 5:21 PM

    How dismal!
    Everybody knows you're supposed to tie kitties up in a sack and toss them in a river.


    Van Gogh is a rube 'cuz he never painted the BVM with elephant doody.

    urthshu   ·  December 11, 2004 8:50 PM

    Killing a cat is punished by death! HAIL TO THE PHARAOH!!!!

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