November 13 News: Is Bestiality a Crime?…buggery with a mare, a cow, two goats, divers sheep, two calves and a turkey
Lecture addresses nature of bestiality
The word, even if viewable for only a split second, evokes thoughts and sentiments unlike most of the other words in the English language. The topic, some feel so far removed from, while some dedicate countless hours studying. Bestiality is the subject. The word itself has a strongly negative connotation.
Piers Beirne’s speech entitled, “Is Bestiality a Crime?” nearly filled the Lindsay Young Auditorium in Hodges Library on Monday.
Beirne serves as a professor of criminology at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine. Beirne’s speech detailed his journey in criminology to eventually lead to what he does not call bestiality; rather, he calls such implied actions as “animal sexual abuse.”
He explained his eventual landing in this type of criminology was because of the intellectual outgrowth of his work, his everyday interactions with animals and his teaching. He noted two particular works involving animal sexual abuse: “Of Plymouth Plantation” and “Barnyard Love.”
In the first work mentioned, William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Plantation in 1642, described the conviction of Thomas Granger for “buggery with a mare, a cow, two goats, divers sheep, two calves and a turkey.” The second work is a German film that displays various sexual acts with human males and females, between cows, horses, dogs, hens and eels.
“The large quadrupeds, such as cows, were seemingly indifferent … while the medium-sized animals, such as dogs, seemed to energetically enjoy the attention given by the human females,” Beirne said.
Beirne then confronted four different questions about bestiality: “What is it? How much of it is there? What are its forms? Is it wrong?”
He explained that, although the actual origins and definitions have varied over the years, bestiality’s contemporary definition “denotes sexual relations between humans and animals — being anal, oral or genital.”
He confronted the problems surrounding young, innocent children and the collection of semen from farm animals for profit.
Beirne explained that knowing the amounts of bestiality is hard to determine, because “one of the partners involved can’t report the abuse.”
Furthermore, he said, as animals have been more removed from rural areas and because pets have been introduced into homes, “most forms of animal sexual abuse are at the home with companion animals, probably.”
As he progressed down the road of this specific type of criminal activity, he created a typology for animal sexual abuse. Beirne’s four forms of animal sexual abuse are: zoophilia, adolescent sexual experimentation, aggravated cruelty and commodification.
He notes that zoophilia is “someone whose preferred partner is an animal.” Adolescent sexual experimentation is defined in its own naming.
Aggravated cruelty to animals typically takes place in the form of genital mutilation and other types of cruel behavior.
Lastly, the commodification of animal sexual abuse is where money is made and paid for people to perform sexual act on animals. Beirne cited Tijuana, Mexico, as a place containing various establishments.
Beirne also presented three ways to take care of the sexual animal abuse problems, but he felt that only one of them would work for contemporary times.
He said that “compulsory humane education starting at kindergarten” would be problematic because the curriculum is often “business based” rather than focusing on humane treatment of animals. Changing this would be hard to do in a society that has a strong focus on finances.
Restorative justice would not work because “nobody would represent the animals” and the animals would have a very hard time testifying against human perpetrators.
Lastly, Beirne said criminalization is the only temporary fix right now. Even though the jails are overcrowded, Beirne said this seems to be the best option.
This topic is not something that is easily talked about, but many UT students found the lecture intriguing.
“I thought it was really interesting, very eye opening and something that needs to be talked about more,” Rhiannon Leebrick, a graduate in sociology, said.