Friday, February 1, 2008

Moral Dilemma

Scalzi, from his home at Whatever, asks:

Your question for the day:

1. A pristine “first state” copy of The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today, featuring the infamous “Butcher Cover.”

2. Your adorable, preciously fluffy kitten.

A fire, in your house, spreading so quickly you can save only one of the above.


OK.  Obviously my cat.  But I skimmed through the first 50 or so comments, and I don't think any of them came upon the reason why.

Oddly, I don't think any of them came upon the reason why not, either, as most immediately replaced replaced the Beatles' album with its cash equivalent of roughly $40,000.  The question isn't about kitty versus forty grand.  The question is about kitty versus a largely irreplaceable item of pop culture history.  At least, though, Scalzi didn't make it a truly irreplaceable item -- like, say, the original photograph that ultimately became the album cover.  Ignoring the increase in cash value that would go along with that, the issue would them become whether you would have some sort of responsibility to the ages to save said irreplaceable item of pop cultural significance.

Which leads right in to why I'd save the cat.  Responsibility.  The question isn't Rare Beatles Album versus a fluffy kitten, the question is Rare Beatles Album versus your fluffy kitten.  And while there is definitely some part of me that feels awfully sad whenever any fluffy kittens perish in a fire, I don't owe said kittens anything.  My kitten is my kitten.  When I took her home, that came with a commitment to feed her, give her shelter, try not to lock her in the closet (oops), take her to the vet to keep her healthy, and save her from burning buildings when she can't save herself (and there's no danger to me).

Is my cat worth $40,000?  Offer me $40,000 for her and find out.  As long as I'd be sure she's going to a good home, I'll take the cash.  But that's not really the question.  The question is: would I let my cat die a horrible death, when I easily could have saved her, in order to save a thing?  That answer is no.  My own self-respect can't be bought.


rdautumnsage said...

Too easy for me to answer...Material possessions can be replaced. ( No matter how rare, you will find something else just as meaningful to replace it...) A life however can never be replaced. Even the mere life of a small tiny kitten...(Hugs) Indigo

amourscow said...

Bang on reply.  The whole question was like some kind of low-rent Voight-Kampff test: which is worth more to you, the horrible pain and death of a living creature for whom you've accepted responsibility, or a LP cover (albeit a valuable and rare one)?  I suspect the only reasons anyone answered "album cover" were either trying to be funny or the question was overly abstract.  When you think about the horror of something you care for <i>dying in a fire</i> the question should become meaningless.

pamal3 said...

My answer? I didn't have to give it a second thought. The kitten would be saved. As a cat lover I tried not to be objective and to at least try and understand the other answers. I didn't get it!. Saving an object replaceable or not with a life? could never be an option for me personally. I agree with almost everything you wrote at the end about the cat being yours your responsibility, except, If I was offered £1 million for just one of my cats, The answer would be a definate no. A lot of people might find that bizarre but hand on heart that would be my answer. They are part of my family and will remain so until the day they die. Love Pam xx