The Deer Who Was

White Tailed Deer

By Risa M. Mandell

A white-tailed buck temporarily took up residence in Harlem in mid-December, to the delight of his human neighbors. The buck ultimately died in custody, reportedly due to stress.

Initially, the deer was acted upon as a cipher for the antipathy between the mayor and the governor, without regard to his own right to exist and his assumed desire to live, and to live freely in an unrestricted, natural setting. Indeed, a Dec. 16th article in the New York Times states, “The life of one white-tailed deer is not normally something the state values highly.” Note how we use the same word, “deer,” to denote a single deer and the plural of the species, as we do with fish, as though to deny the unique individuality of each embodied being. Some have begun to use “fishes” to denote the species. Perhaps the same, “deers,” could be used in this way as well, so that “deer” would consistently refer to an individual deer.

Among all the agencies involved, not one specifically represented the animal’s assumed desire, although NY state’s conservation department seems to have held the buck’s best interest (to live, and to live freely). The truer subtext is disclosed in the Dec. 16th New York Times article, “. . . what should be done with him.” In other words, to him, without his consent. A state biologist used the phrase, “bottom line,” to denote the available choices of what should be done with the buck. “Bottom line” is a financial term—in our monetized society such figures of speech are now appropriated to living beings.

A lack of will and imagination seems to have been at play. With all the movies being shot in NY, couldn’t a production crew come forward or was none asked for ideas, such as, disguising a truck and tricking the buck to walk up the ramp, then drive him to Inwood Park or upstate after he left the rocky half-mile strip in Harlem?

Let’s figure this out to avoid further loss of life. Such tragic outcomes would be prevented under the Humane Party’s legislation that will “grant legal standing and personhood to all other animals, such that an animal’s liberty can be procured by way of a habeas corpus proceeding and his or her rights can be enforced through a duly authorized legal guardian.” See the Humane Party’s Platform.

Related articles in The New York Times: Dec. 14, 2016; Dec. 15, 2016; Dec. 16, 2016

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