As I've mentioned earlier, I planned to extend my recent dead kitten strip into something more concrete. I am proud to announce the culmination of this plan in the form of the 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey.
While my cartoon was a gag, it asked a serious question about the limit of conservative admiration for George W. Bush and his policies of seemingly doing anything he wants. And while I am far from one to chastize the use of hyperbole, it may be of a legitimate interest to see if there is actually a limit to what Bush could do before right-wingers stopped supporting him.
So what I needed to do was suggest a premise that was not blatantly against the law (though I'm sure PETA will send angry letters) but enough of a dismaying scenario from the White House that would hopefully be deemed universally-indefensible. And I challenge conservatives to offer their response to such a hypothetical situation. In other words, I am asking conservatives openly and honestly how they would react if President Bush actually killed a kitten with a hammer.
Over the weekend, I will begin e-mailing various conservative writers and pundits based on some suggestions from you guys and my own research. We'll see what results we get and we'll take it from there. A copy of the e-mail going out is printed in full below.
Dear conservative writer/blogger/pundit-
As I'm sure you are aware, there is a growing view from those on the left, myself included, that President Bush has abused Presidential power and could very well be breaking the law in his actions, and defense, of such things as torture, detention, and surveillance of American citizens. You have been sent this letter because it was indicated that you support the President and his position on some, if not all, of these matters.
To emphasize my frustration at the seemingly-limitless extent many conservatives have supported Mr. Bush, I recently drew a political cartoon humorously questioning the reaction people would have if the President performed an act that was seemingly inexcusable: specifically, killing a kitten with a hammer.
However, while the cartoon was satirical in nature, I realized that in all honesty, I have no idea if this would be true. In fact, I and most others have no idea just how truly the average conservative thinker supports the President. If there is to be legitimate debate in this country, should the question not honestly be asked- would you, a conservative who supports the President and all his actions, still support him if he went as far as to kill a kitten with a hammer for no apparent reason? What if he killed several?
Therefore, I felt that this premise could be used as a template for an actual, concrete representation of the limit to which all Americans would oppose the unchecked actions of the Executive. Hence my humble request for your participation in the 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey.
The survey will take a mere moment of your time, and consists of the following scenario:
I would like for you to imagine the President of the United States, George W. Bush, killing kittens one-by-one with a hammer. When doing so, please keep in mind the following conditions of this hypothetical scenario:
- The kitten will be killed by President George W. Bush. It will not be ordered killed, nor terminated in any way by a subordinate. You are to assume for the whole of this scenario that the reference to the killing implies a scenario in which President Bush will sit at his desk in the Oval Office, place a small kitten on the desk, and kill it by beating it with a hammer until it is dead, and possibly for a short time afterwards. No other means or individuals will be employed in the death of the kitten.
- The hammer will be a standard carpenter's hammer, of steel construction with a rubber handle grip. It is not a sledgehammer or any form of giant hammer that will guarantee the death of the kitten in a single blow.
- You are to assume that for every kitten death you accept, you will be willing to watch the actual act performed by the President. It will not be done privately or in any intimate conditions to which the act may be deemed "more humane" or "less graphic." Assume you will watch the full act of the President terminating the life of the kitten by one or possibly a series of blows with a hammer. You may determine the distance at which you are watching depending on your estimate of how messy the act may be and how much you may enjoy kitten parts being sprayed on you, if at all.
- You are not to assume the kitten needs to die, is already dying, or has a reason to require being killed with a hammer by the President. In fact, assume that the kitten is perfectly healthy and of normal temperament, and would be perfectly suitable living a full life in any normal American household had it not been selected by the President to die.
- Furthermore, no acknowledged benefit shall be suggested by death of the kitten nor any practical use be made of its remains. When the President has declared his satisfaction with his repeated blows to the kitten and a medical advisor concurs it is without question dead, an aide shall squeegee the remains of the kitten off the desk into a bag which shall then be incinerated.
- At no point will you be given a reason for the President doing all of this. The only statement that will be offered by the White House regarding the killing of kitten will be that the President was well within his authority. While you may personally surmise a legitimate reason, the President himself will give no reason for killing a kitten with a hammer other than his desire to do so.
- For the sake of this experiment, assume the President is not insane, nor of any unsound mind or condition suggesting a rationale for his actions above. Assume the President has decided that it is not only within his authority, but a necessity in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief, that he begin to murder kittens one by one with a hammer on the top of his desk.
Given the terms of the scenario described above, this Survey presents the following three questions:
- Were the event detailed above to occur, would you still support the Presidency of George W. Bush?
- If the answer to Question #1 is yes, is there a number of kittens President Bush would kill with a hammer that would change your mind?
- If the answer to Question #2 is yes, what would that number be?
At your earliest convenience, you may answer these questions by responding to this e-mail or by sending your answers to email@example.com. While there is no established time limit to respond, the faster you respond, the faster an accurate assessment of the average stance from conservatives can be established.
I would venture at this point you're assuming I'm mocking you. I assure you I am not. This is a legitimate survey using a hypothetical situation that, albeit gruesome and bizarre, is no less hypothetical than other surveys asking one's opinions of a politician selling you a used car, or enjoying a drink with you at a bar- both actual survey questions used during the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. I am not asking all this rhetorically, and I am honestly accumulating all responses in the hope that all of you whom I have written will legitimately respond.
That in mind, please understand that like any other legitimate survey, responses that violate the accepted guidelines of a response must be invalidated. While I expect some responses that violate these guidelines- likely in the form of verbal abuse- they may not be incorporated in the final statistical results, although they may be posted in a full account of all received data.
I will be keeping a record of all persons I have submitted the Survey to, and will update the results accordingly on my site. In addition, I will be preparing official Certificates of Participation in the Survey to any participant I solicit who honestly and accurately responds with a set limit of kittens they would tolerate the President killing with a hammer. The Certificate will state the following:
“Be it known on this day, ____ of _____ in the year 2006, that ____________ has stated for the record that, albeit a staunch supporter of President George W. Bush and his policies both legislative and military, such support would cease should the President kill ______ kitten(s) with a hammer.”
Again, I thank you for your participation in this survey. In a time when the political climate is as divided as ever, I am hopeful that a honest consensus can be reached among the most left-leaning of Bush opponents and the most right-leaning of Bush supporters: that regardless of our stances on torture, wiretapping, and the extend of Executive power, maybe, just maybe, we draw the line at killing kittens with hammers.
August J. Pollak
Cartoonist and Executive Director – 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey
Disclaimer: this e-mail is a one-time solicitation. Should you decline to participate in the survey, your name has not been added to any mailing list, nor will you be contacted again by this address. This survey is solely the product of Mr. August J. Pollak, and is in no way associated and/or endorsed by any outside source or entity regardless of its relationship to the author.