“The Damned Human Race” by Mark Twain
Mark Twain argues in his essay "The Damned Human Race" that man has not ascended from the animals but rather descended from them. According to Mark Twain, the animal kingdom is more civil then human society. During the course of this essay, I will address why Twain's argument is flawed and endeavor to show that man is not, as he would have us believe, the lowest of animals. Man is, instead, accurately called the "highest of animals". Humans have the ability to reason and have compassion on the less fortunate, of both his species and others. Man is also the only species that builds upon, and learns from, the knowledge of previous generations.
One of the first arguments Twain makes, is an anaconda is less cruel then an earl. While on a hunt an earl kills seventy-two buffalo, eat part of one, and leave the others to rot. To see if an anaconda was as cruel, there were seven calves put into its cage. "The grateful reptile immediately crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back Page 2
satisfied. It showed no further interest in the calves, and no disposition to harm them" (Twain 526). It is true that an anaconda will not kill more then it will eat, but what about other animals? Twain states that man alone engages in robbing territory from those who are weaker, and that man is the only species that kills just for the pleasure of it. In August, 2009, there were 120 sheep killed near Dillon, Montana by a pack of wolves. Several of the sheep were eaten but most were just left to rot. Dolphins have been known to kill porpoises, just for the sport of it. The dolphins do not eat the porpoises. It has been documented that coyotes will kill chickens and eat only the heads. In fact, officials use chicken heads to vaccinate coyotes against rabies. I have personally watched as my cat tortured a mouse for two hours before she finally killed it. My cat did not eat, or even look at, the mouse once it was dead....
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