A year and a half ago, the Tyler Weinman "cat killer" case tore open this quaint little town we call Miami. Police said the teenager described classroom dissections a little too eagerly. One reader was so pissed at the thought of someone mutilating feral felines that he wished bodily harm on Weinman during his stint in jail.
Luckily, several New Times readers have a more constructive suggestion. Although the 19 counts of animal cruelty Weinman faced were dropped in November, Barbara and John Brooks believe it's high time Miami-Dade schools stopped letting students dissect cats.
"Dissecting the bodies of dead cats is not necessary to teach biology," they wrote us recently. "It is banned in some countries and almost unpracticed in others."
What do you think? After all, goddamn stray cats are giving us hookworm.
The Brooks have a point. In their letter, they argued:
Humane teaching methods are abundant: These include interactive models, and computer kits. Scientific studies show that humane teaching models are at least as efficient as dissection. Students who used such methods not only reached the same level as those who dissected animals; many students showed that they did better.The letter also cites Broward Supervisor of Science Education JP Keener as saying Broward schools "ran into problems with kids that had an emotional connection to a family pet."
Then again, the Brooks sound a bit like our 8th grade science teacher who avoided the word "evolution" because it might upset the budding Glenn Becks in the back row of class.
That said, we appreciate the letter. But there are good arguments for keeping cat dissection in Miami-Dade schools. For example, would you want a doctor operating on you who had trained exclusively on "humane interactive models and computer kits"?
We didn't think so.
As another reader named Steve pointed out when the cat killings were first blamed on Weinman's dissection experience: "So the kid knew about animal dissection, you might as well arrest all the surgeons and butchers in the state too."
Let us know what you think.