No Crickets for Cricket!

by | May 4, 2024


The governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, has been plagued by a self-inflicted and festering wound for about a week now. An excerpt from her soon-to-be released memoir, aptly and prophetically entitled No Going Back, has transformed the governor from a Republican party darling and possible choice as Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate to a permanent political pariah, even more repugnant than some people find Trump himself to be.

Given that Noem has been vying for the position of vice commander-in-chief of the endless missions of mass homicide perpetrated by the U.S. military state, it might be difficult to imagine what sort of revelation could possibly have the power to destroy her once promising political career in so little time. No, she did not deviate from the standard neocon line on Israel now being parroted by all contenders for the Republican vice presidential position. Instead, she relayed an unsavory anecdote about her former German wirehaired pointer puppy, Cricket, whom she executed for the crime of … drum roll … being a puppy.

The story has gone viral because it is shocking not that Noem put her dog down, which many people have done before, for many different reasons, but because she explicitly claimed to “hate” the dog for being unruly and undisciplined. In other words, her execution of the young (14 months old), healthy dog had nothing to do with the standard reason for euthanizing beloved family pets: that they are ill and suffering to the point where it is in fact cruel to keep them alive. Instead, Noem terminated the dog’s life for not meeting her expectations. Because the not-so-gentle governor was the very person training the dog, the natural reaction of many people has been that Noem blamed Cricket for her own inability to tame her and in fact executed her for what she cast as the dog’s capital crime.

The ill-fated Cricket was also being trained to hunt, but every dog kept as a domestic pet must be schooled in basic matters of etiquette and propriety. Among other things, puppies, no less than babies, do not arrive at their new home potty trained. As many dog owners will attest, controlling a canine is not always an easy task, which is why professional trainers and even dog academies exist. People have often struggled with disciplining their dogs, losing furniture, pillows, carpets, and sundry random objects, and making human enemies as a result of what is regarded as their best friend’s antisocial behavior.

Eventually, having failed at DIY training, some dog owners will resort to enrolling their “problematic pets” in formal obedience classes. Other people, too busy or not wanting to be bothered with the trials and tribulations of training, send their pups off to school even before admitting them into their new home. Professionals with a wide array of experience are able to teach even the most refractory of canines to heel, exhibit appropriate behavior toward other animals and persons and, above all, to understand where it is and is not appropriate to attack, to eat, and to relieve themselves. Rather than enlisting the aid of a professional, Kristi Noem arrogantly assumed that Cricket was constitutionally untrainable because she was incapable of bending the dog to her will.

The story has gone viral because it is appalling to animal lovers, across the political spectrum, on the most basic level. How could anyone summarily execute a happy, healthy puppy, unruly though he may be? Dogs have been known to wreak much havoc in bourgeois homes, and some have also attacked and killed other animals when left unconstrained. Many people, above all, dog lovers, have chimed in on what Noem should have done and expressed disgust and even horror at what she did. Dogs are not always the right fit for a given family, but they can be put up for adoption into a more amenable home. Instead, as Noem relays the story, she shot the puppy in the face and then threw it in a gravel pit.

Now, vegans and PETA members will be quick to observe here that such callous slaughter of animals goes on all over the place, all of the time. Anyone who enjoys eating burgers, steak, bacon, chicken, lamb, etc., is complicit, at least indirectly, in the industrial massacre of animals on a massive scale. What singles out Noem’s action is not only her emotional expression of “hatred” toward a family pet, but also her belief that the animal was bad and did not deserve to exist because she could not tame it. What makes her act reprehensible to many is that, as arbitrary as this distinction may seem to animal rights advocates, Cricket had been invited to join the Noem clan as a family member, and then was destroyed for being who she was.

Even some of the most sanguinary of neocon warmongers have made their views known on the plight of Cricket. They of course have no problem with the mass slaughter of Palestinian children in Gaza, because all of what has been going on is being framed as a necessary act of national self-defense in response to the crimes of Hamas on October 7, 2023. They insist, against all credible evidence, that bombing schools and hospitals and refugee camps and universities in Gaza has been morally permissible because evil people were hiding in all of those places. The innocent people who die in the crossfire of what has been designated a just war are said to be collateral damage, unfortunate but unavoidable, if the state is to survive.

In her damage-control media tour over the last few days, Noem has tried to invoke a self-defense rationalization for her decision cold-bloodedly to dispatch her family’s pet. But because she framed the story differently in her book, explicitly claiming to have hated the dog, the self-serving apology that she was acting so as to protect her children is much too little and far too late. Nor can she blame what was published on an anonymous ghostwriter or editor, for she herself narrated the audiobook and therefore spoke those disturbing words outloud. She may for a time to continue to dig the grave of her political career even deeper, but Kristi Noem has already fully exposed herself as a heartless, mendacious sociopath, who in fact would have possessed all of the requisite qualities needed to serve as the commander of the endless U.S. wars, which now she will never be.

Laurie Calhoun

Laurie Calhoun

Laurie Calhoun is a Senior Fellow for The Libertarian Institute. She is the author of Questioning the COVID Company Line: Critical Thinking in Hysterical Times,We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age, War and Delusion: A Critical Examination, Theodicy: A Metaphilosophical Investigation, You Can Leave, Laminated Souls, and Philosophy Unmasked: A Skeptic's Critique. In 2015, she began traveling around the world while writing. In 2020, she returned to the United States, where she remained until 2023 as a result of the COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed by governments nearly everywhere.

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