Commentary. Such an execution, if it ends up happening, would be, in a sense, ancestral – meaning it would bring us back to our worst animal nature.

The real killer animals

On Tuesday night, the anchor who started the TG1 news segment with the main news of the day began with “The bear JJ4 has been arrested,” only to correct herself right afterwards: “captured.” She inadvertently hit on a deeper truth. Many people, whether tough mountaineers or politicians, are now coming in with rallying cries for the force of arms.

From the comfort of the TV studio, many relentless pundits are calling for JJ4 to be shot or put to death by lethal injection because it killed Andrea Papi, the young and unfortunate runner. In short, on the same basis on which the death penalty is still applied for murder in many places across the world, according to the principle of individual, community and state vengeance – that is, the awful law of retribution that prescribes death in exchange for death. Here we have the same iron fist, law-and-order logic brought up against the bear JJ4 that is also brought up in the field of human and social relations – all the more so since the accused is not “Italian,” but was forced to immigrate, like JJ4.

So, the real reason behind the proposal to kill the bear is because we have humanized it, making it similar to us, to our own aggression, which, indeed, is consciously murderous. Instead, even without needing to have all the facts at hand, we know that bears are not aggressive towards humans: if they become aggressive, it is only out of fear and to defend themselves.

That’s how it must have been, tragically, because the bear had been on the run for days with her three cubs, and it must have been in order to defend them that she unleashed her deadly aggression, by animal instinct. Now that she’s “under arrest” in a protected enclosure where she waits for her fate to be decided, ignorant of everything, she is probably even more aggressive because she has been separated from her cubs.

And while even the mother of the young runner who died, while in the throes of grief, is still able to say, “No culling, we just want justice” – meaning, let’s find those responsible among human beings – there are still so many insisting that “if this animal is a threat to humans, how can you not be on the side of the humans?”

However, it’s one thing to defend yourself during an attack, including with violence, and quite another to reflect on the matter and execute cold vengeance. Such an execution, if it ends up happening, would be, in a sense, ancestral – meaning it would bring us back to our worst animal nature. And for us, no less, who should not be made to live like beasts. This is not about fundamentalist “animalism,” but about humanity and reason.

Pietro Ingrao, in his poetry and other works, reminded all of us that the level of development of our society based on exploitation and commodification has reached the final degree of destruction of resources and the environment – exploited, transformed for human purposes, abused by wars – so that there is nothing left to dominate outside of ourselves; what we must do now is to organize a free and superior society “within.” That is why he insisted that all plants and animals, both wild and domestic, as they are the “non-human living beings” we have left, should be protected with extreme care. Otherwise, the killer animal is us.

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