Of those those fortunates who have no idea what all the fuss is about, the Bonsai Kitten site was developed in December, 2000 by a student or students at MIT, and was first hosted on the MIT servers. The site purported to be a commercial venture, that of developing "Rectilinear Kittens" by stuffing young kittens in a rectangular glass jar, sealing their rectums with Super Glue (to prevent them from defecating inside the jar), feeding them through a tube in the jar, and ultimately to attach little handles to the finished creation so the proud owners of the Bonsai Kittens could carry them around. The site is complete with a section of 'torture tools' for 'do-it-yourselfers' and invites interested parties to email for prices.
An outraged cry by hundreds of animal lovers convinced the hosts at MIT that this site did a disservice to that august institution of learning, and the site was subsequently pulled down just eleven days after its creation. Since then, Bonsai Kitten has moved (and been shut down) several times, but has apparently found a permanent host at rotten.com, which is said to host things that make Bonsai.com look like a Sunday picnic. At the same time, supporters of the "BK" have formed their own grassroots movement and put up dozens of mirror sites, which have, like the original BK pages, become "moving targets" for BK opponents. The end result is that much like my friend Jack's ill-fated "bank robbery joke," the Bonsai Kitten site has also gone haywire, in that the FBI is now investigating it.
One young woman (who fancies herself a "vixen") discussed the "redeeming social value" of the site, insisting that the beauty of black humor is that it forces us to "think the unthinkable," which serves a "valuable social function". Are we to believe that desensitizing humans to inhumanity makes them any more human? Would desensitizing us to the atrocities at Auschwitz by disguising them as "humor" serve any redeeming social purpose? Do the rap lyrics of "How to Kill a Kitten" serve any valuable social purpose? Or do these attempts at "Black Humor" make impressionable kids think that maiming and killing cats is not only okay, but it's cool as well?
Rotten.com, the alleged new host of BK, has achieved notoriety by posting photographs of dead accident victims, mayhem, and other atrocities. Does viewing these photos somehow make the majority of us "better people," or does it pander to the others who "get off" on this kind of visual fare? I wouldn't know, because I have no desire nor need to view violence. I've already seen quite enough of it with the Olivia burning, the Noah's Ark Massacre, and more. The perpetrators of these crimes had one thing in common with the message of the BK site: They thought the torture of helpless animals was fun. However, whether in actual practice. or in the satirical presentation of torture, it just plain isn't funny to most animal lovers.
The backlash from animal lovers has brought a deluge of material from the BK supporters in an escalating battle of words. The more articulate ones bandy around phrases like "First Amendment" and "Freedom of Speech," while attempting to stifle those same rights of their opponents. They would have us believe their motives for supporting the BK site stem from the loftiest concepts; all the while attempting to educate us to the finer qualities of satire, parody, and black humor, by quoting Jonathan Swift and Kurt Vonnegut Jr, while missing the possibility that the BK creator may not even recognize the concept of satire, but may have stumbled onto its imitation quite by accident. Visit Kitten Wars to find out more about Kittens.