They’re both wrong

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

WOW. Just WOW. Your teacher seems to think I have nothing to do with my time. YES, I took a break from letter-writing, okay?

It’s lizard hatching season and those slimy suckers are trying to get into our house. You know how it is. One comes in when the door opens and I have to chase it, catch it, then release it again so that I can catch it a second time and show that lizard who’s boss. Your mom calls them skinks. Well, skinks stink and I’ll make them sink…into my jaws of rodent regret. They’re very crunchy but your mom is weird and keeps throwing them back outside. Clearly, she’s never eaten one or she would save it for later.

So, your teacher wants me to talk about the Will Smith thing and tell you and your classmates that he was wrong—not gonna happen. Everyone in the world is talking about it so why should I? Am I getting tuna for this? Probably not once your teacher hears what I have to say!

Okay, yeah, Smith was wrong to walk up and smack somebody (happy now?), but that Chirs Rock-head person was wrong too. He was MORE wrong than Will Smith. Rock slapped Smith first, even though it was a verbal thing. It was planned. Rock actually took the time to work on his introduction and his jokes and he thought, hey! Let me pick on someone with a medical condition! Not cool. Not cool at all. At least Will Smith reacted instead of acted. Reactions are sometimes wrong, but there’s no thinking involved, just gut instinct. What’s Rock’s excuse?

Is your teacher looking mad yet? I bet she is. She’s part of the institution I tell you, and the educational machine hates when anyone thinks independently. Too bad, so sad! I’m a cat, I control my own destiny, DUH.

I’m not saying Will Smith was right, but the outrage against him is unfair. Everyone is talking about what Smith did wrong, but a BULLY was picking on someone he loves. How come Rock isn’t getting punished at all?

If you step on my tail, I will whomp you. Claws of fury will be your doom! If it’s an accident and you give me treats to apologize I might—might—forgive you. But if you’re the kind of person that pulls a cat’s tail on purpose because you think it’s funny, then you really need some kind of life lesson (and psychiatric help).

There are certain types of boxes we don’t try to fit into, and cruelty for the sake of a laugh is one. The joke was mean, and that Rock even thought of using someone’s medical condition as a form of humorous entertainment means he needs mental help as much as anybody who laughed at it.

So yeah, Smith shouldn’t have slapped Chris Rock. Smith should have acted more like a cat and done something sneaky and less-witnessy. (Your teacher wants me to say walk away I’m sure, but her whiskers are too tight. It’s not easy to walk away from something that public and that messed up.) Maybe Smith could have publicly shamed Rock in return or filed some kind of complaint, but he didn’t have a cooling-off period because everyone was watching Rock use words to hurt somebody Smith loves. That would be hard for anyone to take.

But my concern–my very serious, fur-rasing concern– is about the guy who thought making fun of someone’s illness could be funny. Maybe that’s what we should be talking about instead.

Truth and tuna is my motto! Down with tail-pullers!
LuLu the Calico Cat