We have long dreaded this day.
The photograph looks innocent enough: a dusty street near Hanoi, a bicyclist and a pedestrian going about their business. It's a bucolic scene. Tranquil, you might say. Even so, it is a scene fraught with apprehension.
The key is the billboard emblazoned Thit Chó Quay.
Admittedly, our Vietnamese is rusty, but we feel the icy clutch of horror on our heart.
And look! Speaking of rusty, there he is: Rusty, a valiant golden retriever.
Thit chó, you see, is dog meat. That means Rusty is not so much a dog, full of his own emotions and hopes, but a shaggy hunk of meat.
It is not mere sentiment that elevates this into the realm of the obscene. Yes, pigs are every bit as intelligent as dogs. Cows want to live, to nurse their babies, just as any mammal does. Chickens can be companionable creatures. But dogs! How many of us have shared a home—a life—with a dog!
How many of us still cherish memories of a favorite dog from our youth? How many still grieve for a beloved dog who died unable to understand the many shades of our last good-bye? Do you still remember—even now, these many years later—your childhood dog’s funny or charming or endearing ways? We do! Yes, we do!
And we grew up with dogs, we humans. Not just us—you, we, that man there. We humans shared our homes with dogs when our homes were the rudest huts and the dogs still smelled of wolves. Ours is a love that has survived the millennia! We care for them and they care for us: We provide them a surrogate family, and they pledge themselves to that family's protection.
To see a dog’s trust and fidelity—his very birthright!—squandered and corrupted… The soul falters. A symbol of friendship and constancy, now mocked and degraded! That this dog smiles, proud to become thit chó, dog meat in the streets of Hanoi, is beyond the grotesque sideshow of suicidefoodism’s everyday carnival.
(Thanks to Dr. Johnny for the referral and the photo.)
Addendum: The only one of our labels we can assign to this is "3 nooses." That's it. Apart from the putridity of what it conveys, this belongs in a class by itself. It is a map to an undiscovered, tainted land.