I’m only a few episodes in so far, but the new Jeffrey Dahmer series on Netflix is definitely worth watching. What has drawn my attention is somewhat different than what a lot of other people I’ve spoken with about the series have noticed. This discrepancy in perspective is all the more fascinating to me because of the way I am able to see how this part of the story was intended to be interpreted versus how I interpret it.
More specifically, what I am referring to is the focus on the killer’s upbringing and early childhood/adolescent experiences. There are scenes that come off to me as if the director thought it would be clever foreshadowing. In a dark way, I almost find this funny because it is so obvious to me. Ominous moments in the series depict a young Jeff Dahmer fishing with his dad, practicing taxidermy, dissecting the infamous fetal pig in biology class. It’s as if the people that produced this show want this to be insightful. As if the viewers will watch and think to themselves, “Ah, one day he’ll be doing this to HUMANS!” and shudder.
For me, this is laughable because harming and/or killing animals is a known warning sign for future serial killers. Is it really a mystery to people why that might be? Is the majority of the population truly so far removed from the grotesque brutality of animal abuse in the forms of hunting, fishing, taxidermy, experimentation, dissection, etc. that they can’t see the similarity?
It’s interesting for me to see these two things side by side in the series, knowing that for some reason there is a distinction being made. One is wrong, horrific, criminal while the other is harmless, wholesome, and a hobby. What is the difference? Both acts involve suffering, robbing another conscious being of their life and bodily autonomy, and the cold, calculating mutilation of corpses. Even Jeffrey’s cannibalism to me is no different than what most human beings participate in multiple times a day. Does the simple substitution of one species for another really change everything so completely? It doesn’t change a thing in my eyes.
I think Jeffrey Dahmer’s story is an excellent example of why we should not be teaching children or anyone for that matter that it is okay to kill animals, regardless of the reason. I really don’t think it’s that wild to imagine him making the jump from these behaviors to what he later did to his human victims. I’ve made the same connection, albeit with the reverse conclusion. He was taught it’s okay to kill animals, so he decided it was okay to kill humans. I was taught it’s not okay to kill humans, and made the connection it’s not okay to kill animals either. Killing is killing. Suffering is suffering. Violence is violence. It’s only arrogance, ego, indoctrination, and delusion that creates an arbitrary separation between the perpetration of these heinous, immoral acts against other animals versus our own species.
After ten years of living this truth, that human beings are no better than any other type of animal, I truly have a hard time fathoming how this is not obvious to everyone else. Perhaps the strangest thing is, I used to think like they do. I always loved animals, while simultaneously justifying confining, killing, and eating them. I was somehow able to hold these completely contradictory ideas in my mind without the slightest difficulty. Now I can’t make it make sense. I wish I knew how the insanity and hypocrisy of it all finally struck me. I wish I could help others to understand.
At the very least, I wish other people could understand that in the same way they are disgusted, horrified, and enraged by what Jeffrey Dahmer and other killers do, I am disgusted, horrified, and enraged by what is done to farmed animals. The only difference is that I have to share a table with five Jeffrey Dahmers at dinnertime and smile and not upset and offend them with my “radical” views. I have to shop at a grocery store stocked with what the rest of the world would equate to human body parts. I have to bite my tongue every day and be polite and “tolerant” in the face of institutionalized, industrialized, mass murder.
I just wish, if only for a moment, people could comprehend how unbearable that is. How I have to perpetually shield my mind from the horror of the truth, and how guilty and weak I feel for doing so, because it feels like I am condoning this behavior, disregarding the innocent victims, and allowing it to go on right in front of me. Just put yourself in my shoes for a moment, even if you think it’s a ridiculous comparison. It’s how I and other vegans truly feel. But what can I do? What would you do? At least Jeffrey Dahmer tried to make sure his 15 victims didn’t suffer. I can’t say the same for the billions of animals.