Above a polar bear cub at a zoo plays in snow for the first time. Cute, isn't he? Whose heart isn't warmed by such a thing? Graeme Wood's, who wrote this about cute little Knut a while back. And Knut's keeper who called the little bundle of furry fun "a "publicity-addicted psycho." Warning: try not to think of Bristol Palin when you read this:

Knut is a combination of abused child-soldier and abused child-star -- treated as a useful spectacle, with too little regard for his long-term psychological well-being. In Knut we see soul-withering effects of early fame, and of exploitation of the weak by the powerful.

These effects are as evident in him as in Michael Jackson or the cast of Diff'rent Strokes. Now that his youthful charms are fading with his white coat, he still demands constant attention from humans. They stare at him, or he screams in misery. Anyone could have guessed that the lack of same-species companionship and endless train of adoring tourists would eventually damage him, but the zoo kept him on display because apparently cuteness trumps morality. Eventually, cuteness fades, and Knut will turn on his keepers as surely as Michael turned on Joe Jackson. There is a solution to all this, and its name (at least in Knut's case) is euthanasia.

Death panels, where is your sting? And no, of course, we do not want such a thing for Bristol, even at the end of her days. Losing that entertainment option would be like missing a season of The Real Housewives of Wasilla.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.