At first, I thought Derrick Jackson of The Boston Globe was trying to win the prize for most extreme case of gushing about the "The One" (easily swamping my own piece about the specialness of the occasion) when I read this:
IF YOU felt a tremor, it might have been more than just the multitudes chanting O-BA-MA. It just might have been the rumble of roots, tree trunks swaying like hips, and branches stretching outward to praise the heavens. If you heard a song, it might not just have been the crowd when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said to Obama, ''Congratulations, Mr. President.'' It might have been the birds serenading as if let out of a cage, soaring to perches to applaud with their wings.<
If you heard a roar, it was every stone lion coming to life in front of museums, libraries, colleges, and other ornate buildings around the nation. If you were on the Mall and felt something on top of your feet, it might not have been other people stepping on them. It might have been millions of ants and other insects who marched from their undergrounds to wave leaf particles and blades of grass like American flags.<
For it was not just a human message when President Obama said in his inaugural speech that we can no longer ''consume the world's resources without regard to effect.'' The greatest effect is, of course, on untold species mowed down for our consumption.
… but then I saw he didn't mean to describe the moment in religious terms — at least, not in a conventionally religious way, as in writing the Revelation According to St. Obama — but he did mean to invoke one of our growing secular religions, in this case the anthropomorphizing of animals to the extent of imbuing them with rights akin to those of humans.
But Mr. Jackson was the soul of restraint compared to this piece that moved on our opinion wire this morning:
By Paula Moore
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Feel-good stories about centenarians are nothing new, but a recent harrowing tale with a happy ending about one long-lived fellow named George may have taken some readers by surprise. George was abducted from his home in Newfoundland, Canada, taken to New York City, where he was imprisoned in a small enclosure for 10 days, and then, after his captors had a change of heart, released in Maine. George was last seen swimming to freedom. <
Did I mention that George is a 20-pound, 140-year-old lobster…
No, you didn't, but somehow I knew something like that was coming.
Sorry I can't link to the latter piece (apparently, no one has actually picked up and run the piece yet), but you can read more on the subject at lobsterlib.com, where among other things you can order "Being Boiled Hurts" stickers — as many as you need. You can also read where Mary Tyler Moore says, ""If we had to drop live pigs or chickens into scalding water, chances are that few of us would eat them. Why should it be any different for lobsters?"
To which I'm tempted to say, "because they're like, big BUGS?"
I'm really not as mean or insensitive to critters as I sometimes seem to be. It's just that, when somebody seeks to portray a crustacean as being just like people — going BEYOND saying don't eat them, to "don't even confine them," it sort of sets me off. I guess I'm just in a mood today. All sorts of things I'm incidentally running across in looking for copy for tomorrow's op-ed page is setting me off.
Speaking of critters, I even got slightly grumpy reading this piece, which frets about the Asian market for turtle meat depleting wild species in the U.S.:
As global wealth rises, so does global consumption of meat, which includes wild meat. Turtle meat used to be a rare delicacy in the Asian diet, but no longer. China, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan, has vacuumed the wild turtles out of most of Southeast Asia. Now, according to a recent report in The Los Angeles Times, they are consuming common soft-shell turtles from the American Southeast, especially Florida, at an alarming rate.
Some scientists estimate that two-thirds of the tortoise and freshwater turtle species on the planet are seriously threatened. Some of that is secondhand damage — loss of habitat, water pollution, climate change. But far too many turtles are being lost to the fork and the spoon.
And the thing is, I actually agree that we need to protect endangered species. But having been goaded into an insensitive mood by the first two pieces, I couldn't help thinking that I was less concerned about what the Asian appetite for turtles was doing to wildlife than I am, say, in the African market for the body parts of actual human beings who happen to be albinos:
According to the Tanzania Albino Society, at least 35 albinos were murdered in Tanzania last year to supply witch doctors with limbs, organs and hair for their potions. The violence of the attacks and the prejudices they reinforce, both about albinos and Africa, have prompted Tanzania’s government to act. It has appointed an albino woman as a member of parliament to champion the interests of some 200,000 albinos in the country. The albinos, for their part, have applauded the intervention as well as other measures, such as attempts to stamp out the use of the Swahili word “zeru” (meaning “ghost”) for albinos. Nonetheless, they say that efforts to convict albino-killers have been thwarted by a rotten judicial system, with witch doctors using bribery or threats of spells to escape trial.
Tell you what — let's work on putting a stop to that, then worry about the turtles, and then, if we have any energy left, talk about the lobsters, OK?