Monday, July 19, 2010

Why I Support the Death Penalty

It has always annoyed me when people try to shut down a rational argument by claiming some kind of exempt status for themselves:

‘You support the war? Well, you must’ve never served.’

‘You’re pro-choice? You must not have kids.’

‘You’re a democrat? Wait until you get out of college and have to start paying taxes.’


Well, let me tell you something. Life has a way—at least in my case—of forcing me to voice formerly abhorred opinions from a point of…if not agreement, then at least personal understanding.

This has been both a frustration to me, and a point of personal pride. I am proud of my ability to consider new evidence and to change my opinion, but it is very difficult to beat someone to death with said opinion if it is subject to change.

That being the situation, I have changed a personal opinion.

I now support the death penalty…

For insects.

And if you disagree with me, then you must not be a home owner.

I used to be one of those guys who would find a spider in his home and gingerly scoop it into a napkin and take it outside. I still will do this if an unusual insect sneaks into my house (like a beetle or something like that), but I’m not sparing spiders anymore. Or ants. Or wasps. Or goddamned fruitflies.

When we moved into our house, I was still very careful not to kill bugs. Especially ants. I think ants are awesome. They’re very interesting insects. I’m still a little sad to crush one of their little bodies beneath my thumb, or a piece of paper, or whatever. But I do it now. Only when they come into my house.

It started with the fruit flies. We had a fruit fly infestation not long after we began living in our house. I only paused for a minute before approving and participating in the systematic destruction of all of those pernicious little assholes.

Then came the fleas. My dog brought them into the house. I was overjoyed to have them all killed. I danced naked across their tiny, bouncy carcasses.

And then it was ants. I’ve always liked ants. E.O. Wilson has written a lot of cool stuff about them. They’re fun to observe. There’s something noble about them. But they were forming a conga line on my kitchen wall, and we had to do them in.

And that’s it. To this date, I have overseen three mass genocides.

We try to make our house unattractive to insects by keeping it clean and spraying stuff around the base of the house every season, but every now and then they get in. I’m not rescuing spiders anymore either, I’ve noticed. I don’t feel terribly conflicted when I squish one up in the corner of my sons’ room. Maybe I’ve become too acclimated to being the top species.

But the fact of the matter is, we live at the expense of other creatures, and there are boundaries in nature. To not acknowledge that is silly. I have a strong survival instinct, and I have a strong instinct to protect my pack. Fruit Flies and fleas have strong survival instincts too, but they could make my family sick, so I kill them when they pass the boundaries of my territory. The ants were unsightly, and they crawled all over the place.

However civilized and progressive minded we may be, encoded deep inside of us is the law of the jungle. Our bottom line is still ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’. I am part of the dominant species, and I am willing to kill creatures that I don’t want on my property. I’m capable of rationalizing an argument as to why I’m exterminating whatever I’m exterminating, but honestly, all a rodent or insect has to be is aesthetically unpleasant for me in order to justify my killing it when it is on my property.

Because when all is said and done, we are all animals. That’s why we kill insects that pester and threaten us (and even just annoy us), and that’s why even libertarians need laws and government regulation to protect their interests.


Willie Y said...

I am with you on some of your choices for death. Ants and mosquitoes who are found in my home. But I capture and release almost everything else. Hey that bug might be someones mother.

I catch mice in Haveahart traps, tag them give them their shots and then relocate and release.

Just kidding about the tagging and the shots.

Spencer Troxell said...

Luckily, I haven't had to deal with mice, but there are some big ass rats that live around the homeless shelter I work at. Somehow Havahart traps seem inappropriate for them.

Steppenwolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steppenwolf said...

You had me there Spencer. I thought you'd come over all Republican for a moment. That was really well written I let out a great guffaw when you sprang the trap on me. Oh, I agree about the insects. We have these 'midgies' in Scotland little biting bloodsuckers that ruin folks summers all over the country. Surely wiping insects out can't impact the eco system in any meaningful way?

Spencer Troxell said...

I'm glad you liked it, Steppenwolf.

"Surely wiping insects out can't impact the eco system in any meaningful way?"

And then you sprung a trap of your own. Well done.

the elegant ape said...

Murder on any level can be therapeutic.

Spencer Troxell said...

Lodo Grdzak said...

Sometimes its just a visceral reaction to kill those big hairy spiders on site. Those things spook the shit out of me.