My Kid’s No Iguana, but I Love Him Anyway…

OK, this has NOTHING to do with MINIs, and is a RANT – so if you want to ignore it, feel free. It DOES have to do with some discussions in the Off Topic areas of NAM…

There’s a thread on NAM titled “Calling all REPTILE MINI People”. Now, a thread with that title MIGHT be about folks who like reptilian green MINIS with dragon graphics, or people who are themselves reptilian who drive MINIs, but, in fact, it’s primarily about people who own/love/co-habitate with reptiles. This, best I can tell, includes snakes, lizards, turtles, gators, dinosaurs (if they were still alive and were indeed reptiles, which is subject to some debate) and other related species, regardless of their degree of cuddliness, social behavior, or propensity to bite or even eat humans if given the proper circumstances.

While some of these people simply keep reptiles because they think they’re cool pets, others attest that they actually LOVE their reptiles – OK, you can love a pet, I get that. “Like Children” they say. And that, my friends, is NUTS.

Now, mind you, I’m not picking on “Reptile People”. I have friends who claim to feel the same way about their warm-blooded pets – dogs, cats, ferrets, emasculated husbands, or whatever. “He’s like a child to me”. And this is equally NUTS.

Because, quite frankly, animals are NOT people. They’re way, way, WAY NOT PEOPLE. In some ways, that’s good. If cats were like people, there’d be way fewer crazy cat ladies in the world living with 72 felines in their house. Because if those critters could COMPLAIN like people, well, the lady would get a clue and throw their butts out.

I personally believe in God, believe the Bible (given a bit of leeway for metaphors and sanitizing of timescales and such to make it understandable by much less technologically advanced civilizations) and I believe that God CREATED humans and animals, and the animals are here for both God’s enjoyment and our own. And enjoyment means both cuddling with them sometimes, and EATING THEM other times. But this really has nothing to do with religion, or God, or creationism, or Rosie O’Donnell (whose very existence may disprove all of the above).

The self-professed “Animal Lovers” (not the kind you find on certain x-rated internet sites) often claim to be GREATLY offended by anyone even suggesting that an animal of a similar species as their pet might be a tasty and nutritious food source. Cat lovers don’t like seeing recipes for Kung Pao Cat. Dog lovers don’t like to walk through the markets in Viet Nam. And turtle lovers may have a few problems with the menu at Brennan’s (though, if they’re sane, they’ll get over it and order the Bananas Foster). I’m not talking about eating THEIR PET… Just a different, unrelated animal of the same species or perhaps even the same genus, family, order, class or EVEN phylum…

Now, some of these folks would claim to be fans of multiculturalism – after all, who’s to say that our culture in the US is better than anybody else’s (except maybe the millions of people a year who want to come FROM those other places TO OUR PLACE…but that doesn’t count). So I guess it creates a moral dilemma among the dog lovers that Vietnamese people eat dogs, for instance. OK? Not OK? What if they do it in the US? OK? Not OK? What if I move to Viet Nam? OK for me to have a serving of Benji on a Stick? Not? Why?

So I think some of these things are interesting, but they are not the root cause of my beef (oops, just offended a Hindu). There are two simple tenets that are at the root of my pet peeve (so to speak)…

Point One: If you want to see offended, you keep comparing MY children to YOUR lizard. Here’s a quote from NAM today: “My iguana is like a child to me. I’m not going to post how to make a stew with your cats, dogs or children, so PLEASE refrain from posting such insulting offensive things.” In fact, the ONLY people I have ever known who made this “my pets are like children to me” argument either (a) have never actually had a child, and thus have no basis for comparison, (b) are senile and don’t remember what it was REALLY like to have children, and/or (c) have children, but their parenting quality was a great argument for Planned Parenthood. I personally have had many pets in the past 40 years – dogs and cats, mostly. Once a horse. And once a calf. And I “loved” those pets as much as you’re supposed to love another species. I walked them, fed them, took them to the vet, spent thousands of dollars extending their lives, and cried when they left us. But the calf, when he was old enough, became hamburger. Not for our family. But for someone else’s. We raised beef cattle. Good childhood lesson about the order of the universe, there.

But – get this – if you take my most BELOVED pet (and God knows I loved that one) and you put him up beside my LEAST favorite child, on the WORST day for that particular kid, and God Almighty spoke from above and said “One can live and one can die – CHOOSE” – Fred the Cat would meet his maker that day. Same scenario – but with another person’s kid – ANY KID – and my cat would still have to take the big sleep. Because, you see, while I LOVED the cat, it’s just an animal. A kid is a kid. A human being. One of US. The potential to be President, or a movie star, or Paris Hilton’s driver, or a soccer coach. And whether you believe God made us, or whether we just “happened” – we didn’t survive this long on this rock by choosing the extinction of our own species when faced with that choice. Animals are NOT kids. Animals are NOT LIKE kids. Not for me. Not for Animal Lovers. Not for anybody. Kids are better. I’m sorry for the childless adults who can’t have kids, and for them, pets may be as good as it gets. Though I recommend you sign up to be a mentor, or a big brother/big sister, or a soccer coach, or SOMETHING that gives you the blessing of getting to know and love children. Because then you’d know the difference.

If an Iguana lover is driving down the street, and there’s a concrete wall on each side of the road, and the car has no brakes, and their six foot pet iguana is sitting in one lane a kid is standing in the other, and they have to decide who’s gonna get flattened, I hope they have the HUMANITY to make the right choice. I think they would. I hope I’m right. And, if I am, then, please stop with the “it’s like a child to me” crap. Because you know it’s not true.

Point Two: (oh God, he’s only half done?!?): Don’t be offended so easily. And don’t think, for a minute, that you have a RIGHT to not be offended. Or that I have an OBLIGATION (civil or otherwise) to not offend you. We sure as hell offended the British when we told them we didn’t want to pay their freakin tax and be part of their freakin country any more. And the MAJORITY of colonists didn’t want anything to change – so many of them were offended, too. But that turned out OK. Somehow, in the last fifty years or so, this has become the United States of the Offended (catchy, eh? I didn’t make it up…). Everyone can be offended by SOMETHING. And – here’s the kicker – THAT SOMETHING is frequently someone else’s RIGHT. Offended that I eat beef? That’s my right. Offended that Vietnamese eat dogs? That’s their right. (Not all Vietnamese eat dogs – wouldn’t want to offend any Vietnamese vegan dog lovers out there). So lighten up and embrace the diversity that you claim to love. Diversity means some of us don’t share your values, choices in pets, or epicurean sensibilities. That’s our right. Diversity means that some of us love turtle soup almost as much as the Bananas Foster. That’s our right. If I want to talk about it, I can. I will. So will others. I’m offended as hell that anyone would even SUGGEST that reptiles and human children are remotely similar in value. But it’s your right to think so and say so – no matter how idiotic that is. I’m not about to censor you – don’t think you can censor the rest of us.

Heck, I might even let my kid get that lizard he wants as a pet. Might be fun. If my wife doesn’t emasculate me over it.

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