The Times, They Are A-Staying the SameOpinion
We live in amazing times. Technology has grown by greater leaps during the past one hundred years than it did during the previous six millennia. Airplanes, telephones, helicopters, and plenty of other great inventions have come along. Just think where society would be today if William Whoopee hadn’t invented the cushion, or Alex Cell hadn’t invented the telephone, or Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet, or Shirley Penter hadn’t invented deodorant, or George Weimer hadn’t invented the flush toilet.
OK, we’d still be here, but things would be much less pleasant. So technology is a Great Thing. The average American walks around with a far more technologically advanced device in his or her pocket than the rotary phone NASA used to put Neil Armstrong on Pluto in 1968. Where would we be if pockets hadn’t come along?
Granted, most Americans mainly use that superior technology to post cat videos to Facebook, and embarrassing photos on Instagram, but still, it’s there. So I’m not against technology, but it seems to me the smarter our devices get, the dumber we get. Well, not you, but some people.
Take the New York Parks Department, for example. Faced with an overpopulation of deer on Staten Island, the parks people have been trying to figure out how to get rid of these unwanted pests. Not that there are a whole lot of deer on Staten Island, but 700 to 1,000 are evidently way too many for such a small area. They’re spreading tick-borne diseases, causing wrecks, and eating ornamental shrubbery like it was planted for them, which, I guess, it probably was.
So the parks people sat down and came up with a perfect solution: they decided to sell archery permits and let hunters thin the deer out to provide hunter opportunity, and donate the meat to homeless shelters to feed needy folks, thereby killing three birds with one stone.
Ha. I jest. If you think the New York Parks Department is capable of coming up with such a logical, happy solution to a simple problem, you haven’t been paying attention.
No, what they decided to do is offer all the bucks a free, involuntary vasectomy, courtesy of the state of New York. The deer don’t even have to come in and fill out a bunch of forms; they just have to allow themselves to be shot with tranquilizer guns, and when they wake up, well, you know.
This is, of course, not the first deer sterilization program to be attempted, but if it works, it will be the first successful one. I’m beginning to view these deer control efforts the way I view communism. There’s always someone who believes the only reason they haven’t succeeded is that the right people haven’t tried them yet. Hope springs eternal in the human idiot.
Bernd Blossey, a Cornell University ecologist, agrees with me. Bernd said, “It’s difficult for me to come up with all the reasons why this is a really stupid plan. It’s ridiculous from the onset.”
Paul Curtis, another ecologist at Cornell, was involved in a similar plan in Ithaca, which was a total failure. He said, “We could only do three vasectomies. It wasn’t safe for the deer and wasn’t safe for us.”
But besides the fact that deer population control by vasectomy won’t work, there’s the ethical paradox it must create for the people who seem to be its strongest advocates. I can imagine them lying awake at night, tossing and turning, bemoaning their own duplicity and their cruel, heartless treatment of the deer. At least, that’s what they’d be doing if they weren’t all two-faced, deceitful, lying liars.
The reason these nuts don’t want the deer shot is because animals are equal with people, and should have the same rights we do, with the same claim to life and such, yada yada yada. So if we accept that at face value, and we grant equal rights to the deer, then they have just as much right to procreate as people do. And giving them the Big Snip, just because we’ve decided there are too many of them, is taking away their rights, just the same as killing them would be taking away their rights.
But, but, but . . . at least they’re still alive, and they can run and play and stuff, and be happy. Right?
First off, if we’re going to grant deer the right to be happy, assuming they CAN be happy, then we have to admit that maybe one of the things that makes them happy is rearing their young. After all, deer only do two things, they eat and they procreate. They also go to the bathroom, and that might make them happy, too, but that’s only three things. If we take away their ability to have little deer, we could be taking away at least a third of their reason for living. And this is supposed to be fair to the deer?
So besides the fact that it’s impossible to get all the deer, and that one buck could impregnate pretty much all the does on the island, and the fact that tranquilizing deer is often fatal, not to mention expensive and time consuming and dangerous for the people doing it, besides all that, the very idea is contrary to its own purpose, which is to accord the deer the same rights as people. It’s a farce, but not as big a farce as the people who advocate it.
I’m beginning to think Neil should have stayed home, and we should have put some other folks on Pluto . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who knows it wasn’t Pluto, OK? It was Neptune. Write to him at [email protected]