Saturday, March 24, 2012
Oh the humanity!
Lobsters. I don’t dislike lobster but I don’t go crazy for it, either. Maybe my palette isn’t refined enough to taste the subtle nuances that constitute “good lobster,” but as far as I’m concerned, a lobster is just a melted butter conveyance. It’s a socially acceptable way to eat gobs of melted butter, as they look at you funny when you just spoon it up. (Much the same way cake is an icing distribution system.)
My question is: Why don’t we give lobsters any dignity? I’m not saying they’re pretty, but as reasoning, complex creatures we shouldn’t be judging something by its appearance. Just because lobsters are, by most standards, kind of creepy looking, is no reason to torture, maim, and humiliate them.
Humiliate them, you say? What would you call video taping the slow careful dismemberment of an organism, not for scientific discovery, but so the Food Channel can fill an hour-long “Lobster Cooking” episode? The chefs delighted in giving us the best way to crack the shell, cut out the innards, and remove all the “succulent meat” for later consumption. If someone did that to a human, we’d lock them up for life, and only HBO would show it.
Well, animals aren’t humans, you might say, a concept I agree with. I’m no rabid PETA member. Anyone who has read my blog knows that animals aren’t my favourite things in the world (though in all honesty, my complaints are generally with pet OWNERS rather than the pets themselves). But why are we okay with public vivisection of lobsters when there’s no WAY we’d do the same thing with a chicken. Or a goose. Or a pig. Can you imagine them trying to show the best way to remove the liver from a cow carcass on network TV?
What about seafood restaurant commercials? Red Lobster is very fond of showing us lobster fishermen, complete with rubber overalls and Newfie hats, holding up their days catch, one writhing lobster in each fist. Again, this isn’t something we do with any other form of living consumable creature. No rancher licking his lips while he pats the chubby back of a calf destined to be veal cutlets. We don’t see a shepherd dangling a lamb talking about how tender the loin is bound to be, “and only $17.99 for All-You-Can-Eat!”
All of this ignores the fundamentally sicko way we “prepare” lobster, “prepare” being a quiet euphemism for “dropped alive into a boiling pot of water.” Proponents of lobster-eating say the high-pitched squealing a cooking lobster makes is just air being forced out of their shell, NOT the death cries of a tormented crustacean. Lobsters are mute, they say. Fair enough. I do feel it’s only fair to point out that dropping a cat with no vocal cords into boiling water might also result in a lack of screaming, but no one would claim that the feline enjoys it.
I can’t answer why it’s acceptable in Canada to display steaming hunks of dead lobster to the viewing public but against the law to show a commercial in which someone drinks a beer. We have a strange, illogical, and fluctuating sense of decorum. Perhaps the secret key to unlocking the human psyche resides in the Lobster Paradox. Once we crack that, all the mysteries behind our lunatic behaviour will come tumbling into line, human suffering will end, and it will be the humble lobsters that showed us the way.