Saturday, April 17, 2010

Snake People: Please raise the bar, and put the snake down.

Okay, I admit it; snakes and I have a past. If rescuing snakes gets me some sort of points in the afterlife I pretty much have it made. I’ve got three dogs I’ve rescued and I’ve taken in a stray cat or two but that’s pretty much over with until Sam moves on. Yet for some reason it’s the snake thing that sticks with a lot of people.
Recently some moron stuck a python in the face of someone else, the cops were called, the snake person was arrested for assault, and I got twelve emails with links to the story. Twelve! An even dozen people felt a reptilian compulsion to share a snake story with me, including one person who I really do not know very well at all.

Now the story in question does have everything I really love in a snake story. It involves human stupidity, a great deal of ignorance, and it has a happy ending because the snake isn’t killed in the end. Snake stories do not have happy endings as a general rule. Snake stories usually end with a dead snake because of ignorance and stupidity. Down in the Everglades, ignorance and stupidity has led to people dumping their “pet” Burmese pythons into the wild. These animals have successfully reproduced and are now taking over. Because of the recession, which was caused chiefly by greed, stupidity and ignorance, there isn’t a lot of money to be had to try to kill the snakes, and the irony of this is not lost on me. Usually human beings will go to great lengths to kill even the most harmless of snakes, but in this case, when the snakes in question are threatening to upset the balance of one of the last truly wild areas in Florida, they cannot spare any resources for the problem. I was facing a deluge of photos via email when that python ate the six foot long gator and then the gator clawed his way out. How serious is the problem in the Everglades? Six foot long gators do not have a natural enemy except much larger gators. If a python can kill an animal this size then this is trouble we have not known.
The plaintiff in the snake assault case is claiming he had no idea what species of snake was being thrust upon him, but it wouldn’t matter because he’s terrified of them all. This would be ignorance. He also claims he had to bathe repeatedly in theory to get the snake cooties off him. This would be stupidity. The defendant in this case, the man who assaulted someone else with a serpent, is a moron of the first magnitude. Clearly, he understands that most people are just plain freaked out when it comes to snakes. Had he taken the next logical step in thought it would have led him to keeping snakes away from people, not getting them close to people. He’s going to jail over this simply because if a jury of twelve people gets the case, ten of them are going to suggest he be executed, one will run screaming from the room, and the last will pee on himself if any evidence is presented. There are people who would throw their children into a fire rather than get within an area code of a snake and this idiot is waving one around in someone’s face.

As a snake person, I can tell you the very first image people have of snakes is one of extreme fear. Accordingly, these same people view snake people as the type of people who shoot up heroin while playing Russian Roulette in the rain on the Interstate. If you want to be a snake person, your first obligation is to keep snakes away from people. If you can’t get people to trust your intentions the only result that will come of this is more dead snakes. I may be just me, but I think we have enough of that going on, except in the Everglades of course, where you can’t pay people to kill snakes.
People are terrified of snakes but they also have a certain fascination. As a snake person, you may as well give up converting anyone over the age of twenty to the ranks of those unafraid. Don’t bother with the old timers because they still believe all the outrageous myths they learned from their parents. Oh, and speaking of parents, if you ever scare a child with a snake you will be exceedingly fortunate to make to a trial. Children are actually your best bet for education against superstition and ignorance; do not blow it for a cheap fright thrill.
Short of getting Americans to switch over to atheism or the metric system, getting people to accept snakes as harmless and beneficial creatures are one of the most difficult tasks you might attempt. I can tell within a few seconds whether or not I’m wasting my time talking to someone about snakes. The facts are as simple as they are clear; the danger of snakebite is grossly over exaggerated. Fireants kill more people each year than do snakes. Honeybees kill more people each year than do snakes. Hell, children kill more people in the United States than snakes do. Yet there is very little that can be done to combat generational ignorance.

And then we have the snake assault moron. Morons in the news

Great move there, dude, thanks for shooting yourself in the foot.

I am an advocate of the theory we humans ought not kill any creature we do not intend to eat, or isn’t a noxious pest like fireants, roaches, and those people who talk during movies. I feel we have an obligation to live in peace in as much as we can with dangerous creatures, to the extent we must, we must, accept some responsibility of risk. Those snake which are totally harmless we ought to let them be, and those who are not as harmless, we should accept them for what they are, and honor their place on this earth.
But first, we have to stop morons from scaring people with snakes.

Take Care,

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