Monday, March 22, 2010

The Mississippi Abuse Case

About 10 years ago, a client consulted me about her apartment with roaches. As I walked in (late at night -- the "roaching hour"!) I saw that there were indeed roaches big enough to put saddles on crawling up the walls. She invited me to look in her bedroom, and what she had predicted to me turned out to be horribly true -- it was raining roachers, there, onto her bed. I saw one of the roaches fall from the ceiling onto her bed.

When I consulted our pest control expert, he said, "Pete, it's simple. The place must have had a booming mouse or rat population for years. The walls are full of mouse or rat feces, feeding the roaches. When it gets that bad, the only real solution is demolition. They have to demolish the building."

The case made a big impression on me. Our neighborhood in Magnolia, New Jersey has both mice and rats. So, I kill them with alacrity, and I always taught our children the importance of killing, killing, killing mice and rats.

And then there's Chris the Crab and Larry the Lobster. It happens every time. If you go fishing for crabs or purchase live lobsters from the tank at the supermarket, one of the kids will fall in love with the animal and give it a name, and then be quite shocked at how they are cooked at dinner time.

Some scientists insist, "No brain, no pain." But if you watch them, they thrash violently when it's time to take the "hot bath." So, some scientists say, "Come on, let's admit it -- they suffer."

Those things being said, we need to talk about Lynn Geter of Mississippi.

Lynn's son, 12, begged for a pet hamster. He promised that he would keep his grades up if he were allowed to get one. He got the fluuffy, wuffy little hamster with the love-filled eyes. His grades plummeted. Lynn lost it. She ordered her son to get and hammer and and ... yup. He had to do it himself. It wasn't pretty.

The son mentioned the incident to his teacher, who, shocked, went to police, who, shocked, arrested Lynn for animal cruelty, child cruelty and battery. Lynn went to jail. Her three children were yanked and placed in state custody.

You can't find a sympathetic opinion of Lynn on the web. Recommendations run from Hell to jail to time in a mental institution.

I have to tell you that we had pet hamsters when we were kids. My son Josh had rats as pets when he was a teenager. There's no doubt about it -- rats are much more like people, no joke. They clearly love their human owners. Personality-wise, hamsters are kind of "not there" for people.

Nonetheless, we kill rats with joie de vie, while we treasure hamsters and that trail of little poops they leave everywhere they go.

So, what do you think? What would the signers of our Constitution have thought of Lynn's case, after shooting thousands of British for freedom from the crown?

Suppose Lynn's son had grown a huge family of roaches in a tank, and that is what Lynn had had him squash with a hammer?

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