Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A kinder, gentler mousetrap

Among the moral imperatives of our time, few are more pressing than the need to design a kinder, gentler mousetrap. As Peter Singer has taught us, rats have rights too! We are not the darlings of the universe.

Sure, rats were scapegoated as carriers of the Black Plague—how come the fleas escape blame?—but, hey, they were here before us. We’re the squatters!

Now, despite quantum advances in modern technology, the mousetrap is a throwback to the Middle Ages.

In the interests, then, of animal rights, interspecies respect, and death with dignity, certain modifications are in order.

1. The death penalty, whether for man or rat, is barbaric, and must be abolished. However, mercy-killing is an inalienable right of all sentient species.

2. Rats steal food because they’re hungry. Where’s the crime in that? What is needed is some form of food redistribution. From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs!

3. The only candidates for extermination should be rodents whose quality of life has been diminished by birth defect, accident, or terminal illness.

4. Death by mousetrap ought only to be administered under competent authority, with the permission of a board-certified veterinary ethicist.

5. The bars of the mousetrap need to be lined with velvet, while the board needs to be padded with goose-down.

6. Only low-fat cheese should be used as bait. Under no circumstances must we contribute to the rat’s bad cholesterol.

7. A non-dairy substitute should be made available for vegan vermin.

8. An anesthetic ought to be administered prior to snapping the bar. In case of voluntary euthanasia, this anesthetic should be self-administering according to some sort of automated device. Rats will need to be trained in Skinnerboxes to trigger this device.

9. In case of involuntary euthanasia, this can be administered by the attending veterinarian.

10. Although second-hand cigarette smoke ought to be banned, the use of medical Marijuana should be legalized. A few puffs will sedate the rat.

11. A hospital chaplain may be present to deliver a non-sectarian prayer for his soul, or lack thereof.

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