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Friday, September 15, 2006

Let's talk about whacking the eels.

This poll on the MSN news website asks a simple question: “Should folks in Lyme Regis, England, be able to whack each other with giant dead eels if they want to?” A fair question, however, wrapped up in that question are questions of free will and cultural mores. While defending Leopold and Loeb, Clarence Darrow made the observation,

What has this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did not make himself. And yet he is to be compelled to pay.”

We can ask the same thing of the residents of Lyme Regis. Sure their town is named after a tick disease and a B-list celebrity, but can they be blamed for doing the same thing that their fathers did and their father’s fathers did? Well yes, I guess they really can but at least they don’t consider themselves Nietzschean supermen who go around killing 14 year old boys.

Or do they?

Come on folks, wake up, anybody who goes around slapping people with giant dead eels can’t be totally sane and their irrationality has to be questioned. In public they may be slapping each other with eels but what occurs behind the scenes when the lights go down and they’re left to their questionable machinations in the tiny hamlet of Tick-disease Philbin. Fourteen year old boys beware.

But is that really any worse than anybody else’s eccentricities?

Consider the wonderful and excellent sport of Footvolley for a moment. Even though it is the most fantastic new foot sport around, I’m sure there are people in Burkina Faso or Kyrgyzstan who would probably think you’ve flipped your lid if they saw you playing it. The real question here is: Do people really care what the people of Burkina Faso or Kyrgyzstan think about their fabulous foot sports? Who do they think they are anyway? And what do they have to do with eel slapping or the Leopold and Loeb trial?

I’ll consult the CIA factbook.


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