Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dog Is Great/Dog Is Dead

Tomorrow (Feb. 6 at 8pm) at Lolita Bar (266 Broome St.), we hear John Derbyshire and Seth Colter Walls react to the previous day’s Super Duper Tuesday results. But there’s far more to our speakers than just politics, of course — and one reminder of that is Derb’s charming webpage dedicated to his late, great family dog, Boris, pointed out to me by Scott Nybakken. (I’ve been tempted to do a comparable tribute to the late, great Seavey family dog Uber, who has at least been mentioned several times on this blog.)

Derb doesn’t believe in the afterlife anymore than I do, despite being in some other ways more culturally conservative than I am [UPDATE 2/7/08: At last night's debate, Derb said he is not an atheist]. However, not expecting an afterlife can become an impetus to treasure all living things while they’re here and strive even harder to remember them when they’re gone.

Since animals spend most of their time remorselessly murdering each other, I’d swoon with the magnitude of the task at hand if I ever seriously considered becoming a principled and consistent animal rights advocate, since it seems to me they really ought to stop just haranguing farmers and research scientists and, if they really want to have an impact, run all over the planet constantly trying to get the billions and billions of non-human carnivores to stop eating each other and billions and billions of herbivores.

It’s a hopeless task — but at the same time, as a utilitarian, I have to think it would be wonderful if, somehow, every living thing down to the smallest squirrel and hoptoad led a blissful life — and never died, unless it wanted to. The best we can do is make sure a tiny fraction of them have fun, cushy lives, and I’m sure Derb’s dog was loved.

As for mosquitoes, though: kill ’em all, the annoying (and sometimes fatal) little bastards, with DDT if need be.

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