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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I hate killing snails. Don't get me wrong -- I hate snails, and I really hate what they do to my garden. And, in the interests of the poor, defenseless plants in my garden, I know that I must face down the gastropod menace. Those slimy varmints must be stopped.

I've tried deterring them in the past, but to no avail. And I won't use the chemicals they sell to kill the snails. So, I have to kill them, and in a pretty hands-on way. We're talking blunt force to the shell-and-contents. Violent, sloppy death.

As much as I feel the pull of arguments (from Peter Singer and others) that humans ought to have more regard for non-human animals, there's no part of me that feels like snails rise to the level where I should take their rights seriously, or worry about their pain, or whatever. So why the heck, when I kill the 10+ snails per day I need to kill to keep my garden alive, does a part of me die? Is administering garden justice coarsening me, and is that coarsening what I'm resisting? Is there a built-in revulsion to death and killing -- even of creatures I'd really feel OK blotting out of existence is I could do it remotely? Am I recoiling because I sense that all this killing to keep my garden alive is wasted effort -- that the snails have already won, just like the worms that will eventually devour my own corpse, and all I'm doing is delaying the inevitable? (What would Freud, with his "death drive", have to say about that?)

And what does it mean that I align myself with the beans over the snails?

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