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Novelties, Nonsense, and Non Sequiturs

What About the Rights of Animals Kidnapped by Other Animals?

Scientific American reports that two scientists, McClintock (Univ. of Alabama) and Janssen (Loyola, Chicago), conducting research in Antarctica "have discovered that a shrimplike crustacean the size of a small match head holds an even smaller snaillike mollusk hostage....The kidnapper, which is known as an amphipod, abducts the tiny mollusk, or pteropod, because it produces a noxious chemical that wards off predatory fish.

The fish, which normally gobble up amphipods but avoid pteropods, 'would swim up to the [pair] and stop -- clearly looking at the object -- then turn and swim away,' McClintock says. Fish that were hand-fed the duo quickly spat them out....

Pteropods do not seem to enjoy the ride. They retract tightly and do not feed while in captivity -- which may last more than a week. Because the researchers have never found any dead pteropods on an amphipod, they conclude that an amphipod probably releases the hostage before it starves, then grabs another one."

The pressing question is: should the pteropod's court-appointed attorney seek restitution from the amphipod or ask the state to provide rehabilitation?

Now We're Talking Ethics

R. Emmett Tyrrell, editor of The American Spectator, notes "that a high rabbinic court in New York city had excommunicated Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.) for 'desecrating the name of G-d and the Jewish People, for bringing dishonor and disgrace upon the high office of congressman, and for promoting and encouraging the moral corruption of society.'

Not a body to be outdone, the House Ethics Committee found Rep. Frank guilty of fixing parking tickets for Mr. Stephen L. Gobie, his former housekeeper and driver."

Truth-in-Labelling Should Be Expanded

The U.S. Congress recently passed the first comprehensive revision of nutritional "truth-in-labelling" laws in 17 years. The bill's chief sponsor, Ohio Democrat Howard Metzenbaum, complained that consumers "have been besieged by inaccurate nutrition claims...[but now] a bold health claim on the front of the package won't be contradicted by the fine print on the back."

Now if we could only apply the same standards to the U.S. government which has given us such "truth-in-labelling" delights as Social Security insurance, taxation as revenue enhancement by means of voluntary compliance, public education, and the Orwellian Operation Just Cause.

Two Cheers for Medieval Presbyterian Dogmatism

In a recent Free Inquiry testimonial,"Why I am Not a Presbyterian," Hilliard Bennett writes that "[t]here is no doubt in my mind that there exists some sort of supreme management in nature. If there were no such management, the planets would crash into one another, goats might breed monkeys,...but I would not call this management of the universe 'God,' because the word 'God' gets fouled up in semantics...."

This unquestionable orthodoxy surprisingly landed Bennett in conflict with his elders. He explains, "I allowed myself to be voted in as an elder... [but] being a new elder I was required to make a statement about my Christian experience. Certain influential elders found my tale incompatible with Presbyterianism and prevailed upon the other elders to join in booting me out. That did it. My cocoon was breaking, and with Presbyterian help. Previously I was quite comfortable...because I had presumed that Presbyterians didn't take medieval dogmatism seriously anyway." The gall of it! The horror! Presbyterian elders being required to believe in God! What's next?

Bennett continues, "[t]he realization that I had been so naive about Presbyterian orthodoxy was a blow....I was in a state of crisis. At this point I needed a book on secular humanism to replace the Holy Bible, and a secular humanist establishment in which to find a haven for my battered spirit." How do we Christians miss such obvious inferences? These new-found humanists are just too sharp.

A Little Latent Legalism from a Leader?

In a Christianity Today editorial, Kenneth Kantzer offers his justification for writing the foreword to the new edition of Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Kantzer says that though he has been a critic of the book, Sider is right in identifying "the most serious problem facing the Christian church today...[as] materialism not as a philosophical theory but as a way of life."

In opposition to the predominant "materialistic-lifestyle," Kantzer says, "[w]ithout suggesting for a moment every Christian must do the same, I know certain things are right, and I can do them. I can live my lifestyle a mite below the average in my community."

So, not only can some action -- a simple lifestyle -- be "right" in some circumstances but not obligatory for others in the same circumstances (as Kant spins in his grave), but where is this "non-universal obligation" for a simple lifestyle found in Scripture? The Book of Hezekiah? Psalm 151?

More Anti-Human Eco-Mysticism

Chris Kopzynski, a climber with "international climbing credentials" recently explained to a Gonzaga University audience that "[t]he world has a population of 5.3 billion and it's increasing dramatically." [yawn]

"The problem is, we've been given a 12-month breeding season. Really, what we need is a one-month breeding season like elk."

Speak for yourself.

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1-23-96 tew
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