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The Animal Rights Summit

Is it just me, or is society becoming increasingly polarized? It seems like for every action there is an equaller and oppositer reaction. For and against war. For or against the environment. For or against the family.
Consider the role animals play in society. No, I am not referring to politicians, TV producers or Janet Jackson. I mean animals like rabbits and mice and bears.
Some people will even lay down their lives for animals, protesting against the use of animals in laboratory experiments. They stridently oppose the testing of chemicals and makeup on innocent rabbits and mice. I suspect they would secretly rather the chemicals and cosmetics be tested on certain humans instead.
Meanwhile, another large contingent of society has no interest in testing makeup on animals, because they would much rather shoot them. I mean the animals, not the animal rights protestors. On second thought, they might want to shoot the protestors, too.
I thought about this great divide when I looked at the label of a new "powerful" anti-dandruff shampoo we just bought an oil-based shampoo that works by letting it sink into the hair for at least three minutes. The instruction manual, in 13 languages, features an impressive array of alerts with threatening symbols, even warning me not to let the shampoo get into my eyes.
I stopped. I blinked (for effect). Here is a chemical I am supposed to pour all over my head and let soak in for at least three minutes. A chemical that will run down my face and across my eyes. A chemical that will surely make my eyes blind...or worse.
Then I read a tiny inscription at the bottom: "Not tested on animals". Thank goodness, I thought. I wouldn't want them to go blind!
I decided to try to bridge the gulf between the animal rights movement and the sport-hunter movement by convening a world summit.
I chose to invite a few animals, including Big Bear, a veteran of several hunting seasons. I also invited the Three Blind Mice, expert shampoo testers, I am told.
On the other side of the table, I invited Robin Gunn and his merry band of hunters.
"It's not right," began Big Bear. "that we animals should be the object of human torture. We have rights, too." Robin Gunn snorted. His band of merry hunters snorted, too.
I decided to try a rapprochement. "You have to admit that most people would rather sacrifice a few laboratory rats than discover their children have gone blind."
"Mice!" insisted Mouse #1.
"Pardon me," I replied

are mice, not rats," explained Mouse #2.
Robin Gunn snorted. His band of merry hunters snorted, too.
"I suspect most people would not care whether their cosmetics are tested on mice or rats or elephants, as long as they know the products are safe before they buy them," I suggested helpfully.
"Great! Now our host wants to torture elephants , too," Big Bear growled with an increasingly hungry look in his eyes. "Don't you know they are an endangered species?"
It was at that point that I decided to bring in Plan B. "Brownies anyone?"
Robin Gunn snorted. His band of merry hunters snorted, too. But they ate the brownies.
I turned to Mr. Gunn. '"I understand the need to eat animals I said, with one eye on Big Bear, but doesn't killing them for sport seem a bit much?"
"Why?" Mr. Gunn wanted to know.
"Well, it doesn't seem like much of a sport when one team gets a high-powered shotgun, while the other never even knows there's a game going on, does it?"
Big Bear growled. The mice growled, too. OK, so it was more like a high-pitched squeak, but it's the thought that counts, right?
I tried another line of discussion. "What if you met with the animals to pick teams. Wouldn't that be a little more fair?"
Robin Gunn looked at me like I was crazy. Big Bear looked at me like I was crazy.
It turns out that I was crazy. The summit ended in a dismal failure. Big Bear loved the brownies, but he wanted something more. The Three Blind Mice never even saw him coming.
And Mrs. Gunn is really enjoying her new bearskin rug.
Meanwhile, I don't know what to do about my increasingly greasy hair. I suppose that sooner or later, I'll have to use shampoo. In the meantime, I you think ketchup will work?

About The Author

David Leonhardt is author of Climb Your Stairway to Heaven
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