Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fly Swatter in Chief

A guest post by JS:

In what can only be a sign of incredible boredom by our national news agencies, the BIG STORY is that Barack Obama swatted a fly during an interview with CNBC. See the video here. Obviously, what's going on in Iran, for example, is not as interesting or important.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has called Barack Obama out for his inhumane treatment of the fly. See the article here. The PETA spokesperson said "We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals."

So what do you think? Should PETA be commended for their consistency - after all, wouldn't they be hypocrites if they said swatting a fly was OK? Is one animal life more valuable than another? Should PETA have kept their mouths shut as one is likely to dismiss them as ridiculous and thereby not listen to their broader agenda about cruelty to other animals?

Also, how would tza'ar ba'alei chayim (not inflicting pain/suffering on animals) fit in here? One of the cited purposes for the mitzvah is that being cruel to an animal makes us cruel to other human beings. Does mercilessly killing a fly instead of trapping it and releasing it influence how we treat others? Wouldn't a merciful person treat all of God's creations with mercy?

Search for more information about animal cruelty at

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