It’s well known that the eccentric playwright Oscar Wilde had a pet lobster. While he was a student at Oxford in the 1870s, the Irishman used to tie a string to his invertebrate friend and take him for walks around campus. Granted, these were not brisk walks. Unless the lobsters that existed over a century ago had considerably more pep than the ones I see inching around the tank at Joe’s Crab Shack, then Wilde and his pet went neither fast nor far.
No doubt people stared. On particularly warm afternoons, some might have even stood by patiently, lemon slices in hand. But then again, the man who once said that “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” would hardly mind the attention.
Wilde would surely have been amused by a recent news report about some animal activists trying to save lobsters from the dinner table. Several witty journalists have already feasted on the story and stolen most of the good lobster-related puns. Which I think is very shellfish of them. Nevertheless, I’ll still take a crack at the tale.
Having triumphed over such enemies as the Ringling Brothers Circus and Sea World, the animal rights folks are now taking up the cause of protecting crustaceans. It seems that earlier this fall, two British protestors went to the famous resort town of Brighton, rescued hundreds of lobsters and crabs that were headed to market and released them into the ocean.
They argue that even though lobsters aren’t cute and thus don’t evoke the normal sympathy from animal-lovers, they still feel pain. As evidence, they cite recent studies where scientists at Queen’s University Belfast delivered electric shocks to crabs and then watched as the animals touched the shocked area with their claws for several minutes. This is interesting proof, though I am told that the best way to soothe a mild shock is by rubbing butter on the affected spot.
Polls show that popular opinion is clearly against this band of marine Robin Hoods, who dumped many a potential Admiral’s Feast into the water. But no doubt the activists take comfort in Wilde’s oft-quoted maxim: “to disagree with three fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity.”
The police, however, were not amused. As it turns out, the creatures so heroically released into the ocean were American lobsters, which are considered an invasive species in British waters. Of course, the Brits feel the same about American tourists generally, often labeling the unwanted yanks as “overpaid, oversexed and over here.” Anyway, within minutes, the fresh marine arrivals were talking loudly, taking selfies and demanding ice in their soft drinks. Not to mention breeding with the locals.
British officials sprang into action to deal with the threat to their aquatic ecosystem. A court fined the protestors the equivalent of $19,000. Why the exorbitant fee when lobster generally goes for $10.99 per pound? It seems the money was needed to pay the bounty hunters.
Oh, yes. According to The Weekly Standard, “Of the 361 lobsters released, 40 are still at large.”
That means that someone was paid to dive into the ocean, check for green cards and round up over 300 out-of-town shellfish. In other words, the government actually called in Boba Fett to recapture the invasive species. I wonder if any crabs were frozen in carbonite.
Every day I live on this planet, Star Wars seems less and less like science fiction. This world makes no sense to me. But then again, as Oscar Wilde would say, “I am not young enough to know everything.”