There’s A Mouse In My House And I’m Ethically Conflicted About Killing ‘It’

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ratatouille

I am not opposed to killing animals. Carnivores eat other animals in the wild and we don’t protest that because it is a part of their nature. Is it completely necessary to eat meat in this day and age to maintain a healthy diet? No, but I don’t see it as ethically wrong to do so, I do so. However, I do see some of the practices and conditions in which we keep factory animals as wrong and so I only eat cage free, grass fed, organic, supposedly “happy” animals.

I think killing animals for fun, is a bizarre practice but I never ever had any real qualms or moral objections to hunting, as long as it was within reason, until I recently got this mouse problem.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a mouse dart into a hole in my room. There’s a tiny hole where the radiator and the wall connect and a chubby little mouse ran into there. I was spooked. I couldn’t sleep, thinking about how this mouse might jump on my face in the middle of the night.

Sure enough I saw the mouse again the next day. Then the next. The mouse would see me and runaway. It was afraid of me. I then stopped being afraid of the mouse. I started to call the mouse ‘Amy’ deciding that she was a girl. It was a way for me to deal with having this rodent in my home without being constantly scared of encountering it.

But the more I referred to my “roommate” as “Amy,” the more I started to project these personality traits on her. She was a shy, bookish mouse and now that my super had closed up all the holes in our apartment, Amy was trapped. She was permanently trapped and couldn’t get back to her family and friends. Poor Amy. I then played the Britney Spears hit single, “If U Seek Amy.” That song is totally about this sitch’.

I started to think about the time my mom was given these live crabs. My mom was given twelve live crabs and I remember her putting them in a big pot and boiling them alive for dinner. Yet, when my mom went to serve us dinner it wasn’t crabs. The next day I asked her what happened to them. She told me that while she was cooking them, she started to give them names and couldn’t bare to eat them. They were already doomed, so she quietly threw them away and said a few words for them.

I think my mother and I have this in common. Perhaps it’s just a fear of playing God or maybe it’s just something that happens when you name something and begin to identify with it. You start to empathize with it. It starts to not feel so different from you. My mouse friend, Amy—I get to murder her just because she is sort of bothering me? She’s just living her life, you know? The thought of someone being allowed to murder me because I creeped them out or got on their nerves feels wrong.

When I was a senior in college I read this essay by David Foster Wallace called ‘Consider The Lobster.’ DFW wasn’t a vegetarian, he was a meat eater but while attending The Maine Lobster Festival he began to consider the lobster and what it meant that we took it for granted to boil the creature alive, tear its limbs apart and then eat it for pleasure and fanciness.

David Foster Wallace wrote, “So then here is a question that’s all but unavoidable at the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens across the U.S.: Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does ‘all right’ even mean in this context? Is it all just a matter of individual choice? [...] As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing. “

Yep, me too, David. I choose not to think about what it means to eat or kill an animal because I am not sure what it means, if it means anything at all. Is it just a fact of life? Or as humans, who can empathize, are we suppose to evolve to a point where all forms of murder are perceived as base and vile?  I can only imagine what it would be like to be hunted or eaten myself and surely I do not wish to have this fate, so why wish it on poor Amy?

Well, because she is yucky, and it’s unsanitary and just not cute. You cannot have a dinner party and invite Amy. You cannot have a BBQ and invite Amy. I would not go to a screening of The Canyons and bring Amy with me, would I? That is not the acceptable behavior of a young woman in her twenties! This isn’t Ratatouille and as much as I can joke about Amy making me lasagna, she never has. 

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I bought mousetraps and Amy hasn’t took them. Like I said, she is bookish and shy, but certainly not stupid. I guess I can only do what my mom did with her crabs: acknowledge that Amy is doomed, dispose of her and say a few words. Consider the pest.

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