Thursday, July 19, 2007

Let's clarify what we mean by "nature"

OK, first some background. There were a couple of coyotes in Golden Gate Park who attacked some dogs and stalked a dog walker. The Department of Fish and Game eventually opted to kill the coyotes. In response, the citizens of the city of St. Francis played their duly appointed role and wept and gnashed their teeth over the barbarity perpetrated on these noble canines.

I hang out most days on a private IRC channel with a number of friends of mine, most of whom I know from my days in the Bay Area, with a number of them ex-roommates from one period or another in San Francisco, the heady days of the dot-com period. I commented on this IRC channel that this very reaction is exactly why many people think that people in the Bay Area generally but San Francisco specifically are, for lack of a better word, dipshits. They're not stupid, by a long sight. But as Paul Kantner never tires of saying (although I do get tired of hearing him say it), "San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality."

So my friend John has replied to my assertion that many people in San Francisco are dipshits. I'm not going to respond in the comments section, because it requires you to register with and I'd just as soon gnaw my own leg off (get it? It's an "animal in a trap" reference, plays off the whole coyote thing!). So I'll just do it here. Let's fisk the fucker.
I felt bad for the coyotes.
Considering that the meat of this post is about John's desire to blast raccoons into visceral mist in spite of city firearms laws and the overwhelming population of raccoons in the area as well as his various experiments in drowning and other extinguishing the life force of various rodents, I have to wonder as to the genesis of his sudden affection towards and respect for the life of some varmint species. My guess? Its sheer exoticness. In San Francisco at least, coyotes aren't rats or raccoons or gophers, NO! They are a symbol of the free and wide open Wild West, a noble totem of the Native Americans whose appearance in Golden Gate Park heralds the return of the spirit of Gaia to displace the emptiness of our modern world.

Of course, if you live or have ever lived anywhere where there actually is a coyote population, you'll know that they're just as fucking annoying as raccoons and rats and any other vermin. They're considered a pest to be controlled. They are not threatened or endangered.
A friend of mine, Rick, from LA was on IRC and posted the article where San Franciscans were pissed that who ever the fuck just killed those two coyotes in Golden Gate Park and he said, "This is why people make fun of San Francisco."
First, I'm not "from LA". I've only visited Louisiana a couple of times. But I'm assuming he actually means "L.A." or Los Angeles. I do own a home in Long Beach, which is in Los Angeles County, but I'm not from there, as he well knows. This comes up again later, which is why I mention it.
Hmmm, well, first off, they didn't need to kill the coyotes, they could have trapped them and relocated them.
Why? To what end? To save the dwindling populations of coyotes in the American West? As noted, there is no dwindling population of coyotes. They're doing fine. Why doesn't John support the trapping and relocation of his raccoons and gophers? If he's so squeamish about killing animals nowadays, why doesn't he divest himself of his sizeable collection of animal skins and body parts, become a vegetarian, and working on living alongside of as opposed to instead of his rodentine and ursine neighbors? Because raccoons and gophers piss him off. He hasn't been bitten on the ass by a coyote yet, which would change his tune, I betcha.

The issue with trapping is that it's not particularly easy to trap a particular animal. Reggie the Alligator lived in a lake in Harbor City (right across the ports from Long Beach). It took two years to catch him and then he basically had to walk into their arms. This is an alligator. In a lake. And it's not a big lake (compare that to Golden Gate Park at the same zoom level).

So it'll take a while to trap the coyotes and in the meantime they're still loose in the park. According to the spokesperson for DFG, "animal officials had been receiving calls reporting the aggressive pair for about a week." So for a week these animals have been reported, they have physically attacked dogs in the park, and DFG and the city are just supposed to let them wander around, saying, "Hey, we set some traps, we're doing what we can do, wouldn't wanna hurt 'em, y'know."
Secondly, those coyotes were probably protecting some pups who are now long dead.
Nope: "Experts had theorized Sunday that the pair may have been acting so aggressive because they had a litter of pups. But today, [the DFG spokesperson] said no pups had been found and the female coyote was not lactating." So that wasn't it. And even if it was, what's that matter? We have a problem with two coyotes in the park, so we want to make sure that they can have some more? That's stupid.
Oh, and there was a line, "God Forbid, they'd have attacked a child..." well, that's the breaks people. A Dingo ate my baby. Watch your kids. How DARE nature come back to some place where it was millions of years before we built our artificial society and where it will return once we've killed ourselves off.
OK, now here's where John descends into pure dipshittery. Our "artificial" society? This from a guy who works QA for an Internet search company and lives in the Sunset? I have to say that it's hard to take this kind of back-to-nature bullshit from someone who lives in one of the densest urban environments in the country and just wrote an entire post about snuffing small animals. Give me a fucking break, my friend.

Furthermore, coyotes wouldn't be returning to nature in Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park itself is an artificial environment, a faux sylvan woodland erected by human ingenuity and enterprise in a place where only sand and seagrass once flourished. There were no lakes. There were no waterfalls. There were no trees. There was dick-all, and that's about it.

This is not nature, red in tooth and claw. Golden Gate Park is a park, the third most visited city park in the country. I have little sympathy for someone who wanders around in Yosemite or any truly wild area and has a run-in with a wild animal that ends badly: that's the damned deal with "wild". Golden Gate Park, though, is not wild: it's a park and it's generally accepted that parks are exempt from the "baby dragged into the bushes" part of the wild animal equation. That's not the breaks and, if you don't believe me, speculate on what sort of jury award would have resulted if the city had known about threats from these animals, had equivocated and tried to trap them in the name of humane treatment of animals, and then the animals had injured or killed a pet or kid (or, if the animals had been or become rabid, infected an adult). Can the city really afford to pay out in a case like that?
Fuck LA, Fuck Michael Vick and fuck Fish and Game for killing the Golden Gate Coyotes instead of trapping them. Fuck LA mostly for the traffic, their shallow reality broadcast across the universe, the smog, and most of all the Dodgers.
I'm not really certain how L.A. is to blame for this. I agree with the traffic part, which is one of the reasons I'm ready to abandon southern California. The smog sucks, but I've seen plenty of brown days in the Bay Area too. And absolutely fuck the Dodgers. They are the most hated franchise in sports to me.

But the complaint about the "shallow reality broadcast across the universe" rings pretty hollow coming from a guy that watches American Idol and Project Runway. Give me a fucking break. This is one of those little short-hand things that everyone "knows" about L.A.: "Oh, everyone's so shallow." No, you're shallow because you mistake the idiocy that you see broadcast about celebutards for the entire depth of a region of 24 million people.
So anyway, I've got Gophers and fuck them.
So here we see the truth: it's all relative. If it's goring John's ox, well, fuck it. If John doesn't have an issue with it, well you shouldn't either, so fuck you. Sure, fuck Mike Vick. But there's a huge distance between getting entertainment value out of the suffering and death of animals and exterminating animals that have exhibited threatening behavior in the middle of a densely populated city.

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