The Conundrum of Laissez-Faire Herpetoculture
The Conundrum of Laissez-Faire Herpetoculture
Later this year someone is going to break into your house while you are sleeping. They are there to take things that do not belong to them; things you worked for, things you earned. Awakened by the noise they are making you confront them and are stunned to find that the thief is someone you had thought to be a friend. You toss him a loaded gun and scream, “Please don’t shoot me!” A few minutes later, as you lie bleeding on the floor, your precious possessions gone, you cry out, “I was always so nice to him. I can’t believe he shot me.” For reasons unknown it never computes that you put the gun in the thief’s hand. It was you that armed him with the weapon he used to wound you. Who did you vote for in the last congressional election? How about the last presidential election? Who will you vote for in November? More to the point: why did you vote for them? I can venture a few guesses. They include:
- You always vote [Democrat | Republican | Independent]. The candidate doesn’t matter.
- You vote for whoever is [Pro-Choice | Pro-Life].
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] amnesty for illegal aliens.
- You vote for whoever is [black | white | hispanic | asian].
- You vote for whoever is [male | female].
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] gun control.
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] stronger environmental controls.
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] unions.
I’m willing to bet that many people who read this voted the way they did because of their candidates position on as few as just one of these items/issues. Some issues are so important to us that they act as blinders to everything else going on around us. The pro-life/pro-choice debate is as good an example as any. I know many women who want to know one and only one thing when deciding for whom to vote: who is the pro-choice candidate. Done. Vote cast. This is not a blanket statement, of course. I know several women who vote for pro-life candidates, too. What is important to understand is that the system in the United States is effectively a 2-party system; republican and democrat. We can pretty safely categorize the republican and democratic tickets by the answers to all of the ‘for|against’ questions listed above. But in the United States we do not vote on issues, we vote for candidates. And in our current culture the elected candidates almost always vote along party lines. This means that a vote for the pro-choice candidate is also a vote for the candidate who supports a larger, more powerful government, more entitlement programs, less individual accountability, amnesty for illegals, stronger gun control, more environmental regulations and stronger unions. A decision made to only support the pro-life candidate is a vote for smaller government, more personal accountability, no amnesty for illegals, less gun control, fewer environmental regulations and no unions. How do you feel about those other issues? Did your vote for one issue just help to elect someone who does not reflect your position on the others? Oops.
If you know how your candidate will vote when it comes to abortion, amnesty, gun control or unions ask yourself one more question: will he or she vote for or against more controls (or bans) on the ownership of reptiles? And is that position important enough to you to change the way you vote? That’s a tough one, isn’t it? If you are a snake breeder/keeper that feels that unions are a good thing and vote for the pro-union candidate you should only do so with full knowledge that you also just voted away your right to keep reptiles. In our current culture of party-line voting you can’t have one without the other. The decision to cast your vote based on a single issue may mean that you end up supporting things you didn’t intend. It’s sad. But that makes it no less true.
So here we have our conundrum. “Leave us alone” we all shout. The reptile community does not need regulation. We don’t need the federal government telling us what kind of pets we can keep and we are sick of the continuous assault on the rights of responsible keepers. But then about half of us vote for a candidate that is going to support that exact end result. It’s a lot like giving a gun to the person who just broke into your home. You let them in, you gave them the weapon and you are still wondering why they used it to hurt you. Please wake up.
So let me cut to the chase and alienate about half of my readers: When you vote for a Democrat there is an incredibly strong chance that you simultaneously vote to put an end to reptile ownership in the United States. If you don’t believe me ask Congressman Bobby Scott (D), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (D) or Congressman Thomas Rooney (D). Animal extremism (which includes fear-based bans on exotic animals) is mostly a party-line issue. No, it’s not 100%, but it is heavily skewed toward Democrat support. The fact is that if you voted for Barack Obama in 2008 you supported the creation of the perfect storm that led to the amendment of the Lacey Act in 2012 and if you vote for him again in November 2012 you need to do so knowing that you are supporting four more years of ever-increasing loss of reptile owner rights. Barack Obama appointed Ken Salazar as the head of the Department of the Interior and it was Salazar that made the Lacey Act amendment happen. Don’t be naive and think that Salazar did that without Obama’s blessing. If re-elected I can assure you that Obama and Salazar are not done adding snakes to the Lacey Act and the HSUS is not done trying to use Congress to pass laws that strip you of your rights. For whatever reason Democrats tend to support the objectives and aims of animal extremist organizations like the Humane Society of the United States. If you don’t believe this please research which side of the aisle receives the bulk of campaign contributions from the HSUS. The HSUS doesn’t support candidates that won’t support their agenda.
The decision to vote for a democrat is yours to make, of course. But if you do please do me a favor: be quiet about reptile-keeper’s rights. Stop lamenting the increase in government control over pet ownership. You condoned it at the ballot box. Please stop supporting the fight for reptile keeper’s rights. Do not contribute your money, your words or your time to the cause. Please do not give money to USARK, PIJAC or any other organization that claims to support the rights of exotic animal owners. You are wasting either your money or your vote with your dichotomous actions. If you vote democrat, please send your money to the HSUS or to Defenders of Wildlife instead. You are supporting them with your vote so please have the courage of your convictions and support them with your dollars. And yes, I am being sarcastic when I suggest making a financial contribution to the HSUS. Every reptile keeper should have both a negative visceral and intellectual reaction at the suggestion to give them a single dollar. So I can only wonder why the same reaction is not felt when you check the box to elect the candidate who is going support taking your snakes away from you.