Opinion

A hare-razing tale in Marblehead

There are a few ways we can go with this. Last week, in Marblehead (where else?) there was an incident where someone shot a turtle and a rabbit with a bow and arrow. 

The matter was being investigated, which is fine. It takes a special kind of miscreant to go around shooting defenseless turtles and rabbits. And usually, or so I’ve heard, at least, one of the earliest signs of developing sociopathy or psychopathy is wanton cruelty to animals. 

So to start this off seriously, there’s a good reason why police should investigate something like this. And in Marblehead, the cultural capital of the North Shore, of all places.

But you see something like this, and after you contemplate the larger implications, you’re left with tremendous curiosity. What were Myrtle the Turtle or Peter Rabbit doing to deserve such a fate? In whose yard was Peter burrowing? Where was Myrtle doing her handiwork? And just exactly what constitutes turtle handiwork, anyway?

It’s easy enough to figure out what the rabbit may have been doing. We have rabbits in our yard too. And there’s only one thing that rabbits do particularly well, and that’s eat. Well, there are two, I guess, but we won’t mention what the other one is.

But for heaven’s sake, how can you be hostile toward the little critters? They aren’t like squirrels, which are, for lack of a better word, squirrely. You get within 10 feet of a squirrel and that guy’s off in a shot. You don’t stand a chance. And I’ve seen dogs — dogs, for heaven’s sake — that are more skittish than bunny rabbits. Man’s best friend!

Rabbits may be afraid of people too. I mean, if I were an animal I’d be afraid of me. Humans do not, by and large, have a very noble reputation for their regard for our furry friends. I’m sure rabbits, rather than run, adopt the other sensible pose when it comes to dealing with their fears. They freeze in place. 

But whatever they do, they don’t charge. They don’t present any danger to anyone — unless you may be growing carrots in your garden. Then, it’s su zanahoria, mi zanahoria.

But seriously? Shooting a rabbit with a bow and arrow? C’mon, whoever did this. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of hunting, but be a man! Take that equipment out into the woods in New Hampshire or Maine and go bag yourself a moose. Let’s see how brave you are with a six-foot, 1,000-pound elk with antlers boring down on you and not a little bunny.

There again, though, if the little bunny in question is anything like the rabbit in “Monty Python’s Holy Grail,” all bets are off. That thing was legitimately a demon.

And what about the turtle? They’re not really adaptable to land all that well and move about as slowly as, well, turtles. Those of you who know me will understand me when I say this, but even I could outrun a turtle. 

For a turtle to cover enough ground to go foraging around your backyard garden, it would be like you and I walking across the United States from Maine to Montana. All of which means that rather than rescuing his or her carrots from Bugs Bunny, whoever felled the turtle did so for the sheer sport of it, and there ought to be a law against that. 

Chances are the turtle was doing what turtles do: eat, lumber around, mate and sleep. And they are, at different times in their life, carnivorous. And that means they eat insects. How is that bothering anybody?

So in both cases, the poor creatures slaughtered by whoever shot them were just doing what they do. They were fulfilling Nature’s plan for them. And they were viciously mowed down in what was probably the prime of their lives. 

If we don’t have enough decency to let all of God’s creatures (well, at least those who aren’t biting us, stinging us, buzzing around us or squeezing their way through tiny crawl spaces to get into our homes and scare us half to death) be, what chance do we have with our own species? We don’t have any.

Way back in 1785, the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote “To A Mouse,” which was an elegy he composed after plowing over a nest of field mice. We often get the feeling, with the help of overzealous English teachers, that all these poems were without humor and irony. Methinks not. I’ll bet Robert Burns was doing exactly what I’m doing: anthropomorphizing the mouse to make a point. 

Aside from being written in 18th century Scottish dialect, the poem is perhaps most known for these two lines:The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men/gang aft agley.” I don’t need to translate, do I?

Well, this turtle and this rabbit had schemes too, and they were definitely gang aft agleyed by whoever shot them. 

I hope the Marblehead police put out an APB and a BOLO on this perp, catch him, and put him in front of a firing squad with an apple on top of his head.

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