Aired April 9, 2011 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: Rabbinical Reflection #12 – Killer Whale (4/10/11)
Shalom Dammit, this is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of April 10th, 2011.
If I go to a pet store and bring home a poisonous rattlesnake, at some point, if I make one little boo-boo, I’m dead.
I could feed it a thousand times with no problem. But there’s gonna be one time that I’m dangling a tasty mouse in front of the snake. The mouse wriggles away, I instinctively grab for it, and my hand goes in the terrarium. Before you can say moishe rabenu, a pair of venomous fangs will sink into my knuckles. At which point, my hand will swell up bigger than J-Woww’s boobies, and my blood would be so contaminated, you’d think I’d gotten a plasma transfusion from Rip Torn.
Is there a moral to this story? Yes. This is why we don’t bring home poisonous snakes.
But tell that to the yutzes who keep snakes and lizards and tarantulas and have no problem until the day they have to evacuate the whole apartment complex because a cobra’s on the loose.
Much as I sympathize with the agony Roy Horn must have felt when they were re-attaching his face, I still would have shouted into his reconstructed ear: “IT’S A TIGER! That thing with stripes on it and razor-sharp claws? It’s not a goldfish. It’s not a puppy, you moron, it’s a tiger. It’s a man-eating tiger. Now I know you’ve been eaten by men before, but this is different!”
And so we come to the story of Dawn Brancheau, a pretty, athletic young girl who was a trainer at Sea World in Florida. In February 2010, she was doing her usual act with Tilikum the Whale. You know: roll over, jump for the fish, ride on your back, thrash me underwater until my lungs explode. That kinda thing.
As you may recall, Dawn Brancheau slipped in the water, and Tilikum went into a frenzy. By the time he was done, Dawn was dead.
Shocking and horrifying for the spectators; public-relations nightmare for Sea World. After all, if it weren’t for putting wild things in captivity and making them perform like Dumbo, Sea World would just be a fish-tank with a gift shop. So what did they do? Despite the fact that Tilikum drowned one trainer, and was involved in the deaths of two previous trainers, they not only put the whale back in public view, but onstage! As of last week, Tilikum was once again flipping, rolling, dancing, doing magic tricks and reciting passages from Othello.
Oh sure, new safety measures have been put in place. Like trainers can’t wear ponytails anymore – which I know makes all the difference. But how many people does this demon dolphin have to murder before Sea World thinks, “Ya know.. Maybe we should have a laser show instead?”
I mean, the name of this mammal is Orca – killer whale. This stupid fish has a reputation so violent, they put “killer” in its name. Nobody says, “The depressed and vaguely poetic whale.” Or, “come see the mathematically gifted and hilariously flatulent whale!” No, it’s a killer whale. It kills! It kills trainers. If it had a rifle with a telescoping lens, it would kill presidents.
And you can say, “Oh, they’ve worked with Tilikum. He’s had a year’s hiatus from performing, he’s been in confinement, he’s been punished.” Let me tell you what he’s been doing for a year – that fish has been lifting weights, making weapons out of mackerel bones, he probably joined the marlin brotherhood… We should not be trusting this animal no matter what precautions they think they’re taking.
Look at “Jaws.” Scary, wonderful movie, but there’s one piece of logic that you have to check at the door when you see it: If you don’t go in the water, you’re fine. You could dance a jig ten feet from the shoreline; all the shark can do is growl at you and give you the middle fin. Now granted, the shark had to be dealt with because fishermen, cruises, coast-guard patrols need to be in the water. But nobody needs to see a fish twirl a basketball. It is a non-essential activity.
And so here’s my recommendation if we really want Tilikum to be a productive member of society: take him to Japan and let the whalers have at `im. It’ll be a fair fight, and if he loses, you get to feed a million homeless earthquake victims on blubber.
As for Sea World, well, you take a frog, you put him in a dress and you make him jump through a hoop. Hours of entertainment, and nobody gets hurt.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, NY. Ribbit.
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