Halt the presses. Paris has been invaded by hordes of… rats. It's the downside of great cuisine.
The latest estimate is that Paris has 4,000,000 rats. I am talking about the rodent variety. The situation has gotten so bad that French officials fear it might discourage potential tourists. So, they are taking action. They have declared war on rats and have sent out armies of exterminators to kill them.
You would think that no one would have problem with a war on rats. We aren’t talking about cuddly house pets, are we?
And yet, environmental groups are outraged. You see, they believe that rats are living creatures and thus deserve constitutional protections. Why not? Nature loving environmentalists have called it genocide. And we cannot have genocide against rats.
To which one might respond that certain deadly microorganisms, germs and viruses and bacteria are also living organisms. How dare we exterminate them?
Anyway, Heat St. reports on the brouhaha:
A campaign to eradicate rodents from Paris streets is causing quite an uproar among French animal activists, who have likened the initiative to a “genocide.”
The City of Light has recently seen a surge in its rat population, threatening its position as the world’s premier tourist destination.
City Hall officials have now officially declared “war” on rats, and are bringing the heavy artillery out to fight their new enemy.
Several parks, including the Champs de Mars surrounding the iconic Eiffel Tower, are closed for two weeks, while a team of expert exterminators takes to the city’s maze of sewer tunnels armed with poisonous baiting traps.
Instead of calling it a war on rats they should have called the campaign: Take Back the Sewers!
Anyway, it gets worse, or better, depending on how much you like rats:
An online petition set up by animal rights activist Josette Benchetrit, “Stop the genocide of rats,” is demanding an immediate end to the city’s program, and has already garnered more than 21,500 signatures.
“We are killing all these unfortunates without mercy in the name of our phobia of rats” she says. “But the phobia of rats is a social phobia like that of spiders” she explains.
Speaking to French conservative newspaper Le Figaro, Pierre Falgayrac, author of the book Men and Rats, also deplored a “terrible lack of knowledge” about rats in French society. Citing the animated feature Ratatouille, where a rat becomes the head of a famous Parisian restaurant, he notes: “In cartoons, the rodent is always presented in a negative light.”
Of my God, Parisians who do not want to share their city with millions of rats are suffering from an irrational phobia. If you care, the technical term is musophobia.
Unfortunately, the animal rights activists do not really understand phobias. They do not understand a point that Aaron Beck made many years ago, namely, that the things that people fear phobically are things that are dangerous. Phobias might be slightly excessive, but fearing heights, crowds, spiders, snakes, rats or whatever is simply an adaptive survival mechanism. One understands that in France no one would dare mention cognitive theories, but still, Beck’s point was well taken.
Anyway, the environmentalists want to solve the problem using contraception. They want to give the rats free access to their local Planned Parenthood. They want to offer abortion on demand. Covered by national health insurance.
Now, that would solve the problem.