Regular readers of this column already know of my sympathy and love for animals. My views have resulted from the manner in which I was reared in the hills of Pennsylvania. Our family lived among animals, grandfather had a mink ranch, and we had animals for pets. I have long been compassionate about God's creatures.
It is fair to say that I do draw the line against poisonous snakes, wild critters bent on eating me and pests that may bite and give me diseases or discomfort. I do not feel very compassionate when suddenly facing one of those Pennsylvania rattlesnakes.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals most likely do not share my view. These are the good folks who recently criticized President Obama for killing a pesky fly bothering him in the White House in mid-June during an interview with NBC correspondent John Harwood.
You may have been watching television when the president expressed disapproval of the intruding fly, instructing it to "get out of here." When the fly persisted in being a pest, the president swatted and explained, "I got the sucker!"
Many viewers, myself included, probably said, "way to go, Mr. President." Yeah, sure, but not the members of PETA. They expected the president of the United States to interrupt government business, trap the fly and release it outside on White House grounds.
It is a free country and people are entitled to their opinions. Those in disagreement expect that fly, had it been put out on the White House lawn to bother some staffer having lunch, would have faced swatting once again.
Why is no compassion being shown this creature? Well, because houseflies do spread disease, dysentery and food poisoning, and they do bite. I had flies feed on my blood more times than I care to remember. I do not want their bites and I resent their presence at a picnic because they contaminate food.
As much as I love animals, I expect a fly to leave me alone when I so indicate. When it refuses, my affection for it is short-lived. A fly quickly becomes a nuisance and a potential enemy. I do not want him feeding on my blood and inflicting a painful bite. I do not want a disease passed on to me by a pesky fly.
Since flies pose a danger, management includes keeping doors and windows screened or closed, and spraying routinely. Traps work, but in an emergency, so does swatting!
We can sympathize with PETA's goals, but remembering there are exceptions to rules. President Obama's swatting (killing) of the fly was seen by PETA as proof that he "wasn't perfect." Others felt the president was a normal person who, under the circumstances, "got the sucker" as best he could!
The president of the United States is expected to be too busy solving our many problems to take the time to trap and release a pesky housefly!
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Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.