Sprinkle Fish Food Liberally or Else: Salvo Magazine on How the Swiss Grant “Dignity” to Fish and Flowers

I’m making it my mission to publicize a very good though little-known conservative magazine: Salvo.  I’ve mentioned it on this blog before.  There’s a new issue up that’s well worth reading.  Check the site out, and give it a bookmark or a notice on your blog in order to spread word of this punchy thought-mag.

The latest issue features an article entitled, seriously, “Yodelay Cuckoo: The Swiss Go Crazy–Literally–Over “Dignity”” by Michael Cook.  See, with a title like that, you need to read the article.  Here’s an excerpt from the amusing and enlightening piece:

“Their penchant for yodeling notwithstanding, the Swiss must be counted among the most dignified people on the planet. Now their parliament has decreed that Swiss goldfish, too, must be treated with dignity. And not because they are gold, but because they are fish. Beginning in September, a new law will set rigorous standards for the treatment of all “social animals.” Swiss aquariums must have an opaque side to allow the fish to live in a natural cycle of day and night. It will also be an offense to keep a lone goldfish, guinea pig, or budgerigar. Or one rhinoceros, apparently, because the law also covers pet rhinoceroses.”

Here’s another shocking report:

“[Some believe] that “decapitation of wild flowers at the roadside without rational reason” is essentially a crime. In fact, the committee was unanimous in its agreement that any “arbitrary harm caused to plants [is] morally impermissible.” Genetic modification of plants would be permitted—but only if their “independence,” including their reproductive ability, is ensured. This could mean that producing sterile roses or seedless fruit will be an offense under Swiss law.”

Dignity is losing all semblance of coherence, according to Cook:

“[T]here seems to be no bottom to the ever-deepening spiral of non-human dignity. Somewhere above spiders and slugs, perhaps. But the Swiss experience suggests otherwise. Once the DNA of human dignity has been tampered with, it keeps expanding by some crazy logic, unfettered by common sense, until it includes plants and even “other organisms.” Now it threatens to turn treading on wildflowers into a crime. And it might not stop there. What constitutes respect for the dignity of bacteria and viruses must send shivers through the Swiss pharmaceutical industry. The Swiss need to recover the conviction that human beings deserve a special status because they are unique in the universe, the only beings with reason and free will.”

So there you have it.  Ladies and gentlemen, you need a “rational reason” for plucking or “crushing” a flower in Switzerland.   Also, you need at least two goldfish in your tank; one alone threatens the goldfish, a “social animal”, with paranoia.  That, after all, is why goldfish swim in such unpredictable patterns, their eyes bugging out, mouths open.  It’s because they’re alone, desperately alone, racked by angst, devastated by loneliness, unable to do anything but swim, and swim, and sometimes eat little flakes of fish food that smell a lot like old pepper.

All jesting aside, there are serious theological issues in play here.  The Swiss have lost all sense of the imago dei and thus are extending rights due humans to all kinds of creatures, including socially depressed rhinos.  This sounds crazy, and it is, but it is also a sure sign that the Swiss have lost the gospel.  We should read stories like this and laugh, yes, but we also should pray that people will give up their lives in their home country and go to Switzerland to witness about God and the truth of His world (start with Genesis 1 and Romans 1 on the imago dei).  We also should hope that the Swiss church will faithfully proclaim the scriptural foundation for human dignity, namely, the fact that humanity is the creation of God and thus invested with certain unique abilities and features that set it apart from plants, animals, and all else.

So there you have it.  Pray for Switzerland, teach the image of God in your churches and homes, and sprinkle fish food liberally.  That’s all the goldfish have, because they can’t read Salvo magazine like you and I can.

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