Published Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sticking to the message

At a moment in history when political news dominates the national discussion, it’s nice to know that some people remain focused on truly important matters.

And I’m not talking about college football.

A resident of Irvine, Calif., recently asked that the city erect a highway memorial marker to honor hundreds of victims that died recently at the intersection of Yale and Walnut Streets.

Highway memorials are not front page news, but this one would stand out. Mostly because the deceased are fish.

Yes, fish. And they died needlessly, according to Dina Kourda, of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA.

The fish were killed on Oct. 11, when a truck toting 1,600 pounds of saltwater sea bass overturned. The intersection was closed while things were cleaned up. It took a while. The stench was memorable. The fish are now gone. Dina Kourda does not want them to be forgotten.

The memorial marker Kourda proposed would read:

“In memory of hundreds of fish who suffered and died at this spot.”

A letter from PETA supporting the marker says it would serve to remind drivers that they are responsible for the murders of fish that are “hauled to their deaths every day.”

(And happy motoring, you murdering fish killers).

But I digress.

The PETA letter went on to make the case for a memorial, saying, “Although such signs are traditionally reserved for human fatalities, I hope you’ll make an exception because of the enormous suffering involved in this case.

Sparing them from being tossed from a speeding truck and slowly dying from injuries and suffocation seems the least that we can do.”

The letter also reminded us that “research tells us that fish use tools, tell time, sing, and have impressive long-term memories and complex social structures.”

Wow. Sounds like there’s nothing a fish can’t do. But if they’re so smart, why don’t they build the monument themselves. Or at least apply for a government grant to fund it.

On the other hand, maybe I’m being callous. Maybe it’s time fish got the same honor we reserve for others.

And it could be pretty cool.

Get the preacher to dress up like Captain Ahab and bring out a huge, fish-filled coffin shaped like a great white whale. Mrs. Paul and Captain D could be honorary pall bearers.

And I’ve just learned there are other ways to honor a mackerel that’s gone to meet its maker.

The website www.fishfuneralkit.com contains lots of helpful advice on how to proceed “when your fish deserves more than a flush.”

The kit includes ideas for homemade fish coffins, the grieving process and — I kid you not — fish eulogy and memorial song ideas.

There is also a link to a funeral poem for a dead fish. From website http://www.yabucket.com, here it is:

“He swam, he swam

All day long,

He swam, he swam,

He was called Bong

My fishy, my fish.

I used to cry,

I never would see you,

I need to hide

The bowl, it broke,

And out came Bong,

Though swimming,

It didn’t take to long...

Before he died,

Suffocation in the night,

Crying and weeping,

With a tear in his eye...

Thank you so much for the wonderful time we had, Bong... I will never forget you!”

Neither will I. And I wasn’t surprised this “poem” was composed by someone who named a fish after a dope-smoking device.

On the bright side, if the writing gig doesn’t work out, this poet is a perfect fit for PETA.

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