Originally, this appeared in the Tartan, Radford University’s newspaper, around 2001, then in my own online magazine, Root & Branch, in 2003. Now, for posterity, I present to you, direct and uncut, the following:
When I was a child I was what you might call warped in the head. Some of the things I did make me look back, shake my head, and wonder in amazement. One of these was inflicting cruel and unusual, tortuous deaths on insects. I was the beetle’s bane, the ant’s antagonist, and other evil things that start with the same letter as other insects. My ominous, shadowy figure made antennae quiver and pupae shiver in their fat little rolls of whiteness. The scariest horror stories bugs could tell to their babies were full of descriptions of my pitiless, glistening eye and ingenious weapons of death. Yes, the ways of my youth brought me little friendship with the insect world. I left a trail in my wake of legless granddaddy longlegs, scorched bumblebees, hobbling and silenced crickets, smeared fireflies, and impaled praying mantises struck down in mid-plea. Spiders grew fat with my offerings. I maintained a respect for the arachnid family somehow, and would ritually offer them the fatness of my gleaning as a token of intertribal friendship. There was rarely a day when the webs outside my house were not heavy with fresh meat. There were always, of course, a few spiders of the more humane sub-types who would form councils against my extremist ways. Many a Wolf Spider would have sold his soul to the Black Widow herself if she would do her worst to me. However, she and her Brown Recluse henchmen were far from appalled from my ways, finding a point of commonality in our morbidity. I was, then, for the most part free to do my worst, not giving a second thought to the havoc I wreaked.
There was one, however, who became my antagonist during those early years of my life. I now would like to thank her for her efforts. My cousin, Jessica, was the typical scrawny, wild-haired mountain girl with stormy rain in her eyes. She was the nymph of the Appalachians and the trees knew her by name. The soil recognized her barefoot steps as she flitted across, off to some wonderful adventure. I now see in her many traits that I have developed over the years. At the time, I only thought of her as a bully who would knock me onto the ground if I even so much as looked at a bug the wrong way. At least she never took a magnifying glass to my stomach and bored a hole through to my internal organs until they smoked and bubbled. That would have been my just end, for that is what I would do to any carpenter bee who desired to make his home in my breezeway. This is the past that haunts me.
At this time in my life I would like to finally apologize for the insensitivity I had to insect-kind. I only hope that my efforts now will be able to make up, in some way, for my horrible history. Today I make a proposal. It has come to the attention of many people that with regard to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness there are those among us getting the raw end of the deal. These are our friends the bugs: the ladybugs, stickbugs, flies, gnats, cicadas, and especially ants. It is my feeling, riddled with guilt at my own life of apathy toward these smaller members of our planet, that insects need an advocate group among humans. Since we have not yet developed the ability to communicate to our small companions, I feel the need to speak for them the things that we know they are thinking and communicating among themselves in their own tiny languages. I believe it is not enough to be supportive of insects. We need an active group, strong and with the backing of our legislatures, to encourage awareness of bug rights. With this in mind I have created the Proponents for the Smaller Ones Among Us Rights Foundational Group Association, Inc. (PSOAURFGA for short). In anticipation of the abundance of members who will be attaching themselves to this foundational association (based on up-to-date research polls which show that 100% of people surveyed do not promote the killing of ladybugs) and the abundance of those who still need to be educated on the rights of bugs (based on another study indicating that 100% of those polled did not feel sorry when they accidentally drown an insect in the shower) I have come up with a suggested list of goals for our first year. The PSOAURFGA, Inc. goals for 2004 are as follows:
1. Incorporate “Bug Education” in our school system, including classes such as “Bugs are People Too” “The Needs of Bugs” and “Alternate Bug Lifestyles” with themes starting in Kindergarten such as “It’s okay for a mommy bug to eat a daddy bug and all the little baby bugs. Really, it is.”
2. Stop cultural eating of bug larvae (including boycotting tribes of Zimbabwe and surrounding areas).
3. Let mosquitoes suck blood whenever they feel the need to replenish themselves and promoting “Safe Sucks” ads and sterilized mosquito nose prophylactics.
4. Arrest Benjamin Shelor for torturing bugs as a youth (to be suspended upon trial).
5. Ban or at least regulate the public use of fly swatters. Fly swatters and fly paper should be within regulatory limits of type and caliber, and should only be used in defense by trained bug professionals working for a new government agency entitled Internal Insect Affairs.
Please join with me in the fight against insectophobes and bugots, and toward the education of all humans concerning insect rights. I know that together we can combat the failures of our past and build a world where insect and human can walk hand-in-feeler in a brave new alliance.