Saturday, June 20, 2009
Lords of the Flies
Carol E. Lee, PETA miffed at President Obama's fly 'execution':
The president has been getting lots of kudos for a lightning-fast, Mr. Miyagi-worthy swipe he employed to slay a pesky house fly that was buzzing him in mid-interview during a taping with CNBC that aired Wednesday.
"He stopped the interview to track and kill the fly," said talk show host Conan O'Brien.
"That's some pretty impressive hand-eye coordination right there," Jimmy Fallon gushed. "Makes Obama look like a bad ass."
But now People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling it an "execution," wants the commander-in-chief to show a little more compassion to even "the least sympathetic animals."
"Believe it or not, we've actually been contacted by multiple media outlets wanting to know PETA's official response to the executive insect execution," a blog on the group's website explained. "In a nutshell, our position is this: He isn't the Buddha, he's a human being, and human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act."
The group has sent Obama a device that traps a fly so it can then be released outside.
"We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Freidrich explained.
The fly saga began Tuesday, and it was the subject of a news report on Italian TV and almost a dozen YouTube postings that have been viewed more than 750,000 times. Thousands of people also have added commentary, including one who wrote, "But can he duck a shoe?" in reference to a hugely popular video of former president George Bush ducking a shoe thrown at him by an Iraqi cameraman during a news conference in Baghdad.
"Get out of here," Obama said as the fly buzzed him during his interview. The pest persisted, and when it landed on his left forearm, Obama smacked it.
"Now, where were we?" the president said without missing a beat. Pleased with himself, he added, "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."
Several observers in the room gave congratulatory shout-outs. Obama pointed to the floor and instructed an obliging cameraman to get a close-up of the corpse.
"It's like he's got one of those fly Terminator targeting systems in his eyes," said an awed Jon Stewart.
Suetonius, Life of Domitian 3.1 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus. Consequently when someone once asked whether anyone was in there with Caesar, Vibius Crispus made the witty reply: "Not even a fly."
Inter initia principatus cotidie secretum sibi horarum sumere solebat nec quicquam amplius quam muscas captare ac stilo praeacuto configere, ut cuidam interroganti, essetne quis intus cum Caesare, non absurde responsum sit a Vibio Crispo, ne muscam quidem.