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Chan Lowe: Merchants of death


merchants.gifBack when I lived in Oklahoma, I had a Hitchcockian problem with hundreds of pigeons living under the eaves of my house.

They were filthy, they left guano all over the place, and their incessant cooing drove me crazy day and night.

Desperate for relief, I approached a neighbor for advice. “You got several alternatives,” he said. “You can get yourself one of them fake owls to scare ‘em off, but they wise up after a while and ignore it. You can use a pellet gun on 'em, but you might bust a window if you miss.

"You can spread poisoned feed, but then you’ll have to clean up all the dead bodies. And finally,”⎯here, he grinned diabolically⎯“you can nail some shiny metal shingles to your roof. They go nuts peckin’ at the reflection, and they peck themselves to death.”

There was an almost biblical appeal to the last option, in which the pigeons actively participated in their own demise. Besides, it removed me ethically from direct responsibility for the birds’ deaths, because there was an element of free will involved on their part.

Maybe this is how people who make money by selling products that shorten people’s lives rationalize their livelihoods.

They produce legal products, after all. If people can’t control their urges around them and end up hurting and killing themselves and others, then they’re the victims of their own weakness. So be it. The providers can join Pontius Pilate in the clean hands club.

By the way, before I could figure out what to do about the pigeons, they flew off en masse one day of their own volition. I was left with a clear conscience and a fascia full of guano.

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Comments

I do wish there were a category of product it was legal to sell, but not legal to advertise though. The ad campaigns are what make the whole personal responsibility thing a bit iffy. Cigarettes are supposedly in that category now, but that was more of a voluntary thing to avoid an even worse fate, and if push came to shove, I'm sure the 1st amendment would favor the tobacco companies.


Nice story, Chan! You put your point across rather eloquently.


please do not buy into this entire obesity epidemic!! people are living longer and longer, and so many people blindly follow the entire obesity hoax!! Penn and Teller do an entire segment on their Showtime special B.S. on the fake science that the media spews and regular folks start believing as fact!! mark my words in 15 years people will also laugh at our obession with cholestrol! it all comes down to genetics, we would all like to control our destiny but it is not how it works!! so enjoy potato chips and burgers and candy bars...life is good and your genetics will determine if you are fat or skinny or live to 75 or a 105!!


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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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