Dear Angler: Did you know you were a terrorist?

This is an excerpt from a letter to the editor of The Courant, Saturday, January 17, 2015. The author is referencing a story the paper ran on ice fishing:

“Selective human empathy, such as humans for their pets, is a fundamental shortcoming to evolving a sustainable civilization. To the victims of slaughter or pleasure sports, whether fishermen, hunters or ISIS, there is no difference. Classic reaction: A fish with feelings? Ha.”

I’m not sure where to begin here. We’ll start with the glass house metaphor. Let’s give the writer the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn’t eat meat or own a single leather item.

The assertion that a civilization that keeps some animals for pets and eats others is retarding its evolution is patently absurd. Dogs have been domesticated for over 10,000 years. How much longer have humans have been eating animal flesh, and where would we be on the evolutionary calendar today if we were all vegans?

We could move on to politically incorrect sexism next. “Fishermen?” Not “anglers?” That’s a fairly substantial liberal thought spectrum faux pas. If you have a dick and you fish, you’re bad person. Female anglers, apparently, are exempt from such judgement. (April Vokey will no doubt be relieved.)

The “fish have/do not have feelings” argument is ultimately a cul-de-sac. I could offer up such pearls as, “What would be a trout’s reaction if you played Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ for it?” “Are bigger fish evil because they prey on smaller fish — and do those smaller fish feel bad when they get eaten?” Or even, “If a fish has the capacity to feel, why doesn’t it swim toward you when it is hooked rather than away?” No one is going to convince me that fish are anything other than rather primitive animals, and I’m not likely to convert the other side.

But equating me with ISIS because I fish?

That kind of thinking makes fish look intelligent.