From chapter "Primary Perception and Biocommunication"
I just read a blog account of someone who was “suffering from a serious slug problem” in her kitchen. One night she accidentally stepped on one, getting its guts all over her bare foot. So, “traumatised and utterly disgusted,” she “went on a revenge-driven, murderous killing-spree with the sodium chloride.”
Please note that in addition to the redundancy—killing sprees by definition involve murder—she is the one who is traumatized—never mind the slug she crushed—and she is the one who must seek revenge on the others of the species for one member having the temerity to happen to put its body in the path of her foot. This is a window into the hatred of nature that accompanies human supremacism. It is analogous to those ranchers who kill every wolf they see because one wolf ate one calf the ranchers were running in the wolf’s home. Or more accurately, it’s analogous to a rancher killing every wolf he sees, then tracking down and killing the rest of a pack when a wolf bleeds on him.
Back to the woman with slugs in her kitchen. Watching “the slugs writhe around for several minutes following administration of the salt treatment” further traumatized her, because “it looked painful; death by dehydration seems like a pretty unpleasant way to die.”
How to deal with the trauma? Supremacism, once again, to the rescue: “In an attempt to alleviate my contrition I tried to tell myself that it killed them reasonably quickly and they didn’t suffer for long. Then I began to wonder . . . do they actually suffer at all? Do slugs and other such gastropod molluscs actually have a nervous system that is sufficiently developed to generate the sensation of pain as we know it?”
Although the author acknowledges that “higher [sic] invertebrates— some worms, flies and our friend Limax—have quite highly developed nervous systems, believe it or not—only a few notches down the evolutionary ladder from ourselves. [Please note the Great Chain of Being reference, in full human supremacist glory.] They have highly developed sensory organs which send nerve impulses along sensory neurones to clusters of neurones in the head. These are called central ganglia, and are essentially a very primitive brain. Information is then relayed to muscles in different parts of the body through a nerve cord (not dissimilar to the vertebrate spinal cord) that runs from head to tail of the animal, and allows changes in behaviour. So, actually, the nervous system organisation in these invertebrates is rather similar to our own. Not great for the ego, eh?”
It’s not great for the ego if you base your self-worth on having nothing in common—not even the rudiments of your nervous system—with other residents of this planet.
The author went searching for experiments where scientists had tortured mollusks, ostensibly to determine whether the nonhumans felt pain. She discovered that “the first thing to happen when you roast a snail is that it retracts into its shell to minimise immediate damage. Secondly, if the snail remains on the hot-plate for more than 30 seconds or so, it will protract from its shell, secrete a thick, insulating, yellow mucous, and display searching movements—very sensible—in an attempt to get to somewhere that is not as hot. These searching movements involve contraction of the foot (the part in contact with the hot-plate), and repeated turning of the body from side to side.” She acknowledges that this fits with what humans would do in a similar situation, and fits as well with what she had observed in the slugs: “ The first thing that the slugs do is contract their bodies to about half of their normal length, and curl up at the edges. Then, they begin their characteristic writhing around that I described; moving their gait rapidly from one side to the other in an attempt to find somewhere less salty. Death comes too swiftly to allow the secretion of a mucous, but I bet that if you were to put the slugs on a non-lethal salty surface, there would be a mucous secretion, just like in snails.”
Her conclusion comes in standard nonsensical human supremacist fashion: “My own feeling is that slugs DON’T feel pain in the sense that we know it, and my reasons for thinking this are thus. The sensation of ‘pain’ is not generated directly at the area of damage. In vertebrates such as ourselves, damage stimulates pain receptors in tissues, and electrical impulses are sent to the brain. The brain then integrates and interprets the information, and makes you feel pain in the area that you’ve damaged. But there’s the key point—pain is a feeling that is generated by the brain: specifically, if you’re interested, in two regions known as the peri-aqueductal grey matter and the nucleus raphe magnus.”
I’m so glad we have science to tell us not to believe the writhing that is happening before our eyes.
The author even acknowledges that morphine has an effect on the pain response of other creatures such as lobsters, but then lets us know that this doesn’t mean that lobsters feel pain. It just means that morphine affects their responses to pain (which, according to her, they don’t feel).
Don’t bother trying to figure out the logic. It doesn’t really hang together. It doesn’t have to. Neither logic nor evidence were ever going to be allowed to lead where they may, but rather were going to be tortured into shape to serve her supremacism. Near the end the author reveals the real point of the whole damn article: “At least, I can sleep safe in the knowledge that I did not cause the slug the most unbearable agony that I initially thought I had.”
This, succinctly stated, is the central point and most important function of any supremacist philosophy.