Swiss make it illegal to boil lobsters

Switzerland regularly ranks as one of the best places on earth to live. Beautiful scenery, picturesque cities, robust, friendly people, and, if you like winter sports, a winter wonderland.

But few nations outdo the Swiss in nanny statism. Their national legislature proved that again by banning the practice of putting live lobsters in boiling water. I guess the Swiss can't stand the thought that in the few seconds it takes the lobster to give up the ghost, it might experience pain.

The Swiss banned the manufacture and sale of fois gras, the delicacy where geese are force fed to bursting in order to harvest their enlarged livers. But banning the boiling of live lobsters? That would appear to be another effort to micro-manage society.

USA Today:

A law goes into effect March 1 that bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a big pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is being outlawed because the Swiss say it's cruel and lobsters can sense pain.

The first national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters, by “rendering them unconscious” before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: Electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into salt water and then thrusting a knife into its brain. 

The same law also gives domestic pets further protections, such as dogs can no longer be punished for barking.

The measure is part of the broad principle of “animal dignity” enshrined in Switzerland’s constitution, the only country to have such a provision. The constitution already protects how various species must be treated and specifies that animals need socialization.

Treating animals humanely is a noble goal and we shouldn't criticize the Swiss for holding that principle. But not being able to punish a dog for barking? How the hell else is the beast going to learn not to bark at every little nuisance? Dogs are smart but they lack cognitive thinking skills. They are trained by conditioning them to certain behaviors. Usually, rewarding dogs for doing as they're told is enough. But certain behaviors - like continuous annoying barking and doing their business inside the house - must be conditioned out of them. This takes stern words and the occassional mild rap on the rump. In short, there is no way to reward a dog for not doing something.

I'm sure there are many readers who  would disagree, and that's fine. But the point is, not giving people an option in how they want to dispose of their lobster or punish their dog is nanny statism at its worst. 

What about "animal dignity"? In the case of the Swiss, they have gone around the bend.

That means cats must have a daily visual contact with other felines, and hamsters or guinea pigs must be kept in pairs. And anyone who flushes a pet goldfish down the toilet is breaking the law.

The new lobster legislation that boils down to a pain-free death was driven by research, including a study by Queen’s University in Belfast that found crustaceans are sentient creatures. 

“These studies show that lobsters, like other animals, experience pain and distress,” said Stefan Kunfermann, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs.

I've been kept by cats for 50 years and I've never seen a cat who would "suffer" because they didn't have daily contact with other cats. In fact, the domestic house cat is not - repeat not - a social cat, although for survival, they have learned in many cases to co-exist with other felines. Young kittens may play with each other, but adult cats who live in multi-cat households tend to carve out their own territories in a house and develop non-violent and non-verbal means to keep other kitties away. 

What all this boils down to is trying to make animals into humans and treat them accordingly. It's the apotheosis of anthropomorphism, and while no one faults the Swiss for wanting people to be kind to animals, having the government issue a swollen list of instructions on how they should be treated is ridiculous.

Switzerland regularly ranks as one of the best places on earth to live. Beautiful scenery, picturesque cities, robust, friendly people, and, if you like winter sports, a winter wonderland.

But few nations outdo the Swiss in nanny statism. Their national legislature proved that again by banning the practice of putting live lobsters in boiling water. I guess the Swiss can't stand the thought that in the few seconds it takes the lobster to give up the ghost, it might experience pain.

The Swiss banned the manufacture and sale of fois gras, the delicacy where geese are force fed to bursting in order to harvest their enlarged livers. But banning the boiling of live lobsters? That would appear to be another effort to micro-manage society.

USA Today:

A law goes into effect March 1 that bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a big pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is being outlawed because the Swiss say it's cruel and lobsters can sense pain.

The first national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters, by “rendering them unconscious” before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: Electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into salt water and then thrusting a knife into its brain. 

The same law also gives domestic pets further protections, such as dogs can no longer be punished for barking.

The measure is part of the broad principle of “animal dignity” enshrined in Switzerland’s constitution, the only country to have such a provision. The constitution already protects how various species must be treated and specifies that animals need socialization.

Treating animals humanely is a noble goal and we shouldn't criticize the Swiss for holding that principle. But not being able to punish a dog for barking? How the hell else is the beast going to learn not to bark at every little nuisance? Dogs are smart but they lack cognitive thinking skills. They are trained by conditioning them to certain behaviors. Usually, rewarding dogs for doing as they're told is enough. But certain behaviors - like continuous annoying barking and doing their business inside the house - must be conditioned out of them. This takes stern words and the occassional mild rap on the rump. In short, there is no way to reward a dog for not doing something.

I'm sure there are many readers who  would disagree, and that's fine. But the point is, not giving people an option in how they want to dispose of their lobster or punish their dog is nanny statism at its worst. 

What about "animal dignity"? In the case of the Swiss, they have gone around the bend.

That means cats must have a daily visual contact with other felines, and hamsters or guinea pigs must be kept in pairs. And anyone who flushes a pet goldfish down the toilet is breaking the law.

The new lobster legislation that boils down to a pain-free death was driven by research, including a study by Queen’s University in Belfast that found crustaceans are sentient creatures. 

“These studies show that lobsters, like other animals, experience pain and distress,” said Stefan Kunfermann, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs.

I've been kept by cats for 50 years and I've never seen a cat who would "suffer" because they didn't have daily contact with other cats. In fact, the domestic house cat is not - repeat not - a social cat, although for survival, they have learned in many cases to co-exist with other felines. Young kittens may play with each other, but adult cats who live in multi-cat households tend to carve out their own territories in a house and develop non-violent and non-verbal means to keep other kitties away. 

What all this boils down to is trying to make animals into humans and treat them accordingly. It's the apotheosis of anthropomorphism, and while no one faults the Swiss for wanting people to be kind to animals, having the government issue a swollen list of instructions on how they should be treated is ridiculous.