D.L. STEWART: New law may help keep Swiss lobsters out of hot water

Adding to its reputation as the most pacifistic of nations, Switzerland has outlawed lobster boiling.

As reported this week in USA Today, a law that takes effect March 1 makes it illegal to plunge a live lobster into a pot of boiling water. Violators will be subject to up to three years in prison. The legislation was adopted as a result of research reporting that “lobsters, like other animals, experience pain and distress.”

Because eating a lobster while it still was alive probably would cause even more distress for both eater and eatee, an alternative method of crustacean execution has been suggested: rendering it unconscious before boiling. Exactly how one goes about rendering a lobster unconscious isn’t covered in most cookbooks. Do you hit it over the head with a candlestick or merely punch it in the jaw? Assuming lobsters have jaws.

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Two alternatives have been offered by the Swiss legislature. One would be to electrocute it, although I personally would be reluctant to try that without the help of a certified electrician. The other would be to sedate it and then thrust a knife into its brain. As far as I know, no one actually has interviewed lobsters to ask them if they would prefer to die by electrocution or by stabbing. My guess is that nine out of 10 lobsters would vote for a firing squad.

Some people might regard the new law as Swiss silliness (this is, after all, the same country that already had made it unconstitutional to flush a goldfish down the toilet) a lot of others will applaud it. PETA, for instance. And my ex-wife, for another instance.

While we still were married, I went fishing one day and unexpectedly caught a catfish. Because I didn’t have a stringer, I brought it home in a bucket of water. As I laid it on the chopping block and prepared to fillet it, she walked into the kitchen.

“What are you doing to that fish?” she yelled.

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“I’m going to fillet and roll it in cornmeal,” I replied.

“But it’s still alive,” she protested.

“That’s why I’m holding this big knife.”

“Do you have to kill it?”

“I suppose we could wait until it dies of natural causes. It could get gill cancer or something.”

She grabbed the fish, carried it to the basement and gently deposited it into a stationery tub filled with cool water, where it splashed around for the next three days enjoying the worms she dug up for it in the back yard.

By the fourth day the fish showed no signs of expiring, so I put it back into the pail and returned it to the lake. Where it probably died laughing.

Contact this columnist at dlstew_2000@yahoo.com.