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Putting Fish to Sleep

    There are always questions about how painful different methods of killing fish are to the fish.  This is a natural reaction people have.  It is never easy to kill an animal that you have become attached to.  Sometimes it is decided that to allow the animal to continue living would only add more pain to the world.  So what should we do?
    First, I seriously doubt any research that claims any animal feels pain the way we do.  All they can do is brain wave tests, but without asking them how they feel and getting an answer, I don't think we will ever know for sure.  There are two types of pain, physical and emotional.  Physical pain is what we feel from our nerves telling us there is a problem.  Emotional pain is what we make ourselves feel, and it can be blocked out through practice.  Humans feel both, but there is no way to know if animals can feel
emotional pain.  They may just be reacting to physical pain.  Humans see an animal as similar to themselves and we want to see the things they do as being intelligent actions, when they might not be.  This is just my theory of pain.
    Second, the point of euthanasia is to kill the fish quickly so they don't suffer for a long time.  As I already said, there is no way to know if animals suffer emotionally or just as an instinctual response to conditions, but I will assume they can suffer.  The only way to kill a fish so that it will never know is to place it on the ground and smash it quickly with a brick or your boot.  Being out of water during that process may stress the fish, but it won't cause much pain and it will never know what hit it.  
    Personally, I don't like euthanasia.  I don't believe it is right to kill any human life without due process of law for a crime or in times of war, and then only the enemy.  Killing someone because they are not perfect or might have a disease or genetic disorder that causes pain (or not) is giving them an easy way out and it isn't fair to those who take the pain and go naturally.  Not to mention it is illegal in America.  Now I will transfer that feeling to animals.  Euthanasia in animals is usually based on a human emotion of feeling sorry for the fish, even if the fish isn't really aware of the problem.  It is done so a human will not have to watch the fish die, a way to beat death.  I don't believe there was ever a pet euthanized for the good of the pet.  It is always because the human fears death and not knowing when it will happen.
    So maybe I should now argue with myself.  I personally have never had any type of discussion with any other species, but it is known that some animals can communicate with each other.  That seems to at least show some sign of intelligence.  Now I'm not going to agree that a gorilla can really learn sign language, they sure can, but that doesn't mean they can discuss major issues like the banana shortage in Alaska or whatever it is they are concerned with.  But the fact that they can use sign language to ask for a banana is important.  But I don't know about fish.  They aren't mammals like whales and gorillas.  They can be trained, so that brings them up a little, but you can program a computer too.
    The implications of the discovery that animals have intelligence would destroy the world.  Meat would no longer be a good thing to eat, so about a billion people would no longer have a job working in the meat industry.  Fish keeping as we know it would have to end.  Humans as a species would have to rethink 6000 years of discoveries, philosophy, religion, and science.  Not to mention the fact that humanity would no longer be able to maintain itself.  Humanity would die out in a few years.
    All of this would take an entire semester of philosophy to come close to discussing, not to mention understanding.  This is really a philosophical question, and science can only answer it based on the philosophy of the scientist (whoever said science is exact never read page one of the science book).  My philosophy may be correct, or it may be wrong, there is no real way to know.  But I still don't like euthanasia.  Most people have to suffer in life, and it isn't fair to the rest of us.  This goes for suicide too.  If you want an easy way out, you are normal.  If you take the easy way, there is a good chance you will find you made a big mistake.  I have no problem with killing animals for food, but I say let them suffer like the rest of us.
    I have one last concern.  I don't normally like slippery slope theories.  They are by their nature hypothetical.  But I think this is one place we can't go.  Imagine a world where people who are suffering are put to sleep by their doctor.  Then you start wondering at what point they should be put to sleep.  What is enough of a cause?  Mental disorders?  Loss of multiple limbs?  Sever burns?  Paralyzing injury?  No human has the right to commit this terrible crime.  Do you know who did like this idea of putting people out of their misery?  Hitler!  Euthanasia is evil, and those who support it support one of the worst evils there is, the murder of innocent, defenseless people.  It just shows a complete loss of respect for life and should be ended.

Copyright 2004.