The Nation's Pulse

Overreactions to Disaster

Some additional perspective on the Oil Spill.

By 6.25.10

Not for a moment do I question that the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher is a "disaster" or a "catastrophe" of some kind. But I am beginning to wonder of what kind.

Yes, for tourism in the area, it is very bad. For shrimpers and other fishermen in the affected area, it is just terrible. But when I see the photos of the oil soaked birds and hear the sobs about them, a few thoughts come to mind.

Marine birds are beautiful and a wonder of nature. But hunters kill hundreds of thousands of them every year and brag about it and have giant parties around it. What makes those birds less worthy of survival than the pelicans and other marine birds getting killed by oil soaked water?

Birds are generally impressive and cute and it hurts to see any of them get killed. But we kill roughly 30 MILLION chickens per day in this country for food. To some people, they are also cute and impressive. Why are they deemed less worthy of life then other kinds of birds? Why is killing a few pelicans deemed so much more important than the deaths of other birds?

We are all sad to see hermit crabs and other cute little animals killed by the oil spill and it should not have happened. But hunters kill hundreds of thousands of deer every year, and we consider this a totally legitimate and even praiseworthy activity. What's the difference? Deer can look kind of sweet, too.

We kill more -- way more -- than one hundred MILLION cattle a year. They have moods and feelings, too. Some people speak up for them, but not many. Why are hermit crabs more important than sweet mooing cattle?

Or take the matter of the disaster of harm to Gulf fishing. I completely agree, again, that the oil spill is a tragedy for the Gulf fishermen and their families. But fish from the Gulf are way less than two per cent of all fish consumed in this country each year. That loss, or rather a partial loss, is not a catastrophe for the world at large.

Of course, we all grieve for the eleven good men and true killed on the drilling platform. They were fine people. But no one hears or reads a word about the 3,000 babies killed every single day in the abortion mills of the nation. They have never done anything wrong, and they get killed intentionally, not accidentally, and killing them is considered a civil right under the Constitution. Where is the outrage? 

Again, I am not for a moment saying that for the Gulf residents directly affected that it's anything but horrible. But this isn't war. This isn't a tsunami. This is not a plague. It is really bad and it could get worse, but it is a sort of a small "c" catastrophe so far. The notion that we should try to change all energy production and consumption because of it is just not sensible. The idea that the Deepwater Horizon mess mandates a complete change in oil and gas production and taxation is preposterous. Mr. Obama's demands that the whole world change because of this event are a solution looking for a problem, and not the other way around.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.