High School Turtle Torture

When I was high school, a biology teacher, Mr. Jackson cut the bottom shell off a live turtle and attached its heart to a lever that charted the twitchings on a graph. I told everyone he was a sadist. Mr. Mackenzie, the principal, called me down to his office and gently chastised me for slandering a teacher. Mr. Jackson reassured me The turtle feels no pain. I countered How do you know? He replied It’s spinal nerves are cut. I said Well, it sure looks as if it is in pain. It is struggling frantically to right itself. He responded That is just a reflex. He offered Using the turtle will save many lives. This turtle will last all day. Had I used frogs, I would have had to kill one for each class I accused Your experiment has no point. Everyone already knows that hearts beat He said You are planning a career in biology. You will have to get used to this I said If that’s what it means to be a biologist I want no part of it. Since I am writing this years later, I can compose a better retort: If you are so sure this will not hurt, how about I poke a scalpel into the back of your neck and cut your spinal nerves. Then you can reassure me, based on evidence, that the procedure is painless. From my personal experience, nerves hurt like the blazes when you cut them. Turtle nerves and human nerves are almost identical.

That was the last day of my biology career and my first day of animal rights advocacy.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)