Some of you may remember a similar picture from an earlier post, Pancake in the Creek. It is a spiny soft-shelled turtle, formal name Apalone spinifera. This one is small, just a baby compared to his cousins and the more commonly known snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina.
Earlier this week, I read a post on Julie Zickefoose's blog, "Snapperfest: The World Is Watching," about a community gathering in Ohio County, Indiana, during which otherwise grown men (and women) take part in an activity to prove their masculinity. Yeah, sure. See the video on Julie's post or here.
Both soft-shell and common snapping turtles are put into a trough, the contestant runs up to the trough, pulls a turtle out by its tail and runs back to a mat. There, against the stop watch, he shoves his hand into the turtle's shell, pulls out its head then grabs it around the neck, holding it up proudly for the cheering crowd to see. If the contestant's effort is not successful and the turtle manages to bite his finger, someone is designated to step in, kill the turtle so the contestant's finger can be retrieved. In these cases, of course, it is the turtle that dies due to the
I am surmising that this amoral and cruel contest was born out of a bar bet. We all know that on more occasions than we care to admit, grown men get so caught up in proving their manhood that the testosterone/alcohol mixture takes over, they overdose and do stupid things. This must've been an activity invented by men sitting around; bored and full of beer, they dared each other to prove their manhood --
"Hell, you ain't got no balls unless you can pull a snapper's haid out of its shell."
And so a "community tradition" came into being.
The people of the community would have you believe that outsiders are interfering, trying to destroy a part of their "culture." This year was the 15th annual renewal of this event. Does fifteen years constitute a cultural tradition? Really?
The people of the region will probably also have you believe that the turtles aren't harmed by this activity. Watch that tape and ask yourself whether you, your child, your cats or dogs, or any living thing should be treated the way those so-called adult males are treating those turtles. Is this what it takes to be considered a man? Is this what is required in that "culture" for a grown-ass man to prove his worth?
Shit, just when I'd thought I'd left that sort of intellectual pygmy behind, I find it's still just beyond my back door.
|Photo of "Spiny Snapper" by Gloria Degitz|
Please, check out her beautiful wildlife photography at the Hannibal Alliance Art Gallery.