The following column was originally published in March of 2007.
While editor of a news organization (sort of), we got lots of press releases from nearly every publicity-hungry collection of political zealots known to mankind.
But I remember one I received that really caught my eye.
It was from the “Save The Manatees” group.
At first, I thought it was somebody pulling my chain, because people who know me know that I’m the only guy on the planet who hates manatees.
Everyone loves them because they’re like Jessica Simpson:
Cute and stupid.
But for me, it’s a personal grudge that dates back to my time in Florida.
You see, the manatee is to Florida what the desert tortoise is to Nevada:
A slow, outdated, annoying critter that has outlived its evolutionary usefulness but is protected by Federal law the way we WISH we were protected against Muslim terrorists and Amway distributors.
In fact, I believe manatees and tortoises both continue to exist solely to spite Darwin.
Like the problems caused here by the desert tortoise, huge whacks of rivers and lakes in Florida have been designated off-limits because somebody spotted something playing in that section of water that could have either been a manatee or Rosie O’Donnell on vacation.
In those few remaining inland waterways where boats are still permitted, the speed limit is set at five miles per hour in order to protect these poor creatures known as “sea cows.”
“Sea possums” would be more accurate, since the darn things tend to wander out in front of speeding boats for no apparent reason.
As is indicative of these feel-good but brainless animal-rights zealots, apparently nobody at “Save The Manatee Central” bothered to notice that we don’t have a lot of manatees out here in the desert.
I stopped by the bridge on Riverside Road and peered into the Virgin River recently, just to make sure.
I could tell that there weren’t any manatees in the river, not because I didn’t see their lumbering brown backsides breaking the water’s surface, but because I didn’t see 47 signs saying “No Humans Allowed – Manatee Zone.”
This is good news, since it may be the last tributary in America where you can run your 42-foot cabin cruiser at 30 knots without getting a ticket from the “carp cops” (what we used to call the marine police).
If you’ve ever seen the Virgin River, you know that I’m joking. Except for that brief period known as “the Floods of '05,” the river rarely gets deeper than 12 inches.
The press release went on to explain that a horror has befallen the poor manatees which needed to be exposed on the pages of our desert newspaper.
The manatees are being:
That’s right, those evil bipeds known as, ugh, humans (yuck!), have been filmed doing such terrible and degrading things as (please take the young children out of the room when you read this), TOUCHING the manatees!
Some have even been videotaped swimming with them and even RIDING them!
We must stop this insanity!
I saw the video.
Nobody was torturing, beating, or harming these lumbering creatures.
In fact, throughout the video, divers were petting the manatees and rubbing their bellies.
I wish someone would torture and harass ME like that after a big meal!
The captions on the video also referred to them as “cold and hungry manatees.”
If you’ve ever been to the Sunshine State, you know that there are hot tubs and spas in Beverly Hills that aren’t as warm as a Florida river.
Also, manatees feed on underwater vegetation.
Have you heard of any big seaweed shortages in the south lately?
The only reason I bring this up is that I wanted to show that we in the desert haven’t cornered the market on environmental lunacy.
There are human-haters all over the country.
Eventually, there will be a video on YouTube showing the horrors of someone trying to pet a desert tortoise.
You’ll know those petters immediately.
They’ll be the ones with three missing fingers, wearing a t-shirt that says “I love turtle stew.”