Free the Lobsters & Then On to Vegetables


The animal rights extremists have a new cause – “free the lobsters.” Ofelya Rotunda will never forget the day last spring when she took a listless 12-pound lobster recently purchased at a Texas store and let it crawl back into the Atlantic. His tail was flapping as I carried him, almost as if he was going to jump out of my hand, recalled Ms. Rotunda, a 44-year-old health-food distributor from Portsmouth, N.H. It really was an incredible experience for me. You could really see him coming alive again. Ms. Rotunda is part of a five-year-old campaign aimed at the world’s appetite for lobsters. The campaign has focused on the usual cooking method: boiling the creatures alive. Animal-rights advocates call it nothing short of torture.

These activists are the laughing stock of Maine which produces more than half of the country’s lobsters. The lobster industry does not take the campaign lightly, however, and they are sending information to groceries that have been picketed explaining that boiling is a painless, humane way to kill lobsters.

“It’s a very serious issue,” said Robert Bayer, director of the Lobster Institute, an industry-financed research and education program at the University of Maine in Orono. “You can’t say with certainty that these things don’t feel pain. But they don’t really have a brain. Still, you try to treat them as humanely as possible.”

The “free the lobsters” loons are not alone.

Apparently Tibetan Buddhists agree with them. They recently blessed and then freed 534 lobsters from a whale-watching boat. They saved the lobsters from the dinner plate and sent the little crustaceans flopping to their freedom in the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean so they could live to bottom feed another day.

At least one can understand an austere religious group’s motivations, but, in terms of the animal rights activists, it is hard to figure out how instant death of a near-brainless creature is torture.

If they succeed in freeing the lobsters, what’s next? Stringbeans?