Murderer!

If you don't kill animals, what about bugs?

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You've just sat down with your plate of sizzling tofu cutlets, hoisting your canvas tennies on the lawn lounger, and then it happens. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. It's life. . .or it's death. Lay waste to the mosquito -- as well as your entire ethical code against ani mal killing -- or spare the insect, and be true to your spiel.

While this dilemma may leave slap-happy carnivores hooting, it's a concern troubling many, not just this summer, but for centuries. Ancient spiritual texts from the Qur'an to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bhagavad Gita address the finer points of animal eth ics, notes author and animal activist John Hoyt. Some teachings are hard core: The Jainist monks in India sweep paths before them and wear masks to prevent inadvertent insect fatalities. But in case this is starting to sound too over-the-top, some spirit ual injunctions do contain a sanity clause -- Islamic ethics allow killing of dangerous bugs like scorpions.

Is there a middle ground? In Yoga Journal (May/June 1995), Lonny J. Brown outlines tactics for tackling the mosquitos, wasps, mice, spider, and fly problems in his woodsy cabin. First ask them to leave. (He swears it works.) Next, try 's piritual immunity.' (They bite, but -- mind over matter, now -- it doesn't hurt.) Finally, there's killing with kindness. Short form, do what Isabel Hickey, the grandmother of esoteric astrology does: shout 'Go to God!' before smushing the little bugger s.

Finally, you can choose to stay a purist. Michael Mountain, editor of Best Friends (May 1995), prescribes relocating spiders outdoors, and gently blowing mosquitos from their bloody perch. In her overview of People for the Ethical Treatme nt of Animals in The Washington Post (May 27, 1995) Lorraine Adams describes the more radical animal rights' stance. No Roach Motels, they tear off roach legs. No flea killer for ailing companion animals. Eat brewer's yeast summerlong to make blood taste blecky to mosquitos.