Unconventional Wisdom | To kill just point mouse and click

Left unchecked, people will ruin everything.

Along with abundant spirit, ingenuity and the great capacity to love, there is in the human animal a sinister seed.

It stays dormant in most, but blossoms in a few - like the people who thought up remote-control hunting.

In 2005, a guy in Texas named John Lockwood set up a Web site that allowed anyone with a computer to kill real antelope, wild pigs and other animals with a mouse click.

A gun and camera were mounted on a tripod in a so-called hunting ranch, which is a fenced enclosure stocked with animals.

A person with a high-speed connection who went on the Web site and paid a fee could remotely maneuver the camera and gun with his computer. Sitting on his fat butt 2,000 miles away, a "hunter" could then click and fire the weapon at the animal of his choosing.

A taxidermist was on site, ready to cut off the animal's head and send it to the clean-handed killer, so he could mount it on his wall.

Not long ago, the State of Texas shut down Lockwood's operation. But, according to Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, Lockwood is planning to reconstitute his venture at an offshore site.

And you can bet Internet assassins will sign up for more cyber-slaughter.

Remarkably, Markarian tells me, the Humane Society was able to get 27 states to ban cyber-hunting within the last two years. It has been, in fact, the fastest-paced reform on any animal issue in U.S. history, Markarian says.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the prohibiting states. That's great news, especially for hunt-loving Pennsylvania, whose state flag ought to be a flannel-shirted guy standing on a deer shot full of arrows.

Delaware is considering a ban. What are the other 22 states waiting for?

Thing is, people like to kill. I don't mean hunters who need venison to feed their families.

I mean folks with Acme cards who relish the bloodlust of the hunt. And people who arrange dog fights. Not to mention the individuals who watch so-called crush films - videos of scantily clad women in high heels crushing small animals to death with their shoes, including mice, hamsters and small puppies.

There are, by the way, thousands of types of these snuff films, Markarian says. Not thousands of copies. Thousands of different titles.

At a time when people are mourning the loss of their animals poisoned by tainted pet food, it seems beyond belief that men (it's mostly men, after all) can be so cruel.

Humans have to be watched and regulated. Otherwise, drug manufacturers would poison us, power plants would give us all asthma, and politicians would invade Iran.

When it comes to animals, I'm not saying we all have to be PETA idealogues. But how about we rein in those murderous instincts?

Next time you need to kill something, go punch a wall. At least your mouse-clicking/trigger finger will be out of commission for a while. And an antelope might live.


Contact columnist Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969 or alubrano@phillynews.com.