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There are a great many things which we do not speak of openly in this society, to our collective shame. Oh sure, there may be whispers, the occasional veiled reference, the odd innuendo, but still there is much that goes unrecognized in this world.

To be certain, some scandals have come to light in recent years…toxic waste dumping, Presidential improprieties, the Airbus scandal, and midget-tossing to name just a few, but I have discovered yet more sickening evidence of our inhumanity. An ancient, ongoing tragedy in which we are all complicit, and yet blithely ignore.

I speak, of course, of the ongoing mistreatment of our scaly brothers from the briny deep.

Who among us has not at least heard the phrase battered fish, and yet stood by silently while the violence continues?

This sort of ichthyological abuse is actually brazenly displayed in many of our supermarkets! Battered Cod, a package will openly state, or Battered Sole or Battered Haddock. Even shellfish and crustaceans are not spared this demonic horror, as I have unearthed evidence of Battered Scallops and, most shockingly, Battered Shrimp! The mind reels at the thought of the monster who would visit such fury on a creature so tiny. Not too mention the logistical problems of finding tiny little whips and cudgels.

Does it not make your heart weep hot, salty tears to think of the screams of a cod as some vicious fisherman takes up his cruel fish whip, and uses it savagely along his victim's dorsal fin? Can you not hear the poor wee slimy thing beg for mercy in it's little fishy voice? Please, no, for the love of God, no! Let the madness cease!

Small wonder, then, that the victim has turned aggressor.

The recent wave of shark attacks globally has led to a number of woefully underpublicized trials. What you don't hear about are the number of cases when the defendants employ the Battered Fish Syndrome (BFS) defense. As one (un-named, to protect his privacy) Great White Shark testified, in a case in Melbourne, Australia: "…then I saw an arm dangling in the water, and thought to myself, here we go again, I'm in for another beating. I…I guess I just snapped or something…it was as though I was sort of dreaming but couldn't wake up. It all seemed to happen really slow…the next thing I knew, there was this arm in my jaws, and I was just kind of chewing it. It's not even as though I was real hungry, either. I…I just wanted to make the hurt go away. I'm sorry for what happened, but put the blame where it needs to go…on the heartless deep-sea fisherman that battered me as an infant!"

Villain or victim? If you have an ounce of compassion, you will see that this poor misunderstood denizen of the deep was in no way responsible for his actions.

And so the misery continues. All over the world, wherever English cuisine has left it's greasy mark, we see the daily perpetuation of the horror of battered fish. On dinner plates everywhere (especially in paranoid Catholic homes on Fridays, despite papal assurances) the sad, battered remains of our little wet cousins appear. And we do nothing.

We must all bear the Creel of Shame, and hope that the Scales Of Justice do not come from the backs of our ocean brethren.

(Next month: Violence in the dairy industry…the silent shame of Whipped Cream! Who will speak for the milk by-products?)

-Jon Park-Wheeler

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SC Alder / Computer Tamers