We have had enough. This was the last straw (literally, people, please, no more straws – I have cousins in the Pacific Ocean who are exhausted from dodging straws all day). I speak on behalf of a few special interest groups: F.R.O.G. (Friendly Reptiles of Georgetown), an NGO working for the betterment of the cold-blooded community, and S.H.E.L.L. (Stop Hatred of Every Leathery Life), a grassroots organization dedicated to a greater understanding of the reptilian and amphibian lifestyle.
Since the dawn of man, we have endured all your slings and arrows. Reptiles are used as metaphors for the darkest parts of humanity. An untrustworthy person is a snake in the grass. To us, that is our neighbor, our friend, a relative.
The patron saint of Ireland is revered for driving the snakes out of Ireland. And in the Bible a snake is blamed for the very downfall of humankind, though over thousands of years I think humans have proven themselves plenty capable of their own destruction.
Without consent, you advocate for princesses to kiss frogs to completely transform their species. In your culture it is a fairy tale, a fantasy, a story you tell your children to delight them. In ours, it is a dystopian nightmare; a story we tell our children to frighten them! And what a dreadful mistruth humans have spread for eons about toads causing warts. Humans cut up frogs for science experiments and appetizers, and yet you spread baseless rumors about how disgusting they are.
I don’t even know where to begin with human microaggressions against the lizard community. It’s bad enough you have that bloviating power-hungry has-been walking around calling himself Newt. But that is not the only offense. The term “lizard brain” is used to refer to primitive, or irrational, thinking. I do not know a single lizard who would have voted for a game show host. Don’t blame the lizards. The primitive thinking is all on you.
And perhaps the most absurd conspiracy is the shape-shifting lizard people who are trying to take over the world. Utterly ridiculous. But, let me tell you, I have known lizards all my life, and you could do worse than having lizards in charge. And you HAVE done worse.
But the latest insult is simply too much to bear. We, the proud turtle community, will not stand idly by while Anderson Cooper uses his overwhelming privilege as not just a human, but a famous human, to denigrate, and fat shame our entire species.
We have been portrayed as slow. We have been portrayed as dumb. But the irresponsibility to mock one of our most critically dangerous situations – being stuck on our back – is hurtful, destructive, and unnecessary. But to compare us to a racist, misogynist, fascist, failed leader is simply unforgivable. The remark was tactless, uncaring, and embarrassing. We are proud and resilient, and we have parents who fought to get us out of our shells, and children we have to explain this to.
Mr. Cooper thoughtlessly maligned another species without considering the effect on us, our families, and those around us. Why not call him an amoeba – they have no feelings (they really don’t, they’re single-celled organisms). But please, we, the turtles, along with snakes, frogs, and lizards, are tired of having to do the emotional labor to help humans understand the detrimental effect of inconsiderate comments and unflattering comparisons. A comment like Mr. Cooper’s causes severe mental anguish that takes years of therapy and self-care to overcome.
I implore you, do better. Because messaging like that can cause a reptile dysfunction.
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