Are anti-malarial bed nets ethical?

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

Dear Ethan,

This week I watched in awe, I don’t mind telling you, as Laura Bush visited Africa to promote bed nets amongst people who live in malaria-riddled parts of the Still Dark Continent. I would like to help eradicate malaria and wipe out diseased mosquitoes, and I am delighted that I can now make a donation to a bed net fund instead of having to finance – yuk, I can barely bring myself to say the word! – DDT. But I wanna check with you first: bed nets are ethical, aren’t they? I mean, I know they have a bit of insecticide on them, but that’s okay, right? Thanks man – love your column.

Abel Lynch, West London

Dear Abel,

What a muddled and profoundly unethical letter! Oh my Gaia, where do I begin?! ERADICATE malaria?? WIPE OUT mosquitoes?? Who do you think you are, Abel? Mother Nature gone mad? God? (Actually, ‘He’ doesn’t exist… and after reading your letter, I rather wish you didn’t either.)

Who are we to wipe out anything, Abel? Diseases are Gaia’s way of saying ‘I’ve had enough of man-unkind beating seven shades of Jesus Christ out of me, so here’s a shocking debilitating sickness to teach you all a lesson’, and what right do we have to stop her disease-mongering in its tracks? Abel, I get an awful lot of weird and shocking emails – ‘Is it ethical to kill my mother?’, someone once asked; even more jaw-droppingly astoundingly I got a query this week asking ‘Is it ethical to buy Belgian-imported beer?’, though I am convinced that was a sick, sick joke. Your email, however, takes the custard cream. You are clearly suffering from the worst disease of all, a mental disorder that sums up everything that is rancid about mankind: Mosquitophobia.

Right, first things first. I suppose that if someone put me up against a wall and threatened to douse me in oil – or worse, to forcefeed me a battery-raised chicken or some other class of supermarket-sold ‘food’, or to have a conversation with someone called ‘Dave’ who had just returned from a weekend of drink-fuelled, Ryanair-enabled sex and violence in Warsaw – I would have to admit, through gritted teeth (kept clean with lime juice, not toothpaste), that bed nets are ‘better’ than DDT.

But they are ‘better’ in the same way that being stabbed in the stomach is ‘better’ than being stabbed in the heart – or the same way that the Nazis’ policy of shooting Jews and dumping them in freshly dug ditches was ‘better’ than gassing them at Auschwitz. Because, Abel, my mosquito-loathing ‘friend’, whether we throw a bed net across Africa or spray it with DDT, the result is fundamentally the same: mosquitoes die (the bed nets POISON them!!!); Gaia’s defence mechanism is foiled again; and humans become more insanely convinced of the uppity notion that they have the RIGHT to control nature. Laura Bush should not be congratulated for her trip to Africa, or looked upon with ‘awe’! She should be arrested immediately for aiding and abetting mosquitocide.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of Rachel Carson and the other early warriors against DDT. Carson’s groundbreaking exposé of DDT in her 1962 book Silent Spring has saved SO MANY mosquito lives – and, of course, it has had the slightly sad (I guess) but fundamentally Gaia-benefiting side effect of reducing human numbers by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, by letting disease take its natural, rightful, rampaging course instead of allowing man-unkind arrogantly to stand in its way. If mosquitoes could talk or fashion placards and banners – and how do we know they can’t…? – I have no doubt we would hear them cheering for their selfless human benefactor and saviour: St Rachel of the Destitute Insect.

The wonderful Ms Carson, as you will know, Abel, showed beyond a shadow of doubt that DDT damages birds’ eggs, demeans water quality in rivers, and possibly (let’s face it, probably) poisons humans, too. My good friend Dr Matt Dickson – who received his Doctorate in Insecticide and Genocide Studies from the American Holistic College of Environmental Consciousness PO Box 1821 – is currently seeking peer review for his own study, ‘DDT and The Rise and Rise of Impulsive Disorders’. This will show – again beyond a shadow of doubt – that DDT, after entering African people’s bloodstreams and spreading through migration into Europe and onwards to America, is also responsible for rising mental instability, personality disorders, cancer rates, laryngitis, asthma, road rage, hayfever, wheat, nut and banana-skin allergies, job losses and rising food, oil and latte prices in both the southern and northern hemispheres. His report will finally blow the argument for DDT out of the water (literally, I hope) by putting the case for a full international ban on this evil insecticide and for the founding of an International Court of Planetary Crimes which would punish those who use, sell or possess DDT with 40 to 45 years’ hard labour and a lifetime ban from speaking in any public forum (‘public forum’ defined as ‘a gathering of more than three people at the same time in the same room or outside setting for the purposes of communicating ideas and information amongst themselves or to passers-by, viewers, or any other sentient member of the human race’).

Of course, there are thousands and thousands, if not millions and billions, of Big Oil stooges and other beneficiaries of the capitalist/catastrophist system who actually CHALLENGE Carson’s findings, and no doubt they will challenge Dr Matt Dickson’s too when he publishes them. (Cleverly, Dr Dickson is pre-empting this by gathering together information about the employment, education, sexual and drinking/drug-related histories of all pro-DDT campaigners, so that if and when they launch attacks against him he can expose their profoundly warped personal morality and chequered histories in order to show that they are unfit to speak publicly on anything, much less an issue as important as Saving The Mosquitoes.) These Exxon-backed, Bush-linked, Israeli-armed mosquitophobic mosquitocidaires claim there is no ‘proof’ that DDT damages egg shells or poisons humans or enters the brain through the bloodstream and causes shopping addiction and other compulsive disorders in people everywhere from Lagos to Luxembourg. PROOF?! I don’t want to come across all Pontius Pilate, but what is proof, Abel? And what is truth? What is evidence? What is the point? What is ‘what’ and what is ‘is’? What is this: ‘?’

I’ll tell you what ‘evidence’, ‘truth’ and ‘proof’ are, Abel: they are elitist, arrogant, manmade categories designed to justify our knowledge-led dictatorship of apparently less intelligent lifeforms such as mosquitoes. The fact is, Rachel Carson simply knew that DDT harms birds’ eggs. Just as Dr Dickson knows that it is also linked to increased levels of gout in Germany. Just as I know that the planet will become inhabitable in 28 years and seven months time if we do not reduce our carbon emissions by 92.7 per cent by 23 January 2011. What ever happened to intuition, Abel? YES, the vast majority of what good, ethical people like me say is backed up by clear, tippety-top, undeniable scientific evidence (see the Danish Institute of Climatology’s pie chart on ‘Links Between Ryanair Take-Offs From Stansted and Increased Poverty and Destitution in Western Bangladesh’, for example) – but sometimes, just feeling something is surely enough.

However, there was a big problem with the anti-DDT campaign: it implied that the only problem was DDT itself. Thus, the rush was on, almost as soon as Rachel Carson’s book hit the shelves in 1962, to find an alternative. NO!!!! The problem with mass DDT-spraying in America and Europe in the early twentieth century and in Africa in the late twentieth century (and today, too, in those half-devil, half-disobedient African countries that refuse, point blank, to heed the WHO and Greenpeace’s warnings of trade sanctions and pariah status if they do not break free from their DDT addiction) is that it elevates mankind over mosquito; it tells us that WE own the planet and that WE are ‘more equal’ than mosquitoes and disease. The bed net merely represents a more palatable, trendy, cheap and easy expression of this deeply mosquitophobic twisted untruth.

Abel, do NOT make a donation to the bed net campaign. Instead, sign up to my new global network of concerned Carsonists, People for the Ethical Treatment of Mosquitoes, and let us start waging a war in defence of the rights of disease and its winged, selfless incubators NOW!

Ethan Greenhart is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him at {encode=”” title=””}. Read his earlier columns here.

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Topics Politics


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