Insect ultimate fighting a moral quagmire
This is news to me, but apparently insect cage matches are all the rage in Japan.
Many bug enthusiasts, however, say pitting insects against each other is cruel and inhumane. On the flipside, others say bug brawls are the lesser evil when compared with cockfights, dogfights, or even the UFC.
What say you? Is encouraging insect violence a sin?
Set up in January, Benzle's website, Japanesebugfights.com, was inspired by the beetle fighting trend that has been hot in Japan and other parts of Asia for nearly a decade. The videos on his U.S.-based site feature various insects fighting other species, from hornets to millipedes, to tarantulas and scorpions.
Each round eliminates a competitor until the final victor emerges. In the 30th and final round of Benzle's video series, a camera close-up shows the locust pinning down and chewing the head off a flailing praying mantis while a frantic over-dub in Japanese heralds the champion. Benzle, who personally despises the locust, says the fierce fighting insect has always been a symbol of destruction and that "even in the Bible they hated the locust."
Out of blog postings and web forums, there has arisen a moral debate that polarizes those entertained and those appalled by the videos. For many fans, watching the latest online entertainment is a way of skirting the immorality of cock fighting or dog fighting. One site frequenter, Josh Maney, states that he would never watch wrestling, and considers pitting animals against each other "disgusting." Yet Maney has no problem with Benzle's videos because they display fights that occur organically in nature.
Benzle responds to those who view his site as cruel by stating that there were rules in place when the movies were being made. Benzle and his assistants "tried to keep the insects very happy and comfortable." He believes his team showed them respect, and took care to learn about the insects and match them according to their capabilities. For his research, he turned to a store outside of Yokohama called Reptile Zoo, and after talking extensively to Mino Tanaka, the zookeeper, learned which bugs should fight which. Most complaints Benzle has received have been about imbalanced matches and requests for "weight class measurements." He laughs off those whom he believes take the issue too seriously, saying the competitors "are just bugs."
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Portland, Indiana, United States