By now, it's become evident that anything--a video, a photo, an idea, a political gaffe--can spread like wildfire over the Internet and gain notoriety beyond what anyone might've imagined. (Just ask Senator Ted Stevens.) Usually it's harmless. But animal rights activists might want to take note of a recent piece of blogosphere buzz: anti-stingray polemics.
Monday's untimely death-by-stingray-barb of Australian naturalist and "Crocodile Hunter" TV host Steve Irwin shocked the Web community. Now plenty of blogs are showing their support for Mr. Irwin in a rather warped way: by advocating violence against stingrays. Sure, they're joking. But could it lead to a genuine demonization of the creatures? Only time will tell, but in the world of the Internet, "time" probably means a week and a half or so.
Blog community response:
"Motion we change the name and purpose of Labor Day to "Steve Irwin day." I mean, it's not like real people don't have to work on that day anyway, we may as well get some animal-themed parade out of it. Alternate title: "Crikey Day." Also: I suggest we posse up and make sure these dangerous stingrays aren't here in town, lurking outside schoolyards and such. I will be patrolling my block with a pitchfork and calling anything suspicious into the proper authorities. If you aren't with us, then you are with the stingrays."
--Showcase of Unrecognizable Talent
"Is it too soon to play a Crocodile Hunter flash game? Specifically, Terri Irwin's Revenge. In TIR, you play the part of Steve Irwin's widow as she swims around the sea and kills as many sting rays as she can. Therapeutic or absolutely terrible? It's your call."
--Best Week Ever
"I don't think we should blame or manhunt that stingray who brought this sadness upon us - it didn't know what it was doing, and to kill it would be an insult to what Mr Irwin died for. Either way, I see this sudden death as a wake-up call from nature, when it took away a person that many held in great regard, a wake-up call, a question - we've had enough deaths, do we need anymore?"