“I hate and fear snakes, because if you look into the eyes of any snake you will see that it knows all and more of the mystery of man’s fall, and that it feels all the contempt that the Devil felt when Adam was evicted from Eden. Besides which its bite is generally fatal, and it twists up trouser legs. (“The Return Of Imray”)” ― Rudyard Kipling.
Now the news from Queensland.
Mrs. George Shapiro of Brooklyn, New York was released by the authorities after yesterday’s bludgeoning of a poisonous snake in her hotel room. Mrs. Shapiro, an American widow, has been visiting her daughter, an ex-pat, also from Brooklyn. In an exclusive interview, Mrs Shapiro told this reporter that the snake appeared from behind a couch and thus began the series of events which resulted in the death of a protected animal of Australia.
When questioned why she killed the snake, the poisonous Death Adder, Mrs. Shapiro responded, and I quote:
“It’s a snake. Of course you kill it. Especially a poisonous snake. It could kill someone. What a name, “Death Adder” How could you not kill it? I’m an American. They arrested me for killing a snake, for God’s sake!”
There were some expletives, but it seems to me that Mrs. Shapiro was unaware of the protected species laws here in Australia. That, and the unfortunate fact that most people’s primal instinct is either to run or try to kill the snake. It is instinctual, and I believe her legal counsel has gotten her released from custody based on that very real instinct that we all carry since the serpent brought about man’s fall from grace. I asked Mrs. Shapiro about that line of defense, here’s what she told me:
“Is that what that little girl lawyer said? Whatever. Whatever it takes. I told her that. I don’t see any reason for snakes. They’re disgusting. And to think it’s poisonous and I could have been bitten and maybe died– it’s awful. If my late husband, Mr. Shapiro, was alive he would have beaten the hell out of it. He’s looking out for me, you know. It was Mr. Shapiro who gave me that cane with the heavy brass head. I just gave it a couple good whacks with the cane and, sure enough, I smashed its head in. My husband, may he rest in peace, is watching out for me…”
I have some information on the snake, the Death Adder. According to the necropsy by Queensland herpetologist, Jeffrey “Snake” Humpreys, cause of death was massive injury to the cranium and partial decapitation. Also severe trauma to several vertebrae. While alive, this very venomous snake would kill its prey with a bite from its fangs in the front. I point that out because there are species of poisonous snakes which have fangs in the back of the mouth and they are typically less venomous than the snakes with fangs in the front. The theory being those snakes with back fangs are less poisonous because of the placement of the fangs which prevents the snakes from giving a lethal amount of venom.
I did get some information from Mrs. Shapiro, though she was reluctant to go into details in case she has to go to court. It seems Mrs. Shapiro had just bathed and went into the sitting room of her suite at the hotel, which has requested to remain nameless, to get her favorite lipstick from her purse. The name of the lipstick is “passion’s dawn” from the line of cosmetics by German-Mexican rapper, Guapo Trinkhaus, aka, Ice-Taco. Mrs. Shapiro bathed in the Jacuzzi in the en suite. She walked into the room with her cane and the victim, the Death Adder, “slithered”, her word, from behind the couch. She told me that her immediate instinct was to “smash the hell out of it before it bit me”, her words, When I asked her how she knew the snake could even bite her, she told me she had heard about all the poisonous snakes in Queensland, from the hotel reception.
That statement alone could tip the decision of the court in favor of the snake. She had been warned about snakes and was predisposed to kill any snake she came across. Which, of course, could constitute premeditation– murder. Yet, when you take into consideration the history that humans have had with snakes since the Garden of Eden, one would have to admit that all humans are predisposed to eliminate snakes, at least from their personal surroundings.
I will be following this case and I will be updating the public as needed. I just have to say one thing regarding Mrs. Shapiro, the unfortunate perpetrator: self-defense does go over well here in Australia. However, herpetologists have a lot of political influence here in Queensland and Mrs. Shapiro’s defense will have to be air-tight if she wants a fair go from the authorities.
This is Pepper Mackey for ABC news- Queensland.