Why Blake Shelton's Animal-Cruelty Tweet Matters : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture Country singer and TV star Blake Shelton yesterday tweeted about "smashing" a turtle. Was it a harmless joke or encouraging of animal cruelty? Commentator Barbara J. King takes up the latter view.
NPR logo Why Blake Shelton's Animal-Cruelty Tweet Matters

Why Blake Shelton's Animal-Cruelty Tweet Matters

A turtle in Virginia Charles F. Hogg hide caption

toggle caption
Charles F. Hogg

This is a story of Twitter and the turtle.

Blake Shelton, country singer and a star of TV's The Voice, tweeted yesterday that he swerved his vehicle to "smash" an Oklahoma box turtle. When my friend, herpetology expert John F. Taylor alerted me to the tweet, I replied to Shelton asking if his comment was a bad joke or he was really so cruel?

As BuzzFeed has suggested in publishing our conversation, Shelton's response wasn't courteous: He told me to "shut up." Since then, he and some of his followers have called me and others who questioned him names so rude and colorful I can't print them here. (They're at the @BlakeShelton and @bjkingape feeds if curiosity moves you.)

The name-calling is juvenile and annoying, but not the main issue.

Apparently the original tweet was a bad joke, and Shelton wasn't even in Oklahoma yesterday. Take a look again at BuzzFeed, though. Are fans really killing turtles in honor of Shelton? I hope those tweets are just bad jokes, too.

But by experiment, a NASA scientist recently found out that 6 percent of drivers do intentionally swerve to hit animals, turtles among them. That's animal cruelty, and we don't need a singing and TV star, especially one considered to be animal-friendly, encouraging it.

You can keep up with more of what Barbara is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape