A two year old boy is found in his family's living room with his head crushed. In fact, his whole body was a bloody mess with numerous crushing injuries. The crime lab and detectives are on the scene. There is an elephant standing near the body. It's hooves are dripping with blood. The lab techs are dusting for fingerprints and looking for other evidence while ignoring the elephant. The younger detective says, “What about the elephant? It seems clear that...” His older partner interrupts him and takes him aside. He says, “If you want to keep your job, you will disregard the elephant as a suspect. It is an absolute career killer to accuse an elephant of anything bad. The CDC has funded several scientific studies which show that elephants are safe and effective and above reproach. Take it from me, you don't want to go there. We can come up with any cockamamie story we want but it is totally politically incorrect to even mention the possibility that the elephant had any role in this child's death.” The younger detective said, “Sorry. I didn't know.”
Several theories were advanced to explain the child's death. One was that he had a genetic predisposition to spontaneous head crushing. Another was that his mother had her children too closely spaced and this has been shown in scientific studies to cause head crush syndrome. Yet another idea was that the mother was using a brand of shampoo on the child that has nefarious ingredients which are suspected of causing head crushing in a small percentage of users. The parents suspected the elephant but their pediatrician told them that it was purely a coincidence that the elephant wandered into their living room at about the same time their little boy was killed.
The elephant was cleaned up and sold to a circus where it now wears a spiffy costume and is part of an act entertaining children and their parents. A popular burger chain has taken to renting the elephant for a PR gig wherever the circus appears. Children can get a free elephant ride with the purchase of any kid's meal. The elephant stomped a child at one of the chain's Poughkeepsie restaurants a few weeks ago but that incident didn't make the cut for any mainstream media. One of the eye witnesses was Dr. Constance Veracity, a physics professor at the local university. She testified that it looked to her like the elephant deliberately stomp on the little boy. Security camera footage aligns with Dr. Veracity's testimony yet her story was discounted because the authorities considered her to be an ignorant, tinfoil-hat wearing, conspiracy theorist, anti-pachyderm wacko. Once again the elephant was exonerated and the authorities determined that it was the parents' fault for allowing their child to get too close to the elephant before it was his turn to ride. The boy survived but one leg was badly mangled.
It is sad about the child with the crushed head and the boy who got stomped but there is nothing that could be done. It would obviously be absurd and outside the realm of possibility to accuse an elephant of any wrongdoing. Move along. Nothing to see here. Life goes on.
Dr. Gaunt is a retired Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. He has also taught chemistry, biology, and anatomy at high school and college levels.