I love dolphins as much as the next guy, but I really don’t see why they deserve the special attention that the feel-good self-proclaimed activists like to give them.
I am sure you have all heard of Hayden Panettiere‘s (Claire Bennett in Heroes) recent involvement in an attempt to disrupt a dolphin hunt in Taiji, Wakayama. After failing to save the cute cuddly tuna-killers, Hayden and her friends drove their way to Osaka International Airport and fled the country before the ink on their arrest warrants dries.
Apparently, “risking” their lives (because we all know that Japanese fishing trawlers are heavily armed) is deemed a worthy sacrifice, but getting arrested for their expressed beliefs is a big no-no. What dedicated convictions! Mahatma Ghandi would’ve been so proud.
Before we go on any further, please be warned that some of the images that accompany this article may be graphic in nature.
Quoting a MSNBC report where Hayden responds to an arrest warrant issued for her in Japan.
“Obviously this issue has generated defensive behavior on the part of both the Japanese Authorities and Fishermen,” she said in the statement. “I have grown up hearing – and adhering to – this phrase: ‘condemnation without investigation dooms one to everlasting ignorance.’
“We must unite as a world to solve our increasing international environmental crises,” her statement continued. “We can no longer hide (behind) out-dated, senseless cultural traditions and lazy, bad habits that are resulting in the annihilation of our planet’s resources and the extinction of our species.
Overlooking the fact that the phrase which she claims to adhere to is completely irrelevant to the situation at hand (i.e. her breaking of Japanese laws), her statement is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with our media today.
Annihilation of our planet’s resources? Environmental crisis? Extinction of our species? Wow, I guess that must mean The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was right after all! I never knew dolphins were that important!
This kind of celebrity activism actively discredits authentic efforts to combat real and significant issues that plague our environment today. Genuine environmentalists are forced into the same group as nut cases like Ms. Panettiere’s good friends and Greenpeace.
These people claim to be “raising awareness” for a good cause, but all they are doing is to encourage regular people to associate environmental protection with crazy hippies. Such a negative association is a serious detriment to the efforts of scientists and entrepreneurs who are actually making a difference in improving our world with real concrete efforts instead of incessant whining.
I doubt that reading about Rainbow Warrior‘s latest escapades actually causes people to change their consumption habits in the slightest bit or reconsider their next SUV purchase. All it does is to give lunatics like Greenpeace bragging rights among the tree-hugging extremists.
If someone was serious about saving the environment, he would do best to stay as far away from these people as possible, or risk losing all credibility in the eyes of sane, reasonable people. Al Gore is a good example of a sane person who has done things infinitely more practical and beneficial than picketing a chemical factory.
Before this post gets too tangential, let’s return to dolphins. I see two general flows of argument behind those who think Ms. Panettiere’s actions actually deserve our applause.
The first is that dolphins are supposedly an endangered species (as they have been portrayed by the media for the past millennium or so) and therefore deserve protection from being eaten.
But the truth is that, as noted by James of Japan Probe, none of the variants of dolphins being hunted in Taiji are actually endangered. Moreover, there is already a quota for drive hunting set in place by the central government and hunts like this have been carried out for centuries. So let’s get it straight, the dolphins in Taiji are in no danger of becoming extinct.
Conservation of an endangered species is a valid cause that I can agree with, but the fact is that these dolphins are simply not endangered.
Secondly, people argue that dolphins are sentient creatures that deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I would like to agree with that in principle, except that I eat beef and I really don’t think that cows are brainless either. I’m pretty sure a machete slash feels just as painful to a cow as compared to a dolphin. The slaughtering of dolphins, while admittedly cruel, is no different from that of cows and other similar-sized mammals. I don’t know about you, but there’s no way in hell that I’m going to become a vegetarian.
It’s regrettable that animals have to die to satisfy my taste buds. I’m sure one day we will all be eating some kind of mysterious meat grown in bio-vats thanks to the miracles of science. But until then, animals will just have to bear with it. I think that we can all accept this non-ideal reality.
So why should dolphins be any different? Why is it acceptable practice to kill cows? Is it because cows are less intelligent? (Shall we start killing stupid people for soylent green?) Or is it because cows are bred to die? (What an awful moral justification.)
If we are talking about net suffering, I think cows have it way worse than dolphins, and yet the poor bovinae often fall under the radars of teenage celebrities trying to fit in with the chocolate rainbow feel-good crowd.
An interview with Hayden Panettiere following the incident:
Dolphins are like “teddy bears in the water” (01:09), eh? I pity the cows for not being cute enough to garner the same attention. Perhaps they ought to consider hiring an image consultant and maybe work on a family movie or two with Walt Disney.
I do agree with Ms. Panettiere that “condemnation without investigation dooms one to everlasting ignorance” is an excellent doctrine. Therefore, I encourage her to conduct some investigation next time and find a real issue to use her celebrity influences on. Real issues such as America’s irrational love for SUVs and its asinine standards of automobile fuel efficiency. You know, things that are actually contributing to the annihilation of our planet and not just some feel-good fluff.
But I guess real issues that deserve serious attention seldom involve cute teddy bears. Aww… :(
That said, I don’t think eating dolphin is such a great idea either: mercury pollution is another genuine problem for Ms. Panettiere to consider tackling.
Well, I guess now people are going to accuse me of being an asshole. I really do love dolphins, though. I used to train tons of them in Red Alert 2 because their echo attacks are totally overpowered. :P