Thursday, March 02, 2006

What's Your Beef? (The Captain the Knight and the Sheep)

Newfoundland and Labrador can draw negative attention to itself like a kick me sign on the pope. Internationally I would guess that the image of the sealer with a club is as prominent as the Mountie on his horse. The campaign that has spread this propaganda must certainly be ranked among the most successful in the history of modern man.

The most recent incarnation of the great war on sealers is in the name of Sir Paul McCartney himself. Mr. McCartney is one of a rare example in the animal rights movement in that he is an actual Vegan. There is a definite virtue in "practicing what you preach". The Vegan lifestyle is one to be admired. The belief that animals should not be exploited for our use is admirable indeed. It is a sound environmentally friendly and socially responsible way to life... you knew there would be a "but", and a big but it is... how many supporters of the IFAW, American Humane Society, or Sea Shepherd Society are vegan? The people at the forefront of these movements will tell you they are vegan, good for them, but how far would you have to look to find the omnivores? The wealthy elite supports these groups, a minority that live in a society that will never be known by the likes of us. Look at the headquarters of these organizations, Vancouver, Cape Cod, Washington State, and Belgium, Germany, France, Cape Town South Africa – some of the higher value real estate in the world. Scratch just a little below the surface of these groups and it will not take long at all to find the guy eating his box of chicken and ribs.

It is Mr. Chicken and Ribs that I have my beef with (pun intended). Why does Mr. Chicken and Ribs support the anti-sealing campaign? Each time this discussion comes up we have to debate the same issues over and over. Let's break down the BS and leave the fundamental argument standing:

Argument 1: I don't agree with killing baby seals. From this argument I would expect that the lamb industry in New Zealand and the Veal industry in the United States would be huge targets for these campaigns. No?! Ok so what is the distinction with the Seals?!

Argument 2: The Seals are endangered. No?! They are in fact thriving?! Ok lets try another.

Argument 3: The seal hunt is barbaric. Here's where the Vegan's have a one up on us omnivores. Indeed there is a barbarism to killing an animal for our use. So there must be an overwhelming uproar in the abattoirs of the United States with the enormous amount of cattle killed to make McDonald's burgers. No?! The beef industry defends itself with all guns blazing. They have taken on the likes of KD Lang and Oprah Winfrey while steakhouses like The Keg and The Outback Steakhouse are cropping up like bull patties in a hay field.

The truth is once we remove all of the propaganda and Bull Shit (pun intended again) we are left with one fundamental argument, which does bear merit for debate. Here it is:

Are these seals killed in the most humane way possible? I can site statistics and sources on both sides but in all honesty I do not have a strong confidence in either point of view. Statistics is smoke and mirrors for bureaucratic agendas. Scientists are paid lobbyists. Bull shit for academic sake is still bull shit. Look up Ranjit Chandra if you believe the hallowed halls of academia are immune to the shit wave. So here we are. We need to have a fundamental morel centre, a value system that is sound and not hypocritical. Looks like we have a couple of choices here:

Myself and Mr. Chicken and Ribs can choose to go Vegan. I honestly admire that path and encourage it, but honestly, as for myself I would shit myself inside out if I had to eat that many lentils. I was reading about the Sea Cucumber and apparently they can expel their insides when threatened. I'm not sure how that works as a defense but I am not prepared to be the first human to try the strategy.

The second choice is to confirm your moral centre and use that as the basis for protest. If for example you do not belief that young animals should be killed then the seal hunt would be one target of your protests after you have taken on the government of New Zealand against Lamb; and France, Belgium, Holland and the United States against veal etc. (Wait a minute... isn’t Belgium France and the US major centres of the fight against the seal hunt. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, smoke and mirrors friends.) In any case if you are going to take on these governments prepare for a big fight, ask Oprah Winfrey or K.D. Lang what to expect.

Perhaps you take your stance for the humane treatment of animals. Then you will be fighting against the bull fights in Spain, Stampedes, Circuses, foxhunts, dogfights, Cock fights, Zoos, Aquariums, Pet Stores, Pet Owners, the use of animals in research facilities... Oh man this fight is huge... get started and let me know when you get down to the priority of the seal hunt.

I’ll tell you what is not an option, this whole bit about hob knobbing with celebrities and soliciting millionaires like sheep for their cash while dining on Veal Parmesan with your leather Birkenstocks is complete and utter hypocrisy.

Luckily the fight against the seal hunt is cheap and easy. The smear campaign has had a long and sustained affect, the money pours in every time someone Googles "Baby seals, skinned alive". The Canadian Government is not nearly as threatening adversary as the US, or EU. It's bloody easy - a virtual license to print money. Like Paul Watson said, "I think that of all the animals in the world or any environmental problem in the world the harp seal is the easiest issue to raise funds on... it's easier to make money and because it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them... the seal is very easy to exploit as an image. We have posters, we have buttons, we have shirts, all of which portray the head of a baby seal with the tears coming out of its eyes. Baby seals are always crying because the salt tears keep their eyes from freezing. But they have this image - they're baby animals, they're beautiful, and because of that, coupled with the horror of a sealer hitting them over the head with a club, it's an image that just goes right to the heart of animal lovers all over North America.”

So Vegans, Omnivores, or Full-Time protestor take your stand! Join now while Paul (Paul the knight not Paul the Captain) leads us in a song:

"Who's that knocking at my door, somebody's ringing the bell. Who's that knocking at my door, somebody's ringing the bell. Do me a favour, open the door and let him in."

...Hmmm... Ok, ah, that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense does it?!


NL-ExPatriate said...

Way to highlight the hypocrits. Here are a few links of interest.

Balanced Nature Not Balanced ARA's check books


Canadian veteranarian study

Seal killing 8 foot sturgeon

Video of dead fish on bay from seals

Real reason

Meet your meat

Endangered fish

ISDABY said...

you make some good points here BNB, but you should be aware that the core of the antisealing movement is full of Animal Rights Activists (ARA's) who do target most of the other uses you mentioned in your article. However, they need to gain wider support from the masses of people who could care less where their food comes from, or their leather couch, etc, so they play up the emotional aspects...hence the images of cooot widdle baybees followed by narration re: barbariclly beaten to death, skinned alive....

the middle ground is where the action is.

BNB said...

Thanks for the links ex-pat, greatly appreciated as always. I'll have a better read of those when I get a moment.

Isdaby. Ya I certainly agree with you there. I really have no big issue with ARA's in general. My specific issue is that the seal hunt really has been used as a flagship protest for many of these groups. Look at websites for Sea Shepherd and IFAW especially, you won't get far without seeing the image of a seal. Given that the seals are not endangered and there are so many bad things happening to animals all over the world, why is this seal hunt such a large issue in the context of the rest. Hell look at the logo of the IFAW. The reason is that the image of the seal is a license to print money, and we are an easy target.

I can appreciate that the ARA's do fight other issues and that is fine. But who gets the Larry King interview? My blog was really directed at that vast middle ground you spoke about which is the real support behind these groups.

Thanks for reading - I e-mailed the National Film Board about the Annie Troake film "My Ancestors were Rogues and Murderers". I'd like to see that, I heard it is well done.