Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My Letter to Steve Murphy from ATV & What I Think about Today's "National Day of Protest" For the Seals

Where do I start? If you've been reading this blog I think you know what I think about seals - and about all animals - that one is no different than any other. We're all the same, one's no better or any worse - one doesn't deserve to be food or clothing or companion animal any more than another, and it's only through whatever culture we've been brought up in that we have beliefs in one ideology or another. That and the fact that dogs fit in our beds better than cows do. But maybe if our culture was different we'd have bigger beds! Or maybe we'd enjoy sleeping in stalls with the cows instead of the cows sleeping with us.

So today was dubbed the "National Day of Protest" to demand an end to the upcoming hunt for the seals which is going to be happening soon off the coast of Newfoundland. Harry Dean Stanton or somebody or another - the guy who played MacGyver was in PEI to lend his face and he's been saying ridiculous things like they're too cute to kill them and stuff like that.

I'm NOT saying there should be a seal hunt. There should NOT be a seal hunt. It should be unnecessary. Just like factory farms should be unnecessary. What I object to is the displaced emotion and energy that could be so much better spent elsewhere when the people who condemn a whole country and specificially people in my end of this country while they still wear leather shoes and sit down for their turkey dinners and eat big macs made with dead animals cultivated on factory farms that are in their own back yards.

So anyway - tonight Steve Murphy from ATV News interviewed a woman from the Nova Scotia Humane Society who was taking part in the protest - I'm pasting my email to him here and I think it's pretty self-explanatory. Why have so much compassion for seals and so little compassion for everything else?

Dear Mr Murphy - I wanted to write and express my thanks for your interview tonight with the member of the Nova Scotia Humane Society who was taking part in today's "national day of protest" - specifically when you asked her why the killing of seals was any different than the killing of cows, and pigs and what happens everyday in slaughterhouses across the country. And she brilliantly didn't have an answer.

That has always been my main bone of contention with the activists who protest the seal hunt - why are seals so much better than cows, chickens, and pigs who die by the millions every year in the most unimaginable conditions after having lived a degrading a pain filled life. I think it's because seals have big eyes, long eyelashes - and the people who are killing them can't hide behind a steel door - you
can't hide from the media when you're on an ice floe so they're a very easy target. I don't see too much difference between a hekapik and a stun gun myself.

So I'd sincerely like to thank you for bringing that topic up - I think it's something that needs to be highlighted - I also came across an editorial from the Vancouver Sun that covers the same idea - It's at http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouversun/news/editorial/
but I'll post it below as well because it's in a for subscribers only section. In the editorial Barba Yaffe says "Why shed tears for seals when, every day of the week, we package chickens, pigs and cows into breasts, thighs, chops and such? Slaughtering and butchering are never pretty." It's pretty good.

Factory farming is not talked about at all in the media. If it got half the coverage that the seal hunt does and 1/10 the effort that the "activists" put forward for the seals being clubbed - think of the literally MILLIONS of animals that would be saved brutal deaths. (I am into humane slaughter btw and avoiding meat - but I do eat some meat :)

Thanks again!

Joan Sinden
Halifax, NS

Here's the text of Barbara Yaffe's editorial:

Canada's seal hunt draws protests and boycotts

Barbara Yaffe
Vancouver Sun Columnist

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ottawa cares about people who vote, pay taxes and make political donations. So it has no particular reason to fret about animals, which of course do none of the above.

Last week, David Lane, an Edmonton man now living in Coquitlam, was charged with animal cruelty. He was charged after the Edmonton Humane Society viewed a video of a young man presumably beating or crushing the head of a cat. Details aren't known because police haven't released the video.

In B.C., the SPCA has just charged a Likely couple, owners of Big Dog Rescue, with cruelty to animals after a raid in which it found dozens of sick, emaciated dogs in Beth and Charles Bulter's care.

If guilt is established in either case, penalties will be minimal because the Martin government, to its great discredit, has failed to update 122-year old legislation on animal cruelty.

The necessary deterrent simply isn't there in the existing law, which considers animals "property."

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said last fall he's "absolutely committed" to updated legislation which the Liberals have been trying to get through Parliament for the past six years.

Yet to date, Cotler has done zip to reinvigorate the bill. Keep in mind, it took three days for MPs and senators to vote themselves huge pay raises in 2001.

To be sure, animal welfare isn't a priority for everyone. Indeed, some disdain efforts expended on animals when globally so many human beings are in such dire straits.

But compassion toward living creatures isn't a zero-sum game. Who among us can know whether this or that species feels pain or has capacity for emotion?

If you are someone who cares about animals, you're likely aware of protests at Canadian embassies and consulates today in 20 cities around the world -- in support of ending yet one more form of animal cruelty, the seal hunt.

A protest is set for Fisheries and Oceans offices in Vancouver.

Why shed tears for seals when, every day of the week, we package chickens, pigs and cows into breasts, thighs, chops and such? Slaughtering and butchering are never pretty.

Well, the point here is that sealing takes place in offshore locations and the regulatory oversight that normally exists in urban and rural slaughterhouses is impossible to replicate on ice floes. Inevitably, some hunters take advantage.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, which closely monitors the hunt off Newfoundland and around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, photographs proceedings, and offers visual proof of stomach-churning abuses to all who care to look.

We're talking skinning seals alive; or shooting them and missing the precise killing spot so the seals writhe in pain until the hunter finally gets around to an up-close blast.

Fisheries and Oceans, on its website, rejects IFAW assertions, citing an after-death reflex in seals.

It also contends baby seals are no longer hunted, neglecting to mention that bureaucrats consider the mammals as adults once they shed their white coats, 12 days after birth.

Further, DFO considers the spiked club known as the hakapik a humane killing tool and insists the hunt is "closely monitored and tightly regulated," from patrol planes, vessels and at dockside. About five sealers a year are convicted of inhumane practices.

DFO believes seal populations are healthy and the hunt is sustainable, though Ottawa's record on stock management is questionable, based on the collapse of the cod fishery.

The hunt yields fur pelts, meat and seal oils -- which translated last year into $16 million for Canadians.

Meanwhile, Canada exports more than $3 billion worth of seafood annually to the U.S. alone. And humane societies in the U.S. and Europe are now protesting the seal slaughter by launching a boycott of Canadian seafood starting with today's protests.

Sadly, it looks like this fight will come down to cold cash rather than compassion.

(c) The Vancouver Sun 2005

Category: [Sealing]

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