Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Canadian Seal Hunt: First the Bad News, Then the Bad News

When it comes to the ultra-violent and sadistic Canadian seal hunt, which do you want to hear first? The bad news? Or the bad news?

First the bad news: During this year's commercial seal hunt, 70,000 harp seals were killed, according to the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries. That number is up substantially from last year's kill figure of 38,000. (Source) This sad news runs contrary to view that the seal hunt is dying due to declining demand for seal fur in other parts of the world.

Senator Mac Harb fought a
good - but very lonely - fight
against Canada's gruesome
and ultra-violent seal hunt.
Now the bad news: In a noble attempt to end this sickening practice, Senator Mac Harb introduced a bill to the Canadian Senate in early may that would end the commercial seal hunt. It was a brave thing to do. It took guts and very strong principles for Senator Harb to do that. 

Not surprisingly, Tweedledum and Tweedledee - whoops, er, uh, I mean, Harb's fellow Conservatives and Liberals in the Senate (the two political parties are virtually identical here in Canada) went after Harb's legislation and torpedoed it like the Lusitania. Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield spoke for most of the senators when he aid:
“Mr. Speaker, this is yet again another attack by a Liberal senator to try to undermine this safe, humane and sustainable hunt that is vital to coastal communities in northern and eastern Canada. Members on this side of the House have been unequivocal in our support for the Canadian seal industry. We will not abandon this industry at the behest of opposition parties or irresponsible and out-of-touch animal rights activists. We will continue to put the livelihood of hard-working Canadian families first.” (Source)
And there is one more piece of bad news (as if we need anymore): The Canadian Television Bureau, in an Orwellian move reminiscent of Eastern Europe during the communist era, banned an anti-seal hunt advertisement made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from being shown on Canadian television. So much for the people's right to see all sides of the story. This is merely another move by Canadian authorities to put the seal hunt out of sight, out of mind. 

Defenders of the seal hunt insist that it is an essential part of the livelihoods of large numbers of people, and that if it were banned, it would devastate the economy. But I quote from a Canadian Press article: "Darin King told the [Newfoundland] provincial legislature that 680 sealers took part in this year's hunt, which had a total allowable catch of 400,000." Since when have 680 people added up to substantial portion of the nation's economy? 

Pardon the abrupt change in subject, although I'll tie it in shortly to the seal hunt. Cocaine is a vital part of the economy in Latin America. In Andean nations, various Caribbean countries and Mexico, untold thousands rely on the production, movement and distribution of the drug. It's huge. It's in demand. And if the giant narco-captialist system were destroyed, it would devastate entire villages and ruin the livelihoods of families throughout South and Central America. Armies of campesinos go to work in the coca fields, while a massive network of smugglers keeps the drugs flowing north. 

Why do I bring up cocaine? Nobody argues that thousands of Latin Americans are dependent on so-called Cocaine Capitalism for their survival. Perhaps that's one reason why the War on Drugs never really went anywhere. Had it succeeded, it would have left vast areas of Latin America's narco-economy in ruins. 

And yet look at all the lives that cocaine destroys. Look at all the harm it causes. Look at all the hopes it has snuffed out. 

The seal hunt also destroys lives. Some would scoff the comparison I've just made. After all, in the case of the seal hunt, they aren't human lives. 

The prophetic Russian
novelist Leo Tolstoy
(1828-1910) warned
about violence against
That's a dangerous kind of reasoning though. It was Leo Tolstoy who said, "As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields." What he meant by that is that the violence we inflict on animals will inevitably metastasize into violence against other human beings. Earlier tonight, I blogged about a murderer named Luka Rocco Magnotta, who started off killing cats and moved on to killing a human being and sending his body parts out in the mail. I'm not comparing sealers, who make a living from the seal hunt, to Magnotta. But what I'm saying is that a society that accepts the "they're just animals" argument is one that is tacitly approving violence. And that violence, in one way or another, is going to come back to haunt us. 

That's more bad news, in case you needed any. 

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