Skip to comments.So what's wrong with clubbing seals?
Posted on 04/14/2004 5:21:14 PM PDT by Eurotwit
I dont know who handles the PR for these Canadian seal-clubbers, but it must be a hell of a job. Can there be any group, on the entire planet, that so excites the hatred of the British public? Not the Korean dog-eaters, nor the Italian butterfly-shooters, nor the Spanish goat-headyankers no, not even the French, who, as we all know, eat our childrens ponies no one can match the Canadian fisherman for provoking the Briton to tears of rage; and one can see why.
Here is a fellow who rises and puts on his great big waterproof boots and his great big waterproof hat. Then he picks up a horrible knobkerrie, studded with nails, gives his wife a loving kiss, and strides on to ice floes where he sets about him with a terrible Hutu-style slaughter. Bonk bash bonk he goes, like some demented axeman, and nothing will stop him. The telephoto lenses of the RSPCA cameras whirr and click.
Above him hover the helicopters chartered by the BBC, while live pictures of the horror are beamed into every living-room in this country. Does he care?
Does he hell. And it is not just any old beast that he brains, but a mammal, a creature like us that suckles its young; and it is a large, defenceless mammal, with both eyes in the front of its head, in that cute anthropomorphic way. It is a furry mammal, with a bark as winsome as any leal and faithful labrador.
One after another, biff thunk clunk, the Canadians are now beating these trusting little critters to death, thousands of them a day, until the snow runs red in that awful way we saw on the front of yesterdays Independent newspaper.
Is there anyone who could possibly attempt to justify this kind of barbarity? Will anyone stand up for the seal cull? Well, ahem, at the risk of terminally alienating and offending animal-lovers across the country, it is the duty of this column which ever puts logic above popularity to have a go.
Of course, it must be a dreadful way to go, if you are a seal; and no one could seriously doubt that the method of killing is peculiarly brutal. But I put it to you none the less that the Canadian fisherman has as much right to go out clubbing as the average British 18-year-old.
It was a good thing that there was an outcry in the early 1980s; and it was a good thing that there was a consequent European Union-wide ban on seal fur products. But that was when the cull had so reduced the populations of harp and hooded seals that they were at real risk. That was when they killed the little white baby seals as well, which particularly outraged our sentimental feelings. The truth today is that there are now about six million of these seals, and they are not spending all the time lolling defencelessly on the ice. They are very efficient eaters of fish.
They eat 1.5 tonnes of fish a year each, and given that there are only 50,000 tonnes of cod left off Newfoundland and Labrador, you can see that the ecosystem is badly out of whack.
It is true that the waters have been crazily overfished by the Canadians themselves; but there seems to be good evidence that the voracity of the seals has created a predator trap, by which the fish find it impossible to breed faster than the seals can eat them. You could find what looks like a more humane way of bumping off the seals, such as shooting them. The trouble is that this method is barely more humane than clubbing, and the gunshot lead is expensive and not environmentally friendly.
And surely it makes sense, given how poor these fishermen are, to prevent the pelts from being torn apart by bullets. You may feel affronted by the scale of the slaughter; but I cant really see a moral difference between authorising the killing of 10,000 seals and 350,000.
If it is really numbers of dead animals that shock you, let me remind you that every year we herd 1.5 million cows and 12.5 million sheep into the dark bellowing terror of dung-encrusted abattoirs, blap them with a bolt in the brain and then slit their throats. We dont have Canadian camera crews hovering above our meat processing plants.
And if it is not numbers that concern you, but the principle of taking life, then let me remind you that 200,000 embryos are aborted every year in this country; and if you think that is irrelevant, let me remind you that, every year, in the Peoples Republic of China, 20,000 sentient adult human beings are killed by the state. Isnt that, on the face of it, a more natural subject for an Independent campaign?
I tell you why the seal cull speaks so powerfully to us. Its telly, innit? Its the shocking undisguisable picture of the lone killer on the ice floe, the graphic impact of the red on the white.
The seal cull provides a uniquely powerful image of what is in fact an everyday event: the violence of man against animals, and the slaughter of animals by man. It is the sheer conspicuousness of that killing that prompts, in our breasts, our exaggerated response: which I might compare, finally, with the agonies now being endured by those of us who supported the war in Iraq.
It looks like an utter disaster, if you rely solely on the television images, and you study the small-scale newspaper maps, with their pictograms of conflagration in every city. This week in The Spectator, we have a brilliant piece by Andrew Gilligan in Baghdad, full of despair at the dilemmas of the coalition troops.
Maybe I am a congenital optimist, but I cant help wondering whether that is all there is to it, and whether those polls which found so many Iraqis convinced that their lives had improved were not also true. Television images of violence can create alarm. They can create outrage. But they are not always the whole story.
Boris Johnson is MP for Henley and editor of The Spectator
I'm bad. I know.
Don't know how much perception they have of what's going on around them, but it would seem death would be virtually instantaneous... as opposed to death by starvation, disease or polar bear.
Killing an animal like this, defenseless and terrified, by beating it to death with a club, is simply not a fit occupation for any MAN worth the name.
They pose no threat to humans, do not provide food or survival items, or even sport. There is neither honor nor decency nor dignity in it. Thus, it is an act which all MEN worthy of the name should condemn in the loudest voice possible.
There are numerous reports of the seals even being skinned while still alive. Our status as the dominant species on the planet nonetheless does not give us license to torture an animal to death in such a manner. Those who can are not to be trusted around other humans; they should be shunned.
I used to hunt; I still enjoy fishing. But no decent, conscientious hunter I have ever known has tortured his game to death; the goal is a clean, quick kill, and full use of the game animal.
I was also once the victim of a savage blow to the head, from an individual who meant to kill me. By luck, I survived, much to that person's sorrow. I never forgot the pain, however, or the days spent with headaches and dizziness when my legs just would not work right and my eyes were blurry. Anyone excusing this barbarity might think twice had the experience been a personal one. You DO know what hit you.
One need not be a wild-eyed animal rights nutcase to see the evil in this for what it is. Any senseless act that lacks honor, dignity, and decency is not an act a MAN should ever condone.
I watched some of the video the BBC shot of this so-called "hunt". It makes one wonder just who the animals really are. A special place in Hell awaits those creatures who perpetrated this. There is no possible way that a just God would condone it.
Is your idea of "hunting like a MAN" killing infant animals with NO chance of escape by hitting them with a club? Is it your idea of "hunting like a man" to skin an infant animal alive?
MEN do not do such things.
For God's sake, they are infants when this is done...12 days old! I cannot imagine the terror they suffer, or the pain of being skinned alive in some circumstances.
What human coud do this, just to make a soft coat?
Do you like cod?
Had he finished you off with another blow, you would not have suffered.
"Although the Canadian government claims seals are no longer skinned alive during the culls, recent eye-witness accounts claim otherwise, corroborating studies suggesting that more than four in 10 pups are still alive when hunters skin them."
Don't excuse evil.
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