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The Two Arguments of the Taiji Hunters

drive-hunt-facilities
Where the dolphins are shipped after they're captured at Taiji

The latest dolphin drive hunt at Taiji is now "over".

Over, that is, for the dolphins who are dead – 41 according to Sea Shepherd. And over for the people who massacred them and are busy pocketing their profits. But certainly not over for the 52 dolphins who were taken captive and are now being shipped around the world to marine circuses and hotels where tourists will pay hundreds of dollars to "swim with dolphins" and thousands of dollars for quack "dolphin therapy" sessions.

And anything but over for the 140 or so dolphins who were driven back out to the ocean. Most of them will die from their injuries or from being orphaned or separated from their pod and with no idea where to go, what to do, or how to live on their own.

Last week, as U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy joined the chorus of criticism, the Taiji hunters and the Japanese government responded with two main arguments. One of them is contemptible nonsense; the other is something we need to think about.

The nonsense argument is that massacring dolphins is a cultural tradition. The "it's my culture/my religion" thing has been wheeled out to defend all kinds of atrocities – from cock-fighting to bear-baiting and from incest to slavery.  Dolphin advocate Ric O'Barry demolished it in a few seconds on CNN, telling Anderson Cooper:

"That's a deliberate lie. Anyone can research this and learn that it actually started in 1969. So it's not traditional and it's not cultural, and it's time to end this."

taiji-seashepherd-1Cooper followed up by posing the second argument: that it's hypocritical to complain about the killing of dolphins when we in this country are killing cows and pigs and chickens by the millions.

O'Barry countered by saying, "They're comparing domesticated farm animals with wildlife." And on Huff Post Live, Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute took a similar approach:

"When you slaughter livestock for consumption, for food, there are humane slaughter laws in most countries that require that certain standards be met, that the animal becomes insensible instantly. And you can't do that with a dolphin. ... The way they kill dolphins in the cove, given that they can't restrain the animal properly or in any way meet the standards of a humane slaughter law, it's incredibly cruel."

Interviewer Josh Zepps pressed the point by saying, "But if they could do it humanely, we would still consider it wrong. Right?"

To which Rose responded, "These are wild animals; they're not being ranched or farmed. It's not only cruel, it's unsustainable."

But in the final analysis this argument doesn't really hold up. It only begs more questions: "So if you could do it without pain, would it be OK?" or "If they were to breed them at a dolphin farm, would that be OK?" or "Isn't it equally cruel to keep pigs in gestation crates where they can't even turn around for months on end?" There's just one clear, unambiguous response to the argument that "you people do it too." And that response is "I don't."

Sure, the Taiji massacre men and the Japanese government are simply trying to create a distraction. But it's a distraction that works for them because it puts animal advocates on the defensive and takes the debate off in a different direction.

If animal abuse is wrong, then it's wrong whether you're doing it in a Japanese cove, or in stream with a fishing pole, or at an American factory farm, or anywhere else.

And if you're a dolphin advocate who's still eating animal products, you're not only putting yourself in an awkward situation; you're complicating things for the rest of us, too.

Very simply, there can be only one clear, unambiguous response to the argument that "you people do it too." And that response is: "I don't. I'm against all forms of animal abuse. And I oppose factory farming, too. But we're not here to talk about that; we're here to talk about what you're doing, which is the cruel and monstrous massacre of dolphins."

End of argument.

There's just no way around the fact that as long as we're slamming the dolphin massacres while consuming animal products ourselves, we're left open to the charge of hypocrisy.

Many of us who already eat a plant-based diet still feel obliged to give the "It's more cruel" or "They're not farm animals" response because we know so many dolphin advocates who use animal products every day. We feel defensive by association – as if we have to cover for them.

Whether you're a supposedly humane organization that serves up scallops and Beef Wellington at a fund-raising dinner, or you're criticizing cock-fighting and then going home to a chicken dinner, or you eat "dolphin-safe tuna" while complaining about people who eat dolphin, or any of the other inconsistencies between what we say and what we do, you're just hobbling your case.

The bottom line is very simple: Either you're against cruelty to animals or you're not. And if you want to make the case against dolphin hunting or any other kind of abuse, it's best to get with the program and stop patronizing any of the cruelty industries. That way you'll never end up on the defensive, and you'll be getting others of us off the hook, too. Best of all, you'll be a better advocate for dolphins – and for all animals everywhere.

12 comments
Jeff Bryant
Jeff Bryant

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned mercury. Dolphin meat is contaminated with mercury and other toxic chemicals as to make it dangerous to consume. Even by Japanese gov't standards. Anytime the Taiji fisherman or the Japanese gov't roll out the tradition/culture argument they should be asked if eating mercury laden meat is a Japanese tradition. This fact overrides all other arguments. It doesn't matter how you kill them, they are inedible. For more info on the tests that have been done on the meat go to the Japan Times web site and search "Boyd Harnell". He is a Japan based journalist who has written many fine articles on this topic.


The meat is not suitable for consumption. 

PatrickSchafer
PatrickSchafer

Hey everybody, it's time to change! Help any way you can!

Thank you very much, the dolphins trust you, dont give up!

Thank you!

michellenevada
michellenevada

Thank you for saying this. It needs to be said more often. I know way too many self-proclaimed "animal lovers" who want to hold their animal welfare group meeting over a lunch of cheeseburgers at the local diner. And no, they don't see any contradiction. But, perhaps with enough articles like this their eyes and minds will open. 

AbigailOK
AbigailOK


To even dare start a non-argument trying to hide behind what other countries do is near to despicable. And cowardly. Trying to shut others's mouths because the hunters just do not give a hoot and want to go on. And BTW abuse like in Japan in e.g. circuses, the animal farming factories which are also in Japan, or the Japanese bear parks (hello!), or cutting pieces out of living fishes like in Japanese high-end restaurants (hello again!), or the gruesome whaling expeditions where again Japan is lying through their teeth about it being for so-called scientific research (no whale should be killed for that) is beyond pathetic. 

Yes, the most cruel animal farming factories are global and shows humankind's total lack of conscience and dive into the abyss of depravity which in the end if we do not stop it along with other things like monoculture Monsantoing the food system whilst poisoning the soil, air and water and destroying wildlife and their habitats simultaneously, will destroy the planet. Both are prime causes of climate change. 

And then there is canned hunting which is mostly a western form of depravity. Labaratory tests which are superfluous since there are cheaper non-animal tests which are more reliable since rats, cats, dogs, horses, monkey and mice have a different make-up than humans (yes). The list is long. 

But what does that have to do with the monstrosity which takes place in Taijii? They act as barbarians, threaten people who are there as witnesses for the world to show with violence, and then wickedly and brazenly come up with this nonsense to shut people up whilst they earn money selling the meat to (also western) restaurants and feed their own citizens or whole live dolphins to - yes - the same western dolphinaria (go see the DVD The Cove and the movie Blackfish for starters) and acquariums they now remind us of? They of all people although despicable excuses for human beings having no moral leverage anymore, have NO right to speak at all! None.


treetalker
treetalker

It's not very difficult to be a vegetarian these days, with all the products available at the health food store, so if you're determined enough, you'll manage. 


But there are other ways in which animals are used: for clothing being the most obvious, but the practice of vivisection in drug trials continues, as well as using animals in entertainment. 


Ethical arguments make the speaker feel good, or righteous, but the ones to whom the speech is directed are generally undeterred. 


The only way to stop animal abuse is to quit voting for it with our dollars (or whatever your currency.)

Malcolm J Brenner
Malcolm J Brenner

Michael Mountain makes a post for ethical consistency.  I'm a failed vegetarian, but I keep on trying, and I agree with him.  Otherwise, how can we argue against the killing of dogs for food in Korea and China? Reducing farm animals to objects, like the pigs in their crates, is vile.  It's simply not right.  So how do we stem the tide of increasing meat-eating around the world, as third-world nations become richer?  We need to have the courage of our convictions.

PatrickSchafer
PatrickSchafer

JAPAN is tethering in fear with the 4th generator in FUKUSHIMA nuclear plant in danger of blowing up....and yet these people are hopelessly abominable in their slaughter of dolphins. It is NOT A TRADITION. It is a profitable practice of CAPTIVE SELECTION. herding dolphins to zoos and pleasure animal parks all over the globe fetches roughly $150,000 per dolphin in 2009...the rest is for slaughter and food. And yet dolphins have a high mercury content as compared to other ceataceans. Perhaps that will be the revenge of the dolphins. Mercury contamination

This must end. It's time for change. Japan's lack of response and care regarding this matter is appalling. We used to let children work in mines too. This is not a matter of tradition or simple little fishing village. This has everything to do with greed and this being a big business for Taiji. End the dolphin capture and slaughter your cockroaches, the world is watching.

Shame on you Japan for allowing this! Mother nature will destroy you since you will not learn to respect it. Tsunami, earthquake and your own stupid radioactive waste will kill you in the end! Don't you get it????

I know that many japanese people dont agree with what is hapening in taiji, all my anger is for those who direct act or in any way support the barbaric acts. I have japanese friends and i love them! For me someone that do what they are doing in taiji in fact are not a cockroache, they are worst. I think i would have an orgasm if i could put a knife in the troath of each fishermen, sorry if you dont agree but dolphins are being murdered every day by those primitive barbaric. Actually they are not fishermen, dolphins are not fish, they are inteligent and defensless mamals! So those piece of shit are not fishermen they are murderers. I really wish from the bottom of my heart they all die in a very slow agony and a lot of pain. And i dont care if they have families, the dolphins have families and the killers laugh while butcher them.

"an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"

Naomi
Naomi

The first image in this post was taken from a map created by Ceta-Base, to see the complete image/document click here.
bit.ly/17UoGM3

LoriMarino
LoriMarino

@Jeff Bryant The meat consumption is not what is driving the Taiji hunts economically.  It is the captivity industry paying tens times more for a dolphin to be taken into captivity than a dead dolphin. That fact is what we need to focus on.

yttap
yttap

I disagree.  I think if you wish (or, God forbid, actually act on) this kind of revenge, you are no better than the dolphin hunters.

PatrickSchafer
PatrickSchafer

I could punch their faces untill they die. I wish it will hapen soon.