Caught up in the fervor surrounding planned protests against the upcoming annual Atlantic seal hunt, an American friend of mine pinged me on IM tonight to tell me (among other things) that he was boycotting my (meaning Canadian, presumably, since I don’t personally have any) seafood. Me, I’m boycotting seafood because I don’t like it, which apparently wasn’t the right answer since he’s boycotting it in solidarity with animal rights activists. (What can I say? I gave up trying to protest the seal hunt years ago. I did try to organize a campaign while I was in high school to save the acrylics — Save Our Synthetics — but it didn’t take off either.)
Now, understand. I’m not *for* the annual seal hunt by any stretch of the imagination. And I support animal activist organizations like IFAW, PETA, and even Greenpeace that protest all animal cruelty specifically because they protest it all. If I were a less lazy human being (or if I could find myself a nice vegan man who would be the keeper of my vegan conscience), I would be a vegan. Instead, I’m a hypocrite, protesting animal cruelty and exploitation while still consuming animal products in one form or another.
Tonight, though, I’m questioning why seals are more deserving of such massive global outrage when clearly the culling, hunting, slaughtering, and butchering of other animals isn’t. It can’t be because of the cuteness — lambs, calves, and bunnies are cute, too, but people don’t stop eating them to protest. And it can’t be because of the numbers. What is 270,000 of any species when compared to the millions of individuals of countless species of animals across the planet that are culled annually because they become too plentiful and begin to encroach on human habitation? Abatoirs across the world drown in the blood of livestock bred, raised, and slaughtered to feed and pamper us. I could go on: elephants slaughtered for ivory, bears killed for their gall bladders, so many species hunted to extinction or endangered status simply because some human society somewhere decided they were either lucrative or a pest.
Why does none of that garner the same attention, the same widespread righteous indignation that the seal hunt does? Why this one species, this one hunt? Why aren’t we as the so-called dominant species on the planet more horrified at our mistreatment of all living creatures, not just the photogenic ones? Slavery used be considered OK by many because some races of humans were deemed lesser creations than others. We know better now. What is our excuse when it comes to the other lives with which we share this planet?