Where is the line that you won’t cross?

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?

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7 thoughts on “Where is the line that you won’t cross?

  1. I agree with you and am disgusted by the poaching and killing of all wild species, not just seals. But my guess as to why people are outraged are yes because of their cuteness but also the way the seals are killed, which is horrific. I read about some seals getting hooks in their faces, gassed, skinned alive, etc, plus the whole act of clubbing something to death isn’t exactly humane either.

  2. Excellent post and absolutely spot-on. I became a vegetarian about 9 months ago. I would totally eat some baby seal right about now.

    But seriously, I don’t know how we decide or what lines we draw in determining which species are more important. Cuteness is huge, it seems. Don’t see anyone trying to save the roaches.

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  5. Well, it’s the same as why do we care more about white people than black people? Although it is not as extreme as in the past, historically, black people have been devalued in our society. White people used to refer to black people as “it.” It’s not because there’s any real difference. But slavery came before racial slavery, before racism. Racism became a justification for slavery, it became a certain way of defining a devaluing/degrading relationship. The way we view domesticated animals like chickens, pigs, and cows in the West is like that…. we define them as not cute or not relevant to the same moral consideration in order to justify the degrading relationship we already have of them, in order to not ask the difficult question of why we are benefiting from their labor and bodies in the first place. Far easier to just keep doing whatever you’re doing.

  6. Mimi

    Louëlla – the hierarchy of domination of who is better has been around since time. It’s not just between white people and other ethnicities – Africans have that hierarchy of color, look at Asians … same thing. Regretably, it exists in nature too.

    re the domestication – that is a requirement of leading a non-nomadic life – though this can be found throughout the world, not just the West …

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