3/09/2008

Am I insensitive? Without a doubt, but that is besides the point...

"Stop the slaughter of baby harp seals in Canada!" declared the e-mail I got from PETA.
Fair enough. I can understand why anyone would wish to stop the slaughter of animals, but I found myself cringing at the blatant propaganda that PETA was distributing. You see, the only pictures attached to the e-mail the PETA sent me were of white coat, harp seal pups. "
Once again, defying international opposition and all standards of human decency, the Canadian government is sanctioning the mass killing of helpless baby harp seals," it stated. Well, PETA, if your goal was to get the Canadian government to ban the killing of white coats, they did that in 1987.

The following is a compiled list of quotes from the e-mail PETA sent me that I specifically have issues with:

"Hundreds of thousands of harp seals will be killed in a matter of weeks."
This may be true, but let's also consider that the quota for the seal hunt in 2007 was 270,000. I cannot say for sure, as I do not have a list of numbers in front of me, but I find it highly unlikely that this number was reached within a matter of weeks when the seal hunt lasts for approximately three months. Let me also point out that the government lowered the quota for the seal hunt by 55,000 (it had been 325,000 in 2006).

"Most of them will be less than 3 months old, and many will still be in their first weeks of life."
Yes, you are correct. Many of them will be less than three months old because, let's face it, in the wild it is the very young, the old, and the sick that get picked off. This is because, as you mentioned in your e-mail, they are easiest to catch. But as far as many of them being in their first weeks of life? No, this is sentence is inaccurate. As harp seals retain their white coats for 12 to 14 days and - as I previously mentioned - it has been illegal to kill white coats since 1987, one can conclude that it is currently illegal to kill a seal in its first weeks of life. Does this mean that absolutely no white coats are killed during the hunt? No, it does not. I am sure that there are one or two douche bags out there who defy this law, but this does not change the fact that you are intentionally leading people to believe that the Canadian government has done nothing to discourage the killing fluffy white seal pups. Why not instead rally to have an amendment made to the 1987 law stating the no seals under a year or, better yet, six years of age may be killed in the seal hunt. This would mean that the seals had had a chance to reach sexual maturity.

"The carnage begins as the seals have their heads bashed in with clubs. Still conscious, they will be dragged across the ice with boat hooks."
I am assuming that you are referring to the hakapik when you say that these seals have their heads bashed in. There is no denying that it doesn't particularly look all that pleasant, and I definitely won't be volunteering to be subjected to it any time in the near future. From the looks of it, it is actually downright gruesome. Forgetting appearances for a minute, the hakapik has actually been found to be at least as humane of a method of killing as those currently employed in commercial slaughterhouses - or at least it is when performed properly. How often is it performed improperly? I have no idea, but at least I am not pretending to know more than I actually do.
I equally cannot comment on whether or not the seals are dragged across the ice with boat hooks, but if you are correct, and they are still conscious, then I agree that it is inexcusable.


"Then these sensitive, intelligent animals will be skinned, sometimes while they are still alive."

As is the case with most of your e-mail, you state a fact (obviously these carcasses will be skinned if their skin is the primary bounty) and then follow it up with propaganda. I cannot say for certain how frequently seals are skinned prior to their physical death, as I have not been present on every seal hunt that has ever taken place. Truth be told, I have never been present on any seal hunt, but that is besides the point. What I can do, however, is quote an article that the CBC wrote on the seal hunt, "A 2002 report in the Canadian Veterinary Journal found that 'the large majority of seals taken during this hunt … are killed in an acceptably humane manner.' This study found that 98 per cent of hunted seals it examined had been killed properly. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) cites this study among others as proof that the hunt opponents are wrong in their accusations of widespread cruelty." However, prior to accepting this information as gospel truth, let us also take into account that this is only one study and that it is entirely possible for future studies to yield completely different results. As I learned in my Statistics class, information can be interpreted to support anything you want it to, and is frequently skewed to suit the views of the parties presenting it. Always take the information you are given, even numbers, with a grain of salt. That being said, I do agree that it is unacceptable to skin animals while they are alive, in any capacity.
I feel the need to point out that, as an English major, I applaud you for your use of the word "sometimes". It is the use of this adverb (and similarly suggestive ones) that saves your message from being complete and utter bullshit. I can say almost anything, so long as I add in the word "sometimes" to the mix, and have it be fact.
Chimpanzees kill baby humans, sometimes.
Dogs are known to kill their owners using firearms, sometimes.
Sometimes the snow comes down in June.
And, lest we not forget, sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon.

In closing, it is not your opposition to the seal hunt that I have a problem with. Truth be told, I am not particularly fond of it either. My problem is with the way you intentionally mislead and manipulate the intended reader of your message with half-truths and falsehoods. Naturally, presenting a less sensationalized picture of the seal hunt would not likely result in the kind of donations or public outcry that you are trying to inspire, but it would give you a whole lot more credibility as an organization. I appreciate any effort made to decrease the suffering of other living beings, but I also accept that death is a part of life. Humans are a natural predator of seals. You can deny this all you want, but humans are the natural predator of pretty much everything. And, having witnessed several videos, I feel safe in saying that the seals probably would choose the hakapik over most anything else their natural predators have to offer.

5 comments:

Joseph said...

Megan, did you even write this? The font looks all spam-ish. WTF?

I like your irreverance but not this, unfortunately.

Freedom of speech must rule the land so far be it from me to cast shame on your words but I disagree with them and that's my 2 cents.

Megan said...

Yes, I did write this.
Believe it or not, but I am not actually a supporter of the seal hunt. My point is that Peta is intentionally misleading the general public by presenting an inaccurate image of what the seal hunt.
I specifically take issue with the fact that they are villainizing the country in which I live.
Essentially, I agree with their message (i.e. it is not cool to smoke seals in the back of the head with an icepick and then skin them), but I disagree with the way in which they are presenting their message.

Jenn said...

PETA? Misrepresenting themselves?

*shock*

Jallápenno said...

dude...I commented on this yesterday. I comment again now because I'm a douche and didn't even notice your cbc link. I'm not just a stealing beeatch, I swear.

K. Restoule said...

I've never been a fan of the practice but I do know why it's done these days, other than the fact that it is a hunt.

A lot of newfie friends tell me that it's to protect the cod stocks. Basically the seals were eating all the cod, and that's why the fisheries were shut down.

Not siding with either camp, just saying, that's the way it is.