So, full disclosure: I eat meat and use animal products. I had been a vegetarian for several years, but returned to a omnivore existence, mostly for health reasons. I have serious ethical issues with my own meat-eating, centering on the treatment of the farm animals and the methods under which they are killed. Yet I continue to eat meat.
I don't eat certain food that I feel inflicts too much suffering on an animal merely for human enjoyment. I wear leather. I would never wear fur.
So that's out of the way.
The argument that one can't oppose the slaughter of animals for pelts unless one opposes the slaughter of animal for food is specious and doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
All human morality recognizes motivations and gradations. Most people agree it is wrong to kill other people. Yet most people can also imagine scenarios where it is acceptable for one person to kill another. Most people in western society eat animal flesh. Most of those people would not condone, say, the torture of a dog.
Since moving to Canada, I've spoken with many Canadians who oppose the annual Newfoundland seal hunt. They've also shown me that the rationales used to support it are bullshit. An editorial in this week's Globe And Mail supported the hunt. Here are two letters in response:
You state that "it has been illegal since 1987 to kill harp seals while they are still pups, and the hunt is weeks away." What is your definition of a pup? Here are the facts: It's illegal to kill a harp seal pup when it has its newborn white coat, but legal to kill it when the pup begins to shed its white coat (referred to as a "ragged jacket") at about 12 days old. Last year, 98.5 per cent of the seals killed were two months of age or younger.Now Rex Murphy can pound his fist at Paul McCartney, just like he did not long ago at Michael Moore, and declare that no one rich or famous has a right to use that fame for what they see as the greater good, because they're all hypocrites. (Apparently one must take a vow of poverty before one supports movements to end hunger.)
That's still a "pup" in my world.
Ainslie Willock, director, Canadians for Furbearing Animals
The only thing On Thin Ice in your editorial (March 2) is The Globe and Mail's irrational tirade in favour of the commercial seal hunt.
You would have us believe that efforts to stop the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world are a threat to the livelihoods of Newfoundlanders. However, sealing revenues account for less than 0.5 per cent of Newfoundland's gross domestic product and only 2 per cent of its fishery revenues. Sealing is an off-season activity for a few thousand commercial fishermen. They earn, on average, about 5 per cent of their incomes from sealing.
The Globe also falsely claims that killing seals by rifle is as "humane as the killing of animals can get." The reality is that when hunters shoot seals from moving boats, the pups are often only wounded and are left to suffer in agony. Many slip beneath the surface of the water, where they die slowly and are never recovered.
I grew up in Newfoundland, and I have observed the hunt at close range for the past seven years. The commercial seal hunt is a national disgrace -- as is the editorial position taken by The Globe and Mail.
Rebecca Aldworth, Canadian wildlife issues director, the Humane Society of the United States
Murphy writes a whole column about this. Uses a whole column of newspaper space to ridicule famous people working for social causes. This is the great commentator that everyone thinks is such a wit and a straight-shooter and an iconoclast. Perhaps they are too easily seduced by clever quips like "watching Sir Paul McCartney talking to Larry King about the Newfoundland seal hunt -- the pompous in full communion with the vacuous." Hilarious. And not just funny, pithy. Deep. Important. Paul McCartney is trying to save animals' lives, Rex Murphy is making fun of him. Who's wasting his time?
I've been reading and watching Rex Murphy for months, and my opinion of him is shrinking faster than the polar ice cap. Enough already: I'm tossing Murphy in the bin, where he can keep his fellow Newfoundlander Rick Mercer company. Neither of these guys are worth my time, and I've given up trying to figure out why I'm so alone in this opinion.
The bin is also where the seal hunt belongs. It's an abomination, and, to quote a famous person, a "stain on the character of the Canadian people".