Last week’s episode of Whale Wars (on Animal Planet) was a funeral service for a whale. We were treated to the grief-stricken reaction of ecotoerrorists to the demise of a whale at the hands of a harpooner.
I’ll venture a few comments:
1. I think it would be unfortunate if Japanese whalers hunted certain species into extinction. Mind you, I don’t know that certain species are actually endangered by whalers.
2. That said, the show is manipulating the viewer’s anthropomorphic empathy for the plight of whales as a staking horse to promote a radical agenda. This isn’t just about the conservation of whales. The whole thing is a propaganda device to soften up the audience for something it would resist if ecoterrorists were more forthright about their ulterior motives.
3. Harpooning a whale and then shooting it to deliver the coup de grâce looks brutal. However, it’s no more so than natural predation in the animal kingdom. It’s not as if sharks, barracudas, killer whales, piranhas, wolves, lions, and so forth humanely euthanize their prey before consuming it.
So there’s something deeply incongruous about environmentalists who mourn the death of a whale by whalers. They act as if wild animals are house pets.
Hunters who live off the land are far more in touch with mother nature than yuppie urban environmentalists.
Likewise, is a whaler who harpoons a whale any more or less brutal than a farmer’s wife who wrings the neck of a chicken?
4. Perhaps they’d objection that it’s unnatural to harpoon a whale. But does it matter to the victim whether it dies by natural or unnatural causes?
Moreover, from the standpoint of naturalistic evolution, there’s nothing prescriptive about the natural order. The natural order is not a moral order.