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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Ric O'Barry Saves Dolphins

Ric O'Barry Saves Dolphins
Originally uploaded by timtak
This is a picture copyright

I am strongly opposed to the opposition to Japanese dolphin hunting.

I think that dolphins are more intelligent than cows and pigs, and am sad about their death.

1) I think that cows and pigs are intelligent,

2) I do not think that intelligence is an acid test of what should be killed. Sensitivity to suffering might be equally valid. I think that cows are very sensitive to their suffering.

3) I think that cows and pigs have a far, far, far worse life in and bred for, captivity, especially when boxed all their lives.

I think that slaughtering dolphins in coves appears appaling, because

1) It is

2) One can view it .
Essentially, hunting takes place in the place that the animals live, so it is viewable. Abbattoir slaughter takes place in closed environments controlled by the meat eaters.
The scenes from "The Cove" are unlike the scenes in abattoirs in many ways. But I believe that equally gruesome things are going on in abbatoirs, at vastly greater scale, especially after having visited one.

3) There is a contrast between the freedom of the animals and their death.
If an animal has been bred for food, and especially has lived all its life in a cage, the the horror of its demise may appear deminished. However this lack of contrast hides the true horror, that of living ones life in a box bound for slaughter. Battery farming of cattle, pigs and chickens is, in my view, so much more unpleasant than killing wild animals that it is difficult to compare. The slaughter of battery farmed animals is infinately more disgusting than the slaughter of wild species due to the hellishness of the life that the animals have lead prior to their death.

The slaughter of the hunt appears appalling from a third person perspective, because the third person sees the contrast between freedom and the death. But from the first person/animal perspective (which should be? what counts) the un-hunted, bred to die animal is vastly more miserable.

Ric O'Barry guy goes to Japanese supermarkets to lament the death of his "friends." Does he have no friends who are cows bred in cages for beefburgers? Does he not care for their thousands of times, hundreds of thousands of times, more miserable existance?

I deeply opposed to his group, bearing in mind the vastly, enourmously, grotesquely (I lack adverbs) greater suffering going on in other means of human protein production, compared to the yet tragic slaugher of dolpins.

It seems to me that this movement is a cultural defense mechanism. The movement is in part, I feel, an attempt to allow those that participate in the movement, or have sympathy with the movement, to forget the infinitely more profound horror of slaughtering animals bred and living in small cages, to die by a slightly quicker means.

Would you rather have been born a dolpin that died in Taji, or a cow that lived and died in a battery farm?

Is there even a question? The answer is no. There is no question. The horror of the "beef" (cow) that became a burger is so far worse, that there is no question, no viable comparison. The dolpin was hunted and killed, in pain. The cow's whole life was hell.

Weep by all means for the dolphins that die in Taji. And do not eat them. And do not go to dolphin shows in aquaria. And if you feel this sadness, or even if you don't, go wild, wild, wild with grief, and rage, for the life of the animal that made up your protein in the food that you will eat today.

Take out the plank in your own eye Mr. O'Barry. Take out the redwood tree in the eyes of your peers, before you point out the splinter in the eyes of others.

Disgusting. Ric O'Barry and his movement disgusts me.

Do you remember the Chinese dumpling scare?

Remember the single mad cow fron the USA?

When it was discovered that the dumplings and beef was contaminated, the product was removed from all Japanese supermarkets.

If Taiji dolphin meat was from China or the USA, the mercury contaminated product would have been banned from Japanese supermarkets long ago.

What's up with that?
Dear Mr. O'Barry

Thank you for your comment.

I do remember the dumplings and mad cow scare.

I don't know much about lethality or bad-for-the-health-ness of the various levels of poisonous-ness that you mention: of the mercury in dolphins, or insecticide in the dumplings or the BSE.

I think that the dumplings made people in Japan feel ill. People were puking after a meal of dumplings.

I hear that BSE can, if you get unlucky, turn you brain to mulch.

Mercury is more insidious, or controllable, depending on the way one looks at it. It builds up afaik. A dolphin meal is not going to turn ones brain to sponge or make you throw up, but a few such meals, or a lot, may adversely affect ones children, and eventually oneself. The Japanese government advises pregnant women against eating a lot of, I think more than one portion a week of carnivorous sea creatures (not only cetaceans but also fish that eat other fish). This is a well-known piece of advice in Japan.

Are the Japanese government getting their warnings right? I don't know.

With regard to insecticide in food and BSE in beef the Japanese are as strict with their own producers as they are with those in China or the USA.

If you mean to suggest that the Japanese are react more adversely to poisons that come from outside of Japan then I think that you are probably right. You are probably right, that, at least to a significant degree that there is more of an adverse reaction to poisons from elsewhere, in Japan and elsewhere. And perhaps you are right to argue that if dolphin meat were from China or the USA it would have been banned.

This is the point. This negative reaction is in part due to the same sort of psychology that I believe occurs in the reaction of some (though not of yourself) to the slaughter of dolphins. People have a tendency to see what others are doing as more horrible, scary, and poisonous.

For my own part, I see far more of this 'external attribution of blame' mentality going on in the campaign against dolphin slaughter in Japan, than I do in the reaction of the Japanese government and people towards (certainly) insecticide in dumplings and (arguably) towards the outcry towards the “one mad cow".

I applaud the fact that your organisations web site encourages its viewers against seeing the issue as being related to the fact that the slaughter happens in Japan.

At the same time, if you look at the comments on, for instance the "My Friend is.." The Cove promotion video you will find a considerable number of virulently anti-Japanese comments.

I think that to counter, and prevent such 'external attribution of blame' would be very difficult.

However, should your organisation team up with say, http://meat.org, putting a prominent link to "Other forms of protein production" (or similar) at the top left of your organisational web site, I think I would be persuaded, and that viewers would feel, that in general terms, the “slaughter” is not someone else's problem, not someone else's doing.

But bearing in mind the lack of such comparison, and the overall impact of your movement, particularly the negative implication it has to a nation of humans (the Japanese), and to a community of human hunters (in Taji), I am afraid to say, and I am sad to say, that I remain appalled and disgusted.

I may be exaggerating, but I think or am scared that your movement might even help to cause war! Seriously. It helps people to think in terms of “those barbarian Japanese.” (When in fact, for my money, their hunting, or whatever species, is far less barbaric than the modes of “protein production" going on elsewhere).

Timothy Takemoto
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.