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Seal Hunt Salvo

Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.

Seal Hunt Salvo : Roedy Green : email Roedy Green : 2008-04-14

The following is a letter I wrote to about 175 newspaper editors, mostly in Canada but a few in Europe.

Tourism Canada photo to attract the S&M trade.
Tourism Canada photo to attract the S&M trade.

I am a Canadian who opposes the seal hunt on five grounds:

  1. It is barbaric. If a man clubbed horses or dogs to death with a hooked club he would be jailed if he were not torn to pieces by an angry mob first.
  2. It is not economic. It costs the taxpayers too much to subsidize the icebreakers, rescues and policing.
  3. It destroys Canada’s reputation and triggers the rest of the world to boycott all Canadian products.
  4. It is an affront to civil liberty to ban filming those who commit this atrocity. The sealers don’t deserve anonymity.
  5. It panders to worst sadistic impulses in a few Canadians. If seals need to be culled or hunted, there are humane ways to do it.
Here is the response:

I don’t think you know what you are talking about : Jake, of The Reporter in Port Hawkesbury Nova Scotia : : 2008-04-15

seal killed with a hooked club
seal killed with a hooked club
With all due respect, I don’t think you know what you are talking about, like most people opposed to the hunt.

An ad hominem as your lead sentence is hardly due respect.

This opposition is based on pure emotion, it is an impulse reaction to images of bloddied baby seals and has no basis in reality.

Oh really, those thousands of photos were all photoshopped? and the eye-witness accounts from friends delivered direct to my ears were all lies? No basis in reality, my ass! What an outrageous liar you are! If it is not appropriate to get emotional about deliberate and unnecessary cruelty then I don’t know what is appropriate to get emotional about. My opposition may be energised by rage, but three of my five points have nothing to do with emotion.

The fact is, as fish stocks continue to decline (which is backed up by federal government and independent research) so too must the seal population be controlled, by way of the hunt. Without this type of control, the seal population will continue to decimate fish stocks, causing more economic and ecological hardship.

What a slimy debater you are! The federal government has documented decline of fish stocks but most certainly did not finger seals as the primary cause. In any case, how can I make you acknowledge that my argument is not with culling but the with barbarity of the way it is done.

I would also assert that the characterization of the hunt as barbaric is more the result of uninformed and narrow minded opinions towards the people of Atlantic Canada than anything else.

In short, sir do your homework.

Atlantic Canadian killing a seal with a hooked club
Atlantic Canadian killing a seal with a hooked club

My complaint is not with culling but the technique for killing, using hooked clubs. You responded to my letter to the editor in a knee-jerk way. You ignored my five points and argued against a straw man instead.

The use of hooked clubs is deliberately sadistic. Why? Because the sealers, like you, are under the delusion the fish stocks are in decline primarily because of the seals. They want to make the seals suffer for their crime. Seals are obviously not the main culprit for two reasons.

  1. Explorer John Cabot returned with stories of the Grand Banks, where cod appeared so thick that a man could walk across their backs. The seals were much more plentiful then. The cause of the decline is overfishing by many countries all racing to catch more than their fair share. There were plenty of cod and plenty of seals until highly mechanised fishing.
  2. Unlike humans, seals tend to catch the sickest, weakest fish. This helps prevent disease spreading in the wild stocks.

Even if it is necessary to cull some seals, it is childish, perverted and contrary to Canada’s economic interest to do it in such a brutal way. There is no need to punish seals.

Since you used a dishonest straw man debating technique in your response, (ignoring my points and arguing against one I did not make), I can’t help but suspect you are similarly dishonest about the motives for your support of the hooked club seal hunt. You offered not one single argument in favour of the use of hooked clubs. It is more plausible that your true motive is you get off on animal cruelty and you too see seals as personal enemies, responsible for the economic woes of Atlantic Canada. That is not only childish, it is insane.

It is also possible you support cruelty merely out of sheep-like desire to fit into your community. Seal torture is a tradition, just as bull tormenting, slavery and human sacrifice are/were time honoured traditions. To stop, you would have to admit that you have been behaving abominably and that you descended from some rather cruel people. That self realisation would be painful, so instead you prefer to lie to yourself and perpetuate the hallowed wrong.

Finally, I find you revolting on the grounds of your implied infinite greed. You so fancy yourself that you believe that every gram of protein on the planet belongs to you, to stuff your pig face. Like most people who promote the hunt you begrudge every last fish some other species consumes.

Takeover consists in diverting some fraction of the earth’s life-supporting capacity from supporting other kinds of life to supporting our kind. Our pre-Sapiens ancestors, with their simple stone tools and fire, took over our for human use, organic materials that would otherwise have been consumed by insects, carnivores or bacteria. From about 10,000 years ago, our earliest horticulturalist ancestors began take over land upon which to grow crops for human consumption. That land would otherwise have supported trees, shrubs or wild grasses and all the animals dependent thereon — but fewer humans. As the expanding generations replaced each other, Homo sapiens took over more and more of the surface of this planet, essentially at the expense of its other inhabitants.
~ William R. Catton Jr. (1926-01-15 age:92), Overshoot 1980 In other words, from the point of view of the other species on earth, we humans are as welcome as Viking invaders or pancreas cancer. Given how selfishly we humans have behaved as a species, I think we should try not to throw our weight around so much and be a bit more considerate of the species we have harmed and stolen from.

Thank you for demonstrating your ignorance, part II : Jake, of The Reporter in Port Hawkesbury Nova Scotia : : 2008-04-16

skinned seal pup
skinned seal pup
Thank you for demonstrating your ignorance and complete lack of respect for anyone who dares disagree with you.

To use terms like outrageous liar, slimy debater, and pig face only shows why some opponents to the seal hunt are hurting their own cause and forcing public opinion to the side of reason.

I note you merely repeated the charges without any sort of defence.

Your response not only requires one of my own, but several clarifications. For one thing, I am not a sealer or a fisherman, I have never hunted or killed any living thing in my life. In fact, I would describe myself as a nature and animal lover and support any and all attempts to protect the environment and combat global warming.

I am from a fishing community and I can tell you the seal hunt is not at all about greed but the survival of the fishery, of communities and of families that rely on the industry. Without the hunt, the industry will continue to decline and regions like Atlantic Canada will die.

There you go, dragging that tired old straw man argument again. That is not the issue! Stop pretending it is. Besides, your economic argument is nonsense. The hunt is a net economic drain when you consider the big picture. Imagining that torturing seals will increase your bank account is as nutty as claiming throwing a virgin into a volcano will make the crops grow. This is the magical-thinking old testament notion of a scapegoat. Leviticus 16:10 If I don’t torture seals, Atlantic Canada will die. Try that with a laugh test on a random four your old. Don’t be ridiculous! If Atlantic Canada dies, it would far more likely come from tourism drying up. Again don’t confuse holding onto the hunt with holding on to the cruelty connected with it.

seal carcasses
seal carcasses
I can agree that perhaps some sealing techniques could and should be changed. Perhaps there are more humane ways to do this, but the fact remains, the seal hunt is necessary and not about barbarism or money.

But you just said it is about money/industry. Make up your mind! Whether you like it or not, the issue is cruelty. Cruelty is what I’m protesting. You admit yourself the hunt is inhumane. You have no leg to stand on, defending cruelty, you so you just keep changing the subject with your straw man arguments. If you Atlantic Canadians refuse to get rid of the gratuitous sadism, the entire hunt will be shut down.

If you are not sure, check out the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio website for today’s commentary by a Dalhousie University professor, who argues that the seal hunt debate actually deflects attention from real conservation priorities.

A CBC documentary says that one ecotourist on a short trip spends more money than a sealer makes in a year. If you were economically movitated, you would not be trying scare off eco-tourists.

It is people like you and Paul Watson who will help kill the anti-sealing movement.

The number of people who get sexually turned on by photos such as those on this page are lower than you suppose. Most people revolted when they find out the details of what you are promoting so enthusiastically. To win this one, all that’s needed is the light of publicity. Either the hunt is made drastically more humane or it will end entirely. The world won’t put up with Atlantic Canada’s childish sadistic revenge orgy against seals.

By the way, it is alright to disagree, but not to say things you wouldn’t dare say to my face.

You are correct; face to face, we would likely come to blows. Confronting you would be like meeting some pervert caught raping a child. I hold you in contempt, not because you disagree with me, but because as a newspaper editor you should know better than to use dishonest debating tactics. I despise you not for your opinion, but because you actively promote animal cruelty. For some reason, you and your fellow hunt promoters, are willing to cheat and lie to promote this cruelty. I am not talking about promoting the hunt; I am talking about promoting the use of hooked clubs. That suggests an unusually malodorous motive. You seem now to concede the hunt is inhumane but still claim this humanity was a figment of my imagination. You also seem to be claiming this inhumanity is justified on economic grounds. Economics is a weak justification for sadism.

You misunderstand those who oppose you. I oppose whale hunting for quite different reasons that I oppose the seal hunt. I did a Gandhi-like suicide fast that ended me in the hospital to oppose the Makah whale sacrifices. You don’t do things like that out of frivolous motives like money, as pro-sealers so often accuse Paul Watson. That tells us far more about them, than Watson. They are so self-centred and crass a they can’t fathom a guy like Paul at all. They imagine what it would have to be driving them if they were acting as Paul does. When sealers perist in evil after massive attempts by others to pull them away from from it and they get themselves killed and off to hell as a consquence of sadistic acts, it is a bit thick to demand those who opposed them mourn for them. It is as ridiculous as demanding fundamentalist Christians to pretend to mourn the death of the Village People.

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