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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Repost: Seal Hunt

This is a repost from last spring. I am joining my fellow northern bloggers to protest the protesters. If you read nothing other than this blog post, please check out Way Way Up.

You're so cute, I think I'll bash in your head.

Well, except for that nasty business about how it's illegal to kill seal pups. They are so much cuter than the ones that actually get killed!

While we were in Florida, we saw a group of naked people standing near the road shouting at cars. It was the first time I'd ever seen such a thing. People don't strip for their pet causes in Name of Town Withheld. I was trying to size them up without being too obvious about it, because of course people who are naked don't want a lot of attention. I realized that they were holding signs that said I'd rather be naked than wear fur. Yuck. Suddenly I wasn't interested in looking at them, no matter how naked they were.

A few weeks ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the mayors of all Canadian capitals, asking them to lower their flags to half-staff out of respect for the seals that will be killed during this year's commercial hunt off Newfoundland.

HAHAHAHAHA. I know, it's already hilarious.

The best part is that Iqaluit is one of the Canadian capitals. If you've never heard of Iqaluit, please watch this video a friend of mine made during a trip through town (it is less than one minute long):

So you can imagine how this letter went over in Iqaluit. (It's more fun to imagine how it went over in St. John's -- go, Danny, go! -- but I have a northern perspective these days.) Sealing has been a way of life in Nunavut and Newfoundland for hundreds of years.

Iqaluit city council reacted much more maturely than I would have. They invited PETA to visit the north to learn how anti-sealing campaigns hurt the Inuit.

As it turns out, this actually had some effect on the PETA spokesperson. When CBC called him, he said, "No one, not even PETA, has a quarrel with native people who truly have no choice but to hunt in order to survive."

Now, this is an interesting take. Because the Inuit don't NEED to take part in the commercial seal hunt any more than Newfoundlanders do. The commercial hunt's not about surviving in the way the PETA fellow would like you to believe. And PETA's lurid campaigns have nothing to do with subsistence hunting -- the guy who shoots a seal, brings it home and eats it. Those blood-drenched commercials are focused on stopping the commercial hunt and reducing the market for seal pelts, meat and body parts.

Boy oh boy, is it ever easy to sit in the city and pass judgment on the people from a completely foreign culture. The commercial hunt is seasonal work. It's tough, it's bloody, and it's dangerous. Right now, 39 sealing boats are trapped in the ice near Newfoundland. People don't do this because they're sickos who like to kill animals, and they don't do it so they can eat seal meat all year long. They do it for the same reason other people have jobs: to get money to pay the bills, because there's no other work. PETA doesn't think of this as "hunting in order to survive", but the fishermen do.

Seals are an easy target for PETA for three reasons:

  1. They're cute when they're babies;
  2. They're killed on the ice, which makes a nice contrast for blood; and
  3. The only people who have a real stake in the industry are destitute fishermen with no other job options.
If you've ever seen a sealskin, you know that adult seals are not cute. And they're not nice, or quiet, or docile. They will rip your face off. If you were ever face to face with an adult seal, you'd reach for the hakapik too. And yes, it's pretty horrible to see the pristine ice covered with blood. Nobody likes that. But it's a bit disingenuous to pretend that you wouldn't see much more blood if you put a white sheet down in a slaughterhouse. And I think #3 makes me madder than the other two.

My buddy Danny Williams has been the most vocal opponent of the anti-seal lobby. He appeared on Larry King Live with Paul McCartney about a year ago. Here's the transcript -- sorry, I don't have a YouTube link. The worst part of this, for me, was Sir Paul's utter ignorance about why people would kill seals. He feels that they don't make very much money, so they should just stop. The program revealed that the usual paycheque for a season of sealing is $10,000 to $20,000 for every member of the crew.

Now, I can understand that Sir Paul doesn't think this is very much money, but it's a heck of a lot for the rest of us. So I have a solution that would stop the entire industry and put clothes on the backs of those poor protesters in Florida: Sir Paul could pay each potential sealer $20,000 per year to sit at home and not kill seals. This would shut down the commercial hunt and PETA could count it as a "win".

But of course, this would never happen, because it would require the same kind of sacrifice from Sir Paul that he's demanding from the people of Newfoundland and Nunavut.


Gifted Typist said...

Having lived abroad where anti-seal hunting opinion is mainstream and widespread, I'm happy to report that the seal hunt has put to rest that tired old cliche about the "nice Canadian."

Between the seal hunt and hockey violence, Canada's really starting to get a reputation as brutes.

Canadians just need to be a little less defensive about the criticism and this will seal their that rep once and for all.

Way Way Up said...

Thanks for the link!

...and thanks for the King transcipt. Unfortunately I missed that interview so it was nice to have a chance to sit down and look over the transcript.

Funny how Heather is no where to been seen this year so far. I suppose she is too busy spending the money from her big divorce settlement. Guess she was just looking for a photo-op. I find it funny that she was so eager to use the media to promote her cause yet she later turned around and blamed that same media for all the exposure the couple got throughout the divorce proceedings.


jen said...

I appreciate your perspective of the east coast hunt. I know a lot of the hunt up north, but very little concerning Newfoundland.

scribe said...

Amen Megan. Great post. I hate Peta--the same people who would ban animal research--the same research that saves millions of HUMAN lives each year. But in their opinion, the smaller species are more important.

Rob, Tina and the boys said...

This argument just makes my blood boil. People who love to jump on the bandwagon to save the "poor little seals". Those poor little seals, if not hunted, will ruin the fish population if not controlled. Hunting pups has been illegal for years, but yet when these clowns get on the TV and radio crying about the seal hunt, that's the first picture they show, and it's always the same picture. A hunter clubbing a baby seal. I'd love to know the date of that picture. I would also like to see them spend a day with a Newfoundland sealer or a day in the North and then start this foolishness up again. I really wish people would do their research before acting like fools on TV.

justhonest said...

hope youre whole family gets reborn as seals and you see you're mother being culled like the bitch she brought you up to be. I curse your whole family just cause you believe seal hunting is just. You will also continue to be poor and freezing in that beautiful ice plate you call home. So yeah, continue earning a living off fur, and blubber. You people are so mentally and emotionally wasted and a redundancy to this planet. You should kill each other and sell your meat and fat to your relatives. It's a pity you have to live off fish you're whole life, rednecks. Maybe then the world would be truly be rid of the last remaining savages when youre corpses are 7 feet below ice.