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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It keeps going and going and going and going....

One day when I was about nine years old, my father killed all, or almost all, of the chickens in our coop.

Although my brothers, the capitalist and philosopher king, actually helped with the slaughter, I couldn't bear it. One of them brought the chickens out of the coop two at a time, one in each hand. My dad chopped their heads off and hung them upside down to bleed out. The other helped my mom gut them. I remember the pile of scaly yellow chicken feet.

Chickens do not run around when their heads are cut off. I didn't watch the whole thing -- I mostly cowered in the corner with my eyes covered -- but I did see enough to reassure you that they don't run. They do flop around quite a bit, though, and then the headless corpses get very still.

It was all very horrible. I'm sure the ground was stained with blood. But it was a good lesson for all of us: if we are going to eat meat, animals have to die. I can't excuse people who kill animals for sport or who waste parts of animals.

Regular readers know where I'm going with this.

The latest news is that the premiers of Newfoundland and Nunavut are asking the federal government to ban the use of hakapiks in the seal hunt.

Hakapiks aren't nice, but they are very useful to the minority of sealers who use them to kill seals. One end is used to crush the seal's skull, killing it instantly. The other side has a spike that can be used to drag the carcass along the ice.

Yeah, it's pretty awful to think about it.

Most sealers don't kill seals with a hakapik, but it has become an enduring image of brutality. Danny Williams and Paul Okalik are hoping that by banning its use, the European Union will not ban Canadian seal products in an upcoming vote.

I'm not convinced that this will work. Anti-sealing protesters don't spend much time worrying about Canadian laws. They still pretend that whitecoats are killed. Their main goal is to draw attention to themselves and raise money, and they're not shy about breaking our laws to meet that goal. The point is not to be reasonable or honest about what actually happens out on the ice.

I've seen photos of baby seals all my life in anti-sealing propaganda. They're powerful images, and so are photos of hakapiks. Admit it: you shuddered at the sight of that spike. The activists will never stop using that image. They have plenty of footage of it being used, and there is no reason for them to stop.

So while I applaud Premiers Williams and Okalik for trying to meet their critics halfway, this is not really about the hakapik. The activists aren't trying to get sealers to stop using this tool: most seals are shot to death, anyway. They're trying to get money out of your pocket.

2 comments:

Jackie S said...

Looks a tad like a scythe doncha think? But you don't see many anti-hay-ites out there do you.

Guess hay isn't cute enough.

Trudie said...

Megan
Great post - I've been thinking of using the same theme (childhood memory)in a post of my own, but you beat me to it!