Thursday, August 05, 2004


My responses (plain text) to comments (posted on my anti-whaling post) by Japan's Whaling Commissioner Minoru Morimoto (bold)

so what is the precise definition of a 'cultural right'?

'Cultural right' is one of those button-pushing but meaningless concepts (like 'racial purity') that are often used to justify dishonorable aims. Things change; times change; awarenesses change; cultures change; the killing of whales is not a 'cultural right' of Japan. It has been more reasonably argued that whales are a traditional dietary component of North American coastal indian tribes, but even that is being questioned in this day and age, and minimized as ritual to the point of disappearance.

why do you snigger about horse meat ice cream, but get so excited about whale meat? minke whales aren't in danger of becoming extinct. (basashi ice cream is amusing, to be sure -- but the creators of it probably were aware of that.)

I wasn't 'sniggering' about horsemeat, but about horsemeat-flavored ice cream. I'm surprised that the fact doesn't strike you (I'm sure it does, but facts often don't fit commercial agendas) that beef, pigs and horses are raised commercially; nobody ever has or ever will raise whales for food. Personally, I'm against the consumption of meat as a major food group, both dietarily and ecologically. (If one is starving, this is all another matter.) Someone will always want to eat meat, but they'll raise it, if they have the land, the time and the 'heart' for personal slaughter, as they do with beef, pigs and horses. There will never be a whale ranch.

no, no japanese is starving because of a lack of whale in their diet. but if pork or beef eating were banned, they wouldn't be going hungry either. the point is that whale is part of japan's traditional cuisine, and it has a distinct taste. why do the japanese need to stop eating it if whales aren't in danger of becoming extinct (unless too many of them are hunted, but that seems unlikely, world opinion being what it is...)?

World opinion being of some validity, I should think. Personally, I'd have no argument with a ban on pork and beef. Nor, if things keep going the way they are (with mad cow etc.), will anyone else, perhaps, a century from now. 100 years ago, NO whales were in danger of becoming extinct. Minke are still extant in relatively large numbers only because all the others (more profitable, more abundant, easier to catch etc.) have been hunted to near extinction. This is not a matter of gourmet lust for minke whales. I don't see this as only Japan's effort; Iceland, Norway et al. make similarly selfish claims; it's just that I live on this planet too, and the whales belong to no one. Whale eaters should bite the harpoon and move on, as the mammoth eaters did perforce. Hopefully earlier, so our descendants can actually see whales in the ocean and thank us for what we've left them, not curse us for what we've stolen to ourselves.

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