March 25, 2007

Is it cruel to kill animals?


I have read an interesting article entitled "Canadian seal hunters: We're not a "savage race"," written by David Ljunggren, Reuters, March 21st, 2007. According to the article, Canadian hunters kill small harp seals to get pelts and seal oil, by beating them with clubs. While protesters say "killing animals for their fur is barbaric," Canada's fisheries minister condemns their protest, saying that their efforts are futile. Ljunggren wrties as follows:

Critics say the fact that the bodies of seals jerk around after being clubbed shows the animals are suffering. Sealers describe the movements as muscle spasms and insist that a well-aimed blow with the blunt end of a hackapick club causes instantaneous death. (web)

And he cites the words of Raoul Jomphe, the director of a documentary film on this topic.

"There is a malaise in society. People have forgotten where food comes from," said Raoul Jomphe, the filmmaker. Why, the sealers wonder, do people not focus on what happens in commercial abattoirs? And what about the massive game hunts in Germany? (web)

I have discussed similar topics several times in this blog. The question I want to ask those activists is what they think about killing cows, pigs, and chicken for food. If they are all vegitarians and have struggled to abolish the whole meat industry, then I won't criticize them anymore. But if they insist that killing domesticated aminals should be accepted but killing wild animals are problematic, then I want to ask them the reason why they think so. If they say that certain wild animals are in danger of extinction, then the question arises what if hunting is managed in a sustainable way. If they say that killing wild animals is cruel, then the question arises what if the hunters kill them in the same way as in abattoirs. I once heard someone say that God gave us domesticated animals for food, hence it is ok to kill and eat them, but this sounds absurd to people who do not believe in Christianity (99% of the Japanese).

I have read another interesting article, "South Africa: Yengeni Slaughter Shows Deep Cultural Divisions" by Lance Greyling, Cape Argus, January 25th, 2007. This article discusses a similar subject, that is, the ritual sacrifice of a bull in South Africa. Greyling criticizes the idea that sacrificing a bull is a barabaric act. The following are from the article.

The often-used argument is that "our way of killing animals" is more humane than African sacrifice. I have visited many abattoirs and this argument does not hold water.

Killing is never humane. One particular image which sticks in my mind is that of a cow desperately trying to run up the steel walls of an abattoir production line in absolute fear of impending death. It nullifies anyone's argument that our so-called Western civilisation treats animals more humanely.

Modern society has simply found a way of mass slaughtering animals efficiently and removed the visual connection between the live animal and our neatly-packaged meat.

It is, therefore, enormously hypocritical for any meat-eater to condemn the African ritual killing of a bull. (web)

The last sentence is just what I want to say here. If we find something unpleasant about killing wild animals, what we should do first is to reconsider our way of eating which heavily depends on killing domesticated animals such as cows, pigs and chicken. The total number of killed seals or whales is astonishingly small compared with that of killed domesticated animals.

What do you think?

Related post: *Whale in Thames, eating whale meat, and whaling
                    *Is it wrong to eat humans? 

Photo: Zushi Coast, Kanagawa

  -- M.Morioka

July 05, 2005

Peter Berg, bioregionalism


Yesterday, I attended a public lecture by Peter Berg, one of the founders of "bioreginalism," an important branch of contemporary ecology movement. The lecture was held at Kyoto Seika University, chaired by Professor Yuichi Inoue, a Japanease deep ecologist. After the lecture, Yuichi held a small meeting and we had a chat with several college students there.

Before the lecture I had a chance to talk with Peter. He asked me about the difference between "life studies" (the idea I have proposed) and "life style" (probably the word Peter likes to use). I replied that in a broad sense "life style" includes "life studies" because one's life style includes one's way of thinking, learning, and studying, but I didn't think I fully replied to his question. Actually this is a difficult question to answer. He seemed to have an interest in my book on life studies and asked us about an English translation, however, I have not translated an ecological aspect of life studies yet. Those papers were written only in Japanese.

Peter Berg was the founder of Planet Drum Foundation and have been a main figure in the ecological movement since 1970s. His lecture was (seemed to be) based on his 2001 lecture at University of Montana, "The Post-Environmentalist Directions of Bioregionalism," which is uploaded on the Foundation's website.

In this lecture (Montana) he talked as follows:

What is a bioregion? This idea doesn't come from pure natural science. Bioregionalism is a cultural idea. It's an attempt to answer, "Who am I, what am I, and what am I going to do about it?" It's a way for people to look at the place where they live in terms of fitting into natural characteristics.

He thinks that bioreginalism is an attempt to answer "Who am I, what am I, what am I going to do about it?" questions, hence, this seems to be a similar attempt to our "life studies" project. He went on to say:

So, the idea of a bioregion is based on natural characteristics and natural science, but it is a cultural view that's not only held by people in parts of North America, but also Europe. (....) Bioregionalism is becoming a popular movement that roughly follows the idea that people who live in a place have a certain inhabitory obligation to live in harmony with the natural systems that are there. We call this reinhabitation, becoming inhabitants again.

In Japan there have been many similar movements at least since 1960s, so this idea might be familiar to the Japanese. I love Peter's idea, but at the same time, I came up with various questions I would like to ask him when I read his paper. At the small meeting at Kyoto Seika University, I was able to talk with him a little, so I will write about it next time.

(To be continued...)

Photo: At Hawaii Airport (what's this, anyway?)

 -- M.Morioka