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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whale of a Cop Out

The following opinion piece appeared in today's Peterborough Examiner. It's well worth a read and a great note of reality to get Web Talk back in gear after a little summer hiatus.


Haven't heard anything about Paul McCartney firing up his private jet and heading to Kangiqsujuaq in northern Quebec in honour of the giant bowhead whale slaughtered with a grenade-harpoon last week.

No sign yet of his ex-wife Heather Mills, either.

Also no reports of tough guy Capt. Paul Watson on the high seas with his Farley Mowat icebreaker heading to Nunavik's Hudson Strait in protest.

Can't seem to find any reaction from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) or the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society?

It seems no one risked their lives to dive in front of this beauty as it was harpooned and shot to death by 20 Inuit hunters.

Wonder why that is?

Easier crowd to try to intimidate at Seaworld, I guess. Maybe there were no helicopters to rent or CNN crews to accompany them?

If it were Newfoundland sealers they'd sure be there. Remember, PETA are the same people who saw an opportunity to take out a sick ad in the hometown newspaper of slain Greyhound bus victim Tim McLean to make their point on how barbaric killing is.

"The animals don't benefit from our silence," its website explains as the reason for exploiting Mr. McLean's decapitation and cannibalistic victimization.

Why silence here?

Hypocrisy? Or do they see the historic and cultural right to hunt and feed their villages?

Is it different to them for indigenous peoples? The problem with that is, can the whale tell which human beings are bent on slicing him up?

Or was this whale, who managed to elude such indignity for decades, just unfortunate to have strayed into these waters?

It seems so since Inuit elders talk of not having killed one in generations.

"At the beginning I was really nervous because it's a huge animal," Noah Annahatak, 42, told Canadian Press's Andy Blatchford. "He was right underneath us and I (thought), 'Holy cow, how are we going to kill it?' "

Blatchford wrote "from the launch of Annahatak's first grenade-tipped harpoon, the hunters killed the whale with shotguns and traditional weapons in 30 minutes."

I had not known grenades and shotguns were traditional Inuit weapons.

Fisheries spokesman Patrick Vincent said the animal is stunned by the grenade, "ensuring a more humane" death.

"It was a very rapid hunt, so it is very unlikely that the animal actually suffered."

Are you sure? The words harpoon and grenade don't often conjure up a mood of tranquillity.

When animal welfare people talk about whaling by Japan or Norway, they talk of them being ruthless, cold-blooded murderers. Same goes for the sealers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"I can't think of anything that defines helplessness and fear more than a seal pup on the ice that can't swim or escape as it is approached by some cigarette smoking ape with a club," Watson writes on his website. "These men are sadistic baby killers."

Are these hunters any different as far as that whale is concerned? I am open to receive calls from Paul or PETA for their side at any time.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most important part of this story is that the Inuit who killed this whale spent days "butchering it" and will send the meat out to 14 villages. "This is reclaiming something that was from our ancestors," Jimmy Johannes told the Canadian Press.

The thing is, when I was up in Labrador in June, I talked with non-aboriginal sealers who told me their grandfathers were also hunters and that every piece of the seal they harvest is used for their own food or their pelts are sold to feed their families.

"It's what we do here, see," Newfoundlander and seal hunter Nelson Prouse told me. "It's how we live and it's how we feed our families."

And it's how they get to meet stars like McCartney et al who seem selective in whose slaughter they protest and try to shut down.

Joe Warmington is a Sun Media columnist:

1 comment:

Calvin said...

Way to “ Gory “ for me too talk about Myles . Welcome back or should I say “welcome home “. It’s nice to see you made it thru another hot and humid Newfoundland summer Myles. Nice to have you back.:)