Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Sir Bob Jones: Anti-whaling outcry simply sizeism

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Even leading activist Pete Bethune admitted to me that the anti-whaling cause is a fashionable one. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Even leading activist Pete Bethune admitted to me that the anti-whaling cause is a fashionable one. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Arguments around animal cruelty and conservation are invariably inconsistent, writes Sir Bob Jones.

'Abhorrent,' cried the Prime Minister slamming South Korea's whaling intentions in their coastal waters, adding that New Zealand would apply diplomatic pressure to dissuade them.

Other nations joined this bandwagon so the Koreans abandoned the project.

If John Key ate bacon and eggs that morning then I would like him to explain why, as someone with the power to do something about it, he ignores the truly abhorrent disgrace of our pig and poultry farming methods?

The captive lives of these birds and animals is horrific, unlike that of the whales bowling about freely in the ocean. Perhaps had he had whale steak for breakfast, he'd have said nothing about the Koreans.

Last year a letter arrived from Pete Bethune. He will be remembered for leaping aboard the Japanese whaler in Antarctic waters and his subsequent imprisonment in Japan. He wrote complimenting me on one of my books he had just read. I replied saying I thought he was a screaming goose re the ship-boarding episode but should he be in Wellington. then come in for a drink or six.

This year he did. After I'd finished mocking him for turning up in military fatigues (only a priest's outfit could be more risible), we got talking. I liked him for two reasons. First, he's never grown up and lives a schoolboy's romantic life of adventure. Not for him suburbia, and I doff my hat to him for this.

Second, he's strictly honest. When I teased about the anti-whaling fashion, he admitted it. Furthermore, he conceded his personal moral dilemma given his love of pig and deer hunting. All he could proffer was that the harpooning process was an agonising death.

That's awful, of course, but I asked him why he's not campaigning against the horrors in this country such as fish being filleted alive, piggeries with the sows locked into body-hugging cages and being perpetually impregnated, and so on.

The anti-whaling cause is fashionable because whales are huge. The conservation argument is redundant. So too with elephants now causing destruction in Africa through fashionable public pressure protection.

Likewise dolphins visibly frolicking, but who cares about cod out of sight? It's like the abortion issue; what can't be seen doesn't count.

All of this is simply sizeism. If that wasn't the case T-shirts would instead bear the message, "Kill the whales and save the krill".

Every day millions of krill, happily gambolling with their mums and dads, sisters, brothers and friends and harming no one, are brutally murdered by these accursed whales.

If one could speak krill, I'm damn sure they'd tell you they're all for whaling and the Japanese are their heroes. But we can't and they're tiny so nobody cares about this genocide.

The moral dilemma of killing animals can only be solved by us going vegetarian. One thing is certain and that is that the arguments around animal cruelty are invariably inconsistent.

Another cause celebre is tiger preservation. Frequently in India, an old tiger, past able to hunt, starts eating Indian villagers. While I haven't personally eaten an Indian villager I've seen them and most would scarcely amount to morning tea for a tiger, so the authorities face the dilemma of weighing a tiger's life against the villagers' lives, compounded by the scarcity of tigers, set against the excess of Indians.

It's a tough one but if you opt for the villagers then gun for the elephants - more than 200 villagers were killed by them last year.

Some issues are easier. For example, we can justify eating lambs given that five months of happy frolicking are better than none, for if we didn't eat them, we wouldn't breed them. Also, their demise is abrupt, unlike the misery of most humans' ends.

Likewise with fish. It's odd that the terms "the law of the jungle" and "dog eat dog" to describe unrestrained winner-take-all behaviour have arisen. The vast majority of jungle animals are herbivores and dogs don't eat dogs.

What we should use is "the law of the sea" as it's a hellish bloodbath beneath the ocean with every bugger eating one another. Banging ourselves at the top of the food chain is thus morally tenable with fishing as we're playing by their rules, the krill excepted - they as said, being true innocents, harming no one.

We should emulate the Italians and ban goldfish bowls and also birdcages, both being abominations, birds having wings for good reason. We're making little progress outside of fashion (whales and elephants) with animal welfare.

Sue Kedgley did wonderful work campaigning on these issues in her 12 years as a Green MP. But as she told me once, it was always against the background of sniggering, including from her own people. "I think they dismissed it as a girlie thing," she remarked sadly. Shame on them.

- NZ Herald

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