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What’s Wrong with Whaling?

February 17th, 2007 by Madeleine

With governments refusing to help ships that engage in it and ‘peace’ activists apparently willing to ram ships to prevent it, one assumes that whaling is a grave moral evil. It is, apparently, obviously so. Unfortunately, I fail to see why.

How is killing a whale any different from fishing for marlin or shark or tuna?

Of course, whales are more intelligent than sharks. But as Peter Singer infamously pointed out pigs are more intelligent than newborn infants yet we should not consider killing infants and newborns as on par with pig farming.

True some whales are endangered but so are some other forms of sea animals. Some species of shark are endangered and some species of whale are not endangered. Of course, whales are beautiful, wondrous creatures, but I happen to think this is true of numerous animals and landscapes. Sharks are incredibly slick and beautiful.

Harpooning is arguably cruel causing a long and painful death but that is not an issue of whaling. It is an issue of the method. So find a quicker method of killing them. Moreover, many methods of spear fishing and fishing with a hook are arguably cruel as well.

As I see it, provided one kills animals in a humane manner and one does not hunt them to extinction, then there is nothing wrong with whaling. Not just for ‘research,’ but for commercial purposes.

Further, I fail to see why one would ram boats over this issue. After all our government kills over 16,000 unborn humans in state hospitals every year. Now if a person were to damage equipment and ram heavy machinery into clinics over this. What would we call such a person? A fanatic? A terrorist? After all it is not like it is a blue whale it is only a human.

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  • All Christchurch is encouraged to make the time to attend the Public March To Protest Anti-Smacking Bill.

    When? Wednesday 28 March 12pm
    Where? Victoria Square (close to Cathedral Square
    Speakers: Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick from MoreFM’s show Si&Gary, Ali Jones from NewsTalk ZB. has all the information plus a map of where to meet.

    This is quite likely the most significant protest march you will ever attend – do not miss it. We must show the Government – who have been ignoring the public – exactly what us Kiwis do think on this crucial issue.

    Good parents will be criminalised if Bradford’s bill becomes Law.

    Make sure that it doesn’t by supporting the march!

    There will be marches also in Wellington, Nelson and Fielding. has all the information on these marches, plus news updates, polls to vote in, petition forms and info on how to email the MPs.

  • Isn’t there a bit of specieism in your last paragraph? How do you defend yourself from this accusation?

  • Richard, Singer’s charge of specieism is based on his contention that if you bracket theological doctrines there is no significant difference between a pig and a fetus, except the potential rational agency the former posseses.

    I would respond by simply asking why one has to bracket theological questions, in the absence of compelling arguments that those doctrines are false I see no reason for excluding relevant information from the question.

    The other point is to simply point out that what Singer says about fetuses is equally true of infants, apart from potential rational agency they do not differ significantly from pigs or cows. The same is arguably true of people in comas and so on. So by the reasoning in question one would have to allow the killing of these people.

    Singer would probably bite the bullet and accept this, at that stage I’ll simply point out that this is the price of rejecting a religious ethic, in the absence of compelling reason for thinking such an ethic is false, there seems no reason for accepting a theory with such counter intuitive consequences apart from a dogmatic commitment to secularism at all costs.

    I suspect many other people will not want to bite this bullet, and for them this opens up the question of theology and taking it seriously.