The Old Men And The Sea - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Old Men And The Sea

The Old Men And The Sea

Published November 3, 2006

By no means do I morally disapprove of whaling. Whales are intelligent beings, yes, but so are pigs, chickens and a wide range of other life forms regularly slaughtered and kept in abysmal conditions by the very nations making a fuss about Iceland’s recent efforts to hunt minke and fin whales commercially. Some of those sovereign states even regularly go to war and slaughter innocent PEOPLE. Or even, as is the case with the state of Israel, keep entire nations at gunpoint for prolonged periods of time, regularly picking off a few to keep the rest in line (earlier today, Nov. 1, mbl.is reported that the Israeli military killed at least six Palestinians in an unprovoked attack on the village of Beit Lahiya).
So I am of the opinion that we shouldn’t really differentiate when it comes to treating sentient beings poorly. I am actually of the conviction that we should aim to treat all forms of life respectfully and actively avoid inflicting pain. I just feel we should be consistent in our attitudes towards the world and its beings, and while we continue treating our farm animals the way we do, and if we indeed do intend to start behaving in a more humanistic manner, that decision should encompass all species. And I do think we should strive for that. This is what being human is all about, in my opinion: striving for something better.
However, while I do not oppose whaling on moral grounds, I still oppose the Icelandic government’s rash decision to reinstate commercial whaling. I do that on the grounds that it is an unwise, irrational decision that reeks of a very specific, Icelandic-male sort of stubbornness rather than being based on any rational thinking at all. For the first part: whales are on the WWF’s list of endangered species. This is a fact. What kind of politician can imagine, even for a second, that commercially hunting a species deemed in a state of endangerment is a viable pursuit?
Their grounds for doing so? Creating jobs? But of course. How many? Three? Six? How many Icelanders are currently employed by the whale watching industry? The whales are eating all our valuable fish? Will killing nine of them end their alleged abuse of our resources? We have a historic right? While we’re at it, why don’t we reinstate laws that let Icelanders hunt Turks down and kill them? Apparently, we have a historic right to do that, too, as it was common practice a few hundred years ago.
Our government’s decision to reinstate whaling is obviously designed to get Einar K. Guðfinnson, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, re-elected this spring – and to draw attention from some uncomfortable events that were unfolding just as it was magically announced that now, finally, we could commercially hunt whale again. Stuff like the wire-tap controversy, for instance.
And the decision was obviously an un-thought out, unprepared and rash one. When the first whale was dragged ashore, it became evident that there wasn’t even a place to process it that met today’s sanitation standards.
So this whole scenario is actually more reminiscent of an old, stubborn man, intent on having his way just to prove a point than any modern political discourse. It brings to mind a half-blind senior citizen recklessly driving his car down the freeway, endangering commuters because he can’t acknowledge the fact that the times have left him behind. I will be old someday, so I can understand their position and even, in a way, respect it. I respect my elders, senile as they may be. I just wish they weren’t running my country.


Show Me More!