The howling hour

This Typhoon Koppu is the worst one I’ve experienced yet, or at least the worst-sounding. It’s like the howls themselves are beating frantically against my windows, begging to be let inside. Most worrisome.

Still not as scary as our dark hearts, though, just not as scary as the spilling of blood every bloody year at Taiji, Japan, documented here and here.

When you have innumerable instances of dolphins saving men, women and children from sharks (and pirates), as well as rescuing other species when humans fail in their task, can someone explain to me the sanity behind this smile:


(That’s blood in the waters around him. That’s a steel implement in his right hand, and a part of a dolphin in his left. How strange it is that the scene takes on the colours of a Bloody Mary.)

Once again, I’ve lost my interest in visiting Japan.


5 thoughts on “The howling hour

  1. Hello,
    if I may put things in perspective, I wonder why the UK press had to look halfway round the world for such sensationalism when next door neighbour Scandinavia shares the same bloodletting culture too.

    And how is it different from the blood spilled in the abattoirs of more conventional meat industry all over the world? Is pig blood any less worthy than dolphin blood? I think this is a question, no doubt pondered by the Japanese, that begs an answer from the Western world. Same too with the dog-eating Koreans. Is it simply a cultural issue dressed up in high-handed morality?

  2. The Guardian probably picked up on the story cos of the publicity wrought by The Cove, the documentary on the annual dolphins massacre in Taiji.

    About pig blood being less or more ‘dispensable’ than dolphin blood, perhaps the numbers can speak for themselves:

    World hog population in 2002: 939,318,700

    World bottlenose dolphin population: less than a million

    It doesn’t seem fair to draw a parallel between the treatment of a species bred for human consumption and one that exists primarily in the wild. In The Cove, the fishermen interviewed by the filmmaker admit to not really knowing why they perform the killings every year: they view it as tradition. Human sacrifice was also a tradition in some cultures; would it be a moral act to continue such an immoral tradition?

    I think being aggressively moralistic towards countries who hunt for tradition’s sake would not help, though — some sort of sunshine diplomacy is needed to let one side save whichever species are under threat, and the other side to save face.

  3. Hello again,

    The argument against dolphin cullings on the grounds of their numerical inferiority is dangerous, because statistics can be used to justify anything you want, and especially so when the lobby groups, such as the ones acting for the highly lucrative whaling industry, are powerful enough.

    We all know the ivory trade is especially cruel. There is something lacking in basic humanity in the way the husks are
    mercilessly hacked and amputated away from the elephants. Lucikly international efforts to stop the trade has been concerted and committed enough, and results have started to bear. But it seems the only thing saving the elephants from such brutality is not compassion but a simple statistics that reveal wild elephants are dangerously close to extinction. Should we allow the ivory trade to continue if
    eplehants are found in wild abundance again?

    And I am also uncomfortable with the commonly held opinion that animals deemed for consumption should not be accorded the same status as animals in the wild, or animals as pets. Some of the worst atrocities ever imaginable have been conducted on black bears, and some Chinese farms do indeed breed black bears for their gall bladders. Does the fact that these are done on an industrial scale make it somewhat more bearable? Perhaps that was what the Germans were thinking the last time when atrocities were committed on an industrial, methodical, highly efficient scale.

    Ideally, we could argue against dolphin culling on the grounds of compassion. But I find it very difficult to extend this compassion to an elite group, and conveniently ignore the masses who live in conditions that can only described as relentless torment. (…check out the section on Cattle). I think the Japanese dolphins, after a lifetime of swimming uninhibited in the deep blue sea, have it good. Unless of course, someone decides to farm dolphins on an industrial scale…

    • I would agree that statistics can be manipulated to form the basis for the worst kind of lies, but I’m not setting out to do that here. I quoted the vastly differing numbers to show that dolphins can hardly be considered as ‘dispensable’ as pigs, if we’re thinking in terms of scarcity — which brings me to the point that it’s all about demand and supply, isn’t it? As long as there is a demand (for whatever reason) for ivory, bear bile, etc., someone who lacks the imagination to earn money by any other means will find a way to supply it. Consumers need to opt out of these many cycles of misery (e.g. by choosing dolphin-safe tuna for one thing; though how tuna is killed is another big headache, so to speak) for change to be manifested.

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