The US has no right to criticize Japanese whale hunting when they themselves slaughter millions of holy cows a year
Everything is a matter of perspective and these two issues are no different. During what in the west is called “Japan’s annual dolphin slaughter“, over 1,000 of the animals are killed every year for their meat.
Even at other times of the year, dolphins and other cetaceans are constantly hunted by Japanese fishermen and whalers. From 2013 to 2014 alone, 16,000 dolphins and whales were hunted and killed for their meat by Japanese fishermen.
The slaughter leaves a very large dent in these already endangered species’ populations. Documentaries like The Cove have highlighted the problem though the hunt continues. There is no question that the cruelty shown to dolphins is absurd. This is obvious – it takes a cold heart to ignore the inhumane animal abuse, especially when the statistics are in front of you or the footage is burned into your eyes.
But this outcry for the rights of dolphins betrays an inconsistency in western thought: we value some animals’ feelings and lives more than others for reasons that are wholly unsatisfying.
Beef In The United States
Image Source: Meat.tamu.edu
Consider the United States’ beef industry. In 2014 alone, the total number of cows slaughtered for food was about thirty million, many orders of magnitude larger than the total number of dolphins killed.
The industry itself is worth billions of dollars and many people have no moral problem with profiting off the mass slaughter of cows. Even more people have no issue with consuming the result of that slaughter in the form of burgers, steaks, or bolognaise sauce.
But how many of us would eat a dolphin burger, knowing that the animal from which the meat came died an unpleasant death? Probably very few, if any.
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This is the inconsistency. There are many ways you might try to say that dolphins and cows are somehow unequal, that for reasons of intelligence, rarity, or even cuteness, dolphins have a greater right to life than cows. But who gets to decide that intelligence means an animal is more valuable?
We only value intelligence in animals because we are “intelligent” and that somehow makes us better than everything else. That reasoning is just a way of avoiding the actual problem, which is that when you come down to it, humans don’t really have a good rationale for executing cows and not dolphins.
Image Source: Bric
In Hinduism, cows are sacred. In the Indian state of Maharashtra, the slaughter of cows has been completely outlawed.
Many expressed outrage at the state’s apparent disregard for the freedom of choice and even religion, as non-Hindus now cannot eat beef in the region either.
Among Hindu nationalists, the law is very popular, for obvious reasons. Hindu nationalists and other highly religious Hindu people must feel the same sadness towards the slaughter of cows that we in the West feel towards the killing of dolphins in Japan.
I am not necessarily equating the two; I am simply stating that the emotions each group experiences must be similar.
There are a thousand different ways you could argue that a dolphin’s life is more important than a cow’s and vice versa. But all of those reasons are irrelevant because in the end, it’s impossible to make such a comparison. You may as well try to explain why apples are better than oranges: though you may use facts, those facts are meaningless because there are always other contradicting ones.
The only reason you are okay with eating beef is that you have been eating it your whole life, everyone around you has been doing it, and in your society it is not a problem.