Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
A two-year old boy is grabbed by an alligator and dragged into a Floridian swamp and killed.
The response is murderous retribution towards every alligator found in the vicinity. So far five alligators have been killed despite failing to identify the alligator involved.
A nine-year old boy falls into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo. The gorilla does not injure the boy yet is killed nonetheless as a precaution.
A grizzly bear kills a hunter and is in turn hunted down and slain for its “crime.”
A spearfishing woman is killed by a shark and the Western Australian government immediately initiates a policy of extermination of an endangered shark species.
In a world dominated by humanity, animals are enslaved, slaughtered, tortured, abused and treated like expendable material property without consideration that they are living self aware sentient beings.
Their lives have no intrinsic value outside of the value we decide to place on them.
Humans refuse to acknowledge intelligence or emotions in animals yet we perveresly hold animals directly responsible for their actions.
The killing of a two-year old boy is a sad tragedy in human eyes of course, but what does a vendetta against alligators accomplish? The child is sadly dead. The alligator simply did what alligators do. Killing five alligators or more in retaliation is an illogical and murderous expression of outrage at the fact that a non-human did not acknowledge the “superiority” of humanity.
We humans have fashioned ourselves as special and extraordinary, better than all other animals, endowed with unlimited privilege and entitlement.
As humans we have defined ourselves as the “master species” and to most animals, all humans are Nazis.
We slaughter 65 billion domestic animals each year and many more billions of fish, we massacre tens of millions of wild animals, torture millions of animals in labs, enslave millions more in cages and tanks, lay waste to thousands of square miles of life supporting habitats, yet when one of us is killed, and usually because of our own stupidity, we become irrationally and violently outraged.
In the minds of the majority of human beings, animals have no rights that any human being is obligated to respect. We own them, we dominate them and we hold total, ruthless and lethal dominion over them and as such we are under no obligation to acknowledge that they feel pain, that they suffer, that they have emotions, that they can think and reason, dream and are self aware sentient beings. We simply deny all these things to justify our anthropocentric dominance.
Being killed by an alligator, a shark or a bear is no different than being struck by lightning, drowning in the surf or having a coconut fall fatally upon your head. These tragic things happen but for some irrational reason when the cause of the incident is a sentient being, we are enraged and we demand retribution. We don’t chop down the coconut tree, but we do slay the shark.
We have made the rules that the animals must abide by even if they are unable to understand the rules.
What we are saying is that animals have no rights that we need to respect but animals are obligated to respect human lives and property even as we acknowledge they possess absolutely no moral or ethical basis for such an acknowledgement.
How many babies are snatched by alligators, how many people are killed by sharks how many people are slain by bears? Not many, and in the case of gorillas, not even a single human has died.
Humans on the other hand slay millions of other humans. Millions more die in accidents involving cars, planes, boats and other human made objects. More hunters are killed by other hunters than by wild animals.
Yes some innocent people are indeed killed by animals, it happens, but tens of millions of innocent animals are slaughtered by humans.
Sharks kill an average of seven people every year despite the fact that some two hundred million people enter the sea each and every day. If sharks were intentionally killing humans, the numbers would be in the thousands. Shark kills are rare and accidental yet humans kill over seventy million sharks every year. That’s the equivalent of exterminating the entire population of France in one year.
And many human victims of attacks by animals are also not always innocent. A hunter killed by an elephant or a lion, a bear or a wild boar cannot be described as an innocent. Nor can a matador, a spear fisherman or even an Orca trainer.
Despite this, the human response is an indictment of the animal in virtually every case, be it a matador or a child, and that indicates a special kind of illogical rage. The response is always equal no matter if the victim is innocent or guilty, if the attack was provoked or unprovoked. The human is always in the right, the animal is always in the wrong and that is because in every case the animal is considered an inferior to any human for any reason no matter the circumstances.
At the same time humans do grant special dispensation to some animals. People have an aversion to seeing a dog being killed in a movie but there is very little effective protests to stop the hundreds of dogs being boiled and spit roasted alive at the Yulan dog meat festival this month. We love our horses until they break a leg, after which we put a bullet in their head. We pet our cats and dogs as we eat cows and pigs and get arrogantly defensive if anyone points out the contradiction.
When humans are killed by humans we make the distinction between those we consider to be “bad” humans being killed and the “good” humans doing the killing. One side simply dehumanizes the other side to justify the killing.
This is made all the more easier with animals who are dehumanized by reason that they are not human already.
All of this is irrational behavior that defies logic.
How many more alligators must we kill in Florida before we feel justifiably revenged?
How many more sharks must be massacred until we achieve retribution?
How long will it be before we can replace primitive, vengeful retribution with a logical, rational and compassionate understanding of the relationship between humans and other species.
How long will it take before we can honestly describe ourselves as “mankind?”
Facebook: Captain Paul Watson, SeaShepherd