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Opposing Japan’s dolphin hunt shows hypocrisy

Published: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 00:09

On average, the small fishing village of Taiji, Japan, contributes about 1,500 of the 20,000 dolphins that Tokyo allows killed during its annual dolphin hunt.

Opposition to this year's hunt is fierce after the 2009 release of the Academy Award-winning movie "The Cove," which depicts the round up and violent slaughter of the sea creatures off the coast of Taiji.

Ric O'Barry, former dolphin trainer for the 1960s TV series "Flipper" and star of "The Cove," accumulated more than 1.7 million signatures on a petition sent to the U.S. embassy, urging the U.S. government to pressure Japanese officials into ending the hunt.

Opponents to the hunt, while sincere, lack a respect and understanding of Japanese cultural tradition and, most importantly, fail to recognize the ideological bias that colors their opposition.

Dolphins are a treasured aspect of Florida's wildlife and tourism industries and act as a cultural staple in movies, television and other forms of mass media in the U.S and throughout the world.

Opposition is understandable for those who have been socialized in an environment that prizes dolphins for everything but their meat. Cultures vary to an immeasurable degree, and many in Japan simply do not see dolphins in the same way.

Many countries, including the U.S., do not rely heavily on food from the sea. Billions of animals are slaughtered every year in the U.S., among those are 35 million cattle, which are used to make American food icons like cheeseburgers, meatballs and tacos.

In Brahmin Hindu culture, cattle are considered sacred and are not slaughtered for their meat.

Despite this, Americans still rightly consume beef because its culinary traditions shouldn't be determined by the opinions of other nations' citizens.

Japan is surrounded by water and does not possess the wide-open and often sparsely populated land that characterizes much of the U.S. In order to live, Japan must obtain food and nutrients from the only other possible source — the sea.

Untold numbers of inhabitants of the  Japanese islands have grown up with little sympathy for the creatures they eat on a daily basis.

It's unreasonable to expect its people to come to the same ethical conclusions as other countries absent the same cultural and historical experiences.

Opponents such as vegans and animal rights' activists, who fiercely oppose consuming meat and, thus, the dolphin hunt, hold an ideological conviction that may forever inhibit their tolerance of the Japanese practice.

However, those who oppose the hunt solely because of the nature of the prey are hypocritical not to reflect on their own lack of empathy toward the animals they consume before demonizing Taiji's 400-year-old practice, which sustains its economy and way of life.

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Fri Mar 2 2012 11:46
Who's to decide what animals are born for food? Countries by the sea tend to eat seafood. That's natural for them. It may not be for you, but it is for them.

I can't stand the dolphin hunt either, so the mercury angle is much easier to advocate than trying to change someone's cultural beliefs.

Fri Sep 10 2010 08:34
Maybe you as the author should do some research on Mercury and Mercury poisioning. Because that is waht dolphin meat has and does. Especially when eaten on a regular basis. So are you saying that they should kill off their own population of humans with Mercury poisioning?
Thu Sep 9 2010 00:09
Excellent article and reasoning. Expose them all hypocrites!!
Wed Sep 8 2010 10:18
This is an embarrassing piece for the Oracle. The author obviously never watched the movie or did any credible research. This entire article reads like someone a high school kid would write on the bus on his way to school... for debate club. Everyone already gave a lot of support against this "opinion" piece, but you would already know this information if you bothered to watch the movie. As a matter of fact, the segment where they interviewed Taiji residents on the street to ask if they would eat dolphin meat (they all said no), and the portion where some men quit their jobs and gave an interview for the movie because their OWN CHILDREN belonged to the schools that were being fed dolphin meat and they feared for their children's safety, is about 45 minutes long and is in the first hour and a half of the video. Whoever wrote this should go watch The Cove and then re-write this.
Tue Sep 7 2010 17:15
I don't think you even watched the movie. The population in Japan did not know what the dolphin hunters were doing, and was using their dolphins to feed the local school children. There's thousands who are going to the theaters now to watch the movie in Japan as well because they knew nothing of it until The Cove.
Tue Sep 7 2010 14:04
First of all, Japan does not hold dolphins as sacred so you can not compare the way that the U.S. deals with India's tradition and Japan's tradition. No one is arguing that whale and dolphin hunting is a tradition for many countries. Yet, some traditions, kind of like the tradition in the United States of slavery, need to go!!! We as humans do not need dolphin meat or whale meat to survive. Get a freakin clue people!!! If our ocean life dies out then we as humans die out!!!! Talk to any scientist and they will all say that same fact. By the way, all the countries that support the hunting of whales and dolphins (not including traditional means by indigenous
peoples) I have a gift of an animal loin clothe and a club for you, yah cavemen (and cavewomen)!!!!
Tue Sep 7 2010 13:34
I have to agree with Dave...The hunting of dolphins in Taiji is not done for food. If you watched the Cove or did any research, you would know that they were giving the dolphin meat to the schools to feed to the kids who couldn't afford to buy a lunch because no one wants to eat dolphin meat as they know it is high in mercury. They started mislabeling it to sell in markets becuase no one would buy it if they knew what it was. I am not a vegan and yes I eat meat...meat that come from animals specifically born and raised for food.
Tue Sep 7 2010 01:35
ok fine. Enjoy your mercury poisoning. At least our meat is safe to eat.

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