Sunday, February 28, 2010
Since I first read it on Friday, I've been trying to decide what I think about this Counterpunch column, which declares that SeaWorld is engaged in something that looks a lot like slavery. Here's a key passage from the column:
For those who think the references to slavery are excessive, remember the words of Frederic Douglass, quoted by Hribal. Douglass often made direct comparisons between the treatment and use of other animals and that of himself. “When purchased, my old master probably thought as little of my advent, as he would have thought of the addition of a single pig to his stock! Like a wild young working animal, I am to be broken to the yoke of a bitter and life-long bondage. Indeed, I now saw, in my situation, several points of similarity with that of the oxen. They were property, so was I; they were to be broken, so was I; Convey was to break me, I was to break them; break and be broken – such is life.”
I'm usually unsympathetic to the more extreme animal rights arguments, mostly because I think they're based on a simplistic, arrogant view of nature, and on childish ideas about death. However, I can't deny that there's something particularly disturbing about the fate of the performing orcas. Forcing such an intelligent animal to exist in conditions that drastically shorten its life seems deeply wrong--much worse than, say, killing it for food (not that I'm promoting that idea). I can't quite parse out my response, though, and I confess I've never seen one of these shows. I'm curious to know what other people think about the slave analogy--does it seem apt?
The Fate of the Animals, Franz Marc, 1901