Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] NMOC - Enemies of Sustainability

Julian Shaw (Man Myth or Monkey?) julian at monkeyfamily.freeserve.co.uk
Thu Oct 7 06:42:00 MDT 2004


Firstly I don't buy the idea that because most vegetarian/vegans are urbanites 
that they shouldn't be allowed to have valid viewpoints on the ethics of this. 
I think that in this as with many issues a certain distance from the issue and 
a view of the wider picture is what is required. The fact that we DON'T have 
any vested interests is in my mind a positive aspect. For example I am against 
the death penalty. I believe it's wrong on ethical grounds. However if a 
member of my family had been murdered I would probably be calling out for the 
person who did it to be strung up. My flawed ethical stance (in my view) would 
be totally down to me being too close to the issue. Obviously stupidity and 
ignorance should be avoided but a distance from the issues does not mean 
always that they have not been considered rationally.

Second I take your point that it is unfair to be critical of people who need 
to eat. I hope I haven't sounded like I was saying this. I'm not about to 
condemn a people like the Inuit who have no other food source for killing to 
survive. There is no other choice. Where it is a direct choice between the 
survival of a human being or an animal then I think it's fair enough to make 
the choice for the animal which is most self-aware (the human in most cases!). 
However for most people who are reading this meat is eaten just for the nice 
taste and for no other reason. I would hope that in today's day and age in 
"developed" countries no-one would have to starve if they didn't hunt their 
own food...but that's another issue altogether.


>===== Original Message From kate at dnki.net =====
>When I was growing up, hunting and fishing often meant the difference
>between having food and not having food.  While there are few areas so
>isolated (save Alaska) that grocery delivery to local stores isn't fairly
>regular, there is also the issue of having money to buy groceries.  There is
>also a barter trade involved, as I would babysit for venison and the my
>parents would give me cash, etc.
>Sure, scavenging berries is possible at certain times of summer, as is
>gathering other types of wild crops or gardening or picking berries or fruit
>or nuts for cash.  It is difficult to think of any sort of food that can be
>grown or found in the winter other than what you can hunt or fish for.  In
>an urban setting, I have seen a fair number of immigrant families gathering
>up river fish like carp and herring to supplement their diet.
>I don't understand people who spend megabucks on high-powered rifles and
>equipment, lash what they kill to their new $30,000+ pickup, then take it to
>a butcher to clean and prepare little food packs for the freezer.  More than
>a little too automated for my taste, as well as a waste of money. If a .22
>rifle, a shotgun, or a nylon line isn't going to do it and I ain't hungry, I
>don't see the point.  I'd far rather head out with a camera.  I know a
>number of those raised to hunt who now use a high-powered 36mm instead of a
>12-guage, even if they strap on a bow for credibility (and, sometimes,
>self-defense).  One old friend, now an editor at a rural paper, told me he
>takes the camera and joins up with a hunting party.  He gets all the elk and
>deer he can eat in exchange for the photos.
>There are reasons people hunt and are driven to hunt, and we can't forget
>those.  I have never met a vegan-activist-animal rights type who was other
>than urban or suburban and could even begin to understand survival hunting
>in the "developed" world and that is why I feel compelled to set things
>straight about the necessity for some to kill and eat animals.  If you have
>a stark choice between letting your kids go hungry or killing something,
>what is the ethical choice then?  And don't lets start on "alternatives" for
>"those people" because if there were any when I was growing up, my mom would
>have happily put down her .22 and her gutting knife and exploted them (and
>did when we moved to more urban areas where there were alternatives when
>money and food ran low).  There are issues of food distribution like Mike
>mentioned or like I have experienced that cannot be ignored.  We should not,
>however, use them to excuse stupidity of excess in the name of instinct or
>human nature or even sport.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu
>[mailto:powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu]On Behalf Of
>Michael Blackwood
>Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2004 9:13 AM
>To: the_oil_fish at yahoo.ca; powderworks at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu;
>julian at monkeyfamily.freeserve.co.uk
>Subject: RE: [Powderworks] NMOC - Enemies of Sustainability
>Bruce wrote:
>>PS: Julian, isn't an ethical society one which also places a premium value
>>on the dignity and >availability of meaningful work? I'm not disagreeing
>>with you about treating animals well, >but "finding a balance is a very
>>complicated issue. I agree that fox hunting is a pompous and >intolerable
>>'sport' which should be banned outright. But seal hunting (which is more
>>brutal) is not >so cut-and-dried IMO, given the devastation a ban visits on
>>a community.
>And, as the token Newfoundlander on the list, I have to chime in here about
>the seal hunt.  The only species serously hunted (ie for commerical reasons,
>not subsistence) is the Harp Seal.  Currently, the
>Newfoundland/Labrador/Greenland harp seal heard is the largest wild mammal
>herd in the northern hemisphere, at at least 4 million animals, and possibly
>up to 6 million.  Each adult female has a pup each year or two, and with
>that in mind Canada's current small hunt is sustainable in perpetuity, and
>could even be sustainably expanded.
>Historically, the ENTIRE carcass was usable, but public outcry has soured
>the markets.  The pelts have obvious value, seal blubber is rentered into
>seal oil, which is a great dietary supplement, and the meat was eaten by
>locals or exported in cans.  The bones were usable as fertilizer.  This is a
>very valuable resource that has been crippled as an income source for rural
>coastal communities.
>IN THE PAST, pups were taken for their white fur, but this is no longer the
>case, and hasn't been for 20 years.  In the 19th century when the industry
>began in Newfoundland (then an independant country, we didn't join Canada
>until 1949), the main product was oil for industrial use, with pelts being
>sold to furriers and the meat being the first fresh meat in rural diets
>after a long winter.  (Seal is still a cultural heritage meal in
>Newfoundland, and if we were a visible minority, or didn't speak English, I
>doubt the PC crowd would have been so quick to call us barbarians for our
>Is the seal hunt violent?  Yes, but in exactly the same way that the
>"processing" of cattle in a slaughterhouse is violent.  Seals, Cats & Dogs
>are the 3 branches of the Order Carnivora, and as such we respond to the
>"cuteness" of seals because their faces remind us of common pets.  When a
>poor unloved cow is done in with a quick blow to the head behind a brick
>wall in a slaughterhouse, no one threatens sanctions on beef-producing
>countries.  Canada faces sanctions because we treat the seals like cattle.
>The difference is that seals are "cute" and killed against a backdrop of
>white, which makes for great heart-wrenching TV.  The film in the 1970's
>that was produced in Montreal showing a sealer skinning a seal alive was
>later revealed to have been staged, with the film crew bribing a hunter into
>doing that for the camera.  The modern hunt is VERY well regulated by the
>federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and all sealers must pass
>stringent qualifications to get their licenses.  Sure, a rare few may turn
>out to be assholes, but that's like saying that because SOME deer hunters
>get drunk in the woods and shoot at anything that moves, ALL hunters are
>redneck barbarians.  Basically, the seal hunt is still portrayed as
>unsustainable barbarism solely because promising to STOP the hunt is a great
>fundraising tool for various groups that at best are thnking with their
>hearts and not their heads, and placing the value of "cuteness" over the
>value of a centuries-old way of life.
>hold together,
>Mike "expects he'll get flamed for this" Blackwood
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