Canada's conservative national newspaper the National Post ran an editorial by former Presidential speech writer Matthew Scully that eloquently eviscerated the idea that there is anything traditional or honourable about the annual Canadian seal slaughter. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society heartedly applauds both Mr. Scully for the literary lethality of his words in describing the slaughter for what it is - an embarrassment and a disgrace to Canada's international image. We also applaud the National Post for having the courage to run the article and for rejecting the Canadian government's pressure to stifle the media on covering the annual massacre of young seals.
This editorial is yet another nail to be hammered into the coffin of this despicable, obscene, and barbaric industry. The sealing industry is on the ropes now and is being pummeled with boycotts, national bans on pelts, protests, confrontations, and condemnations from celebrities and on the floor of the British House of Parliament.
This bloody cruel slaughter has already decimated harp seal populations, destroyed the cod fishery, and has caused irreparable ecological damage to the entire Northwest region of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Sea Shepherd has been fighting this horrific killing of young harp and hood seals since we were first founded in 1977. We have never retreated from our opposition to the killing and we never will. Saving these seals has been worth the beatings inflicted upon us, it has been worth the arrests and the imprisonment for the "crime" of documenting the killing, and it has been worth the expensive efforts to continually go to the ice floes to intervene against the killing of the seals.
Together, all of the organizations and individuals opposing the slaughter of the seals will prevail. This annual massacre of hundreds of thousands of newly born seals will be shut down. We will never rest until it is ended forever.
Link to the National Post Editorial:
Text of the Story
An ivory trade to call our own
by Matthew Scully, National Post
Monday, February 13, 2006
Forming right now inside their mothers, seal pups will soon fill the ice floes off Newfoundland and Labrador. Then comes one of their very first sights on this Earth -- the swarms of men bearing clubs, hooks, guns, and knives. Welcome to the world.
Nature has its own ruthless ways, as those men like to remind us, and makes no special allowance for the young and helpless. But this annual killing binge is not of nature's design, and there has always been something uniquely abhorrent in the spectacle.
If we could understand what possesses people to do such things, and do it all with such smug self-assurance, the insight would have relevance far beyond Atlantic Canada. Their professed reasons - the marginal economic benefits of the hunt, the protection of an ancient "way of life," etc. - have never really explained it. When you've dispensed with all their excuse-making, it becomes clear we are dealing here with some deep and implacable force.
Cruelty is the endpoint of greed and other vices, and rarely done for its own sake. Yet in every age and every place, there is a certain type of man who glories in violence -- only more when the victims are helpless and innocent. There is "a cruelty that is fed, not weakened, by tears," as a long-ago philosopher observed. Whether this malevolence directs itself at humans or at animals, it all comes from the same rot, the same dark and unreachable place in the human heart.
I was struck last year by a letter to this paper from one seal-pup slaughterer who took offense at my use of "innocence." The word springs naturally enough to mind when one is attempting to describe newborn mammals left defenseless on the ice floes that are their nursery, creatures so new to the world they cannot swim and can barely crawl. But you can understand why someone who clubs, shoots, or skins alive hundreds of such creatures in an afternoon would find the term uncomfortable.
Twenty or so centuries' worth of Western literature and religious allusion has looked to young animals as the very embodiments of vulnerability and innocence, as in the Lamb who suffered for the sins of the world. And there is no reason to shy from plain moral language here as well. That same tradition left us with an abundance of other ideas such as humility before Creation, the moral restraint of the strong toward the weak, and the spirit of mercy that extends even to humble animals - ideas readily grasped by all except the perverse hard of heart.
There is a passage in The Heart of Darkness that has a familiar ring. If you substitute "sealskin" for "ivory," Joseph Conrad could be reporting directly from the ice floes: "The word ivory rang in the air, was whispered and sighed. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew threw it all, like a whiff from some corpse ... and outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck of the earth struck me as something great and invisible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion."
A harsh but truthful portrait of the type -- of men who think that every last thing on Earth is there for the taking, and traipse about as if their only business in this world is to allocate death.
More than anything else, what really amazes me about the seal-pup slaughter is the stubborn pridefulness of it: Let all the world think they are callous fools. Let nation after nation slam the doors on their stolen products, as Greenland, Denmark, and Italy have done in recent days. Let a worldwide boycott of Canadian fishery products destroy the markets and jobs of other people. For these folks, all of this is only more reason to set course toward the seal nurseries.
They talk a lot about traditional values and the like, as opposed to modern, "urban" values, and you wonder how many of these characters still like to think of themselves as good Christian men. Maybe by now, as I am told by witnesses to the mayhem, the pretenses have all pretty well fallen away. We can be certain, in any case, that even when the cameras are barred and the protesters kept away, no cruelty goes unrecorded, and no forsaken creature's whimper is beyond His hearing. If the Good Shepherd does indeed watch over those scenes, I would not want to be wearing their bloody boots.
Recall, too, that all of this cruelty is subsidized, propped up by millions of dollars a year from Canada's taxpayers. Yet all arguments were lost last time around on Prime Minister Paul Martin. Even to the very end, he could be heard pandering in Atlantic Canada during last month's election with pledges to "save the seal hunt."
So let it be a Conservative government that finally brings the wretched business to an end. It would be a fitting start for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a courageous and merciful exercise of his new powers.
And to a watching world, no decision of his could more dramatically demonstrate that corrupt old ways will no longer be tolerated, and a new day has truly arrived in Ottawa.