Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A small step away, a great leap back

Okumura Jun over at GlobalTalk 21 often has issues with the BBC.

I wonder how he will respond to Chris Hogg's piece on consumption of whale meat and whaling from a Japanese perspective.

I wish Mr. Hogg well--the anti-whaling folks tend to rather vocal, maniacal and persistent.

Whilst on the subject, it is worthwhile to take a look at the illustration accompanying this article and the "a-pox-on-both-your-houses" view of 2004's "Australian Humanist of the Year".

The Paul Sheehan piece is particularly interesting. The article begins with a very detailed look at the ecology of the southwestern Pacific humpback population on its first page--then careens off in a completely different direction on its second.

It is hard to believe the two pages are by the same author, much less that they are two parts of a single essay.

1 comment:

Jun Okumura said...

Two points about the Chris Hogg article:

He’s not a bioethicist, that’s for sure. Peter Singer would immediately compare his consumption of whale meat to an undercover FBI agent participating in the mob torching of an uncooperative betting gambling joint.

Japan does not have a “Fisheries Ministry.” It has a Fisheries Agency. This is far from trivial. For one thing, the whaling lobby must beat out the more powerful agriculture lobby in order that the fisheries bureaucracy, a quite distinct and near-separate branch in the MAFF hierarchy, can even get a proposal to leave the IWC out of MAFF, let alone the Cabinet. What the Fisheries Agency bureaucrat no doubt meant was that the fisheries bureaucracy was serious about its threat to leave the IWC (an implicit one, mind you). You need a little more substance before you can use the blanket word “Japan” to describe what’s going on. Conclusion: He’s either dumb, or he fudged the facts to sex up his report. Otherwise, the article is about par for the course.

More interesting is the Peter Singer article. I’ve always had sympathy with that ethical line of thinking. I’m also uneasy with it though, because it opens the line to justifications for euthanasia, eugenics, and full-body cloning for organ harvesting, and other viscerally-charged and emotionally complicated issues. I’m not quite ready to go along with Mr. Singer’s bioethics, which destroys the “us”-“them” distinction between humans and non-, given all its implications.

BTW, WTF is Akebono doing in that illustration? Do you think he’s going to cook a chanko-nabe with kujira-kama for the Jolly Green Giant? I mean, you don’t believe that GG grew that big on tofu and vegetables alone, do you?