So, they are evacuating Bangkok in anticipation of horrendous flooding. But, every time I’ve done an Act of God song, see,e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here, it sounds like a leftover ballad from Farm Aid. There just isn’t much of an angle beyond, “Wow, this is really sad” and “man, the Earth sure is powerful.” So, I passed. The European Union came to an agreement regarding its debt crisis, and Greece specifically. But, I either missed it earlier or the news did not break until I was essentially done with today’s blong. Plus, a song about European economic policy might make the ladies swoon.
Earlier this afternoon, I had a homeboy message me concerning the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) recent lawsuit against SeaWorld for the enslavement of six Orcas. PETA alleges that their captivity violates the 13th Amendment’s slavery prohibition. As a constitutional matter, specious (although interestingly the Amendment is not circumscribed by words like “person” or “citizen” or “naturalized person/citizen” as is elsewhere found). As a human one, maybe not so much.
I LOVE SeaWorld. I remember, and probably still have, those molded plastic animal sculptures that you’d get out of the ginormous vending machine style dispenser and how they’d still be partially molten when they dropped. I think I had a pink dolphin. We took our kids, probably 4 years ago, and they sweated like little sweet potatoes in the Orlando bunsen burner of a sun but loved every minute. “Shamu” in particular. I mean the divers would literally ride, standing on the nose of the orca under water, until it shot them both high into the air. It was stunning.
So, the issue of animals in captivity is a difficult one. That’s where a lot of them are, really. Captivity. We eat them, domesticate them, wear them, hunt them, mount them. I was sort of enraged over the self-righteous view of many that Michael Vick’s atrocities, and they were unspeakable, were of some different order than the more culturally acceptable ways we casually kill or mistreat animals. For your lunch, let’s say. The chicken farmer didn’t have to have any of the malice or sadism others would project on Vick, for the experience to be just about as awful for the dead chicken as the dog.
So, it seems we tend to judge the humaneness of an act in regards to animals based on (1) our view of the human motives (distinct from the objective pain suffered by the animal) and (2) the capacity of the animal to be conscious of any suffering or harm incidental to, or directly caused by, the activity.
So the “sportsman” is seen as respecting animals because he (or she) hunts by some sort of chivalry code that “honors” the game. Their motives are different than the cock fighter. This was the sort of thing you heard about the Federal Judge who presided over Vick, like he had some moral authority, as a hunter, to condemn Vick for animal abuse.
This is not to disparage hunting. It’s to encourage consistency.
So a place like SeaWorld is hard to condemn. It reasonably sees as an accolade to its credit that the top zoologists, biologists, and animal lovers in their respective fields attend to the creatures it harbors. But, treating well someone you mistreated in the first instance doesn’t seem`very commendable. It’s like punching a friend in the eye and then handing them a top of the line ice pack. Or Tim Tebow mounting an “heroic” come back from the score deficit his own bad play created. (Second appearance of the word “mount” in this post.)
I have no idea how the animals feel about it. PETA is pretty fired up.
The worst part about slavery is that it’s not death. You live the hell, not escape it. In rhetoric, I would steer pretty well clear of associating animal captivity with slavery. We know what human captivity is and their seems to be an injustice in correlating the two.
Even still, to hold animals against their will and out of habitat to the affect of any misery at all seems something less than we should strive for. It’s not really a question of whether we can but whether we should. I believe that over time we can grown in our moral sensibilities. Maybe, we are not obligated to consider the well being of a cow in the same way as we consider our own but if the luxury of our philosophical and moral advancement allows us the intellectual perspective to close the gap on the two, then maybe that’s good.
I’m not ready to shut SeaWorld down. I sure wouldn’t call their activity slavery. But, maybe over time we can choose better.
This is one of those weird nights where I chose a song topic, began writing, and then peered into my library of beats and there was one of almost perfect sonic compatibility. I mean how many beats in the universe have what appear to be whale or dolphin squeals in the background? And, somehow I had one on hand?
Performed by ipoet (d/b/a Tom Lawyer). Topic by Conduct Lionhardt. Music produced by djclutch off his forthcoming Beat Tape ’11 (spoiler alert!).
Today’s song blog here: