Subject: Is there any current need for whaling?

Howard Garrett (tokitae@bellsouth.net)
Sat, 8 May 1999 10:13:46 -0400 (EDT)

Perhaps "need" is one of opinion only. My ancestry is Norwegian-American
with ties to Iceland and Greenland, and my children are also part
American Indian. I admire much in Japanese culture and hope to work in
Antarctica. It seems that geographies I am drawn to are involved in past
and/or present whaling. It pains me to hear that whales are slaughtered.
I can almost deal with native peoples hunting whale for subsistence
food, clothing, oil, etc., but even that is hard. Is there any reason
why whales either are slaughtered or rights to slaughter are claimed
these days for anything which could not be substituted with plant-based
materials?

Thank you,

Ann F. Tolo

Dear Ann,

        You're right that this calls for more of an editorial opinion than a
scientific one, but I can see you are troubled with conflicting values and
you'd like some basis to make up your mind. The arguments in favor of
whaling are often expressed in terms of having the right to whale, rather
than the need. We humans form into societies and cultures that define
ourselves by our traditions, and cultural definition is essential to
individual self-definition. It's our way of knowing and expressing who we
are, how we are different from others, and what we value and hold sacred.
Without those traditions we fear being dissolved into an unknown universal
culture. Such fears may not be articulated, but they can drive behavior and
become expressed through symbolic actions, like hunting whales. So some
people in some cultures (Norwegians, Japanese, Makah, and Inuits come to
mind) "need" to hunt whales, not necessarily for subsistence but for
self-definition, to unify as a people, to act and believe together. Perhaps
those who oppose whaling could consider acknowledging and honoring those
cultures first, before engaging in conversations about hunting whales.
Otherwise there won't be much conversation at all, and the fears and the
whaling will continue.


Howard Garrett
Tokitae Foundation
Lolita Campaign Coordinator
(305) 672-4039
tokitae@bellsouth.net

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