Stop the slaughter
September 1, 2009
I have this really bad feeling inside of me toward certain Japanese people. I know this isn’t fair. I will explain.
This weekend I saw the torturously moving documentary film, “The Cove,” at the Mountain Film Summit at the Wheeler. This gnarly and exquisite film showcases the dirty secret of dolphin captivity and dolphin meat – basically, wholesale and ritual dolphin slaughter which is happening right now. This movie has got to make a difference in this practice in Japan, where thousands of dolphins are caught and savagely killed every year. The people of Japan mostly do not even know about it, but if they do, and they continue to allow it, then there is a legitimate reason for my resentment.
Currently in Japan fishermen are killing off not only dolphins, but also whales, citing “cultural” practices and under the guise of “research” while the International Whaling Commission does nothing! Upon further research and looking at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society website, I see that marine mammals are being killed by many countries, including South Africa, where thousands of sharks are killed in nets each year or by shark finning. I know it is a luxury in America to look disdainfully at these practices, for many of these people doing the killing, it is their only source of income – or so they think. There must be another way for these people to make a living.
In “The Cove” it showed that the movie producers actually offered to pay these Japanese fisherman the same amount of money they would make off of killing dolphins but the fishermen refused, saying it was their duty to get rid of the “pests.” Dolphins are pests, apparently, because they eat fish. “The Cove” is a thought-provoking, sad tale led by former “Flipper” trainer Ric O’Barry, who said he feels partially responsible for creating this fascination with dolphins and therefore the market for circus dolphins. Aquariums and animal-based amusement parks are making millions exploiting these animals. But, “The Cove” is not about “Free Willie,” it is about animal cruelty at its worst, while cigarette-smoking Japanese fisherman smile and laugh and try their hardest to get the filmmakers arrested or killed.
It is hard not to “hate,” but I know enough to know that doesn’t get us anywhere. The Japanese government needs pressure. The International Whaling Commission needs pressure. Please take a moment to check out thecovemovie.com to find out what you can do to help this important cause.
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On a final note, as a former resident of Telluride, I am so glad to have the amazing Mountainfilm festival in Aspen. It is one of the most inspiring and moving events ever, and I hope that the partnership with Telluride can continue. It is one of those things that just makes you want to scream and cry and occasionally jump for joy. Mostly, it will move you to do something!