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by Archives April 5, 2006

Shallow, image-driven issues attract shallow, image-driven people, and no cause better exemplifies this than the current hysteria over the East Coast seal hunt.

Here, for your amusement and edification, are compiled the statements of the brilliant luminaries who in their great wisdom have decided that the annual culling of seals off the coast of Newfoundland is the worst thing in the world, and must be stopped.

French actress Brigitte Bardot has the distinction of being the first pretty airhead to jump on this particular bandwagon, way back in the 1970s, when she “hugged pups on the Maritime ice floes,” according to the CBC. Since then, she has given many press conferences denouncing the annual hunt.

On her website, she laments that the seal hunt quota has gone from 125,000 when she hugged her first seal pup to 325,000 today, an increase of 260 per cent. No mention of the fact that the harp seal population has increased by nearly 300 per cent to 6 million during the same period.

Upon arriving in Canada on March 22, she requested an audience with the Prime Minister, but he inexplicably refused to meet with her. The nerve! She’s a retired actress who hasn’t shot a film in over thirty years, and he’s just the elected leader of a G8 country. You’d think he’d make the time.

Earlier in March, Paul McCartney and his wife also visited, accompanied by an army of reporters. They got down on their knees in $3000 snowsuits to, you guessed it, hug a baby seal for the cameras.

“We don’t want to see the local people suffer, but from what we hear, it is quite a small amount of their annual revenue and this could be easily sorted out by the Canadian government, if they care to do it,” McCartney said.

Well, Paul, the $16 million dollars per year that the seal hunt brings in is a huge part of the annual incomes of local fisherman, but it’s a tiny amount of your annual revenue. Instead of telling the government how to spend Canadians’ money, why don’t you just go ahead and sort it out yourself, if you’re so concerned?

“Why are you so against the seal hunt being stopped?” his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, asked the premier of Newfoundland on Larry King Live the next day. “Why don’t you want peace talks and end this war against animals?”

Um, hate to break it to you, Heather, but not all fishermen can just marry a billionaire to help make ends meet. They have to, you know, hunt and fish and stuff, and their premier was elected to protect their livelihoods.

The peace talks angle is interesting, though. Perhaps Stephen Harper could arrange a summit with the leader of the seals, and the senseless war between our peoples could finally end.

You get the feeling that all the petty activist causes are running together in her head, and she can’t tell if she’s protesting the Iraqi hunt or Bush’s seal war or whatever.

Ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey has also decided that this is a very, very important issue. So important, in fact, that he feels the need to withhold all Morrissey-related services from our country. Just listen to the Great Man’s thought processes:

“I fully realize that the absence of any Morrissey concerts in Canada is unlikely to bring the Canadian economy to its knees, but it is our small protest against this horrific slaughter – which is the largest slaughter of marine animal species found anywhere on the planet.”

Uh, no, Mr. Morrissey, we probably pull many times that number of fish out of the water every day. What you meant to say is it’s the largest slaughter of cute marine animal species.

“The Canadian Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) also states that the slaughter is necessary because it provides jobs for local communities, but this is an ignorant reason for allowing such barbaric and cruel slaughter of beings that are denied life simply because somebody somewhere might want to wear their skin.”

Here we go again with non-musicians and their “ignorant” ways of feeding their families. Does this reasoning apply to all animal-related jobs? I hear the United States and Britain allow the “slaughter of beings that are denied life simply because somebody somewhere might want to wear their skin” to stay warm, or do something equally frivolous, like eat the meat. Is he prepared to courageously forgo the money he makes from touring the U.K. And U.S? I’m not holding my breath.

“Construction of German gas chambers also provided work for someone – this is not a moral or sound reason for allowing suffering.”

Wow. In writing and rhetoric circles, this is what’s known as employing the ‘doomsday device.’ Comparing various things to the Holocaust, calling people who disagree with you ‘fascist’ and referring to world leaders whose policies you don’t support as ‘Hitler’ are all examples of someone with little or no reasoning ability using the most destructive and shocking language they can to smear their opponents. It’s infantile, and it announces to the world that the speaker is incapable of reasoned argument. Congratulations, Morrissey. You’re a petulant twelve-year-old.

Now Pamela Anderson, vapidity incarnate, has stepped up to add her voice to the chorus, at this year’s Juno Awards in Halifax, no less. And it’s not because she’s blonde and beautiful that she qualifies for that characterization, but because of what actually comes out of her mouth. She’s a longtime spokesmodel for PETA (People for the Ethical treatment of Animals), which has the whole ‘everything’s the Holocaust’ rhetorical excess down to a science. You can almost hear the wind whistling through her ears as you read her statements to the press:

“I found out so much about it lately,” she said. Translation: Last week PETA told me it was bad, and I read a pamphlet on the plane.

“And I just don’t think that the communities really even know everything that’s going on with some of these things.”

Oooookay, so she just recently found out about this burning issue, but she’s convinced that the communities whose families have been living and fishing in seal waters for hundreds of years are ignorant about it. Why do they always have to be so condescending towards non-Hollywood types?

“I’ve just received so much support since I got her and I’ve only been here today . I haven’t seen anyone who’s really for it. Never met them.”

Wow. She comes into town for one day, stays in a bubble of lackeys and like-minded people, and is sure everyone thinks the way she does. And that last line is particularly galling, because she’s basically bragging about the fact that she’s never bothered to even talk to anyone from those “communities” about the seal hunt.

Why is it that the most self-satisfied, incurious and vain people are the ones most outraged over this? Because the seal hunt issue has nothing to do with facts.

The entire seal hunt protest is driven by a photograph of a cute, white, soft, huggable baby seal being clubbed by a big bad hunter. That’s it. That’s why the supporters of this infantile, image-driven cause never go to Newfoundland to talk with hunters about their history and livelihood, or try to learn about seal populations and what constitutes a sustainable and humane seal hunt.

They go for the requisite photo-op: themselves, hugging a cute baby seal. This makes them feel all warm inside. Then, armed with photographic evidence of the extreme cuteness of baby seals and of how much they care about them, they charge off to lecture communities and governments about the evils of the seal hunt.

But it will take more than has-been actresses and monumental popstar egos to convince a majority of adult Canadians that killing seals is outrageous because they’re so cute, while cows, chickens and pigs don’t matter because they smell bad and McCartney and Bardot don’t want to hug them.

Then again, if serious ecological and wildlife experts, like say Fabio or Paris Hilton, jump on board? That might just win us over.

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