The other day took place, at last, the première of 2009’s American documentary “The cove” in Japan. A small movie theatre in Kyoto had about 30 spectators on a Saturday evening, which shows how little impact has had on the Japanese population, although a few newspapers and magazines included articles about the topic. It was an exciting film, in the line of James Bond’s moves from the 70’s with submarine cameras, spies, etc. But let’s go to the content: Ric O’Barry, former trainer of the deceased Flipper, becomes paranoid about how humanlike and intelligent dolphins are and starts illegally releasing them in the U.S. After a few years, he decides to go abroad and do the same in Japan, or at least, make a big hit with a movie depicting the killing of these marine mammals because of their meat or for commercial reasons in Taiji, Japan. Independently of their illegal actions, as of entering a restricted area and taking images without permission, their reasons to stop the hunting and killing of dolphins for food accounts basically for dolphins’ high intelligence and friendliness to humans. Well, there are no scientific research that prove their even remotely closeness to human cognitive reason. Besides, if they were so intelligent, they wouldn’t allow themselves to be hunted in such an easy way always in the same area. And many other animals are submissive and friendly to us and we still use them for meat: think of rabbits –many times used as pets, chicken, cows, etc.-. There is not an extinction danger, as in the case of whales, so I don’t see why the Japanese should stop eating dolphins if they please. As for the way they are hunted and sacrificed, it might look cruel in front of the cameras but it’s always bloody when killing an animal; what happens is that we are not shown those images at all in the case of the regular and packed meat we buy at the supermarket. They should also record images of chicken factories and beef processing industries when the animals are killed and start campaigning against killing cruelly those animals.
The argument of poisonous mercury inside the dolphins’ meat is exaggerated in the movie, but anyway used as another argument. In the case of the killing of dolphins as ペストコントロール (pest control) and not only for food, I could also understand and approve the killing: if dolphins consume big amounts of fish and procreate without limits but without being consumed or controlled by humans, the growing human population of the world won’t have enough fish to survive; or we will have to depend exclusively on meat in the future. It makes sense, but they disregard it as an excuse.
But what really bothered me about the movie was the manipulation of images in their favour: the Japanese fishermen are depicted without a face, as if denying their humanness, their angry arguments and words in Japanese are presented as animal sounds out of context. Even they show Japanese politicians and officials as expressionless, lack-of-feeling persons and, above all, liars and cruel even to their own people; while the dolphins are a noble race of “animals” who deserve tears and a decent life in the ocean.
Well, in first place, they should first try to understand the country and the culture to where they have travelled –who is kind enough as to not putting them in jail after their illegal actions-; and second, they should try not to be so ethnocentric and think that they are in possession of the truth –as for which animals should be eaten and which ones shouldn’t- and that they have the holy mission of making all the humanity have their own absolute values.
And today, in the news, the prohibition of bullfighting in Cataluña, Spain. I respect the democratically taken decision but I don’t share it at all: the torture they claim to receive the “toros de lidia” is not that, but just a 20 minute fight against the bullfighter after 5 years of a great life of freedom in the fields before its final sacrifice. Apart from political reasons -some people consider the decision as a way of marking more differences between Cataluña and Spain in search of a future independence (curiously the announce of the prohibition coincides in time with the rejection of a few crucial articles in the Catalan Estatut)-, many of the promoters of this law may have many things in common with Flipper’s trainer, even without having heard about him.