The Definition of Disingenuous

“Health concerns” are frequently invoked by political activists seeking to ban or regulate certain practices. Witness the countless campuses across the nation that are going “smoke free” at the behest of so-called “clean air” activists who piously lecture administrators about how catching even a whiff of tobacco smoke on the street is turning their lungs into sacks of ash. Faced with the realization that the whaling industry is uninterested in acceding  to their demands, to say the very least, anti-whaling activists have now begun to ape the anti-smoking movement’s tactics by attempting to create a health scare over the consumption of whale meat:

Environmental and animal-welfare groups are urging the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to persuade the World Health Organization (WHO) to act over fears about eating whale meat…

The groups say whale meat is highly contaminated with mercury and should not be eaten. But whaling nations say they already have health guidelines in place.

“It’s quite wrong to use the term ‘health hazard’,” Kate Sanderson, director of the department of oceans and environment of Faroes’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told BBC News.

“It’s true that pilot whales have very high levels of mercury in the meat and PCBs in the blubber and in 1998, the relevant health authorities at the Faroes issued a safety recommendation advising people on how much it was safe to eat. And people have taken that advice on board.”

She also said that eating whale meat and blubber presented numerous, well-documented, benefits for humans.

But conservationists believe that harmful effects of mercury outweigh all the benefits.

That this is a patently disingenuous argument should be immediately clear. The sudden “concern” over mercury is a fairly obvious smokescreen for the larger anti-whaling agenda which, as I’ve written about before, amounts to nothing less than cultural imperialism and the imposition and normalization of a certain set of Western values on other societies:

“If we don’t have the whale meat and the blubber, what do we eat instead? We don’t have meat production as such in the Faroes other than sheep and a limited amount of cattle that is kept mostly for milk. The sheep population is certainly not enough to serve the meat needs.

“Pilot whales represent not only the traditional part of the diet that people value very much, but also something that’s free. It doesn’t have to be paid for as an import.

“So it has that economic value as well because you would have to look at what would be the cost of replacing it with imported meat.”

But animal activists call the tradition, which goes back several centuries, cruel and the killings unnecessary.

“The Faroes is a fairly wealthy country, and the tradition, if that’s what they want to call it, seems to be continuing just for tradition’s sake, rather than for any need for whale products,” said [Andy Ottaway of the Campaign Whale, a UK-based NGO]…

To so many of us in the countries that are sitting next door it just seems totally unacceptable. It is very clear that this form of hunting is incredibly cruel. There is no way it would be accepted in the British Isles, it would be against the law for conservation and welfare aspects.”

It’s about the activists, you see, and what social mores they find “acceptable.” And if they have to impose those values on everyone else under the guise of “health concerns,” well, at least they can say that they’re really looking out for what’s best for you.


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