Friday, September 26, 2008

Fish Friday

Too young to kill?

This is the photo that greets one after clicking the blog link Is fishing cruel? that appeared in the SMH on Wednesday. The title of the blog - which appears immediately above the killer child - is Hooked on a cruel sport. The author, Steve Jacobs who describes himself as "acting environment editor", goes on the write a piece which provides background for the question proposed by the blog: "So what do you think? Can fish think and feel pain and should we treat them as fellow living creatures rather than as toys?"

The nature and wording of the question rather gives the game away. Automatically we are treating fish as toys unless we view fish in terms of ourselves. The question, less emotively put, is worth considering. Unfortunately Mr. Jacobs is not interested in any consideration as his blog makes abundantly plain. Following from the egregious "too young to kill" caption under the photo the acting editor diligently constructs a highly one-sided argument that resorts to the basest of emotive prods designed to elicit a certain response.

Jacobs quotes one Bidda Jones (chief scientist of the RSPCA) as saying "In parts of Australia, until very recently, fish didn't count when it came to animal welfare legislation - the legal definition of an animal excluded them". As one respondent pointed out:
Animal ethics legislation has covered vertebrate fish (ie those with a backbone,but not shellfish)for a great many years. The statement to the contrary in the second paragraph of this blog is simply not correct.

But it is not factual innacuracies that annoy, it is the highly emotive and one sided nature of the piece - intended to skew the response - that irritates. The reason we don't debate this, according to Jacobs, is that there are some five million fishers in this country who don't wish to know. Further, Jacobs states that while it is one thing to kill fish for "nutritional benefit" it is entirely another to "kill fish for fun". Personally I know no one who kills fish for fun. When a marine biologist pointed out that very few anglers "kill for fun" and that the scientific evidence about fish and pain had been ignored, Jacobs responded with: "There is a counter argument from a fishing correspondent attached to the blog posting, which is given for balance." What complete and utter rubbish. Two lines and a link are all that exists as far as "balance" goes.

An idea of the of balance of Mr. Jacobs is the following:
Should we be alarmed at the smile of joy on a child's face when he or she has caught a fish? After all, if the child had killed a puppy, we would be worried that he or she was on the way to becoming a serial killer.
What an ugly conflation. The child - which may or may not have been too young to kill - in the photo is now well on the path to becoming a "serial killer". Seems her "habit" began with murdering fish.

From such does Ivan Milat come I suppose.



Anonymous Jacob said...

Good to see that the child's identity has been protected. With time, he/she can be rehabilitated into an enlightened soul like Steve J.

"... there are some five million fishers in this country who don't wish to know... "

Ah yes, the conspiracy of silence of the evil, redneck Rod Lobby. From whom the fish liberationists will have to wrest their 'weapons' from their cold, dead hands.

Oh jeez, this imputation of a sinister code of silence on the part of anglers is just a prod too far. Ignores the fact that fishing is an ancient and venerable tradition, in a way that say serial killing is not.

As I think I've remarked before, one does honour to the fish as long as one eats them. And let's face it, a fish caught by a gentleman angler is probably far better off than one caught by say a squid, whose machinery of mastication makes Ridley Scott's Alien monstrosity look quite terrestrial after all.

If Steve J is such an advocate for fish, he should be going after the pitiless mass slaughter on the high seas that is commercial trawling.

Or perhaps he could focus his righteous energies on the stolen generations of calves separated from their mothers soon after birth, in the name of sound animal husbandry on dairy farms. Our eldest, who works on such an establishment, tells of mother cows crying piteously and inconsolably (and that's not an 'anthropomorphism') for hours for their stolen young.

Maybe Steve J could make that his life's work: The Silence of the Cows.

Anyway, I don't pursue the sport myself, but my brother is quite keen. A long time ago he tried to interest his nephews, but after 5 minutes they complained: "Nothing's happening!"

Not enough overt carnage for their video-game inured sensibilities, I guess. Their potential serial-killerhood was poorly served in that episode.

Reminds me, Sean over at RTS had some pithy observations on imputation of 'sinister tendencies' in children.

26/9/08 12:57 PM  
Blogger Kathy Farrelly said...

OMG! Murdering fish? I've heard it all now. I used to love to go fishing crabbing and prawning with Dad when I was a kid.

Can't beat fresh seafood.

All the people I know, who fish, do it to get a feed.

To put it succinctly, Steve Jacobs is a fuckwit!

26/9/08 7:19 PM  

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