03 April 2008

The Moral Panic Surrounding Seal Clubbing

A seal basking in the sun. Apparently it tastes like chicken.

Ever since the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) kicked Glen Benton's ass, I've been intrigued by these vigilante fanatics. I am a recovering Protestant, with a mind warped by petty indoctrinations concerning the dangers of sex, drugs and Satan.

Ever since reading Rock-musiek: Die reg om te weet (Rock music: The right to know) by Dr Rodney 'Die Rod' Seale, and subsequently discovering that his claims were largely baseless and his concerns largely unfounded, I've been intrigued by rock music and by extension, heavy metal.

His other book, Satanisme: Die reg om te weet (Satanism: The right to know), sparked the Promethean flame in my life, and for this I am eternally indebted to Dr Seale. I've since been cautious to jump on the bandwagon of any moral panic, preferring to evaluate the claims of moral watchdogs critically before I do something stupid I might regret later. Like chaining myself to a tree.

Dr Seale's spirit lives on in the war on drugs, the war against terror and Peta's war against omnivorous humans with a penchant for the finer things in life. Like seal pelt clothing. And sex, drugs and Satan. Ironically, Dr Seale's name lives on in this post too.

Good reasons to hunt a seal

Seal hunting happens for the same reasons as any other kind of hunting:

  • For food. Contrary to Peta propaganda, seal meat is actually a source of food for small coastal communities. It is simply not true that only the pelt is used and the rest of the seal is discarded. Seal meat is an important source of protein, vitamin A and omega fatty acids.

  • For fun. That is, as a sport. Since 2006, the Norwegian government has allowed tourists to hunt seals.

  • For profit. Seal pelts are quite expensive. And the more noise Peta and other animal rights activists make about it, the more expensive the pelts will become. Which means, more incentive to hunt seals.

There are only five nations in the world that allow seal hunting, namely Canada, Norway, Russia, Greenland and our neighbours, Namibia.
In all of these countries, seal hunting is strictly regulated. Seals may be shot, but the bullets may damage the pelt of the seal. For this reason, a special kind of weapon called a hakapik is used. It is a kind of club, with a hammer on the one side of the head and a pike on the other.

A hakapik, the weapon used to hunt seals in order to protect the pelt. Apparently, it's as humane as hunting gets.

It is this method of clubbing that gets Peta up in arms. Seal hunting as a tourist activity is only allowed in Norway, and then never with a hakapik. Tourist hunters are only allowed to shoot the seals, since clubbing requires a specific technique to minimise pain to the seal.

Some animal rights activists acting like animals. Solidarity, brother!

Reasons not to hunt a seal

Besides running the risk of being harassed by fanatics like Peta.

  • For moral reasons. If you find seal hunting morally objectionable, you would have to be a vegan. Research has shown that clubbing or shooting a seal in the wild is no more painful than killing an animal in an abattoir. If you eat meat, but you feel sick every time you see a seal being clubbed in the press, I would seriously doubt your integrity.

  • For environmental reasons. Seals are not endangered. This is another myth spread by animal rights activists. There are more environmental reasons to allow seal hunting than to ban seal hunting. Seals could seriously impact the number of cod in the water. Seal hunting quotas are largely determined by culling needs.

Clubby the Seal

This is a game I found at Free Online Games. Enjoy!


Seal hunting, just like any hunting, offers the prey a sporting chance. Personally, I find it more morally objectionable to domesticate animals purely for the sake of eating them than to go out in the wild, in excruciating conditions, with a hand weapon, chasing after an animal in its own habitat. While synthetic materials do offer the same function as pelt, they may contain dangerous toxins with more environmental impact than biodegradable and reusable pelt.

The seal hunting thing is just another moral panic. A moral panic is a public outcry, echoing the belief that a group of people are deviant and pose a threat to society, without any basis for such a claim. Since seals are not endangered, clubbing causes as much anguish as killing animals in an abattoir and seal hunting offers a livelihood to human beings (who take precedence over animals if you ask me), there is no valid reason to stop seal hunting.

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Petra said...

I admire your ability to stay unbiased in your review of seal clubbing. I am appalled. I cannot fathom willingly taking the life of any animal when there are other options for food. No I am not a vegetarian (sadly I like steak a little too much) but everyday I hear stories such as this I re-consider my decision. And altho I think PETA is a bit extreme, I have to say that their cause is admirable.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with you that unless mankind evolved to veganism the seal hunt is just one of many examples of the cruelty we inflict on animals not to mention their death for our consumption...



Lisa Thurmond said...

I agree with your point about integrity. I can't agree more. If someone eats meat and objects to animal death, they have no credibility.

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