Anti-Whaling

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A parable tells of three blind men confronted by an elephant. One touches the leg, and concludes the elephant is built like a tree. The next grasps the trunk and believes the elephant to be a giant snake. The third strokes the side, and describes a solid wall. A parallel exists here with the controversy over commercial whaling. No matter how long or hard proponents and opponents debate the subject, they never seem to be looking at the same animal. There are, of course, several aspects which have to be brought into perspective - ethical, cultural, scientific and political - and objectivity is inevitably compromised by one's order of priorities. It is also in the nature of believers in causes to practice selective myopia, intentionally or otherwise seeing only those "facts" which support their particular foregone conclusions. Japan is a proponent of whaling, and stands accused of bending facts to suit its ends as much as anyone. Unfortunately though, many of Japan's accusers outside the scientific community have little understanding of whom or what they are really opposing. I say "unfortunate" not only for misrepresented Japan, but also for the conservation movement which, by spreading misinformation, has stabbed itself in the foot. The fragile footing on which much opposition is founded is then shored up by misleading journalism. In an age when we are inclined to revere the printed word as gospel truth, it is little wonder that an already complex scientific dispute has become further clouded by emotions fueled by inaccurate insinuation. It is, for example, widely believed by the general public in the West that Japan flagrantly ignores the International Convention of Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), established in 1946. This is not true. The controversy recently reached a zenith with the launch by Japan of a scientific whaling program. (Again, the media like to put "scientific" in quotations. This implies "Believe that, if you can!", while exonerating the journalist...
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