Comment of the Day: “Slaves, Whales, Humphrey the Hippo, and Captive Animal Ethics”

Marleen contributes a short and pointed comment to today’s post about PETA’s lawsuit alleging, absurdly, that Sea World’s performing whales are victims of slavery under the definition in the Thirteenth Amendment. Her commentary touches on a rich theme that has been explored on Ethics Alarms in the past: the obligation of issue advocates not to undermine the credibility of an important ethical argument by associating it with unfair, irresponsible or dishonest tactics.

Here is Marlene’s’ Comment of the Day, on “Slaves, Whales, Humphrey the Hippo, and Captive Animal Ethics”;

“PETA makes it difficult for me as a proponent of animal welfare. Pointing to PETA’s ridiculous antics (and this latest one really takes the cake) has become a trump card or Godwin’s Law of sorts when I occasionally discuss animal welfare topics with people. Rants about PETA ensue and the conversation is effectively killed.

“It distresses me that the only strategy they can come up with is to bastardize the courts and the Constitution for some publicity. Shout from the rooftops that captive cetaceans don’t afford us a true ability for observation and study because of the massive (and documented!) ill effects on their health and that it debases us to sacrifice them for our amusement. Play videos of orcas turning on their handlers non-stop. Don’t pull out a cockamamie argument that’s deeply insulting to any peoples familiar with true subjugation.”

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