Japanese use “culture” as lame excuse for barbaric whale hunting

Japanese fleet harpooning a whaleFor anyone that doesn't believe killing whales is cruel and that the Japanese have a cultural right to do so, Tony Long at Wired has a good editorial you should check out. The barbaric practice is far from being relevant today, and Long makes some good points. An exerpt:

"This isn't about culture. Like almost everything else in the world that stains the human spirit, this is about greed.

Whaling, as practiced by the nation-states, has always been a purely commercial venture. In the Age of Sail the industry grew out of economic necessity. When a whale was killed all of it was used -- as food, as lamp oil, as lubricant. Whalebone was used to make corset stays and scrimshaw. Blubber was used to make soap and cosmetics. A single whale -- remember, we're talking about the largest animal on earth -- could produce a lot of stuff and that meant a lot of money.

It had to be lucrative. There was no other reason for men to willingly spend months at sea in miserable conditions and dreadful weather for the chance of catching a few whales. Of course, they hunted from open boats in those day, too, using standard harpoons, so the most advanced technology of the day wasn't really very advanced, limiting their catch and increasing their peril.

But that was then. Excepting a few indigenous settlements here and there, where local hunting using traditional methods is still practiced, whale meat is no longer a dietary staple, and whale oil hasn't fueled any lamps in well over a century. There is no byproduct taken from a whale that can't be made or obtained by other means.

In other words, any whale being killed in the open ocean today is being killed for absolutely no good reason at all. Whaling is an obsolete industry, serving no one, which only makes the cruelty of the killing that much more repulsive."