Whaling in the Gobi Desert
An article in the Independent today focusses on Japan's efforts to overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission. The unsentimental Japanese love whalemeat, and have, over the years, bribed many poor countries to join the commission and vote for a reversal of the ban - including such famous sea-going nations as Mongolia and Mali.
Perhaps it's time that Western anger at Japan's policies found concrete expression? Which Japanese products are most susceptible to boycott? People aren't going to desist from buying a Sony DVD player, but they might choose not to buy a Vaio. Maybe somebody could draw up a list of Japanese products that come in the endangered species category? A few adds featuring a Vaio with a bucket of blood dumped all over it might prove effective. Cultural imperialism of the worse sort, of course, with added xenophobia. But then, the Japanese are threatening something many people believe is precious and irreplaceable.
I wouldn't be surprised if people in a 100 years time look back with horror at the way we treated whales, chimps and other mammals with very sophisticated communication systems. The loss to science of our ability to investigate variations of consciousness would in itself be a tragedy, if whales do employ a form of grammar, as has been hypothesised. Kantian deontology and utilitarianism both call for a more considered approach to whaling, but I'll take pure sentiment if it'll do the job.