Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Whale of an Idea

Perhaps you've heard about the unfortunate death of the trainer at SeaWorld, a one Dawn Brancheau, after she was grabbed from her poolside platform and thrashed around in the water by a killer whale named Tilikum. I'm not trying to sound insensitive or anything, but it's not like we couldn't have seen this coming, especially since Tilikum has been involved in the deaths of at least two other people over the past 20-ish years (even though one of those deaths was totally the fault of the human involved). It's right there in his name. Killer whale. It's not like he was going around calling himself Benign Whale or anything like that. Killer whale. Seems like a no brainer.

What I'm finding extremely entertaining is the various responses after this tragic (yet predictable) event. Man on the street interviews are always good for amusement. I heard one guy say that the "whole system needs to be revamped". The whole system of what exactly? Keeping 12,000 pound creatures in the equivalent of a bathtub and making them do wacky stunts which end up soaking enthralled participants who love nothing more than to watch a tricky orca? That system? Um, OK. I suppose.

The huffy folks over at The Huffington Post alerted us to the fact that following Ms. Brancheau's death, Shamu's Twitter account was shut down. Wait. What now?

Correct. Shamu, the big ol' killer whale that has become the synonymous poster name/child for captive and made to perform orcas, is no longer posting to his Twitter account. ::: sigh ::: Good Lord, people. Did you really think that it was the damned whale that was tweeting?! What kind of person is it who follows Shamu on Twitter? Or ANY animal for that matter? It's not the actual animal who is updating! You know that, right? Right?! Oh, never mind.

But here's the one that I just love, love, love beyond belief. Ready? Again from The Huffington Post, here's the headline: American Family Association: Stone To Death Killer Whale Who Killer Trainer. What the what?

Correct. The American Family Association a "...religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning." They want the whale? Wh...why....why is that? Well, because the Bible says they should. It does? Apparently so.

They seem to be relying on a passage from Exodus 21:28 which reads "Says the ancient civil code of Israel, "When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable." But...but...but that's talking about an OX. This was a whale. A whale. Not an ox. But for some reason, the AFA equates an ox and a whale. I can't imagine why, as they are clearly nothing alike.

This seemingly whack-a-do group goes on to say that "...the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn't kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal." Wait. Who dies right along with the animal? Who in the heck owns the killer whale? SeaWorld? Does that mean all of the employees get stoned as well? No, wait, that wouldn't make sense. What about stock? Does SeaWorld have stock? Are the stockholders going to get pelted in that instance? Seems a bit extreme. I mean, if we're going to start stoning people in this country, can't we start with those Wall Street fellows? You know, just to try it out and all.

The AFA backs up that assertion by citing Exodus 21:29 which says something to the effect of "the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death." Basically, the theory is that if your ox is out and kills someone and you don't stone your ox and then it goes out and does it again, you're just as liable as the ox is. Theoretically, that makes sense, but only right up until you get to the "also shall be put to death" part. That's a bit extreme. Usually.

But let me just ask this: Let's say that we were to go along with the kooky beliefs of the AFA and we now need to stone this whale to death. What, exactly, are we supposed to stone him with? Wouldn't it just be easier to drain the tank? You'd need boulders or something of the equivalent in order to stone a killer whale, wouldn't you? And that would involve some sort of crane and/or derrick, I'd imagine. Perhaps a trebuchet/catapult. This is starting to sound really old-timey. Like the days of King Arthur or something. If it only weren't for the fact that we were talking about doing all of this to a killer whale, it wouldn't be so ridiculous!

Look, you can't kill the whale. It's not the whale's fault. The whale was doing what it does and what it does is be a whale. I'm going to have to assume that the term "killer" wasn't just some catchy moniker that someone came up with for no reason. It's named that for a reason. It wasn't a secret. It's not like the trainer didn't know that it was a killer whale. They didn't tell her "You'll be working with this animal here. It's a (mumble, mumble) whale!" I look at it this way: Three people (one of which was to blame) killed in twenty years? Seems like the people are getting off easy in this situation. It kind of seems like I'd think it would have been more given the circumstances and all. I'm just sayin'. Something to think about. Something other than stoning the whale to death, you morons.

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