Dolphins and Dilemmas

Last night I learned about the annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji, Japan, as detailed in the documentary The Cove. If you have not seen this film, go see it! This was all new to me. The end of the film, when you actually see the slaughter, so disturbed me I could barely sleep last night. Truly horrific! It also presents me with a real ethical dilemma. Part of what upset me so much about the dolphins is that they are highly intelligent beings and they seem to connect so well with humans. It's easy to love a dolphin, and we've all read stories about how they come to the rescue of people who are drowning. In fact, in the film a surfer relates how a dolphin saved him from a shark attack. It's quite easy for me to feel sadness and outrage, and I'm quite clear about this: I'll NEVER knowingly eat dolphin meat. But what about my steaks? Is it because we generally consider bovines stupid that I think nothing of chowing down on a nice piece of prime rib? And what to say about my love of jamón de Jabugo? Pigs are said to be pretty smart. I've seen Food, Inc. and the film about Temple Granden, but that hasn't stopped me from consuming animals. We'll see. I guess the test will come next time I'm hungry and there's some meat within reach of my fork. Are industrially raised animals less worthy of attention from our moral compass? Because if what we're talking about here is compassion and empathy, a wish to minimize suffering and to respect diverse life forms, where do we draw the line? Are we justified in establishing a compassion pecking order? I'm all for liberating dolphins from Sea World and like prisons. With regard to "farm animals" I'm less clear. For now.

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