Changing Values

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I noticed a fascinating story about the confrontations between Japanese whalers and their opponents in the Southern Ocean. It occurred to me that this Antarctic battle could be the frontier in the clash over what degree of protection societies should give animals. After all, one skirmish ended with some anti-whalers mooring their damaged boat to an iceberg after colliding with a Japanese ship, which lent a certain ends-of-the earth quality to the struggle.

But then I saw another piece about the rescue of 400 cats in Tianjin. Certainly not the same level of drama, and cats don’t have the same megafauna quality of whales. But it made me think true frontier of the animal rights debate is in China. It’s the sort of place where a group of people will battle to save cats being made into meatballs or hats, but you can pay $75 to feed a sheep to a tiger. (This clip could be a little much for sensitive folk.) A country where people will launch an online crusade to find a woman who stomped a kitten in a video, but is also the target of an international campaign to stop its fur industry. Where a growing number of people are keeping dogs as pets, but dogs are culled by the tens of thousands to stop rabies. The point is that animal rights standards in China are varied and in a state of flux. Very different than the Southern Ocean, where people are so convinced of their right to hunt whales or the wrongness of the act that they’re willing to go to the world’s most inhospitable place and risk their lives. In China, the public’s definition of right and wrong when it comes to animal protection is very much in a state of change. I guess that could be said for other things here as well.

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