• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 12:19pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 1:26am

Best to keep our 'truthiness' in check

The most memorable thing from an interview I had with Peter Singer at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel many years ago was when he said he didn't particularly like animals, even as a child. The philosopher who almost singlehandedly launched the modern animal rights movement arrived at his position through an objective examination of species (in)equality and the need for the ethical treatment of animals.

Not me. I have none of his philosophical detachment and objectivity. My wife and I have always loved animals since we were children. We are like Bart and Lisa Simpson, who cheer when cowboys and Indians slaughter each other on television but get all anxious and bothered by the sight of horses that fall in the mayhem.

Animal rights are for us a matter of what US comedian Stephen Colbert calls truthiness - something we feel in our guts, not a conclusion reached through an examination of the facts.

So it's gut feeling that makes us oppose the sale and consumption of shark fin, bluefin tuna, foie gras and dog meat; the hunting of whales and cute little seals in Alaska; and the killing of cave swift chicks and eggs when their nests are taken to make bird's nest soup.

The message about no animals being harmed in the course of filming at the end of many movies is intended for people like us. If you are one of those critics who ridicule Bridget Bardot because she cares more about animals than humans - well, too bad, because that's how my wife and I often feel too. I am glad I work for a newspaper that supports animal welfare.

However, unlike some of our readers, we are not so fanatical as to advocate boycotting Chinese restaurants that serve shark fin. I think you have done your duty by not ordering the offending dish. I certainly have no problem working for a newspaper that reviews restaurants with shark fin in their names, as our reviewers will never order the dish. (They have small expense accounts!)

After all, most of the city's Chinese seafood restaurants have shark fin on their menus. Should we boycott Japanese restaurants serving bluefin tuna and luxury shops selling foie gras? We all have our truthiness - against junk food, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, polluting cars or whatever we are up in arms against. That's fine, just don't go overboard.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Truthiness might be about gut feel, but it can lead to very different issues being lumped together under one banner.
Shark fin and blue fin tuna for example shouldn't be eaten because they're from endangered species, unsustainably produced. Foie gras, on the other hand, is certainly cruel in terms of its production, but I don't see any arguments that geese are in danger of extinction.

Tom Quick Jr,
I almost forgot him
The Indian slayer
Whose monument stood “proudly” in the US
And its recent re-erection
Shark fins?
(1)Talking about “truthiness”
Who are you, if the statement is, as it should be, turned into a question:
“who cheer when cowboys and Indians slaughter each other on television”?
Normal kids, given Hollywood’s influence, cheer when cowboys slaughter Indians;
Rebellious and exceptionally clear-minded kids cheer victorious Indians;
Psychopaths cheer all killings regardless of victors and victims;
Normal adults should have outgrown the cheering;
Thinking adults loathe having been misled by Hollywood.
(1.1) I wonder if AL washes his 4-legged pals after hiking before jumping into bed together?
(2) PS is rather dull and uninspiring compared with other philosophers.
(3) Beefeaters and seafood consumers who boycott fins are racist hypocrites.



SCMP.com Account