Best to keep our 'truthiness' in check

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 1:26am

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.