Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), speaks out against using long-time abusive practices against animals. The excuse for using these practices is that it is an expression of that peoples’ culture.
Examples of these cultural excuses are the killing of bulls for entertainment in Spain, cockfighting, falsified as a Cajun tradition (finally outlawed in Louisiana) and the latest debate in California over the killing of sharks for shark fin soup.
There is now legislation in California (Oregon and Washington as well) backed by the HSUS, outlawing the possession, sale and trade of shark fins. Up to 73 million sharks are slaughtered across the world yearly. Their fins are cut off and their bodies thrown back in the ocean.
A small minority of Chinese-Americans view the legislation against this practice as a cultural attack.
However within the Asian-American community there are advocates against this cruelty. Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, is the author of the shark protection bill, calling the killing of sharks for their fins, “a horrific scene.” Humane advocate, Judy Ki’s message is “Asian-Pacific Americans that want to enjoy premium quality seafood have many sustainable alternatives to shark fins. Those who are profiting from the slaughter of sharks solely for their fins are misusing race and culture to defend the industry.”
A number of Asian chefs as well as scientists, animal welfare advocates, environmentalists and commercial and recreational fisherman have joined the campaign against the killing of sharks.
Quoting Wayne Pacelle:
“Culture is never a compelling defense for cruelty, especially when the cruelty is so dispensable and where alternatives abound. Animal protection is not the domain of any culture or community, but rather, it is a universal value. Good people of every background honor the notions of mercy and decency to other creatures. Stopping the killing of sharks for fins won’t diminish the proud culture of China or any other Asian nation. It will enhance it, since the presence of cruelty erodes the fabric of any civil society and mars the history books for any people who’ve ever elected to tolerate the vile mistreatment of helpless creatures.”
And this can be said for cruelty against any living creatures.