Monday, April 19, 2004


I used to like Rex Murphy, until I picked up a thesaurus and started deciphering his code. Rex is clearly a smart man-- former Rhodes Scholar (Same Class as Bill Clinton) -- but his circuitous prose tends to meander far too much for my liking. I guess for him it’s aesthetically edifying to speak above us. He creates, so meticulously, superfluous diction when simple, short and understandable words would do. But hey that's Rex, he's a national treasure. Yet, in a Saturday editorial for theGlobe and Mail , Rex lays down his stilted language, as much as is Rexly possible, to come to the defense of his Newfoundland brethren. Rex takes umbrage with the self-preening vanity and hypocrisy of the radical-activists that protest against the Seal Hunt:

Newfoundland was a playpen for the ostentatious hearts of all the good-cause world. The baby seal with its Bambi-sized eyes and pristine white coat was, as an icon, the very Pietà of activist environmentalism

Intuitively, and with that natural shiver of a sentient being, I feel the Seal hunt to be harsh. But with some rationality and compassion towards the plight of the sealers and, more importantly, a comparative delineation(Cost/Benefit) between the value of a seal's life and the value and quality of a human life, I'd have to agree with enhancing the value and quality of the sealer’s life-- absent any other apparent means of subsistence.

Thus, it is one thing to be entirely opposed to the hunt, and yet another to be critical of how the seals are killed. Ensuring that a seal is humanly killed is a cause worth advocating; though destroying the economic prospects of rural communities by stopping the hunt, is missing the point in a large way(Strawman).

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has been critical of the Seal Hunt since the early 60's, and continues to wage a public relations campaign to see that the hunt is disbanded. The Green Party of Canada, however, adopted a position in favor of the East Coast Hunt in 2002. Yet, there has been growing clamor within the Green Party to reverse that decision. The cleavage has much to do with regional interests, and understandably so. The Newfoundland wing of the Green Party supports the Hunt.

Rex's goes on to poignantly add:

There was never any appreciation, and more loathsomely, never any attempt to achieve an appreciation, either of the history of the great hunt, the desperation of the people who for generations prosecuted it, the heart-rending exigencies of the out-harbour crews who were driven to it and the great train of loss, wreckage and death that inscribed its melancholy story.

This could not be truer. All other forms of subsistence for these Newfoundlanders are scares. It would be more enlightening if these activists proposed alternatives means for acquiring a livelihood on the Coast, rather than glibly smearing regular folk. In what I must admit is a low blow, and beneath him, Rex takes a rhetorical jab at the political focus of such groups:

I have thought on more than one occasion in the last while that if even a 30th of the concern and a 10th of the press had been on offer in Rwanda, for a real cause, Romeo Dallaire need never have had a single sleepless night. But fawning over cute things is always more inviting than putting some torque into the protest of real cruelties.

Yet, that passage is somewhat instructive and should give us pause to rethink and maybe reprioritize the causes we advocate-- perspective is everything.