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Like many, I too am against the killing of whales, but like many, I too didn’t exactly know why. Until now! Joseph Jaworski’s Jan. 12 letter, “The moral case against whaling?,” has caused me to rethink my objections. To his question, “Can anyone opposed to whaling explain precisely what principle makes killing whales morally wrong?,” my answer is a disquieting “no.”

As the “superior/alpha” animal on this planet, we have long assumed lordship, and thus the power of life and death, over “lesser” animals. This power brings with it a concomitant responsibility, a salient part of which is to act “humanely” in the killing of any form of life. By that, I mean to avoid killing indiscriminately, to avoid killing for nefarious reasons and to avoid all unnecessary killing. Thus the killing of humans by war, by legislation (the death penalty), by suicide, by neglect, by genocide, etc., must be and is morally repugnant.

So where do we “draw the line” on the killing of any life, human or not? By intelligence? How can we define intelligence other than by comparing it to ourselves as the “supreme intelligents”? Many find fundamental flaws in that comparison. Is a dolphin or a whale less intelligent than us? Really? Prove it!

My own perhaps weak answer to Jaworski’s penetrating and uncomfortable question is to kill only if there is danger to my own life: to kill the attacking lion, the invading soldier, the fatal bacteria, etc. But NOT condemned prisoners safely incarcerated, or whales.

As for cows, chickens, pigs, etc., I have no answer and that worries me. Am I really the “lord of all I survey”? I hope to God I am not, as I can’t accept the responsibility of life and death over other life-forms sharing our little planet. So, well done, Mr. Jaworski, you have caused at least one person to think again

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

paul gaysford

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