Last week the Internet lost its mind when a video surfaced of Argentinean tourists removing a baby dolphin from the ocean to take pictures with it. The dolphin died, and the world felt outrage for such a useless loss of life. I am happy that people are angry about the baby dolphin. We need more people to think about animal rights.
But this incident shows a double standard that our world has embraced.
While everybody freaked out about the baby dolphin, there is almost no outrage for the 9 billion animals that die each year to support the meat industry. Those animals also suffer torture and death at the hands of the meat industry. Their suffering is just as bad as the dolphin. They do not want to die, and they feel just as much pain as the dolphin.
Yet anybody outspoken about the deaths of animals in the agricultural industry is usually branded as extreme or crazy.
If you have fallen into that trap, think back to how you felt when you found out about that baby dolphin. Did you feel outraged? Where you angry that an animal died for something as useless as human pleasure? Did you repost something about it on Facebook or agree with a bitter cartoon?
If so, why does that feeling not stretch to cover the massive deaths that meat eaters take part in? Simple, our culture has not incentivized feeling bad about the mass death of animals.
But it is the same thing. You might say that the difference between a pig and a dolphin dying is that a pig provides food, so it is ok to kill it. That is some bad logic though, because the Japanese, for example, eat dolphins. So if you were angry about the Argentinean dolphin, would you also condemn Japanese dolphin eating? Probably, if you are American due to your culture, but they are using the same reasoning that you are to eat a pig or cow. It’s cultural, and it provides food. Yet why is that wrong and eating a different fish or animal is right?
Or maybe you would argue that dolphins are highly intelligent creatures. Well that doesn’t work either, because studies show that pigs have comparable intelligence to dolphins.
Even if those two arguments are not convincing, it is important to note that dolphins are actually killed by the fishing industry. Every year 300,000 dolphins and whales die due to bi-kill, which happens when fishers catch other animals in their nets besides the fish they were looking for.
Really what it comes down to is that in our culture the death of animals does not matter if they are in massive numbers. What is the difference between a dolphin and a pig or cow? They are all animals, they all feel pain, they all have enough cognitive ability to not want to die.
What is really happening is that our culture has embraced the quote attributed to Joseph Stalin:
One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic.
Sadly, that is our life.
Feeling bad about the death of one animal is good. Taking actions to stop the death of millions is better.