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For Those Who Can’t Speak for Themselves…
Sunday, 28 February 2010 22:12
by Mel Seesholtz Ph.D.

On 25 February 2010, American Family Association pundit Bryan Fischer posted an article titled “Bible ignored, trainer dies” in the Focal Point section of that organization’s website. The American Family Association – run by Don and Tim Wildmon – is rabidly anti-gay (and anti-gay families), anti-civil equality, anti-reason and anti-science. They frequently champion biblical literalism and the nonsense dished out by the likes of Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.  

A bloviator in true AFA fashion, Mr. Fischer has made numerous absurd pronouncements in the past, including a defense of Pat Robertson’s statement that the poverty and recent disaster suffered by the people of Haiti was God’s just vengeance for something that some Haitians allegedly did in the 18th century. More recently, Mr. Fischer called for homosexual behavior to be outlawed and gays to be jailed or forced into “ex-gay” therapies that every – that’s every – legitimate scientific, medical, psychological, and psychiatric professional organization in the United States has condemned as ineffective and dangerous. And on 27 February 2010, Mr. Fisher posted this bit of anti-gay tripe: 

Homosexual agenda or the Constitution: take your pick because you can't have both 2/26/2010  

The homosexual agenda represents a clear and present danger to virtually every fundamental right given to us by our Creator and enshrined for us in our Constitution. …

I always thought the Constitution was about protecting civil rights and guaranteeing civil equality for all American citizens, which is exactly what the so-called “homosexual agenda” is all about, as Rep. Barney Frank so eloquently noted

Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial. 

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being. 

We also believe that we – and all Americans – should enjoy full access to health care; that strong environmental protection is fully compatible with economic prosperity. We know that the free market is the best way to generate our national wealth; and that we need cooperation between the private and public sectors to be sure that we as a society and as individuals get the maximum benefit from the wealth by the quality of all our lives.


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But back to Mr. Fischer’s February 25 “Bible ignored, trainer dies” posting. As its title suggests, Mr. Fischer quotes chapter and verse – “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable" (Exodus 21:28)” – as the reason Tilly the whale should have been killed the first time it showed “dangerous” behavior. Obviously Mr. Fischer’s knowledge of animal behavior never progressed beyond the Bronze Age.  

Sea World Attack Reaffirms Whale of a Truth: Captive Orcas Can Be Dangerous July 28, 2004 

Just about everyone with access to a 24-hour news channel has seen the home video of a killer whale attacking his trainer at a Sea World facility in San Antonio. The whale, named Ky, is seen repeatedly trying to submerge his trainer of 10 years – in front of a shocked audience which turned out to see a seemingly innocuous event called the Shamu Adventure. … 

Ky, like every captive wild animal in the world, whether a circus elephant or a white tiger in Las Vegas, has complex physical and behavioral needs, which can never be fully satisfied in captivity. Breeding is just one of many such needs among killer whales, commonly known as orcas. They also require lots of open water and the life-long companionship of their own family members. 

That's one reason why The HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] is constantly encouraging summer vacationers to avoid marine parks: Visitors only help perpetuate this grim illusion – that orcas and dolphins are perfectly content performing in tanks that can never recreate their natural environment. …

And in relation to the recent event at SeaWorld: 

Biologists: Killer whales 'neurotic' in captivity February 25, 2010 

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) -- Killer whales … often travel in groups of up to 50, being highly social. Confining such an enormous animal in an aquarium tank leads the animal to display neurotic behavior, experts say. 

“They get very stressed out,” marine biologist Nancy Black of Monterey Bay Whale Watch said on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” … 

An orca can travel easily 100 nautical miles every day, and to put them in a pool where they swim around in circles continually, and kept away from their families, “takes a toll on their brains,” said Jim Borrowman, who has worked with whales for 30 years and runs Stubbs Island Whale Watching on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 

“‘Neurotic’ is the word that we’ve used, and I sense that that's probably what’s happening,” he said. …

“Things that we've never heard or seen in the wild are happening in aquariums,” Borrowman said.

“In the wild, killer whales have never been known to attack a human,” said Kim Parsons, independent whale biologist from Seattle, Washington. … [italics added]

Perhaps the first time Tilly’s behavior was involved in a human death he should have been set free and returned to his natural habitat. But Mr. Fischer wants biblical death sentences carried out: 

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn't kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:29)

Mr. Fischer seems to be suggesting that the owners of SeaWorld, hence the “owners” of Tilly –  as well as the owners of Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia where Tilly was help captive and exhibited neurotic behavior before he was “sold” to SeaWorld – be put to death.  

Since Mr. Fischer believes murderous edicts from Exodus should be carried out, he must also believe other Old Testament decrees should as well, such as stoning to death people who wear clothing made of two different threads, those who work on the Sabbath and, of course, those nasty non-virgin brides. Why is he not calling for those people’s deaths? Is he ignoring what the Bible says while advocating it shouldn’t be ignored? More than likely he’s just doing what all religious fanatics do: select those parts of Scripture they can use for their own agendas and ignore the rest. And “the rest” always includes everyday reality as well as all science since Joshua stopped the sun in the sky. 

Debbie Leahy, director of the Captive Animals and Entertainment Issues Department at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, sounded a note of reason when she said, “These [orcas] are very dangerous animals, and being in captivity, they're ticking time bombs … These animals become very depressed and neurotic in captivity, whereas in the wild they avoid human contact.” 

Rather than advocating killing incarcerated animals driven insane by their human captors’ need for entertainment, perhaps they should just be left to live their lives in their natural habitats where “God” meant them to be. But Mr. Fischer sees that as “animal rights insanity.” He prefers killing. 

Is Dawn Brancheau’s death a tragedy? Yes, of course, but one that could have been avoided by returning Tilly to the wild after his first incident, or better yet, not keeping any animals in captivity where they are forced to live in unnatural surrounding and be “trained” to do tricks for people’s amusement. 

Mr. Fischer’s “solution” is biblical nonsense that mandates multiple killings: Tilly and his “owners.” SeaWorld’s “solution” is equally ill-informed:  

SeaWorld CEO says shows with killer whales will resume Saturday February 26, 2010  

By Joe Sterling, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- After the death of a whale trainer at Florida's SeaWorld Orlando, Jim Atchison, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said SeaWorld’s shows with killer whales will resume Saturday. …

Atchison on Wednesday called Tilikum “a wonderful animal” who “will remain an active and contributing member of the team despite what happened.” He said that though SeaWorld’s shows with killer whales will resume, trainers won’t get into the water with the animals. … 

Neither Mr. Fischer or SeaWorld get the point: keeping animals in captivity and driving them insane for the amusement of people is ethically and morally wrong.  

The neurotic behaviors orcas develop in captivity – as well as neurotic behaviors demonstrated by rocking, swaying elephants, pacing tigers and lions, and screaming monkeys in circuses and zoos, and the bucking bulls in rodeos who buck because their testicles have been tied up in painful sacks – are telling us that, but because they can’t speak our language, we don’t listen when they try to tell us in the only way they can. And then we blame them for what we caused.

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Comments (1)add comment

jeff bromley said:

Verse quote
Could you post the references to these Old Testament decrees?: stoning to death 1) people who wear clothing made of two different threads, 2) those who work on the Sabbath and, of course, 3) those nasty non-virgin brides. I would like to consider your point in context, thank you.
March 01, 2010
Votes: +0

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