Heraclitus tells us that character is destiny. But what about naming — are names destiny? Is someone named Misty more likely to become a stripper? If you call a big marine mammal a killer whale, is it far more likely to kill its trainer?
That's a question for the philosophers. But there are more pressing legal, moral, prudential, and zoological questions: what do you do when a killer whale kills its trainer?
This could be a very complicated and frankly humorless discussion, cheering no one. So thank God for the American Family Association.
They think we ought to stone the killer whale to death. Actually, they think that someone should have done it several deaths ago. The whale in question, you see, is a serial killer whale.
What about the term "killer whale" do SeaWorld officials not understand?
If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone's misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.
Says the ancient civil code of Israel, "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)
So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn't know the animal was going to go postal on somebody.
I like the way the author is able to transition from "what part of killer whale do they not understand" to "every killer whale gets one free dead trainer" inside barely a paragraph.
Look, the Old Testament contains many ancient legal and social norms that are fundamental to the common law. But the Old Testament is not, itself, the law of this country. Many of its precepts find no echo in modern law — note, for example, the concept of ritual uncleanliness seen in the prohibition against eating the ox once we've stoned it. (I'm reliably informed that angry psycho oxen are delicious.) Sea World's conduct can be evaluated on legal and moral levels without resort to Mosaic law.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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