Memo to SeaWorld: Having Sean Hannity champion your cause does not exactly advance your argument that you deeply care about the animals in your keep. Rather the opposite.
Hannity hosted a segment last week purportedly to debate a proposed new law in California that would ban performances by orcas in the state and require marine parks to begin the work of returning wild-born orcas to their native waters. We say "purportedly" because, as with all things Hannity, this wasn't a debate. It was another piece of sexist bullying masquerading a right-wing performance art.
Hannity invited two women on to debate the subject: former Sea World trainer Bridgette Pirtle Davis, and Lisa Lange of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the latter of whom probably came on thinking she might get a chance at a fair shot to air her views on Hannity's show. Hah. It wasn't long before she realized that no such shot existed.
After interviewing Pirtle Davis, who now defends SeaWorld after having been at one time part of the group of ex-trainers who appeared in the documentary 'Blackfish' before her appearances were edited out, Hannity turned to Lange and before she could even say a word, handed her a turd of an opening remark:
HANNITY: Does PETA really stand for People Eating Tasty Animals?
It quickly went downhill from there. Hannity quickly made it clear he wasn't interested in discussion the details and core issues of orca captivity. No. All he really wanted to do was get someone from PETA on so that he could attack the people who proposed the legislation as a bunch of kooks. Because he then set out to make sure that everyone knew that PETA as an organization has taken a lot of stands on animal rights that people will consider nutty.
There's a problem with this: PETA is not involved in the California legislation at all. The Animal Welfare Institute, in fact, is the organization that is providing the primary guidance for the legislators writing this bill, and those efforts are being overseen by a genuine orca scientist with deep knowledge of both wild and captive orcas, Naomi Rose.
But then, Rose probably knew better than to ever appear on Fox, and evidently no one warned poor Lisa Lange.
Just interesting, perhaps, is the appearance of Pirtle Davis on Hannity's show as a critic of the legislation, who ignorantly (and falsely) accused the advocates of the legislation of wanting to simply turn the animals loose in the sea. (This is a baldfaced lie.)
She also defended her former boss now, completing her circuitous transformation into a complete circle, having once been a severe critic of SeaWorld.
"I didn't feel the animals were mistreated," she told Hannity
Well, here's what Pirtle Davis told an interviewer back when she was part of the 'Blackfish' team and before she found she could reap more attention by going on Fox and attacking SeaWorld's critics:
Had I allowed myself to take in the bigger picture of orcas and marine life parks, maybe ten years spent coming to this realization that captivity is immoral would have been spent creating change soon enough to prevent lives like Alexis and Dawn being lost.
... Ultimately, the same concerns voiced as a result of Dawn's accident had been voiced after incidents in the past. Lessons not learned and continually disregarded. Many of those taking care of the animals are fighting for less responsibility to be placed upon their ever-drooping dorsal fins.
Show schedules, public interactions, and dining obligations create a strain on animals already in a highly stressed environment. They are proudly introduced as "ambassadors" but they are simply work horses for a profit hungry industry desperate to remain relevant in a society that has already begun to recognize we have moved past such a trite necessity.
Now Pirtle Davis -- whose interviews in 'Blackfish' were left on the cutting-room floor -- has found that she can get more media time by turning back and re-embracing that profit-hungry industry. We wish her lots of luck with that. And we hope she really enjoys being in the company of Sean Hannity and his nasty, bullying ilk. Serves her right.