March 4, 2010


How very Old Testament of them:

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tilikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly's history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

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)

I'm still wrapping my head around how exactly this stoning would go. Setting aside the strange analogy to an ox, do they trap Tilly in some small tank, so he can't swim out of the way? Just how heavy are these stones that could kill an orca? Should SeaWorld sell tickets to this? Will just one really prolific rock thrower do, or do we need an army (after all this is a whale we're talking about)? Would it be Tilly's trainers that are supposed to do the stoning or is the American Family Association offering to help?

The mind reels. In fact, AFA has chastised SeaWorld for ignoring their Biblical responsibility to have destroyed Tilly earlier, as ThinkProgress points out:

The American Family Association, the powerful right-wing Christian political organization, blogged that, “If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed,” Beancheau would have never died. AFA blogger Bryan Fischer reasoned that according to Exodus, an animal like Tilikum should have been stoned back in 1991, and if biblical law were to be followed, the owners of Tilikum should be put to death:

Chalk another death up to animal rights insanity and to the ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture. [...] 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. 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)

Oh dear. How on earth do you reason with someone who pulls out the Old Testament to say that you should be killed for not destroying an orca?

For an antidote, the folks at Orca Network have a more reason-based perspective.

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