I know it’s been three days since I first got wind of this kerfuffle, but I had to say something about it, and now was the chance I had to. Of course, I realize this post just sends more attention the way of yet another celebrity who tends not to think before she speaks or acts, but this latest example of celebrity stupidity can actually encourage the public at large to continue a dangerous pattern of selfish thought patterns and behaviour, so I have to say something.
Full disclosure: I’m a vegan, but I’ve stopped supporting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) quite a few years ago, because I don’t approve of their methods, and what I recently learned of their hypocrisy. That said, I’m not going to let Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq’s comments about seal hunts go unanswered.
First off, the seal hunt: Before I started writing this post, I did what Ms. Tagaq should have fucking well done before the Polaris awards on September 22–that is, some research. I’m not going to go into PETA’s position on Indigenous seal hunts, but, when I typed ‘Indigenous seal hunts vs. commercial seal hunts’ into Google (another reason Tagaq has no excuses here), the first result was a web page from the site for International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who–unlike Tagaq, who apparently buys the bull being spouted by commercial seal-hunting interests–actually distinguishes between aboriginal subsistence seal hunting and commercial seal hunting, and has nothing against aboriginal subsistence seal hunting, while opposing ‘a government hiding a cruel and wasteful, large-scale industrial slaughter behind aboriginal subsistence hunting, deliberately blurring the distinction between the two. ‘ Like Tagaq did at her Polaris awards acceptance speech, in her bid to make eating and wearing seal trendy. Because that’s why seals exist–to be killed to create trendy status items for homo sapiens sapiens.
Something you would have learned, Miss Tagaq, if you had, as my Grade Nine history teacher once admonished my class, done your bloody homework: Aboriginal seal hunts target mainly adult seals, occur during the summer months, and kill fewer than 1,000 seals per hunt, whereas commercial seal hunts take place earlier in the year and kill thousands of seals, most of whom are less than three months old (I got this information from IFAW’s web site ‘Aboriginal seal hunts’ page, by the way). Also, the European Union seal-products ban makes an exception for Indigenous hunters. Just so you know.
As if that wasn’t enough, Tagaq dared to respond to her critics with this Twitter message: ‘I had a scrolling screen of 1200 missing and murdered indigenous women at the Polaris gala but people are losing their minds over seals.’ You may also be surprised, Miss Tagaq, that a lot of people in this world do not prioritize some issues over other issues. Also, this instance of attempting to use one issue to silence critics of your comments about another issue is an example of how your logic can, and often will, be used against you. Let me give it a whirl: I don’t know why you bothered with the scrolling screen of missing and murdered Indigenous women when the anniversary of the suicide of Amanda Todd, the Port Coquitlam teenager who committed suicide because she was bullied and cyberbullied, is coming up; and let’s not forget Retaeh Parsons, the Nova Scotia teenager who committed suicide after she was raped and images of her rape were circulated, and she was bullied and cyberbullied as a result. See how that works? Personally, I believe getting to the bottom of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is just as important as ending bullying and cyberbullying. I also happen to think that ending any and all commercial hunts–of any nonhuman animal–and developing economies in more positive ways is important. Notice I said commercial in the previous sentence. The point being, Ms. Tagaq, most people are not single-issue people.
I’ve also girded my loins and had a look at Tagaq’s Twitter feed, and thus know Tagaq retweeted a couple of tweets from an individual which stated people protesting animal slaughter should protest factory farming, and that seals are free-range, and thus live good lives before being ‘humanely killed,’ and she would eat seal meat instead of meat from a factory farm. Like being free-range makes commercial killing better? And also, the mostly infant seals killed in commercial hunts are not humanely killed–they are clubbed to death. Plus, ‘humanely killed,’ unless you’re talking about euthanasia, is an oxymoron. And I know that the majority of people, like myself, who protest commercial hunts are also against factory farming–those who know about factory farming, anyway. Apparently, like Tagaq, this individual has not done her homework. Way to go, Tanya Tagaq–seek support from at least one person who is just as ill-informed as you are. That’s what’s called an echo chamber.
I’d like to conclude that the only reason I responded to this particular celebrity nitwit–out of the thousands I normally leave twisting in the wind, because they don’t need any more attention–is because I feel the ideas she is spreading about the killing of innocent animals–and apparently without doing any research on the issue–are dangerous. Honest subsistence hunting is, as far as I’m concerned, necessary for certain segments of the population, so far be it from me to stop them. Commercial culling–the kind of hunting, killing, etc. done for human entitlement and the almighty buck–needs to end. And public figures like Tanya Tagaq need to inform themselves about issues before speaking about them.