Monday, August 25, 2008

Reference: Attitude toward whales undergoes sea change, Bangkok Post, August 25, 2008

Rich liberals in the West are in the grip of a Bambi complex - an irrational desire to save cute wildlife at all cost. Recently, a baby whale nicknamed Colin became lost and began following a boat as if it were his mother. Colin was eventually killed to end his misery but not before an extravagant international effort to save him was exhausted. In this instance, it is easy to see Bambiism as irrational (Attitude toward whales undergoes sea change, Bangkok Post, August 25, 2008) but that is not always the case. Bambi activists tend to wrap themselves with an aura of goodness. To speak against them one risks being bad. The effort by Greenpeace to singlehandedly enforce a permanent ban on commercial whaling is an example. To the activists, whaling is sinful because whales are cute. No rate of whale culling, no matter how small or sustainable, is acceptable to them. Yet it is hard to speak out against them because they are doing good by definition. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) started out with the idea that farm animals should be treated humanely but has morphed into an extreme vegan movement that wants to eliminate meat consumption altogether because these animals are too cute to eat, just as they oppose the seal hunt because baby seals are too cute to kill; but they are protected from rational criticism because the force of goodness is with them. Environmental extremists preaching global warming follow the same pattern saying that they stand for goodness and that the fossil fuel industry stands for badness. To question them is to risk being evil so much so that even though their data have run out of steam, the movement continues forward on nothing more than bureaucratic inertia and an unassailable aura of goodness.

Cha-am Jamal

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