We’ve talked a bit about the tragedy at SeaWorld, where the orca Tillikum dragged his young keeper underwater, mauling and drowning her. Animals that killed people used to be executed, sometimes quite gruesomely (see the sad tale of Mary the Elephant). But I think most readers of this forum wouldn’t want Tillikum executed. Putting a wild, free-swimming carnivore in a small tank is bound to pose dangers for people who take care of it, and, unlike cases in which free-roaming predators may develop a taste for humans, it would be relatively easy for people to avoid dangerous interactions with Tilly in the future.
But one group feels otherwise. The Rightly Concerned website, an arm of the religious, right-wing American Family Organization, has called for not only the execution of the orca, but death by stoning. Why? Because the Bible says so:
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. . .
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.
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)
Right Christian of these folks. But hey’d need a crane and one big boulder to do the proper Biblical job on Tiliikum!
Fortunately, SeaWorld is not full of these loons. As HuffPo reports dryly, “Sea World has no plans to execute Tilly.”
h/t: Daniel Matute