Christians want orca stoned to death

March 3, 2010 • 3:01 pm

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


73 thoughts on “Christians want orca stoned to death

  1. I don’t know how they’ll do it; marijuana is still illegal in most states and I don’t recall any stories of whales smoking stuff.

    It’s not surprising at all to see some jesus cultists promoting such violence though. They can’t even get any facts right – typical of the religiotards. What has the death of the trainer got to do with “animal rights”?

    I have no idea what to do with the creature; it can remain caged and people can feed it without getting near it. Another option is to put it out in the wild where it will likely not be accepted by wild pods and where it will keep returning to humans and making a nuisance of itself, inviting losers to shoot at it with small rifles, handguns, spear guns and what not.

    1. “I don’t recall any stories of whales smoking stuff.”

      Mr. Peabody: Why, Sherman my boy, you mean you’ve never heard of “sea weed”?

      (Apologies to Jay Ward.)

      1. Mr. Peabody: Why, Sherman my boy, you mean you’ve never heard of “sea weed”?

        Oh sweet memories. Very very well done sir!

  2. Of course, the Reich-wing Jaysus nut-bags have no use of critical thought or of reason and want to use their asinine interpretation of their book of fairy tales to do more damage.

    1. Does anyone really believe the people at the American Family Association wants to see either the Orca or its owners put to death? Who’s the nut?
      Is seems very clear they’re talking about the culpability of the Seaworld officials, who just crossed their fingers and hoped their cash-cow wouldn’t repeat its natural actions.

      Why such venom against religious people? Do you really believe they’re all so hateful, just because they disagree with you? Maybe the real nut-bag is he who equates Christians with one of the most evil, un-christian men ever to live (Reich-wing? come on).

      And why is it that so many of the “fairy tales” of the Bible are coroborated in the histories of so many other cultures – many of which are so respected as the Sumerians, the Egyptians and the Babylonians?

      Who’s the real “nut-bag”?

      1. Go read their web site. Then you will know. They are the haters. They proclaim hate for homosexuals.

        Fairy tales and myths are NOT histories. You can twist language to suit your agenda.

        What are they against:

        .”Indecent” influences in television (“Saturday Night Live,” “Roseanne,” “Nightline,” “NYPD Blue,” “Ellen,” and “Desperate Housewives.”, etc.)
        . The separation of church and state
        . Pornography
        . Disney
        . “The homosexual agenda”
        . Premarital sex
        . Legal abortion
        . The National Endowment for the Arts
        . Gambling
        . Unfiltered internet access in libraries
        . The removal of school-sponsored religious worship from public schools.

        So they are bigots who are unpatriotic and want to violate the constitution and they are biddies who want to control everyone else’s life.

        Yep, they are the haters.

        1. New England Bob: You are a mutant freak. You find everythind abnormal irrestible because you can’t handle the truth. Do the world a favor and move to another planet!

          1. So, VermontAl. You can not refute the things I say, so you resort to pathetic juvenile ad hominems. Your statement that I find everything abnormal to be irresistible is the height of stupidity from you. If you could comprehend, you would realize that those things are none of the haters business. They just want to run other people’s lives.

            That is the biggest problem with the fundagelicals. They should butt out. Who the fuck do they think they are to tell everyone else what to do?

            VermontAl – it is YOU who finds everything abnormal. I don’t care what others do, except when they try to control others’ actions. I am not an old biddy busybody like you appear to be.

            If you have something intelligent to say then say it with facts and logic and critical thought, otherwise no one wants to hear you spew.

  3. Wait a second. The holey scripture says nothing about whales. Wouldn’t that be “interpretating” the bible to apply the ox rule to the whale? And isn’t interpreting the holey book, rather than taking it literally, which the source of our moral decay?

    1. This is the point. The loons who claim to be reading the Bible literally really aren’t. They’re projecting their own interpretation on the words and calling it literalism.

      The law is specifically about oxen. Anyone who uses it to apply to dogs or cats or killer whales is reading something into the text that isn’t there. There is no such thing as a real Biblical literalists – just people who pretend to read the book literally while smuggling all kinds of their own personal self-projection into the text.

      1. It’s a neat trick they taught the “strict constructionists.” Though I admit, it’s harder with the Bible, given the number of times it contradicts itself.

      2. I’ve often made that point, but many religious people (even non-fundamentalists) choose to not understand.

      3. Jer,
        If you were living in ancient times under biblical law, and someone’s ram damaged your ram, you would for sure argue that the law about oxen applies to rams, too. Don’t deny it.

    2. It does say something about whales: if god doesn’t like you and you live near the ocean, watch out for those nasty things or they’ll swallow you whole. If you then suck up to god he’ll have the whale puke you out. Just ask Jonah.

    3. Nonsense! Science has proved the orca to be an ungulate! Therefor whatever the bible says about cows also applies to orcas.

  4. Argh. You don’t punish a wild animal for the stupidity of its keepers. I read that Tillikum was sold to Sea World (after the first human deaths) on the condition that it would not be a performance animal – just used for display and breeding. Sea World has shown itself very irresponsible in its handling of Tillikum. Perhaps the victim’s family should sue. As for Tillikum, it would be great if he could be rehabilitated to the point that he could survive in the wild. Otherwise, he should be for display only. Breeding from killer stalk just seems stupid.

    1. I don’t know what you mean by ‘killer stalk’ (presumably ‘stock’) – but how do you judge the animal’s temperament? Unlike dogs with bad temperament, this animal is not attacking anyone and everyone who gets near.

      1. Tillikum killed 2 trainers without evident provocation. I call that an unpredictable temperament, and something that should preclude it from being used to breed animals that will work closely with humans.

          1. Sea World is using a stud who has killed two trainers unprovoked to make more performing killer whales. You think that’s smart from Sea World’s perspective? You think Sea World wants more trainer deaths?

  5. Besides, how do they know Yahweh didn’t make the whale kill the trainer to enact his wrathful vengeance against those who keep large, intelligent, wild animals as slaves? Oh wait, their god doesn’t condemn slavery.

  6. LOL, Literal Ape! (#3) I was thinking the EXACT same thing. Ha!

    “Literal” is only literal in so far as it’s convenient for their imposition of control. I’m reminded of the quote that goes something like, “It’s amazing how often the ‘will of God’ matches the will of the believer.”

    1. It gets even better if you ever look at the Koran.
      It is just amazing how far out of his way “allah” goes to make sure prophet Mohammad will not have to impose any restrictions on his sexual desires.

  7. Read the next two lines and it even covers the important case of the ox killing someones slaves.

    “If the ox gores a male or female slave the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the ox must be stoned.” – Exodus 21:32

    Yup. They sure do quote a great source for morality.

  8. Lunacy of all kinds isn’t hard to find on the web.

    It seems to me the biggest problem is that Tillikum probably can’t be released into the wild.

  9. Do you ever think this really just a test? For instance, I read this and I start having to repeat to myself “forced sterilization of humans is wrong,” in a soothing, mantra sort of way.

    Which reminds me – has Sarah Palin addressed the shocking killing by the killer whale? I have my mantra all ready.

  10. In early 1600s Scotland (based on transcribed records I have read), in certain cases they hanged dogs.

    Normally it was when an individual was found crossing a sheep owner’s land without permission. He was given a small fine, told he could no longer own a dog, and the animal was executed.

    So it makes sense if you are culturally 400 years behind the times as American Family Org. obviously is.

      1. Capital punishment of animals is still in vogue. If a dog owner has a vicious dog which is not properly restrained, etc, the dog is usually killed.

  11. I have to say I have reservations about allowing the animal to live. I suppose one could arrange for it to be kept in conditions where the risks of another incident could be reduced to an acceptable degree, but only at the cost of an extravagant degree of security. What would the quality of the animal’s life then be? Presumably it would have to kept in complete isolation. I think the animal ought to be killed in as humane a fashion as possible.

    1. Not really, it already lives in a large enclosed tank, with a secondary tank it can be lured into (with food usually) and contained when the primary enclosure is being cleaned/maintained.

      The food is generally dropped in from above.

      It’s really no different from keeping an extra large Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocodile, but with the added benefit that it’s not going to crawl out on land and chase you.

      It would be pretty much child’s play for any halfway decent zoo to prevent any more incidents. They just need to not use it for Live Shows anymore.

  12. Do these people eat pork? Do they wear clothing of mixed fabrics? Do they light fires or do any of a number things traditionally prohibited on the sabbath?

    Oh, they only follow some of those hundreds of rules. Oh. Okay. Never mind.

    How do they decide again? It’s all in God’s book. It takes a lot of balls/guts/hutspa to pick and choose amongst the various rules one claims were given to them by the creator of the universe who could flood or salt-pillar or bear-maul or otherwise smite them for not following. Sorry, don’t get it. How are we supposed to take their brandishing of these rules seriously when they don’t take these rules seriously themselves. Jots and tittles indeed.

  13. I’m assuming Rightly Concerned applied the ox rule to the orca based on all the new molecular evidence showing cetaceans are descended from artiodactyls. 😉

  14. I’m reasonably sure that if by some magic I was shrunk to 5 inches tall my cat would eat me.

  15. Sorry guys, but this post contains 2 grave inaccuracies:

    Firstly: The AFA doesn’t demand the whale to be stoned.

    From their bible excerpt, they conclude:

    “So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death.“

    I think it is neither fair nor accurate to claim that they demand stoning.

    Secondly: I found no indication that the AFA (American Family Assiciation), where the article was posted, has any links to the Organisation “The Fellowship” (also known as “The Family”).

    I don’t want us to be vulnerable for inaccurate reporting.

    1. No, I don’t think there are any grave inaccuracies here. The AFA.net writer states there is an “ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture”. He then provides the practical scriptural counsel: an offending animal “shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” Now the scripture doesn’t mention whales, so maybe, the scriptural counsel is inapplicable to whales, but the AFA.net writer clearly thinks it is applicable to whales, so this is clearly a call for the whale to be stoned.

      On the second point, there is no mention at all of the “Family”, the secretive Republican religious group best known for it’s members’ sexual infidelities. Jerry does refer to the “American Family Organization”, an obvious lapsus for “American Family Association”, since there are three links to the American Family Association or articles about it in the article.

      1. The above two comments seem out of place in this thread, due to the fact that they actually include carefully considered thoughts. I’ll try to add to that–without any guarantee of success.

        I think this is an interesting example of the contrast between “traditional wisdom” (here the biblical codes, with the additional distinction of their claim to divine inspiration) and common sense, here based on an ethic of compassion.

        I don’t claim to know how dedicated the AFA is to some sort of cruel, literal stoning (the painful kind, as opposed to kind “everbody must get”). However, I’d like to avoid assuming the worst about their opinions, if only because that would make me look silly and reactionary. Instead, let’s say for the sake of argument that they are simply noting a principle of justice which might be as put as follows: since animals (oxen) are not as culpable for their actions as their owners, the owner must be held accountable for damage caused by the animal IF there is reason to believe the owner acted irresponsibly. In this case the owner’s mistake would be not insuring that a known killer (the ox) was rendered harmless.

        When translated into the language of primitive nomads who seem rather dedicated to the concept of stoning, we get the bible verses. It is surprising how much of the common sense is actually preserved! Translated into the lingo of a much more compassionate age, we find suggestions of simply limiting the contact of the animal with humans in the future. In other cases, such as for demonstrably dangerous dogs, there may be the need for humane euthanization. The question is pragmatic and compassionate at once: how should we deal with a dangerous animal which itself has a conscious mind? If the danger can be removed without causing the animal suffering, and without causing collateral suffering (here there may have to be an accounting of the cost in limited resources) then the animal may live.

        1. Ah, but in this instance the dominion claimed over the animal is not for the practical purpose of an oxen – a domesticated animal, by the way – to plow fields. This is a case where a wild animal is put into captivity (or bred there.) The amazing thing is it doesn’t happen more often. These animals are under stress and live performances are loud – both the announcers and the crowd. I’ve only seen video footage, but even that was really loud. For an animal with a keen sense of hearing this is an additional stressor. So human put this wild animal under chronic stress and the wild animal reacts to that stress. There is no need for the human to have done this and, in fact, it isn’t wise. In addition, the only persons at risk for being harmed are the animal are those putting the animal under stress – no neighbors are going to get chomped. This situation does not in any way fall under the passages they cite.

          The problem, to my mind, is that this is not leading to a discussion of the very practice of keeping these animals in captivity for the purposes of entertainment. Whether looked at from an animal rights perspective or as possible OSHA violations, these tragedies should make us at least argue it out fully. The “stone the orca” crowd are actually preventing that from happening, and letting Sea World off the hook. (All they had to say was they wouldn’t kill the whale.)

          I don’t think anyone ever truly cared whether they killed the orca per the bible, but they did care about changing the focus of the debate. We let them control the discourse far too often, and we continue to the pay price for it.

          1. Very good points. To sum up: even giving the AFA the benefit of imagining that they are simply pointing out an ancient bit of ethics (you are responsible if you know your animal is dangerous and do nothing), there is still the problem that they are applying the wrong bit of ethics!

            I agree–it would be sad to lose an opportunity to discuss the morality of the “domestication” of orcas in a rush to discuss whether this particular orca was handled responsibly. In some sense the questions are linked–“what sort of domestication or use of animals for any purpose, given the experience of the animal, is ethical?” is linked to the same question with “given the human outcomes” between the commas.

  16. I would like to ask the other trainers at Sea World, “What will it be like looking every day at the animal that killed your friend?”

        1. Perhaps the poor fellow was checking the oil level, with a borrowed implement. Both were lost in the catastrophe.

  17. Duh,
    Why take instruction from THAT work of fiction. What does Beatrix Potter have to say on the subject?
    Give it a cup of camomile tea and send it to bed.

    1. They’re whales and they’ve been observed to kill other large animals such as some sharks, dolphins, seals, and even whales. The “killer” part is somewhat unfair really – many animals have to kill other animals to survive. The balleen whale is a mass murderer – it kills many millions of shrimp each week.

      Many (most?) animals have their bad days and behave badly; if you work with animals, especially large ones, there is always the risk that they’ll try to kill you – it’s just something they do. Captive big cats maul performers every now and then (such as Siegfried and Roy) and a few zoo folks have been killed by big cats in the past few years. Other animals just do that sort of thing, just like people.

  18. You know, stoning that whale to death isn’t the most unpleasant thing: just give that whale lots of fish that is laced with hashish; eventually it would get too mellow to remember how to use its blowhole.

    Hey, there are worse ways to die…

  19. It is quite demagogic, or maybe you didnt notice, to say “Christins want orca..etc.”. You should have used the name of the group that advocates stoning, to be fair and precise.

    1. But, Christ is the root – of all evil. However, the Xians may not be bright enough to figure it out.

  20. Read the book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist”. Then you will have a different attitude towards what Christians are trying to accomplish with their children.

  21. I just have one thing to say. You people are going against this just because its in the Bible. You call us haters. You guys are the haters! Calling us religiotards and this and that. Like I said before you guys are just against this because its in the bible.

    You guys say that we should treat animals like just another human? or some others might even say that animals are humans or vise versa.

    Now tell me this if a pitbull attacks and kills an 11 year old boy what happens to the pitbull. They euthanize him. Right?
    OR
    Lets say a man kills another man what happens to the man that murders the other man? He is sentenced to death!

    Its all in the law. Am I right or what? Or do you think that we should all go around killing and there be no consequence?

    You guys are just hating on anything that shows up in this “Fairytale hoax book”

    If its such a fairytale, why is almost everything that Revelation talks about going on today?

    1. Thank you for not actually reading any of the posts above.

      As for dogs who become vicious, in almost every case we should be holding the sadistic owner accountable for maltreatment of the animal as well as public endangerment.

      Frankly, I don’t care what book you cite to mistreat sentient beings, I’ll call you on it. If you must live by mythology try reading Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully. It’s based on your myths, but at least it calls for more respect for the natural world.

  22. Stupidity knows no bounds and doesn’t pick sides. Read the entire article concerning the Biblical advice. The author does not recommend stoning some form of humane euthanasia. But killing the animal is not necessary either so he misses the point too.

    Highroad people, ridicule and more ignorance adds to the problems.

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