Brutal mass slaughter of pilot whales by Faroe Islanders

August 4, 2015 • 10:00 am

Here’s another story about gratuitous animal slaughter.

Since at least the sixteenth century, Faroe Islanders (the islands are nominally independent but run largely by the Danish government) have participated in slaughtering whales, both long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) and Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus). The whales are herded and beached by boats, or dragged ashore from shallow waters by gaffing, and then killed. As Wikipedia describes:

Once ashore, the pilot whale is killed by cutting the dorsal area through to the spinal cord with a special whaling knife, a mønustingari (spinal cord cutter), and after cutting it, the whaler must make sure that the whale is dead, he can do this by touching the whales eye; before he cuts the neck open, so that as much blood as possible can run from the whale in order to get the best quality of meat. The neck is cut with agrindaknívur, but only after it has been killed. The mønustingari is a new invention which has been legal to use to kill pilot whales with since 2011, and since 1 May 2015 it is the only weapon allowed to slaughter a whale. The length of time it takes for a whale to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, with the average time being 30 seconds. Other observers complained that it took up to fifteen minutes for certain whales to die, they noted several cuts were sometimes made before a successful death and that some whales were not even killed properly until a vet finishes the job.

The whale meat has traditionally been used as a source of protein in this barren land, but that’s no longer necessary. Further, some nutritionists recommend that because of its high levels of mercury, the meat be avoided altogether or limited to one meal per month.  But this “cultural tradition,” an extraordinary brutal one, is outmoded. Take a look at the video below to see what it involves, and imagine the fear and pain suffered by these intelligent animals.

According to both the Independent and Sea Shepherd (the latter an anti-whaling organization) the slaughter this year, on July 23, destroyed about 250 pilot whales, with the killers guarded by the Danish Navy. Five members of the Sea Shepherd organization ran onto the beach to try to stop the slaughter; all were arrested and, according to a new Danish law, face up to two years in jail. Is that a fair sentence? Not at all; what’s unfair and unnecessary is the slaughter itself.

I’ve long admired the Danish people and their enlightened society, but I can’t countenance this slaughter, nor the apparent glee with which it’s conducted. I’m sorry, but some cultural traditions become outmoded, and I can’t help but feel that many of the people in the video below (taken by Sea Shepherd members) are actually feeling great glee when they herd, gaffe, and dispatch these wonderful beasts.

The result:

Whale hunters in a sea of red. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Eliza Muirhead

76 thoughts on “Brutal mass slaughter of pilot whales by Faroe Islanders

  1. Norway, Japan, Iceland – add them to the list of whale-eaters. As you say, totally unnecessary in the 21st century. Perhaps akin to the use of ‘bush meat’ – eating chimps – in parts of Africa.

    1. I think it’s worse than the African bushmeat trade. You could argue that many of the African consumers of chimp meat etc. are genuinely poor and don’t have the luxury of being choosy about their food sources. The same is most certainly not true of Scandinavians or Japanese, all of whom live in wealthy, developed nations with plentiful alternatives to whale meat.

  2. It is sad and shocking just how many people in 2015 can be stuck in barbaric or superstitious, nonsensical modes of thinking/belief. Another example would be the slaughter of the Rhinos thanks to the primitive, superstitious (aka: FALSE) belief of many Chinese that the Rhino horns contain special ingredients.

    I’m becoming less impressed with humanity on a daily basis.

  3. The truly bizarre aspect of all this is that the Danes recently placed themselves in the forefront of putting concerns on animal welfare above those of “traditional practises”.
    Human hypocrisy once again rules human behaviour, as the Danes look upon whaling practices of the Faroe Islanders as a traditional practice but support it with gunboats.

    1. Hypocrisy as you say and not a little bit of nativism. Jews and muslims – think of the animals! Dane faroe islanders – think of the islanders!

      1. Faroe islanders have executive power over local affairs so little interference from Denmark and have been pursuing independence since the second world war.

  4. Cultural tradition? So when did this culture include the use of outboard motor boats to herd the whales to shore. Lots of motorized boats in the 16th century.

    Makes you sick….

    1. Its a valid point but not a good argument in terms of stopping the practice. Because let’s face it, if the world said “use 18th century technology to hunt the whales, or don’t hunt,” these countries would just pick the former and just as many whales would get slaughtered. What we really need to argue is that these traditions are not worth following any more, regardless of what technology is used; not that they are only worth following when done in the traditional way.

      1. This appears to be more of a celebration of a hunting tradition than an actual hunt, although I suppose it’s both. It does seem strange that they use motorboats. The best argument against this would be that the whales are endangered (if they are). The celebration is barbaric and uncivilized, but I’m sure the argument is that my opinion is subjective. Interesting that I had to sign-in to Youtube to prove I’m old enough to watch a video in which children participate in a slaughter.

        1. Wikipedia states that their status is ‘not enough data to determine.’

          IMO it’s a hunt. If people sitting scent-masked in a blind, shooting things with high powered rifles is hunting, then so is this. If you want to call it fishing, I guess I would have no problem with that label instead.

          Moreover, if the islanders really just wanted to celebrate the tradition without the technically hunting, why not celebrate it without the technically killing? Arrange a day when everyone goes out in boats amongst the pilot whales and feeds them squid, takes pictures, has a special meal, etc… instead. Have the mayor “pardon” the whales and give a speech thanking them for all they’ve given to the community, the way the President pardons a turkey every Thanksgiving. Dress up in traditional costume and tell stories to the kids. Do a symbolic dance. Heck at this point, I’d probably be okay with them killing one whale so that everyone in the community get a symbolic bite.

          It would be easy to celebrate the tradition without enacting a killing. These folks obviously don’t think its just about celebrating the tradition, they want specifically to enact traditional practices of killing whales.

          1. My point in the beginning. The lame excuse that this is a cultural tradition does not hold up. It is simply their legal point to continue the killing.

            Also, if you made the idiots go out there in a row boat and drive the whales to shore, they might find something else to do.

          2. Very good suggestions regarding alternate ways to celebrate the tradition. I didn’t intend to nit-pick the hunting vs. tradition question in an attempt to justify this abhorrent behavior. Either way I think it’s awful and the people look ridiculous. I can’t imagine the act of killing giving me a feeling of elation the way it looks to do for those in the video. They look evil to me. A hunter killing in order to eat would typically have more respect for his prey. I would think the overwhelming emotion gotten from a successful hunt would be gratitude and humility.

      2. …and just as many whales would get slaughtered.

        Probably not. Realistically, a muscle-powered hunt seems likely to draw fewer hunters, the hunters would tire much more quickly, and more whales would escape the slaughter.

        In fact the Makah tribe in Washington State has been pursuing a court case since 1999 to allow them to resume whale hunting using traditional methods (canoes and harpoons), with the goal of taking just one whale per hunt. In 2007 five Makah men got tired of waiting and went out in motorboats and shot a whale with a rifle. They were promptly arrested by tribal police.

        I agree that the ultimate goal should be to abandon the practice entirely, but that will probably require a generational change in attitudes. In the meantime, limiting the hunt to traditional methods could be an effective way to reduce the damage.

        1. Well in that case, I’m all for it. Though I suspect the Japanese would quickly become the world’s foremost experts in tall ship building and sailing.

  5. Oy! Barbaric rites, promoted in a vain effort to placate marginal non-urban populations as the world changes around them.

    Five members of the Sea Shepherd organization ran onto the beach to try to stop the slaughter; all were arrested and, according to a new Danish law, face up to two years in jail. Is that a fair sentence? Not at all; what’s unfair and unnecessary is the slaughter itself.

    Perhaps they should have had a longer sentence. They are no different from other terrorists (which seems to be an arguable category FWIW), except they don’t kill as much. I’m sure they precipitate unnecessary work place risk and accidents though. Barbarians too, that can’t abide by democratic societies.

    A pox on both their houses, in my opinion.

    1. “Barbarians too, that can’t abide by democratic societies.”
      Majority vote sets the moral imperative eh Torbjörn- that’s a pretty curious philosophical position and a really perverse way to calibrate ones own moral compass. By your reasoning anyone in democratically elected Nazi Germany but opposing Hitler would have deserved the similar disdain of being a mere “terrorist and barbarian”.
      I think you need to read some Sartre on the subject of personal culpability.

      1. I too would be interested in hearing more of Torbjörn’s thoughts on Sea Shepherd. But I think you are jumping the gun and putting words in Torbjörn’s mouth. The reasoning you set forth in your comment is yours, not
        Torbjörn’s. Torbjörn has made some statements with little context or explanation, which without further clarification could support many different reasoning scenarios.

        Why not ask him some questions to find out if your interpretation of him is accurate before answering him?

        1. Sea Shepherd is a NZ group, and at least one member has been imprisoned before in Japan for anti-whaling activity. There seems little doubt the actions that earned his conviction was both illegal and dangerous, and potentially put the lives of the Japanese whalers at risk. Our government was unable to do anything to help beyond the usual consular support because of that. I don’t know what they did here, but if their actions were dangerous, as they have been in the past, I can understand why they would’ve been arrested.

          That doesn’t mean I have any sympathy for the “cultural” practices, because I don’t. Cultures evolve, and there’s no valid excuse, imo, for this one to carry on.

          We have a similar situation in NZ. The original treaty between Maori and the British crown allows Maori to hunt certain birds and marine life for cultural purposes and some other purposes. Some of those species are now endangered. Recently, a very senior Maori killed an endangered native bird and when caught, said he was exercising his customary rights. Virtually all Maori condemned his action as the fact that the bird was endangered outweighed all other considerations. The man was forced to resign from several iwi (tribal) representative groups as a result.

          1. Slaughters like this by people from modern wealthy societies are particularly disturbing to me. There is no need for it, so basically it seems to amount to entertainment of some sort.

            1. I agree, I think that’s a big part of what makes it so disturbing – seeing these people revelling in the slaughter.

        2. “Why not ask him some questions to find out if your interpretation of him is accurate before answering him?”

          Point taken.
          Torbjörn’s post just hit a raw nerve… I’m a dedicated supporter of Sea Shepherd(that is financially – I don’t have the real bravery it takes to be an activist). I prickle at the term “terrorist” in any way being applied here.
          But it has always been a question in my mind, is it right to be breaking laws for a greater good – like interdicting whaling vessels at sea? But what it comes down to is that nothing else works. The new International Court of Justice ruling forcing a moratorium on whaling is almost wholly the effect of Sea Shepard militancy. What is the point of legality, when legality is certain to be totally and endlessly sterile?

          1. My point here had nothing to do with the Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling activities when they try to interfere with Japanese boats. I’m talking only about Sea Shepherders running onto the beach to stop the hunt. That is NOT TERRORISM, and it does NOT deserve a prison sentence. If Torbjörn thinks that this running onto the beach is jail-worthy terrorism, I’d expect him to explain.

          2. Definitely a tough question. The position that if it is illegal then it is never right to do it no matter the circumstances is unreasonable, in my opinion. I can think of all sorts of situations where I would do something illegal and consider myself to have taken the most ethical action available to me.

            As you say, the really hard part is figuring out where the lines should be in the first place and then deciding if a specific situation warrants you stepping over them.

            1. I think it is every citizen’s duty to change an unfair law and to break it if they can’t change it. It’s a form of protest to break an unfair law. I’m sure there were nasty laws throughout history deserving of being broken.

              1. Absolutely agreed — but with a caveat.

                In order for them to function at all, societies need people to put up with laws they disagree with. For example, you may feel passionately that it’s stupid to come to a full stop at a traffic signal when it’s obvious that you can make it across safely. However, we have ample evidence that, in societies where people regularly take liberties when their own evaluation says it’s safe but the law says otherwise, chaos rapidly ensues.

                So, you first need to question if your objections to the law really do rise above the bar of the harm it’ll cause to society if you flagrantly break the law.

                It was clearly worth it in the case of the protests of the Civil Rights Movement. Aside from something like Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers, I’m hard pressed to think of how it could even theoretically be worth it in the case of traffic laws.

                This particular case may well be worth it, but a lot would depend on how likely it’d be for them to succeed going through the regular legislative process. If a few letters to their representatives would settle the matter, then breaking the law would be a bad idea. If nothing will change until there’s as much human blood as whale blood in the water….


          3. While groups like Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, etc., occasionally are known to overstep the line, their greatest contribution IMO is attracting large amounts of publicity, which probably requires the occasional act of civil disobedience.

            Societies are slow to respond to slaughters until they’re viewable in their citizens’ own living rooms.

    2. Sea Shepherd are like terrorists except they don’t kill as much? I don’t think they’ve killed anyone ever, and I haven’t heard of them terrorizing people either. Perhaps illegal fishers are afraid of Sea Shepherd catching them on camera, but I think that’s about the extent of the fear they cause.

  6. In the wake of the outrage about Cecil the Lion, I ran across this article the other day:
    The desire for Tiger meat apparently is fueled by the false belief that the meat has special properties and is an aphrodisiac, which is also the reason for rhino horn poaching.
    Killing species like whales or tigers in service of unnecessary cultural tradition or
    misinformed superstition is intolerable. The Danish police in that video shouldn’t be arresting the protesters, they should be preventing the harvest.

    1. Boner medicine has led to the slaughter of many animals, including sea horses. Makes me more misanthropic.

      1. Even worse when one considers all the resources devoted to Western boner medications (which, at least, are actually effective) whilst so many other conditions struggle for attention.

        That is, it’d be great if we could get the Chinese to go all in for Viagra in favor of tiger penis powder…but it’d barely put a dent in the problem….


    1. I agree. Though with shark species vs. humans, I expect that no matter what we do they will outsurvive us. 400 million years vs. 1…and they survived the dinosaur comet. They can survive us.

  7. Were there an order of magnitude fewer humans on the planet, I would still object to such a practice but not find it quite as indefensible. But given the current conditions and the history of how we got to where we are, it’s nothing more than an in-your-face over-the-top naked display of utter depravity.

    The ethical arguments surrounding meat consumption are far more complex than most any vegan even wants to pretend to think about — it’s the exact same sort of ethical dilemma any mutually-dependent predator / prey pairing faces. Without lions eating the wildebeest, the wildebeest overpopulate and die even-more-horrific deaths of disease and starvation than they suffer from predation. Without humans raising farm animals, the species would go extinct, and in decidedly not-nice ways for the last generation.

    Where humans have the ethical edge on the lions is that we have the potential to give idyllic lives to our prey and minimize the end-of-life trauma. And, of course, that’s also where industrial-scale factory farming typically falls down — and why I shop at Whole Paycheck, where they have standards forbidding the worst of such practices and encouraging the best. The hens that lay the eggs I buy have it as good as my Mom’s backyard flock.

    But this sort of slaughter?

    Simply unconscionable.


    1. Except we’re not obligate meat-eaters. The fact that we can eat meat doesn’t mean we’re obliged to do so. Whatever dilemma applies to lions and tigers doesn’t apply to a flexible omnivore that only colonized beyond Africa evolutionarily recently. And even if we were obligate meat-eaters, that doesn’t automatically make the practice ethically right, unless you think the naturalistic fallacy is valid.

      “Without lions eating the wildebeest, the wildebeest overpopulate and die even-more-horrific deaths of disease and starvation than they suffer from predation. Without humans raising farm animals, the species would go extinct, and in decidedly not-nice ways for the last generation.”

      I don’t think that’s an ethical argument so much as an observation of what a shithole nature really is. In any case, it’s hard to apply in a situation where humans rear billions of livestock every year and devote more crop land to feeding livestock than to feeding people.

      Where humans have the ethical edge on the lions is that we have the potential to give idyllic lives to our prey and minimize the end-of-life trauma.

      If you agree to that, then would you agree to give more lenient sentences to human murderers who look after and care for their victims before killing them painlessly? Would Stalin have been a better person if he’d nursed his people to death in droves rather than starved them or left them to rot in gulags?

      I hate this whale-killing, but I’m not so sure it’s worse than what goes on in current global meat production, even if you set aside the cruellest practices, environmental damage, and large-scale wastefulness.

      1. Except we’re not obligate meat-eaters.

        …except that we actually are. Not to the extent of felines, and it would be more accurate to indicate that we’re obligate omnivores rather than obligate carnivores…but it really is part of our physiology.

        If you want to even have a chance of surviving on a vegan diet without developing all sorts of nutritional ailments, you’re going to have to rely significantly on manufactured meat substitutes, all of which are highly processed and nowhere to be found outside of the kitchen or laboratory. The best-known example from antiquity would be tofu, a wonderful food and a good component of any diet…but it’s high in carbohydrates and estrogen mimics and not something that’s healthy to rely upon as a sole or primary protein source.

        That same pattern continues with other non-animal-based protein sources…they’re often incomplete, lacking in essential amino acids. You typically get a lot of carbohydrates packaged with the protein, more than is a good idea. And, as with estrogen mimics in soy, you often get other “add-ons” that’re fine in the quantities and proportions associated with an omnivorous diet but become problematic when that’s all you’re eating.

        We’re just now starting to develop the technology to create meat in vats without any central nervous system to be conscious. That points to a potentially highly ethical future…but not with current population levels — the energy requirement isn’t sustainable. (Of course, the energy requirement for current factory farming practices isn’t sustainable, either.)

        And…even if somebody invented a magic fusion-powered device that synthesizes complete foods from raw inputs with the necessary elemental composition (water, air, and a source of carbon, phosphorous, and trace elements)…we’d still have all those currently-living farm animals to ethically deal with. We can’t just turn them free….

        The current optimal ethical solution remains the sort of ethical treatment standards that Whole Foods mandates for their products. The animals are given lives ranging from humane to luxurious (the eggs I buy are laid by hens who have it as good as those in my Mom’s backyard flock) and quick, painless, trauma-free deaths. When it comes down to it, that’s about all we can reasonably ask for for humans, as well….


  8. It’s shocking that a modern and successful country like Denmark not only allows this slaughter but actively protects it!

    1. I definitely don’t condone the hunt – it’s completely abhorrent. However, I wonder if rather than protecting the hunt, they were protecting the hunters, who included children.

      Laudable as Sea Shepherd’s goals are, many of their methods are not. They consider the end justifies the means. The hunters are probably at risk of being attacked by Sea Shepherd activists. Some might think that’s okay. I don’t. Either way, you (not you personally Diana – just a general you) can’t expect the police to stand by and let an attack occur.

      1. It depends on what the “attack” was. The cops could certainly have stopped the interference, but sending someone to jail unless they were trying to hurt someone (rather than just prevent the whales from being dragged in) is unconscionable.

  9. Disgusting! Its sad to think that most animals on our tables endure even more suffering than these poor whales.

  10. I was in the Faroe Islands briefly in 2013 on my way to Iceland. It should be noted that both countries also sell the meat to tourists in their restaurants. Sad.

    Iceland is facing more pressure recently (from the US) to stop the killing of rorquals (though the US allows it on a smaller scale in Alaska) but this is the first I’ve heard of a pilot whale kill in the Faroe Islands.

    I have hope that this is a soon to be extinct tradition.


  11. What a brutal species we are. I had a difficult time watching that.

    How many more wonderful species would be prowling around today if it weren’t for man? I’m sure there would still be some species of mega fauna…plus all the massive Atlas mountain species that were presumably killed off by the Romans for sport and coliseum entertainment. We’re not as bad as a massive asteroid, but we still have time to improve.

    In this present day we are truly a scourge to the planet. I’m not really hopeful that we’ll be able to save the Earth and thereby ourselves. I’m thankful I don’t have any kids.

    1. The Earth will be fine. The biosphere will change — but, then again, it’s in constant flux. A few dozen million years from now, the only readily-discernable evidence of our existence will be a rather unusual layer in the geological column.

      Humans and many of the species we care particularly about are most likely fucked, though. We could be indisputably on the way out in as little as century.

      It’s not inevitable, but the odds are definitely stacked against us — due in large part to us continuing to actively do everything in our power to destroy ourselves.


  12. The slaughter of big beautiful animals goes on and on. If it’s not whales by Danes, it’s the porposies by the Japanese. The Chinese pay enonormous sums for ivory and rhino horn and Americans shell out thousands of yankee dolars to hunt and hack off the heads of lions and buffaloes to hang on the walls of the hunter’s den.

  13. I’m a daily reader of this website/not-blog. I’ve also lived and worked in the Faroe Islands off and on for nearly a decade. So I find it fairly irritating to see so many completely-uninformed opinions and ad hominems being tossed around this thread unchallenged.

    One could certainly critique the value, morality, necessity, etc. of the Faroese pilot what hunt, but it should be obvious to a group of critical thinkers such as ourselves that basing one’s opinion on as partisan a source as this Sea Shepherd video is lazy at best.

    The Faroese I know and work with are, to a man and woman, lovely people — kind, thoughtful, gregarious, and giving. They are not a wealthy people, and much of the very-small population (there are fewer than 50,000 Faroese in total) live in small rural towns. The modern diet still consists of quite a lot of wild-caught foods — fish, seabirds, and whale; t’s not at all uncommon to see fish and whale hanging out to air-cure outside someone’s home. The Faroese are proud of their traditional foods, proud of the whale hunt and other traditional subsistence activities, and proud of the level of self-sufficiency they are able to maintain in what is really a fairly difficult environment.

    It seems (I might be wrong) that the whale hunt has taken on extra cultural significance in recent decades in part as pushback against the often ill-informed criticisms of the practice they receive from foreigners. The Faroese I’ve spoken with about the hunt point out that yes, of course there’s a lot of blood: these are relatively large mammals, and the entire pod is taken in a hunt. But the reason there is so much blood is that the animals are killed by severing the spinal cord, as doing so dispatches the whale very quickly, diminishing the suffering of the animal and lessening the danger of the hunt participants being knocked into next week by a thrashing tail.

    Again, one could make reasonable arguments against the modern practice, but you won’t get those from groups like Sea Shepherd. And neither should we be angrily dismissing an entire people as barbarians when most of the commenters on this thread never even knew the Faroe Islands existed until until a few hours ago.

    1. Let me see if I get your argument. This horrific, barbaric, cruel and completely unnecessary act is justified in your view because a) You’ve worked there. b) The people who live there are otherwise lovely. c) They are proud of it. d) The entire pod is killed.

      I’m sure the whales (sentient creatures who don’t want to die) feel much better now that you’ve cleared the air.

      You sir, lack empathy, and that is never a good thing.

    2. Thanks, Seth – I found your comment insightful and informative. Dennis’s link further down the page to an article by an islander was similarly interesting to read. It’s not that I condone whale slaughter (I’m a vegetarian, after all, and hate the idea of the suffering we inflict), but I can’t see why it should be considered so much more horrific and barbaric than, for instance, factory farming of pigs or chickens (or catching mice on sticky paper – what a horror!). The cultural argument bears some weight for me too – even if it is as simple as a community’s sense of self-sufficiency. Factory farming instead takes place behind closed doors in anonymous sheds so that most people are absolved of ever having to think about where their food comes from. I’ve been in the U.S. for over a decade, and I’ve yet to see a living pig.

      1. I fail to see the logic in this ubiquitous line of (ahem) reasoning. “It’s no worse than factory farms, therefore we shouldn’t condemn it.” If we agree that factory farms are cruel and horrible and immoral, then their equivalent (like this stupid whale kill) is also guilty of the same charge. Just because something equally terrible goes on day by day due to the moral sleep of the masses, doesn’t make this annual celebration of cruelty OK.

  14. I have eaten smoked whale meat from the Faroe Islands twice, and would – any day – rather eat that, than any meat from an animal factory in the USA or Europe. The hunt is one of the best-regulated and most sustainable harvests of a marine resource that you will find anywhere. Plus, don’t even get me started on the hypocrisy of ANYONE who eats pig from a modern farm, and also thinks the Faroese hunt is somehow immoral.
    It is a good story, lots of blood, yes – but also with the people who actually EAT the meat also KILLING the animals – with a much shorter time of stress and suffering than any animals transported from factories to slaughter houses.

    1. Your point about the hypocrisy of people who gladly eat factory farmed products. yet cry foul over this event is correct, but that doesn’t make this barbaric act any less barbaric. It’s just slightly “less worse”.

      1. In that case, I sincerely hope you are against any kind of hunting of non-endangered, free-range animals for the sake of eating them. I am pretty sure, ecological foot-print wise, it is a win for the planet that the Faroese people eat thousands of kilo of sustainably harvested wild meat occurring right outside their doorstep, rather than importing thousands of kilos of beef, pork, etc., raised on farms from the rest of Europe/the world.

              1. Exporting/transporting anything from Denmark (or elsewhere) to the Faroe Islands is expensive. Very. Small customer base, far away.

              2. Ahh, I failed to consider that. Then let’s continue slaughtering these sentient creatures. The sheer terror that they experience is surely worth a few dollars saved.

                Maybe they should move?

              3. Depending on which definition you prefer for ‘sentient’, plants fit the bill, too. So I wouldn’t ride too high on tall horses, even if you only eat plants. The inescapable fact is that energy flows upward through ecosystems, and that humans are part of ecosystems. We eat, live, shit & die. Humans have evolved as omnivores. It is not evil to eat meat, it is natural. Should we eat meat at all meals? Of course not, this is no longer sustainable (& hasn’t been for a wee few millennia). I don’t, and haven’t for a long while. Which means that when I treat myself to meat, I enjoy it. Tremendously. I respect people, who, for various reasons, don’t eat meat, ever. It is their choice. I do not respect that they tell people not to never, ever eat sustainably harvested animal resources. That is just, in my opinion, rude and rather fundamentalist.

            1. Depending on which definition you prefer for ‘sentient’, plants fit the bill, too.

              To be a candidate for potential sentience, the minimal requirement is a computational system, most obviously a centralized nervous system more advanced than a relatively simple cause-and-effect network, preferably a brain or ganglion. Since they lack any such structure, the only definition of “sentience” that would include plants – which, with the exception of a few carnivorous species, don’t even have basic nerve cells – is one concocted solely to suit a weak argument.

              It is not evil to eat meat, it is natural.

              1. That is a naturalistic fallacy, which in plain English means it’s complete nonsense.

              2. The fact that animals are sentient makes a further nonsense of the idea that killing them is OK. It may be necessary to prevent worse problems, but then so is killing one person to save five. It’s hardly a strong ethical argument, especially if you have the option of killing nobody.

              It is their choice. I do not respect that they tell people not to never, ever eat sustainably harvested animal resources. That is just, in my opinion, rude and rather fundamentalist.

              It’s not a question of what brand of ethics you think suits you. Ethics doesn’t work like that unless it’s meaningless. If it’s immoral to kill animals for nothing more than a taste buzz, then it makes no difference if you think it’s “rude” or “fundamentalist” to do so, any more than if you thought it “rude” or “fundamentalist” to tell people not to kill minorities or the disabled. Your complaint is little more than telling opponents to go away.

  15. While I like Tradition this one should be outlawed, there is absolutely no reason for it Culturally or otherwise,if the Science is correct and there are large amounts of Mercury in the Mammals s few of the Faroese dying from Mercury Poisoning might be a worthy price to pay to stop this Savagery.

    1. Yes, this one really stands to reason:

      “It is not up to others to decide, what is necessary for the Faroese and what is not.”

      Would their community really fall apart without this slaughter?

      1. “Would their community really fall apart without this slaughter?”

        And if it does fall apart? Tough?

        Talk about cultural imperalism of the latte-sipping liberal elite (And I am speaking as a left-leaning third world citizen).

        1. My question was to illustrate that if they abandoned this horrific practice, they would get on just fine. “We’ve always done it this way” is never a tenable proclamation.

  16. Million of pigs, chickens and cows in the US are treated far worse. At least in the Danish instance, the killing is over in a matter of hours. Factory farmed animals live are far more drawn out, painful existence.

    The slaughter of whales is terrible, but don’t you think some perspective is called for? Are the lives of the whales and their suffering more worthy of our pity and the Danes more deserving of our scorn than factory farmed animals and the meat-addicted US public?

    1. Yes, I abhor factory farming, but there is simply no need for whale meat. When slaughtering is gratuitous, as it appears to be for the whales, then I think a modicum more ire is called for. But yes, we should do all that we can to ensure that food animals are raised and treated humanely.

    2. While I agree with you that factory farms are the source of incredible suffering (which is why I never buy their products), why do the factory farms have to be “worse” in order to pour contempt on the whale slaughter? I don’t get that.

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