What’s the Difference?

There’s been outrage across the world over the revelation that an amusement park in Japan froze thousands of fish and other sea creatures under its ice rink.  The idea was to create the illusion that the fish were swimming underneath the ice, but this grim attraction prompted an immediate backlash from the public with people branding it “disgusting.”  And it is disgusting.  It shows a massive lack of respect for life, and once again highlights the way people constantly try to commoditise animals in the name of profit and entertainment.

But it’s not the frozen fish stunt that got me thinking, it’s the reaction from the public.  I have no doubt that there are vegan and vegetarian voices amongst the chorus, but I’m equally sure that many of those who claim to be outraged by this debacle are the same people who would visit a fish market, buy their produce, and not think anything of it.  What’s the difference?  Fish in ice versus fish on ice.  You skate over one, you eat the other.  It’s a case of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance
Noun PSYCHOLOGY
The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.

So what’s the difference between dead fish under an ice rink and dead fish in a freezer?  They’re both dead, but one is acceptable and one isn’t.  The norms and values held by the majority of our society dictate that it’s OK to eat a dead fish, but it’s not OK to use their bodies for ornamental display.  But that doesn’t make sense.  You can’t be upset about this amusement park’s actions, and then go and grab yourself a tuna steak from the fridge.  Sure, you can throw the “humans need meat to survive” argument at me but unless you’re living in the back and beyond of nowhere and rely on hunting your food to survive then I call bullshit on that.

The frozen fish fiasco is just one example.

People get very upset about the Yulin Dog Fesitval but don’t seem to be able to draw comparisons with factory farming.  We’re a dog loving country that sees these animals as companions, but pigs, who are just as intelligent and sociable as dogs, are seen as food.  Both are animals who feel love, pain, and fear, but one is treated as part of the family and the other is butchered.

Fur is often frowned upon, but leather is acceptable.  They’re both cruel.  They’re both unnecessary.  Why are people shocked by Angora rabbits screaming as their fur is pulled out but not at the idea of carrying around a bag made of skin.  Is it because rabbits are “cute”?

We’re conditioned to believe that certain behaviour is acceptable.  Not many people are going to throw a baby kitten on the barbeque, but a lamb?  Go for it.  Because kittens are friends and lambs are food.  We’re told that we’re supposed to eat animals.  We’re told that we need to eat animals.  Meat is packaged and marketed in such a way that we become disconnected from the animal that it used to be.  It’s not a cow, it’s beef.  It’s not a pig, it’s bacon.  And nuggets bear very little resemblance to the chicken it used to be.

The reality of animal cruelty is well hidden, but even when the facts become apparent people want to look the other way.  It’s too inconvenient.  It’s too hard.  We should be outraged by this amusement park’s blatant disregard for life, but we should also consider the bigger picture when it comes to the consumption of fish and other sea creatures.  We live in a world where super trawlers are scraping the ocean clean, and sea life is depleting at an alarming rate.  The demand for “good value” seafood is unrelenting, and we’re literally killing the ocean.

Using dead fish to decorate an ice rink is tasteless and sad, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing compared to what the human race is collectively doing to nearly every other species on this planet.

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