Justice for Captives made local and international news yesterday with their protest at Sea World in the Gold Coast. It’s fantastic to see this kind of activism, and I have a lot of respect for the people who put themselves out there and stand up for the voiceless.
The action gained a lot of coverage, and with it, a lot of commentary. I read some articles, I watched some news, and felt saddened that most of the focus seemed to be on how the activists ruined a day of family fun. Mainstream media constantly miss the point.
On Weekend Today, one of the presenters asked how we would feel if we’d paid to get into a attraction only to have our experience ruined by protesters? The more pertinent question is how would you feel if you were snatched from your natural environment and forced to live in a tiny tank?
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on the news articles, and was horrified by the number of people expressing outrage that animal activists should have done this. So many people were in agreement that families have a right to choose their entertainment, and that others have no right to spoil this for them. It’s the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears, going “la la la la”, and refusing to acknowledge anything that might stop you from having a good time. It’s another example of the greed that is prevalent in our society.
The news reported that audience members angrily turned on protesters, furious that their entertainment had been interrupted. Can’t they see that the activists are furious too. Furious that beautiful, sentient beings are being help captive in tanks just so that mum, dad, and junior, can have a nice day out. There’s nothing nice about watching animals forced to perform. These activists are attempting to raise awareness and trigger a reaction in people to get them to question the idea that dolphins in tanks is normal. They’re trying to help the ill-informed understand that keeping animals in captivity is barbaric and archaic. Poor you if your day got interrupted. I’m glad it got interrupted. You shouldn’t be going to those shows in the first place.
There’s such an awful sense of privilege and inward thinking when you hear people talk about their right to see animals in captivity. What about a dolphin’s right to glide through the ocean? What about a whale’s right to travel freely? Who are we to imprison these animals? Many of us drive a car, have a roof over our heads, don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from us. We have TVs, internet, computers, running hot water. We are so wealthy and yet still we demand more. And we demand more at the expense of others.
I hate the way that activists are vilified for standing up against the masses. Just because something has been done in the past, or just because a lot of people do it, doesn’t make it right. These protesters have the strength to call people out on their actions. And people don’t like that. They don’t like being made to consider their actions. It’s inconvenient. It spoils their fun. But you have to take responsibility for your choices. And if you choose to buy a ticket to Sea World then you choose to support animal cruelty.