De l’hypocrisie et de la chasse à la baleine

Il y a trente ans, des bateaux de pêche australiens tuaient, avec la bénédiction du gouvernement, des cachalots au large des côtes occidentales de l’Australie. Le mois dernier, l’Australie prenait la tête des protestations internationales contre le programme de pêche du Japon, comprenant notamment la mise à mort de 50 baleines à bosse. Le Japon, face aux pressions croissantes, a annoncé qu’il suspendrait son programme de chasse à la baleine pour un an ou deux. L’opinion publique a radicalement modifié son attitude concernant la chasse aux cétacés, et pas seulement en Australie.

Lorsque Greenpeace a commencé à manifester contre la chasse à la baleine par les Australiens, le gouvernement a nommé un juge à la retraite, Sydney Frost, pour prendre la tête d’une commission d’enquête sur ce type de pêche. En tant qu’Australien concerné et que professeur de philosophie spécialisé dans l’éthique du traitement des animaux par les humains, je lui ai soumis un avis.

Je n’ai pas affirmé que la chasse à la baleine devait cesser parce que ces animaux sont menacés de disparition. Je savais que de nombreux experts et biologistes marins abonderaient dans ce sens. Mon argument était plutôt que les baleines sont des mammifères sociaux avec des cerveaux importants, capables de jouir de la vie et de ressentir de la douleur, non seulement la douleur physique, mais sans doute également la détresse liée à la disparition d’un membre du groupe.

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