The Cove Movie – telling the truth

The Cove is now showing at The Paradiso in Perth and other Australian theatres. This is a movie about dolphins

Dolphins appeal to everyone with their gracefulness, intelligence, ability to communicate, and apparent sense of family and community. It also seems that they have a natural desire to please, an instinctive trust and, it would seem from the stories that are told, a desire to protect.

Thus it is, in return, that we trust, and want to protect. This is good. There seems to be a natural affinity for our mammalian aquatic creatures.

How tragic it is then when that trust is betrayed.

The Cove tells the story of the slaughter of dolphins at Taiji in Japan.

Gary Adshead wrote of this in his article The Killing Cove (West Weekend Magazine 6 December 2008). Between September and April each year and as part of a 400yr old tradition, 2300 dolphins are herded into a bay and a barrier is raised across the entrance. The word pictures are enough to convey the gruesome detail: From our eyrie, we could clearly hear the dolphin’s piercing screams. The green sea turned crimson red… the thrashing tails quietened as the mammals lost their fight for life.

The Japanese go to great lengths to hide the slaughter from prying eyes as this article and the movie shows. But it may be that once again, despite deceit and opposition, the truth will win out with visual images as it did with the napalm girl.

Yes, there are risks in the getting of the story and pictures and sometimes risks of retribution. There are also risks of misplaced censorship – not just in the country that is trying to protect its traditional industry and its autonomy – but also in the country that does not want to offend its neighbour or trading partner, and sometimes news censorship because the facts and pictures are considered too gruesome.

So the drama is played out: broken trust; intrigue; deceit; anything but the truth; danger and condemnation for its revealing; opposition from industry; the risk of being misunderstood and dividing friends and family and community. At least here we survived the whaling ban. It seems like a bad memory now. It is true that one generation’s original thought or change in attitude becomes the next generation’s truism. Even attitudes to smoking have changed. Education. Let’s tell the truth.

Except for abortion that is.

How can it be that telling the truth about abortion is considered by many to be a greater felony than the actual killing? Killing by powerful suction or dismemberment or in-utero murder by lethal injection of potassium or puncturing the skull and sucking out the brain. No anaesthetic is provided even in late pregnancy. We can go into greater detail but we take the risk of alienating our friends and dividing the community as in Taiji. But this detail is nothing compared with some of the actual photos of dismemberment.

How can it be that we defend this in the name of autonomy and choice? Not just 2,300 times annually but 80-100,000 times? How can it be that Emily’s List gloated after the Abortion bill was passed in Victoria last year that women in all areas of Victoria will be able to access safe, legal terminations free from persecution; and medical practitioners provide vital reproductive health services to women free from harassment?

How can it be that we betray the most helpless of humans? Our animal activist friends get really upset when they see a dolphin or whale foetus cut from its mother and rightly so. Yet these are frequently intact and have not been shredded or pulled apart. How can it be that our society is so schizophrenic that we get upset about dolphin slaughter yet rabidly defend our right to kill our unborn babies?How can this be?

It may be that this battle too may be won with word pictures and visual images and a new generation will thank us and wonder why the truth was withheld for so long.

Lachlan Dunjey. August 2009.

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