Tuesday 14 Aug 2018 | 19:02 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 14 Aug 2018 | 19:02 | SYDNEY

The fun of finding fault with others


Sam Roggeveen


8 January 2010 15:17

One sentence in Malcolm Cook's post about whaling jumped out at me:

The Japanese media's response so far to Australian reactions to Japanese whaling is not to shine a critical light on Japan's own practices but to seek out superficially similar actions in Australia and to mount culturalist counter-arguments.

That instinct is not confined to the Japanese media. Consider this piece from yesterday by Age columnist Tim Colebatch, on the other controversy occupying Australia's diplomats at the moment:

In 2007, according to India's National Crime Records Bureau, 32,318 people were murdered in India...In a category of its own, 8093 brides or their relatives were killed in ''dowry deaths'' - murdered by greedy grooms and in-laws angry over the amount of dowry paid by the bride's family. And there were a further 27,401 attempted murders. By contrast, in 2007, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports, 255 people were murdered in Australia. Another 28 were victims of manslaughter, and 246 survived attempted murders. No dowry deaths were recorded.

On the substance of the whaling issue, the Japanese surely have a point with their 'culturalist counter-arguments'. Given the large-scale cruelties tolerated in our livestock industry, it is clear that Australia's objections to whaling are built on rank hypocrisy. If a particular whale species is not endangered, on what grounds can we object to hunting them while at the same time we accept, say, the culling of kangaroos and the battery farming of hens?

That doesn't mean the Government is morally wrong to pursue the whaling issue — hypocisy is a lesser sin than the whale hunt. But it does mean our arguments can be easily dismissed.