Just over a week ago, I attended a “Fish Sentient?” Symposium at the University of Guelph. One of the speakers was a University of Edinburgh researcher who believes that fish are conscious and have the capacity to “suffer.”
Prior to the event, I had emails of concern from a number of interested parties, including other fly anglers and folks who enjoy the outdoors, typically in the past referred to as “sportsmen,” – but it should be noted that not all of those communicating with me were men. There were a number from women as well.
In many of those emails, there was a concern that people such as the Scottish researcher wanted to do away with angling all together and maybe even promote public policy regarding eating meat.
Now, my own mind disagrees very much with the opinion of the Scottish researcher. However, I did point out to some of my email correspondants that the researcher said she was not “anti-angling” at all; but did not like the practice of “Catch And Release.”
I also pointed out that this researcher was seen chomping away on chicken wings in an informal get together after the Symposium.
There are two major philosophical movements in regard to “humane treatment” of animals. One is “animal rights,” the other is “animal welfare.” In some instances, it is hard to tell the difference between the philosophies, and there certainly is some “cross-over” thought.
Some of my correspondants referred to the Scottish researcher as an “Animal Rights” supporter. Now, when I point out that this is incorrect, and make a statement to the effect that, “She is not anti-angling, and appears to have some empathy towards anglers” does that mean that I have now become one of her “endorsers, defenders, or supporters?”
I personally find her conclusions to be strange and illogical. And I do fear that her beliefs may have negative impacts on me, or at least my children with regard to an activity I love to participate in. In fact, there are probably anglers who would voice a sense of “hatred” towards this researcher.
I wonder if some of those anglers will now characterize me as her “supporter” for pointing out some facts about her. Hell, I guess I’m really done for when I admit that I even invited her out for a few hours of fly fishing in the Grand River before she went home to Scotland!
It’s amazing what sorts of opinions folks will create in their minds when they take statements out of context, twist your words, or tell you yourself what you “should do” or what you should say, because of one’s own philosophy about life and politics is.