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Op-Ed: How I relate to the dolphin and whale killers in Taiji, Japan

By Richard Smith     Sep 20, 2014 in Environment
I have taken part in the killing of approximately 156,000 pigs. It is not something I am proud of, but it is something in my past I cannot change. To say I can remember each pig's face as they looked at me would be a lie.
However, I do remember some that haunt me. Today I will not speak about what I did, how I did it, or how I sleep at night, that is a different blog altogether. What I speak about today is how I can relate to the dolphin and whale slaughterers in Taiji we call monsters and psychopaths.
The Taiji dolphin cull began last week, an annual tradition that raised the ire of activists around the world when it was brought to light via the documentary The Cove.
Did you know researchers believe and have borderline concluded that a middle aged pig is believed to be as smart as a child between the ages of 4 and 6 years old? There is also some researchers who have placed a pig's intelligence only second to chimps, with dolphins and whales coming behind them in 3rd place. Obviously this is depending on what research group or professors’ study you listen to, but my point is made; pigs are extremely intelligent, as well as self aware, and believe me some of the stories I could tell, I trouble to even live with myself.
So with this being said, and keeping in mind that I have helped slaughter 156,000 pigs of that of the same intelligence of the dolphins and whales in Taiji, a number that these Taiji slaughtermen will most likely never come close to. Am I a monster? Am I a psychopath? No. Do I love my children, my dogs, my family? Absolutely.
A Monster is a monster, it can’t be anything else, a psychopath is a psychopath, it is a mental, neurological and personality disorder that cannot be changed or cured. I am neither of these, and I assure you the slaughtermen in Taiji are neither of those either. If you are curious, yes I do see a psychiatrist, and believe to have suffered a form of PTSD, which many ex slaughtermen have been labeled as suffering. So how do I relate to these slaughtermen in Taiji we a rallying against? Well now I shall go on to explain.
The slaughter crew I worked with were all just normal people like me. They had family, children, pets, normal everyday people, completely and utterly non-violent outside the work place, and some of the nicest people you could meet. They were a group of guys who I trusted, would trust my family with, and who I would never consider monsters and absolutely not psychopaths. We were simply men doing a job, just like anybody else; that is how we saw it, and how people who do this job still do it. Obviously there are exceptions, this kind of job does promote to animal abusers and people who do enjoy inflicting pain on animals, but they make up a small percent; and trust me when they are found they are weeded out! I would almost guarantee all of these slaughtermen in Taiji do not enjoy or get pleasure from killing; it is simply their job, just like it was mine, and the other guys on my crew.
The idea that people like myself who have done it, or people today who still do it, whether it be cows, pigs, dolphins sheep, horses etc. have some kind of pleasure, or enjoyment doing it is generally false. It is a job, that’s it. My experience is that you switch off, like people stacking shelves, sweeping floors. As soon as I swiped my clocking in card my mind wasn’t on killing pigs, ending their lives, or how much fun I was going to have doing it, it was simply; time to work. Washing blood of my hands was nothing more than a painter washing paint of his; we didn’t see it any other way. I like everyone else didn’t see the pigs as pigs, I didn’t see them as this living entity that knew and understood what was happening, I simply saw them, well, at the time they were invisible to me, I didn’t see them as anything, they were simply a tool I needed to use to complete my job, get paid, and go home. I don’t expect anyone to understand, unless you have been apart of it you simply cant, I just want to try to make people understand that the people doing it aren’t evil, monsters or psychopaths, they are men or women who are at work, with one goal, to get the job done so they can get paid and go home; this doesn’t make it right.
I used to laugh and joke around at work all day every day. Not because I loved my job and what I was doing, but because it was another way of making the time go by. Again, just like you may see on a building site, men laughing and joking. Any video or images you may see of the slaughtermen in Taiji laughing or smiling is taken out of context, very likely they are not smiling because they just brutally killed a dolphin in front of their pod, and they think its funny, but because, well, maybe he just had a fleeting thought of his child, a memory, or maybe the guy next to him said something or farted extremely loudly which made the man burst into laughter, or made him smile. Because he has a dolphin in front of him, from a boat, or in the water doesn’t mean this emotion is a reflection on what he is doing; again, if my experience is anything to go by he is already disconnected to the job at hand that he is performing.
The only time it starts to affect you is when you is when you leave or start educating yourself on how intelligent these animals you were using as a tool were, and are. I still have nightmares of what I did, what I have seen and what I have heard. But now I am educated, and now I can be a voice against it with my voice holding validity because I am not simply an everyday person, I am someone who is standing against it who has actually been involved in it. My message here is simply this. The men in Taiji aren’t the monsters we make them out to be, they are simply clocking in, doing their job, and clocking out. I assure you they do not go to work thinking lets brutally slaughter some dolphins today, I promise you they do not. What they need is education, and a personal awakening; you will not force this to happen. They will come to this conclusion on their own, in the privacy of their own mind.
Everything I have said here is related to the slaughtermen. Not the trainers, managers, or others; simply those who do and are involved with the killing.
We must remain vigilant in Taiji, and we will win, but we must attack the sword, not those wielding it, those wielding it will eventually drop it, as over time carrying a sword is a heavy burden, trust me, I know.
Keep the pressure on, keep being a witness. And together lets educate the people of Taiji and end the slaughter.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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