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‘Blackfish’ supporter may have another agenda

Now that the “Free Willy” saga has been put on the legislative warming shelf until next year, state Assemblyman Richard Bloom from Santa Monica may be looking for a way to pick up another 15 minutes of fame. He does have a great deal to choose from.

Bloom, attracted by the noise generated by a documentary called “Blackfish,” proposes to eliminate the use of orcas for “human entertainment.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA) and other animal rights zealots also support the measure.

A few labor activists said they would also support Bloom’s bill. At first, they said they agreed with this bill not because it had anything to do with orcas, but because of SeaWorld’s so-called mistreatment of its employees. Their tune has now changed because the mistreatment charge is, on its face, ludicrous.

For Bloom, it was a perfect storm. The video, first released to less than enthusiastic audiences in theaters, did not garner much attention until a cable network added it to its programming. With showings nearly as frequent as those ads for gold and silver, the video captured the attention of some members of the public. Suddenly, Bloom had a way to draw the eyes of the media and subsequently much of the general population. There was in-depth coverage and headlines daily. Heady stuff for a legislator.

Critics say “Blackfish” is, at best, misleading. Other observers say it is intentionally deceptive.

Perhaps Bloom is truly concerned. Maybe he never had a dog or cat for a pet.

Since Bloom has a bit of down time while the Legislature takes a harder look at orcas and how his measure would impact San Diego, where several orcas live at SeaWorld, here is a suggestion for Bloom. If his motives go beyond just getting attention, he could take on the “abuse” of horses, particularly thoroughbred racehorses. That ought to get him more time in the limelight.

The apparent premise behind Bloom’s legislative effort is that it is just not right to use these wonderful, complex, intelligent creatures for human enjoyment. They are all of that and more. They are also often called killer whales, with good reason. As denizens of the deep, they hunt down and kill other animals for dinner.

Critics say trainers cause the animals to behave in an unnatural way in order to entertain the public, and the theme parks where they are raised from birth and fed, coddled and cared for, actually make a profit in doing so. Since profit is generally a bad word in the minds of liberals, stopping this is worthy.

Ever tried to ride a horse that has not been trained to carry a rider, especially a rider with a whip and hammering heels? There is nothing natural in that. A horse without serious training instinctively reacts to anything sitting on its back by trying to change that situation.

Horses are gregarious animals. They enjoy the company of other equines. Humans often “store” them in solitary stalls, especially if they show great speed on the racetrack. When their racing days are over, especially if they have impressed enough people with their ability to circle a racetrack very quickly, these animals are used to breed more racers. All of that is done for human entertainment and, here it comes, profit.

There are other animals that Bloom might like to protect as well. Dogs and cats are in most homes as near-family members for the exclusive “entertainment” of the families that care for them.

Parrots are smart enough to learn how to say human words. Surely it is “not right” to keep these colorful and interesting animals in a cage just for people to look at and pretend to talk to.

These examples are what this measure is actually about, though Bloom may be primarily interested in expanding his name recognition. PETA would happily support eliminating all of these animal/human relationships. Critics of the legislation say that is what this has been about all along.

The bottom line is that Bloom is either a witting ally or unwitting dupe of groups that would close zoos, take my dogs, free someone else’s racehorses, and in general declare that animals have exactly the same right to freedom most Americans experience. I do not wish him or his friends any luck.

Hawkins is retired after 35 years as a construction industry association manager. He was a broadcast reporter and news anchor in Denver. As a Navy officer, he saw action in Vietnam in the River Assault Squadrons and is the recipient of a Silver Star and Purple Heart.

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9 UserComments
Doni Lantow, Creator of Protest SeaWorld 10:26pm May 11, 2014

George it's unfair animals to compare orcas to dogs, cats, and parrots. These animals parents and grandparents were wild. Domestication hasn't changed their instinct to swim long ranges, hunt for food, or live amongst their family members. Dogs and cats have been domesticated for millions of years not 40-50 years like orcas.  It's painfully obvious you're not familiar with these animals, which leads me to wonder why you would write an opinion piece on a subject you're unfamiliar with.  

Don Arndt 3:49pm May 11, 2014

This article is at best a joke. I hope Mr. Hawkins doesn't pride himself a journalist as a minute of research would have led to a more knowledgable and interesting read. Clearly he did not even bother seeing the movie or even research any of the claims. The difference between horses and whales defies even a comparison. Nice try Dir but you made yourself the fool.

Jim Light 9:16am May 9, 2014

I am not a PETA activist. I am pro-business. I am a conservative. I own pets. But that does not mean that I support the cruelty of orca captivity. On my first and only visit to SeaWorld I was appalled at the number of orca they kept in such a small tank devoid of any semblance of their natural habitat. My later research into the subject confirmed my suspicions that orcas are not doing well in captivity. The collapsed dorsal fins, ground down, drilled out teeth and short lifespans are all very visible evidence that captivity is not healthy for them. When an animal in captivity lives shorter than their wild counterparts, the captivity should be prohibited. Those who denigrate Blackfish fail to point out where their main message is wrong. Do these writers believe orcas live longer in captivity? Do they ignore the collapsed dorsal fins and ground down teeth? Or do they just bury their heads in the sand and ignore the obvious facts of the matter?

Kyle Gerson 5:19am May 3, 2014

I know that a company should be able to make a profit, but they should not be making them on the backs of these killer whales. These are huge, highly intelligent animals, and forcing them to perform glorified circus acts in front of crowds is irresponsible and degrading. Not to mention their drilled out teeth, their collapsed dorsal fins, and their aggressive tendencies... orcas are not meant to be in captivity.

Rick Piper 8:08am May 1, 2014

Mr Madeline - studies have shown that MANY species of bird display intelligence equal to or exceeding cetaceans. The attack on killer whales is nothing more than a starting point. Activists are using high profile animals that evoke human emotion as the beginning of a campaign intended to achieve exactly what the author has stated - human rights for ALL animals. Given a choice, they would have us all living as vegans, no zoos, no pets, no wool or leather, no dairy products, and much more. While they certainly are very vocal, they're still a minority. MILLIONS of Americans endorse zoos and marine parks every year by walking through their gates. With regards to making a profit - Priests, fireman, policeman, doctors, nurses, teachers, pharmacists, researchers, and yes, ACTIVISTS, all make money for what they do. If you are emotionally moved by a piece of art, a song or a dancer, are you no longer inspired when you find out the artists was paid?

Chris 7:54am May 1, 2014

What a great article. You clearly know what you are writing about here. If someone can sit back and watch this movie and truly beleive everything in it you could easily sell them ice in Alaska on a cold winter day. They will beleive in anything you tell them. The truth is at SeaWorld and in the parks and you can see the care thats provided. Sure SeaWorld makes a profit but all business need to do that to survive. These animals are well cared for. Like you said Bloom has a lot of other targets he can go after now. This was all about getting his name in the media not because he cared about Orcas

David Madeline 8:05am April 30, 2014

One of the most intelligent animals on the planet = orcas we are not talking about ants and birds here. Their confines should mimic their natural habitat in a huge way or no way at all.

Laurella Desborough 8:07pm April 29, 2014

Actually, this was an "on target" article about the politics of animal issues, and the deceptions in Blackfish. Note that many of the spoken comments were not related to the actual photos shown in the film. Several instances of that. Then the fact that only individuals who were against the use of orcas were interviewed...none of those who would present a positive side. And the marine animal expert used in the film is an outspoken animal rights supporter! This film was presented as a documentary, but it was actually an advocacy film since the "facts" were all skewed in one direction.

Teresa Wagner 3:38pm April 29, 2014

"Critics say 'Blackfish' is, at best, misleading. Other observers say it is intentionally deceptive." Gee, did the author of this article miss this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/218098897/Blackfish-Response-to-SeaWorld-69-Critique? Or he is just a Bloom hater or a SeaWorld backer so the facts don't figure into his article?