On Fishing and Entitlement

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A few weeks ago, I was sitting out near the man-made lake by the building where I work.  The lake is home to a number of extremely large koi, large enough to swallow your small child whole.  This particular day was “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” and a father was walking along the lake with his daughter (who was not eaten by the fish) and a co-worker.  The man pointed out the koi to his daughter.

“See those really large fish?  They get that big because they don’t let people fish in this lake.  So the fish just eat and eat and eat because there’s no one there to catch them.”

I was a little taken aback by this.  The tone he said this in wasn’t one of, “See how happy fish are when you aren’t screwing with them?”  It was more of, “Fish need us to catch them and eat them so they don’t get so huge.”

This sense of entitlement is pervasive among omnivores defending their meat eating.  From the brutish “If we’re able to kill them, we should be able to eat them” to the awfully assuming “God put them here for us” to the it-stopped-being-clever-when-it-became-a-bumper-sticker “God wouldn’t have made animals so tasty if He didn’t want us to eat them,” the underlying theme is that it’s our right as The Mighty Humans to eat what we want, when we want.  We see it when there’s a backlash against a foie gras ban when restaurants that fight against these bans are looked at as freedom fighting heroes rather than purveyors of the most obvious of cruelties.  It’s a very different case from being entitled to use animals because we need them to live: we don’t.  We just want to eat what we think is exotic or what tastes good.

I think that feelings of entitlement are also behind the “they need us to [hunt/milk/catch] them or else they’ll [overpopulate/burst/get huge]” arguments that frequently come up.  In a sense, those arguments are saying, “We’re doing them a favor, so we should be able to eat them.”

I wanted to say to that guy, “Trust me.  Fish definitely don’t need us to catch them.  Just like cows don’t need to be milked and deer don’t need to be sniped.”  Alas, I think my comment would have fallen on deaf ears.  And it might have gotten me thrown in the lake.

7 Responses to “On Fishing and Entitlement”

  1. Becci

    That’s a very interesting point. I hadn’t really thought of the aspect of people making excuses for their behaviour by acting as if they’re doing the animals they kill some big favour!!

  2. kelly g.

    You know, this reminds me of something similar that happened to me last week. My husband and I just bought out first home, and we’re having some work done before we move in. We scheduled a bunch of contractors to meet the husband there so that we could get some estimates. Now, there’s a small lake behind the house. It’s stocked with fish, but as vegans, we only plan on feeding and swimming with the little guys. It goes without saying. For us, anyway.

    Well. One of the contractors arrived at the house a bit early…and he actually “dropped a line” in the lake while he was waiting! The husband didn’t actually see him do it – the guy just mentioned it in passing later – and I didn’t even find out about it until way after the fact. But…I was dumbfounded! Like, I realize that it’s a fairly rural, small town (in MO) – and since I’m from NY, perhaps I’m a bit out of my element – but still! Even disregarding the fact that some people look down on killing for fun (because, really, I don’t think some people around here even know what the term “vegan” means!), how does he know that we’re not just greedy jerks who want all the fish to ourselves? I mean, the entire property is fenced off, with “no trespassing” signs right and left. If we hadn’t left the front gate open, dude would have had to sit in the street until my husband arrived. To me, it seems like he has an overwhelming sense of entitlement, mixed with equal parts rudeness and obliviousness (to alternative viewpoints, that is), but…it almost seems like that’s just how things are done ’round here. Total Twilight Zone.

    Needless to say, we’re going to buy a whole slew of no hunting/fishing signage for the place.

  3. Sissy

    One should not twist the actions of others to get their agenda passed..
    Indeed God did give animals for food as well as veggies… supposed you get antiveggie [people to slam you for pulling the beautiful veggies up by their roots, pulling them away from the nurishment of the soil they were born in, tand while there is still life in them throwing them into boiling water cooking them up, and then eating them.. see how dumb that sounds.. but in fact they do have life, and when pulled from the soil, or their life source they will soon die, for soon after an apple falls from the tree it will die and rot, because it is separated from the vine that give’s it life..
    Now then, God commanded the animals to go in two by two, except all the clean animal’s , they were by sevens,, however in the NT God said kill and eat, what God has made clean isa clean….. and it is very true when we kill to eat the animal and fish we do indeed do them a favor, that is what keeps them from going exstint..over population causes disease, and then it will spead to others causing exstintion, also in winter there are often times lack of food for them all, and they will suffer and die of salvation.. I know this because I once lived in the country and my dad and brothers put meat on the table for the rest of us, no one killed an animal for pleasure, it was food God gave, animals don’t need to be abused, thats not sportsmanship @ all.. I don’t know who you all are, but this I know, if our Christian forefathers that founded America had your mindset and attitude .. they would have not survived, nor would there be an America, thus you would be of non existance, because they would have died of salvation,without just cause, because God had created food for them, just as He created the fruit trees and Vegetation, for food, so did He the animal’s also.. and ya what, I believe God is awesome, He has all power, and know what else, He has ALL wisdom, .. you still think you know better than God??? I don’t think so, so stop comdeming people for eating meat, unless you want to agree to stop eating fruit and veggies, they were created for a food source also.. but I understand what your doing, I read that in the Bible also.. whereas God says they.. and you must be the they God was speaking of.. They will refrain from eating meats in the last days…. He also said they would refrain from marriage…and a lot of other things.. don’t believe me, prove me wrong.. get you a KJV Bible and read it.. no way you can prove God wrong.. it can’t be done…
    Sissy

    PS Someone said Cows don’t need milked, you were trying to be funny right?? I lived on a farm, if you don’t milk the cows they will get mastitis..
    And if bigger fish are not caught, the smaller ones will die of saltvation, because the bigger fish will eat all the food that gets washed into the water, and the bigger fish also will eat the smaller ones…

    Sissy

  4. ryan

    Wow. I’m not even quite sure where to start with that comment.

    I’m going to completely ignore the religious argument because it requires common ground in the belief that the bible is infallible and the literal word of God. I can’t agree to that, so any arguments about what God wants us to do with animals are irrelevant to me.

    and it is very true when we kill to eat the animal and fish we do indeed do them a favor, that is what keeps them from going exstint [sic]

    And that’s why experts believe the oceans will be competely depleted in less than 50 years, right?

    We’re not doing a damn thing to help keep fish from going extinct. Indeed, we’re causing it.

    Someone said Cows don’t need milked, you were trying to be funny right?? I lived on a farm, if you don’t milk the cows they will get mastitis..

    Cows don’t need to be milked if you a.) stop impregnating them and b.) stop stealing their calves away from them when they’re born. See, calves do this amazing thing: they drink their mother’s milk.

    And if bigger fish are not caught, the smaller ones will die of saltvation, because the bigger fish will eat all the food that gets washed into the water, and the bigger fish also will eat the smaller ones…

    How can you argue with logic like that?

  5. vegetarian atheist

    they will suffer and die of salvation

    Truer words were never spoken. :)

  6. ryan

    Good catch! I missed that typo. :)

    (And she made it twice!)

  7. Becci

    Even if God meant for us to eat animals, s/he sure didn’t mean for factory farms to exist. http://www.factoryfarming.org

    Plus, there is a large and active vegetarian movement for Christianity, so obviously there are people reading the same stuff you are and interpreting it differently. http://www.jesusveg.com/

    Oh, and not to burst your bubble, but our “Christian” forefathers were not Christian. http://www.bettybowers.com/founding.html

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