Environmental activist Darrell Waterford obviously never heard this song from The Threepenny Opera. Or else he wasn’t paying attention to the first line of the lyrics.
Unencumbered by the information conveyed therein, the young Greenpeacer expressed his love of all living things by hugging a great white shark in the Indian Ocean.
If he expected reciprocity, none ensued. Perhaps the shark didn’t fancy him or simply objected to getting physical on first date. It’s also possible that she had kept abreast of the #MeToo campaign against unsolicited hugs.
One way or another, the shark emphasised her absence of consent by tearing off the young man’s right arm. Mercifully, even though he lost a lot of blood Darrell survived. But he won’t hug anyone else in a hurry.
Somewhere in a far recess of my character lurks the objectionable chap who can’t contain his schadenfreude. After all, just as a man trying to hug an unwilling woman should expect a slap in the face, a man trying to hug a feral creature should expect a sanguinary response.
Modern obsession with nature sits side by side with other affronts to our civilisation, such as socialism in any of its variants, Islam and other Eastern religions (when practised in the West), unvarnished materialism, Ayn Rand and so forth.
Our attitude to nature used to follow Genesis 1:27-30. Only man is created in the image of God. Everything else is there merely to serve man.
Theologians would argue that, by incarnating in a physical, human shape, God sanctified nature and matter in general. But that doesn’t change the ascending pecking order: nature is only sacred because man is; man is only sacred because God is.
This simple understanding was blown to pieces by the first shots fired in the French Revolution. Man was no longer seen as created in anyone’s image. He was simply a more complex part of nature than, say, a slug. A few decades later Darwin explained how that worked, to the satisfaction of the newly dumbed-down masses.
His contemporary scientists acknowledged that nature is rationally knowable because it functions according to rational laws. Yet somehow they then committed the logical solecism of denying that the existence of rational laws presupposes the existence of a rational law-giver.
So fine, there’s no God. But where did the rational laws come from? What’s the source of that ratio?
Sooner or later the moderns were inexorably driven to the conclusion that it was nature itself that possesses reason. They thereby left the domain of logical solecism and entered one of sheer lunacy.
Deifying nature was of course old hat. When some religious feeling was still extant, Spinosa, while denying the existence of a personal God, postulated the identity of God and nature. Later this blend of heresy cum philosophy was called pantheism.
When the very notion of any kind of divinity became infra dig, pantheism developed into romantic, secular adoration of nature. This led to a gradual disappearance of the line separating man from beast.
If all parts of nature partook in some universal reason divorced from God and therefore man, then animals are also sapient, albeit less so than we are. In that case it’s only logical to assign to them human characteristics including natural rights.
This anthropomorphism run riot is progressive, in the same sense in which a disease can be progressive. By now it has progressed to a point where vegetarianism, which used to be regarded as a psychological quirk, is believed to occupy a high moral plateau.
Interestingly, this and other forms of hysterical secular sentimentalism have strictly urban origins. Those who are in day-to-day contact with nature, farmers and peasants, even if they aren’t familiar with Genesis 1:27-30, treat animals in exactly its spirit.
I remember my Italian landlord, a farmer who did agriturismo as a side line. One day Sergio proudly took Penelope and me through his farm.
He led us to a fat cow and outlined with his finger where different cuts of beef came from: “This is filetto di manzo, this is bistecca alla fiorentina…” Sergio then picked up a cute little rabbit by its ears and explained with a gentle smile: “Al forno con patate.” How many youngsters would wince at such heartless utilitarianism?
These days every perversion has to find a political expression. Hence we no longer just love animals: we see them as political entities endowed with rights, even in the absence of attendant responsibilities.
And in 2001 ‘philosopher’ Peter Singer even allowed that humans and animals can have “mutually satisfying” sexual relations because “we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes.” Therefore such sex “ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.” Good news for some shepherds, bad news for poor Mrs Singer.
So, even without intending to go all the way, why not hug a shark as a protest against shark fin soup? Why not reaffirm one’s commitment to shark rights?