Who wants to tickle the plastics?

The elephant never forgets, and the animal rights activist never learns.

The very term ‘animal rights’ is meaningless to the point of being idiotic. Rights exist in a dialectical union with duties. For example, my right to the state’s protection is contingent on my duty of allegiance to the state.

Since animals have no duties, they can have no rights. That doesn’t mean we should treat them with gratuitous cruelty. In fact, Britain has had laws against that sort of thing for two centuries, long before ‘animal rights’ were first bandied about.

However, killing animals for the benefit of man doesn’t ipso facto constitute cruelty. We shouldn’t forget that animals were created to serve people, which is explicitly stated in the only valid moral code of our civilisation (the part of it that’s called Genesis).

That moral code has many different postulates, and mankind does a rather patchy job following them. Yet, while flouting the true moral laws, some people insist on concocting false ones. Such as those based on their mawkish devotion to the lives of wild beasts.

This is strictly a characteristic of the urban middle class. People who live surrounded by life’s fauna are never sentimental about it. Peasants, farmers, hunters, fishermen, African or Australian natives invariably treat animals in a purely utilitarian manner.

This brings me to Carrie Johnson and Hillary Clinton, who are consumed with a passion for the plight of elephants. Since those animals are killed for their ivory tusks, Carrie and Hillary proceed from the inferable assumption that banning the ivory trade will make elephants immortal.

Poor Bill Clinton’s wife got the ball rolling by demanding that the Japanese government end ivory imports “as the world watches the Tokyo Olympics”. And poor Boris Johnson’s wife lent her unequivocal support to that demand, even though it dangerously teeters on the edge of a diplomatic incident.

The two women punch at different weights. First, the wife of an American president has an official status, and the wife of a British PM has not. We have no First Lady.

Second, Mrs Clinton in her own right held senior positions both in the legislative and executive branches of the US government. The only political position Mrs Johnson has ever had, other than the harridan henpecking her hubby-wubby, is that of a PR flak for the Conservative Party.

Hence she’d be well-advised to reserve her all-abiding love of all living things strictly for home consumption, leaving the sovereign governments of Britain’s allies alone. Wishful thinking, that. Once people predisposed to fanaticism get a bee in their bonnet, they devote their whole lives to nurturing that insect.

But do let’s take a dispassionate look at the face value of the two ladies’ argument. Several countries, regrettably including Britain, have issued a total or partial ban on the ivory trade, supposedly to prevent the elephants from becoming extinct.

However, allowing their population to increase uncontrollably may lead to just such an end. Yes, elephants and other species must be protected from irresponsible poaching. But that doesn’t mean they have to be sanctified.

My beloved Richmond Park has several herds of deer roaming around for the delectation of visitors. Yet every year the herds are selectively culled to maintain their viability – this without the Carries of this world raising a hue and cry.

In that sense, a memory of elephants is no different from a herd of dear. Some culling is essential for their survival.

However, even in the absence of those rifle-toting cullers, elephants do die a natural death. When dead, they have no further use for their tusks, which can, however, provide a good service for humans.

This obvious thought never crosses the ecofanatics’ minds. That’s why a few years ago they publicly burned stacks of tusks, which was a stupid gesture. Those tusks had already been harvested, and their previous possessors were already dead. Provided that no more precious elephant lives were being lost, what was the harm in selling that ivory?

The usual argument one hears is that ivory has only a decorative value, and it’s morally wrong that those gorgeous creatures should die for rich women to pin cameos to their chests (class rancour is always implicit). Since one doesn’t often hear similar indignation over alligator shoes or ostrich handbags, the logic of that argument appears muddled. But fanaticism isn’t about logic.

Anyway, ivory has a perfectly functional and extremely important use. It’s the only material really suitable for the making of piano keys. Any pianist (such as the one I’m married to) will tell you that plastic substitutes don’t work nearly as well.

Not to cut too fine a point, a pianist’s hands sweat during a performance. Since ivory is a naturally porous material, it absorbs the moisture, preventing the fingers from sliding. Not so with plastic. The surface of plastic keys is smooth and slippery, which makes a big difference for musicians.

I maintain that the real good of pianists is more vital to our culture than the mythical good of elephants – and infinitely more so than the good of hairbrained animal righters.

On a personal note, has Carrie ever even seen an elephant this side of the Regent’s Park Zoo? Then again, it’s conceivable that she has never attended a piano recital either.  

12 thoughts on “Who wants to tickle the plastics?”

  1. I too am distressed by cruelty to animals. But I find myself unable to wholly abandon what Schopenhauer contemptuously referred to as the “Jewish conception of nature” It’s odd, because in a round about way, Genesis promotes some form of environmental cultivation. Whereas if one views life from a purely materialist perspective, it’s hard to see why it is the duty of man, a bewildered ape, to ensure the survival of other species. Why does not the plight of the elephant fall upon the head of the wildebeest?

    Westerners have a rather eerie habit of anthropomorphising animals (especially dogs) and moralising endlessly on the subject all whilst claiming that life is meaningless. Ricky Gervais, call your office.

  2. Clarinets and African black wood [ebony] too. Best sounding clarinets made from ebony but only from trees decades to hundreds of years old. All those having been cut and smaller new growth trees the wood splinters with milling. Artificial man-made materials just not adequate for the best sound.

  3. When accosted by the usual suspects, I highly recommend my stock reply. This one is used for Foie Gras – but you can easily substitute ‘Ivory’ for ‘Foie Gras’, ‘Elephant’ for ‘Goose’ and ‘Official Culler/ Poacher (depending on how far you want the wind up to go) for ‘Farmer’ …

    ” I only buy Foie Gras if the farmer can assure me that the goose was unusually doe-eyed and was crying for its mother at the moment of dispatch.”

  4. I encounter many animal lovers in my life. What they have in common is a general hatred of humanity and a love of mindless instinct

    1. At my tennis club last year i was having a discussion with a woman there and she let me know how much she loathes humanity – “Too many people on the planet, too much poverty and greed” etc, the usual brain dead clichés. This from a seventy y/old well to do woman. Not long after that when the plandemic hit, she was sporting a mask, scolding my hugging of a few good friends there and keeping her distance (sadly like most of the members there). Anyway, i mentioned to her our previous conversation regarding humanity and why she was so concerned about it now, pointing out how joyous she should be with the culling of the herd etc. The look on her face was priceless! She stood there dumbfounded.

      1. Well, at least your tennis club was open. Mine was shut. As to the rest of it, it’s perfectly understandable. Wishing that people ‘on the planet’ were fewer doesn’t mean wishing that one’s own life were shorter. Ironclad logic, if you ask me.

        1. True enough but her logic “self preservation for me, but not for thee” doesn’t cut it. My tennis club has pretty much stayed open, but here in Adelaide, as like most of Oz things are getting worse. Even today’s news laments the one death, “A woman in her 90’s” as it justifies further lockdowns. I await the summer when the lawn season starts with the faint hope this madness ends soon. Not optimistic, however.

  5. A famous chef once called vegetarians “Attention seekers”, he was spot-on, and this before the even more virtuous term, “Vegan”! I have argued with them that they are actually causing the extinction of their beloved animals in ways they don’t predict, such as if banning horseracing, rodeos, greyhounds, foxhunting were successful, there would be no need for these creatures to exist, and the idea extends to fur, leather scolds with plastic or petroleum based substitutes, and even further for say cows or sheep or horses who take up valuable land that could be used for their desired wind/solar farms, or water intense rice and cotton farms to feed and cloth the masses. Their arguments are like a circular firing squad! And that wasteful, futile gesture of burning the ivory sickened me to the core also – talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

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