“MAYBE calling Pam a whore and comparing PETA to the Nazis isn’t the best way to help the seal hunt, folks.”
on Twitter, Dec. 18
© — International Fund for Animal Welfare/Canadian Press file photo
Sealers in the Northern Gulf, April 10, 2011.
So, the Pam and Sam show rolled into town on Tuesday to rile up debate about the seal hunt yet again.
Rather than simply arrive in
St. John’s without fanfare and make their million-dollar offer to the Canadian Sealers’ Association — hoping to kickstart a government buyout of the sealing industry — the actress/activist and “The Simpsons” co-creator gave a handful of journalists a heads-up and were clearly expecting a media presence.
Though perhaps not the one they got when their oversized cheque met its match in Mark Critch, who counter-offered with a million-dollar pledge to Pamela Anderson if she would promise to stop acting.
It was a clever ambush, with the hometown comic hero using Anderson’s own past words about the seal hunt against her, saying her work has made him “embarrassed to be a Canadian.”
So, tit for tat. It was a fair exchange. Anderson, Sam Simon and other members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spoke in opposition of the seal hunt.
Critch and members of the Canadian Sealers Association got their message across.
And that’s where it should have ended.
Instead, what happened in the aftermath was a social media feeding frenzy, with a difference of opinion turning into open mud-slinging, with Anderson as the target. Yes, she is ill-informed about the hunt, as some of her comments during her brief time here revealed — so I have no problem with anyone fighting her fiction with facts.
But what we saw instead were several people of both genders using the safe distance (and in some cases, anonymity) of social media to insult her intelligence, mock her body and her face, suggest she earned the million-dollar cheque through prostitution, and — in the case of one Gerry Byrne, MP — denounce her as a “has been ‘actor’ with an incurable STD.” (Anderson has been quite public about the fact that she has hepatitis C, which she contracted by using a shared tattoo needle.)
Byrne later issued a lengthy apology, and I’ve no doubt he meant it, but it came a little late after he had been a big part of the pile-on.
You can say you’re sorry, but that does not negate the fact that for one brief intemperate moment, you thought you were justified in being ignorant yourself.
When it comes to the seal hunt, it’s in our best interests to focus on the facts and the real issues.
“Red blood. White ice. That’s what we’re up against,” I wrote in a column back in 2008. “And the sooner we find a way to combat that image, and the sooner we lay off the personal insults and the petty slurs and the bombast, the better off we’ll all be.”
Back then, the target of the pro-seal-hunt wrath was Capt. Paul Watson, he of Sea Shepherd fame, whose comments about the seal hunt on local radio provoked petty retorts about his girth and supposedly voracious appetite.
Not our finest moment, and neither was this past week.
Instead of taking the opportunity to educate Anderson, Simon and their many followers about the realities of the hunt, and instead of combatting their specious arguments about cruelty to seals with some facts about abattoir slaughter — which some seal hunt advocates and media commenters did do — some people resorted to personal attacks and off-base aspersions.
And we wonder why we’re dismissed as barbarians?
When no less than an elected representative of this country tries to counter an animal-cruelty argument by implying the activist he disagrees with is a slut, well then, we’ve put ourselves right down there in the mud with the rest of them, propping up our argument with untruths and irrelevancies. Goodbye, credibility.
I’d defend any sealer’s right to try to earn some money from the hunt as long as it’s done in accordance with this country’s rules to ensure it is humane. Frankly, as long as there are steaks in my freezer, how could I do otherwise?
But the defence should always be about the facts, not lips or breasts or innuendo about somebody’s illness.
Yet one more opportunity to get our message out to the world, lost in a bitter pool of bile.
Pam Frampton is a columnist and The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.