Good news for sharks and humane people

Sometimes we have to choose between two moral principles when two good causes vie for our support. Here’s a case in today’s news. The California legislature has passed a bill banning the trade in shark fins, which are procured by catching a shark, cutting off its fins while it is alive, and throwing it back into the ocean to die a slow, agonizing death.

Pretty obviously a good thing, right, to reduce cruelty?  Yet the ban runs up against values of some non-western cultures. Shark fins are used in soup in some Asian cuisines.  So some Asian-American legislators are calling the bill “racist.” According to today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance and Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco are fighting the ban.

Respect for other cultures is a good thing. Reducing torture of animals is a good thing. So what should we do when these values collide?

One could write to Sens. Lieu ( Lee ( Or you could telephone Lee (415 557 7857).

You do not have to participate in cruelty to obtain healthful, delicious food. So let’s hope Governor Brown signs the bill into law.


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