[This tongue-in-cheek editorial first appeared in the Quest, Reed’s student newspaper. Reprinted with permission. Ed.]

Andrew Nusbaum ’07

Affirmative action doing whales no favors
By Andrew Nusbaum ’07

I am not a “hard-core” environmentalist or animal-rights activist. I think conservation is basically the way to go, but I’d like to compromise with Mother Nature on certain points—indoor plumbing for instance. Similarly, while in principle I think saving animals is a fine idea, I also have some issues with the indiscriminate “if it’s an animal, save it” philosophy.

Now, that’s not to say I think we should all be out actively killing animals. I just don’t think all animals necessarily deserve to be saved. Mosquitoes, for instance. But the animals I think have really had it too good for too long are the whales. I personally am getting pretty damn tired of being told to “save the whales.” I say the whales have had enough “down time”; it’s time for them to rejoin the game of natural selection.

Perhaps an example would be helpful: when I was about four, my parents gave me a book entitled Humphrey the Humpback Whale. This book, as many seasoned readers undoubtedly know, tells the riveting story of a humpback whale named Humphrey who got stuck in the Sacramento River in 1985. After weeks of being kept alive through the kindness of strangers, he was finally freed and tagged for future observation. Five years later, Humphrey got stuck again—near the same spot.

I think whales like Humphrey ruin it for all the other whales. Just think of all the whale-saving resources Humphrey wasted because of his return trip to the bay. There could be a tiny whale orphan out at sea right now whose mother was beached and died because the “Whale Patrol” was busy feeding Humphrey a bucket full of jumbo prawns. What an a**hole.

I’m not surprised Humphrey is abusing the system—every time he shows up; he gets food, water, and all the petting a whale could want. He might as well be going to a Club Med. What we need to do in order to discourage lazy animals like Humphrey is to make these “visits” a little less pleasant—the first time, no harm, no foul. The second time, you get slightly lower-quality krill, and maybe a few kicks to the blowhole. The third time—you’re cat food.

If whales were not on the “off-limits” list, then jerks (or idiots) like Humphrey wouldn’t be wasting people’s time or resources—or distracting from animals that really need help, and who aren’t just huge 30-ton media whores.

In addition, I think coddling the whales does them more harm than good. “Political independent” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has often said that affirmative action “denigrates” minorities by making them feel they can’t really accomplish things on their own. Now, while I may think O’Reilly is totally wrong in regards to affirmative action’s effects on human beneficiaries, he might have something as far as animals go. Let’s face it; getting 20 extra points on a college application is really not something that will keep you from going on to become a productive member of society. Humphrey, however, is a different story. Either he has no sense of direction, in which case he should probably be dead by now (either from predators or whaling ships), or he has a great sense of direction, and he’s just feeding off of the kind residents of the Bay Area like some kind of huge leech.

In any case, if we stopped giving whales special treatment, he’d be gone. And the whales would be the better for it. You know he can’t be helping whale evolution. Whatever traits he’s passing on will certainly be coming back later to bite us in the butt. Just think of a huge “welfare state” of whales, crowding up all the bays and inlets, never hunting, instead preferring to deliberately beach themselves in order to get “krill handouts” twice a day. What kind of world would that be?

So, in conclusion, if you really love the whales (or any wild animal), then let them go live on their own. And if some do come back . . . please shoot Humphrey in the head. For me. End of Article

A California native, Andrew Nusbaum believes in using wit and sarcasm whenever possible or semi-appropriate. He points to the recent California recall elections as further proof of the important role of humor.