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Kommetjie Crisis

It was when I checked my Twitter account on Saturday morning that I first heard the news of the whales beached at Kommetjie. Not one, but almost 60 whales threw themselves onto Kommetjie beach in the early hours of Saturday morning. The story has been covered in extreme depth on local as well as national news, but there are two aspects of this event that left me a little worried.

Now this may be a little soon for me to comment, but I’m going to risk it. There was a massive uproar into the euthanasia of the whales late on Saturday afternoon. I don’t agree with the deliberate killing of anything, but the following facts must be considered. The whales had been out of the water since approximately 05h30 that morning. This is essentially ten hours out of their natural habitat. Whilst whales are mammals, their skeletal structure is not designed to support their weight, as they are normally suspended underwater. As soon as they find themselves lying on land, their immense weight starts to press down on their rib cages, and they suffer a slow, suffocating death. Believe me, euthanasia was without a doubt the safest option. To put it into perspective, imagine having a one-ton weight lying on your chest, and trying to stay alive.

The way in which it was done was not correct though. All unnecessary volunteers and media should have been removed from the beach. Allowing a child to see a whale getting shot in the head is not cool.

Pilot whales from a happier time

Pilot whales from a happier time

The second point which bugged me is as to the reasoning as to why these whales beached themselves. Now it has already been suggested that the whales were sick or diseased, but I want to offer my own conspiracy theory. Right around the corner from Kommetjie is Simon’s Town Naval Base. In an article in National Geographic, a link was found between military sonar and mass stranding of aquatic mammals. Essentially the sonar sends a pulse out underwater, which ‘scrambles’ the whale’s internal navigation system, which in turn steers them towards shallow water. Could this have been the reason? I think the fact that this hasn’t even been explored is a little negligent on the part of the authorities.

There is no doubt as to what happened at the weekend was a tragedy. And yes, Cape Town disaster management could definitely have done a better job of taking care of the situation. But I think a lot of anger is being directed at people who were trying to control a very uncontrollable situation.

Would you have wanted to work for disaster management on Saturday?

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Those close to me will tell you that I don’t anger easily. And when I do get angry, what the public see is usually nothing more than a mere grumble, grumble, swear-under-my-breath kind of vibe. Call me old-fashioned, but I subscribe to the school of bottling up your emotions. Or expressing them in blog.

But one of the few things that have worked me up in recent years, to the point of a shouting match with my housemate, was Proposition 8 in America. Proposition 8 was all over the news last year just before the November 8 General Election in America. Essentially what it came down to was whether or not the State of California would disallow gay marriage. That’s right. Gay Marriage was allowed, and Proposition 8 wanted to take that away.

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Allowing gay marriage in California was a big step for the gay rights movement. Proposition 8 was approved after the November General Election, after receiving a hairline 52% victory. This decision by voters was taken to the Supreme Court, who ruled yesterday. I don’t mind those that oppose gay marriage. People’s views differ. Hell, I don’t even have a view on the cause. But here’s where I thought it all went horribly wrong: The way the proponents of Proposition 8 went about it.

What got my blood boiling was the arguments of the those in support of this ridiculous cause. And I quote:

If Proposition 8 is defeated, the sanctity of marriage will be destroyed and its powerful influence on the betterment of society will be lost. The defeat of Prop. 8 would result in the very meaning of marriage being transformed into nothing more than a contractual relationship between adults. No longer will the interests of children and families even be a consideration. We will no longer celebrate marriage as a union of husband and wife, but rather a relationship between ‘Party A’ and ‘Party B.’ The marriage of a man and a woman has been at the heart of society since the beginning of time. It promotes the ideal opportunity for children to be raised by a mother and father in a family held together by the legal, communal and spiritual bonds of marriage. And while divorce and death too frequently disrupt the ideal, as a society we should put the best interests of children first, and that is traditional marriage. Voting No on Proposition 8 would destroy marriage as we know it and cause profound harm to society.

Now you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that this is blatantly and utterly discriminatory. Other arguments included the argument that same-sex couples raising children would be more likely to raise criminals and drug addicts. WTF? Not to mention the storm on facebook. Some of it is nothing more that vindictive hatred towards homosexuals. Imagine if there was a proposition that wanted marriage only to be recognised between a white man and a white woman. An over-simplified example, I know, but that’s essentially what it boils down to.

The Supreme Court in America today finalised Proposition 8, ruling 6-1 that gay marriage will no longer be recognised in the state of California. This is a slap in the face to equality and gay rights the world over.

I’ve never been happier to live in South Africa.

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