Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Helmer tells schoolgirl: culled seals are not "innocent"

Roger Helmer has told a Lincolnshire schoolgirl that clubbing seals over the head is "humane".

He also challenges her assertion that baby seals are "innocent" and told her that she should save her concerns for people not animals.

Yes, it's the same Roger Helmer, East Midlands Member of the European Parliament, who is today being welcomed back into the Conservative fold following "intense pressure" by David Cameron.

The Lincolnshire schoolgirl wrote to Mr Helmer to canvas his support to stop the culling of "innocent baby seals".

But in what she describes as a "rude" reply, Mr Helmer wrote back:

"I am not prepared to join the seal campaign, because while I agree that the culling of seals by beating them over the head is not very pleasing and aesthetic, I think it is probably fairly quick and humane...

"I challenge the use of your term "innocent baby seals", because

(A) Seals are not morally competent, and therefore cannot be innocent or guilty;

(B) I think it is mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a "Bambi" attitude to animals, or to seek to anthropomorphise them - I wonder if you would have the same sentimental view of rats or tarantulas? - if not, why not?

(C) In one sense the seals are guilty (without any moral responsibility), for damaging fish stocks and the livelihoods of local fishermen.

"Your sympathy for dumb animals does you credit, but my advice would be that you save your concerns for people rather than animals."

The father of the schoolgirl believes that Mr Helmer's reply deserves a wider audience.

Happy to oblige...


Anonymous said...

Sounds perfectly fair to me. What are you complaining about.

Also, rather strange that you should be taking such an interest in the Tory party when your own one is going down the drains.

fairdealphil said...

anonymous, Thanks for the comment. sorry you decided to hide your identity, but that's your choice.

Why the interest you ask?

Well, I may be wrong, but I expect "moderate" Conservatives will be appalled that David Cameron has welcomed Roger Helmer back into the fold.

As for Roger Helmer's letter to schoolgirl, I agree with her: it's rude.

imho, people should know that their MEP believes, as you seem to, that clubbing seals over the head is "humane"...

Anonymous said...

I see, so Phil, you believe that someone telling someone else that they believe that they are wrong is 'rude?'

As I see it, Helmer sets out a perfectly fair and reasonable argument as to why he has chosen not to sign the young girl's petition. The reason you claim it is 'rude' is because you do not agree with his statements. That is what it really boils down to.

Further, the vast majority of the Conservative party I expect will believe that Roger Helmer's injustice has been righted. What would you know about the internal workings of the Conservative party and what 'moderates' would believe anyway?

Dave Pearson said...

Items A and B seem like pretty fair debating points to me. In fact, while I'd take issue with some of his points (I'd want to know more about why be believes what he claims to believe), I see nothing "rude" in the response as you've posted here.

It should be possible to argue a case against such a cull without the need to anthropomorphise.

fairdealphil said...


You make claims about the views of Tory "moderates" and you may, or may not, know more about them than me.

But since you choose to remain anon. I am unable to make that judgement.

Of course, Mr Helmer is entitled to his view, as we all are.

But are you seriously suggesting that Tory moderates will be happy to see him back.

Or agree with his views on on seal clubbing, getting out of Europe or anything?

fairdealphil said...

Dave: if I knew what it meant, I'd prob. agree with you...

Mark said...

Sounds rude to me. When writing to a young person rather than a seasoned political opponent it is usually considered good manners to write in a more gentle style.

I've no idea of Mr Helmer's politics and I am not very interested - I'll read enough when the next European election comes round, I expect - but I have to agree that the reply might have been more sensitively worded. For what it's worth I have no idea whether the seals need culling and what the best method for doing it might be if they do, and I am quite happy to go along with all that the reply says if Mr Helmer has studied the matter more than I - but I am not a schoolgirl.

One can say that one disagrees with ones correspondent without putting them down in that way. Some people are just like that, though, and others can have "off days". If one wishes to be re-elected, though, one does have to reduce those days to a minimum!

Praguetory said...

The way you frame it makes it sound like the girl is at primary school (esp the bit about "the father of the schoolgirl"). She is in fact 17 and Roger treats her like an adult.

Also, reading the full text of the letter I see no reference to "dumb animals".

You're grinding an axe. You have not reported this in a balanced way.

Tim said...

praguetory says: `Also, reading the full text of the letter I see no reference to "dumb animals". '

Try reading the full text of the letter, like the part where it says `dumb animals' in its last paragaph.

The problem with the MP's argument is that it paves the way for culling and opens the door for *worse*. (Cf the stingrays who've suffered since Irwin's demise.)

His point C is completely disingenuous in the context of point A.

Oh, and seals are not dumb. They bark.

Dave Pearson said...

Dave: if I knew what it meant, I'd prob. agree with you...

If there's anything about what I said that you don't understand please feel free to seek clarification.

Praguetory said...

I have reread the full text as quoted by thisislincolnshire and linked by Phil. Nowhere does he say "dumb animals". Reread the final paragraph below and think before contradicting.

By selling seal products, and therefore giving the seal population an economic value, hunters are in fact creating an incentive for conservation - no seal hunter in his right mind is going to put the population at risk.

Best regards,