Blackfish Documentary Exposes Industry Cruelty of Orca Whales in Captivity
Advocates of rights for whales and dolphins made strides last night, as the documentary Blackfish aired on CNN during prime-time hours. The film tells the story of orca whales kept in captivity at the Seaworld theme parks in California, Florida and Texas.
Blackfish is not easy to watch. Scenes of huge whales swimming despondently past human families are subtly disturbing. Then the film gets less subtle.
Mostly through the testimony of former SeaWorld employees, it shows how the whales, frustrated and bored with their captivity, lash out from time to time in acts of aggression. These eventually led to the deaths of two trainers—Keltie Byrne and Dawn Brancheau—as well as a young man named Daniel P. Dukes, who had snuck into the park at night. Blackfish also suggests that the company repeatedly attempted to cover up these problems.
If social media was any indication, the film hit viewers in an unusually visceral way. Consider a few sample tweets:
Watching #Blackfish has me in tears.
—Janell Suarez @Janell_Suarez
After watching #blackfish on CNN, I'm not going to @SeaWorld ever again. Very eye-opening and disturbing.
—Brandon Ford @bfor2384
Hey @SeaWorld there's a word for imprisoning free beings & forcing them to work against their will: slavery #BlackfishOnCNN #captivitykills
—Sandra Benjamin @BenjaminSandra
Like Suarez, a large number of viewers wrote on social media that learning about the whales' ordeal made them cry. Others, like Ford, said they would never go to SeaWorld again. And, like Benjamin, still others suggested that we should recognize greater legal rights for animals, especially highly intelligent ones such as whales and dolphins.
Most of the action happened under the hashtags #BlackfishOnCNN and #Blackfish—so you can follow the conversation for yourself through those links. There's a lot of it. #Blackfish became the number-two trending hashtag on several occasions Thursday night, placing it right between #ThursdayNightFootball and #VAGovDebate.
See the network's website for an interview with filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite, an investigation into whether whales belong in captivity, and a conversation with former whale trainer John Hargrove.
The United States passed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday and experts warn that number may double before the end of the year as an autumn surge in cases starts, according to USA Today.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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