Fish & Pain’s state of the nation address

Does God exist?

Do fish feel pain?

Maybe there are other debates out there with just as much entrenched and strident argument on both sides of the question but if so, I haven’t encountered them yet.

I sometimes think these two issues should play off for the Rhetoric World Championship, the For and Against camps debating whether God feels pain (‘Do fish exist?’ threatens to make for a rather one-sided contest).

Fisherman Michael Agger has penned a pithy look at where the whole fish/pain theme is right now, over at Slate, his honesty and wry wit injecting a whiff of novelty into the same old arguments (the article is debated here). Not so much wit from the other side of the lobby, which prefers to focus on raising the stakes – now we’re all slave traders in disguise, according to this commentator.

Fish to kill as I do, of course and studies on whether fish feel pain are irrelevant. Pausing only to ensure that I’m deriving a reasonable amount of food from a sustainable resource, I fish to accommodate the millennia-old instincts of my species, whose bodies, I believe, are designed to be omnivorous for a reason.

It’s the peremptory dismissal of this aspect of Nature that gets me really digging my heels in on the morality-of-fishing issue. When a vegetarian johnny-come-lately with a lifespan of three score years and ten starts trying to second-guess umpteen million years of evolution, I beg to differ.


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