I have a habit of checking the veracity of the ‘Fwd mails’ I get – you know the e-mails on some remote subject that are forwarded by everyone. About dangerous viruses, on health and the most recent trend – violently shocking pictures of wars, killings and suicides. I usually reply to the friend who sends me the mail sometimes asking them to refrain from forwarding graphic pictures without checking their genuineness. For example when the civil war in Sri Lanka reached its height before the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran I received lots of mails with pictures of gruesome dead bodies, some reportedly killed by the LTTE and some by the Sri Lankan army. In fact I ended up receiving the same photos of dead bodies twice – one claimed it to be a massacre by the Sri Lankan army and the second claimed it to be a massacre by the LTTE!
Another one I have received recently a couple of times is about the killing of whales in Denmark. The mail shows a sea stained in red with hundreds of dead whales. The whales are supposedly killed by teens as an initiation into manhood. The cruelty must stop – this is the content of the mail.
The pictures looked authentic. What could possibly make men so cruel and why is it still happening in the modern world? So I did my research in the internet and here is what I came up with. I am not going to say if it is a good or bad thing – readers have to draw their own conclusions. Here are some of the facts:
The pictures of the mass killings of whales (the particular species is called pilot whale) are authentic. It takes place in an island called Faroe Islands – a constituent of Denmark. However I can’t find anything to suggest it is a ritual – rather it is a community action, called the grindadráp, to provide food. The whale meat is never sold; instead it is divided evenly to everyone who wants it. Records of whale drive hunts in the Faroe Islands date back to 1584. Most Faroese consider the hunt an important part of their culture and history whereas animal-right activists consider the hunt as being cruel and unnecessary.
According to The Office of Protected Resources, an US government agency responsible for protecting marine mammals and endangered marine life, there is no danger of the pilot whale becoming extinct.
From Wikipedia: “Most part of traditional Faroese food consists of (whale) meat. Because of the harsh Faroese climate, grain and vegetables have not been able to grow very well... During the winter months the Faroe Islanders´ only option was to mostly eat salted or dried food… including pilot whale meat. This means that over the centuries, the pilot whale has been an important source of food and vitamins to the isolated population on the North Atlantic archipelago.” (edited)
So what may seem repulsing in one culture may be quite acceptable or necessary in another. Cultural differences have to be taken into account while passing judgment on issues. Such mails and pictures could offend people and cultures we don’t know about and we have no right to criticize as much as they don’t have a right to criticize ours. Though I agree with the good intentions behind most of these mails I urge my friends to be a little more cautious and understanding while forwarding such “Fwd mails”. If not, you could end up producing the opposite of the desired effect.