Another “Man Bites Dog” Story
Written by Michael K.
A lot of people probably wonder whether we Internet activists actually accomplish anything. Those people should pay close attention to this story.
More than seven centuries ago, an unnamed Ming Dynasty military hero who was preparing to capture the Chinese town of Jinhua decided to first order the killing of all the dogs in town so they wouldn’t bark and blow his cover. Ever since, our canine friends have been a regional delicacy, and in recent years the locals have honored the ancient warriorís valiant victory by celebrating an event charmingly called the Zheijiang Jinhua Dog Meat Festival, a three-festival of killing and torture which has caused the deaths of thousands of dogs.
Until now, that is. It seems that this year’s festival, which had been scheduled for mid-October, has instead been canceled by local authorities after a campaign by tens of thousands of online activists and animal lovers flooded the Internet with graphic pictures of, and graphic stories about, the festival (Iíve found some of those pictures. Go search for them yourself if you want to, but be prepared). The resulting bad publicity caused a decision that will spare many of mankind’s best friends a lot of pain and suffering.
And we have no one but ourselves to thank. “I think the government canceled the festival mainly because they are under so much pressure of the netizens,” one Chinese activist told the Los Angeles Times. And in fact, a bit more surfing uncovered the happy fact that a similar online campaign recently caused the end of a similar dog meat festival in South Korea. All of which leads us to several conclusions:
1. Yes, Internet campaigns really can improve the world, especially when it comes to fighting cruelty against animals, so keep on signing those petitions, folks!
2. Yes, China really is becoming a more open society (you think Chinese officials would have made decisions like this based on media pressure a generation ago?). But itís still acceptable to eat dogs in parts of Asia and elsewhere in the world — an apt topic for future activism.
Photo from husham samir via flickr