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Meghan McArdle reports on the Seaworld press conference this afternoon about the killer whale that killed a trainer earlier this week:

When asked by a reporter about the fact that this same whale has apparently killed three other people, he repeatedly makes the irrelevant point that it only killed one other person at Seaworld . . . small comfort to the folks who take their tykes there. He also repeatedly refers to the whale as a valued member of the Seaworld team, which seems to me to be taking animal rights a little far. After all, a valued member of the Seaworld team who kept killing people would open up the company to enormous liability dangers.

I love that line about “a valued member of the Seaworld team who kept killing people would open up the company to enormous liability dangers.” Yes, and, of course, the corpses.

But the interesting thing here is the loss of the old commonsense understanding that required the death of any predator that killed a human being—since we cannot allow them to develop a taste for human flesh. Since we have to teach them, by weeding out the man-killers, that we are not prey. Instead, we’re four people down to this animal, and it’s clearly got the palate well developed.

The ironies here are so manifest that only willfulness explains how they are ignored: The animals have the rights of humans, except when they, like, you know, kill humans. McArdle is right to talk ironically about liability lawsuits. As Wesley Smith would say , a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy, as long as that constrains the boy—and not the rat or the pig or the dog.

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