Monday, September 04, 2006

Australia mourns 'colourful son'

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Australia mourns 'colourful son'
Mr Irwin, 44, was struck in the chest by a stingray's barb while filming a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef.
What a shame. And what a shame that the man and those around him were so reckless.

I almost wish all these animal-handling TV people would attend STOP training and think more about the possible consequences of unanticipated contingencies like sting ray barbs to the heart.

Steve Irwin's death was entirely preventable, and I don't think his show would have suffered much, if at all, had he displayed more safety consciousness.


jj mollo said...

Frank Warner has some good posts about Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter, and Germane Greer's unkind comments on his demise.

Steve said...

Wow! I hadn't thought of Germaine Greer in years.

I think I differ with Belmont Club and Frank Warner on Germaine Greer's column. Belmont Club says she ascribes to animals feelings of revenge toward Irwin, and Frank writes that Greer says the stingray was right to kill him.

I didn't read either of those things in Greer's column. Her only reference to revenge is as a figure of speech. I don't think Greer was "making a show justifying the death of a showman". Seems to me that people are reading too much of their dislike for Greer into her column.

I thought her column was a tiny bit over the top here and there, especially where she referred to the "real Aussie larrikin". I was not familiar with "larrikin" so I had to look it up, and since she put the entire phrase in quotes there may be some context I'm unaware of, but I certainly don't agree that Irwin was a loafer or an ill-bred fellow, or even disorderly.

I did agree with a good deal of what Greer wrote, though. The bit about the baby and the chicken was correct. I think she's correct, too, when she says that a conservationist should drive home loss of habitat as the main cause of species loss. I could be wrong, but I've probably watched every episode of Crocodile Hunter and my impression is that did not stress loss of habitat as key. I'll keep an ear cocked for that when I watch his shows in the future.

Incidentally, one other point of difference I have with the Belmont Club post is where wretchard refers to a supposed natural right of any brute on earth to "take what he could and eat what he might". Humans are far from just any brute and have no such natural right. The other brutes don't have that "right" either - it's just what they do. I think that passage reflects the sort of wrongheaded anthropocentrism that Pianka highlights, and I agree with Pianka.

Good comment you left on Frank's site, by the way.

jj mollo said...

I think the "larrikin" comment may have been from PM Howard, meant as a compliment, maybe as a Jew would call him a mensch, or some might call him an alpha male or a high roller or say that he runs with the big dogs. She puts it in quotes to show that she does not endorse the positive connotation. I think that you are right about the her message on habitat preservation, but my feeling is that getting people excited about animals is a great service. I didn't watch him much. I think he mostly appealed to younger folks, but I did love the guy. I didn't see any cruelty in him. He was not, in my opinion, at all like a lion tamer. He didn't train the animals for unnatural behaviors just to show how brave he was. He was brave. There could be little doubt of that. His main interest, however, was showcasing the animal, not making himself look good. Steve Irwin was not Buffalo Bill.

You have a good objection to Wretchard's viewpoint as well. (Wretchard has a romantic mindset by the way.) A human has the right, or should have the right, to take what is necessary, not what is available. We have the capability to take everything that is available, and we are, for the most part, doing precisely that. You and I both know that we must get smarter and control our avarice, but the fact is that those who control themselves merely make it easier for those who don't. This is why we need to impose more authority in the collective aspect of humanity while providing the necessary understanding to the individuals of the species. Irwin was helping with the second part.