|All right, I admit it, seals are cute. When we spotted one off a Kent beach on Sunday morning, everybody went overboard. And I don't care one way or another about the "right" of fashionistas to wear fur. But I do care that dead seals are now being used to bash us all over the head.
This Easter it seems that many are feeling righteous not about the sacrificial Lamb of God, but the sacrifice of the seals of Canada's godforsaken frozen wastes. The annual row about the culling-on-ice has been heated up by claims that the seals' plight is now also proof of the sins of man-made global warming. Apparently warm weather has thinned the ice at the southern Gulf of St Lawrence, drowning young seals even before the cull began. So that proves we all have the blood of baby seals on our hands, right?
Never mind that Canada's seal population now numbers more than five million — three times what it was when the culling wars began in the 1970s — or that the authorities have cut this year's hunt quota by 20 per cent, or that experts do not know if thin ice is due to climate change or simply the weather. And never mind the local fishermen who, in the words of one 71-year-old veteran, are "just hanging on by our fingertips; we need the seal hunt to make ends meet".
None of that matters to those for whom all this is a simple moral parable of evil men killing cuddly animals as a symbol of killing the planet. So the herd of eco-crusaders (and a Daily Mail fashion writer) were out in helicopters at the opening of the hunt this week, to get the bloody pictures for their PR — far outnumbering the hunters.
Although they insist that their case is based on science, the climate-change alarmists seem strangely keen on anthropomorphic sentimentality. As my colleague Nathalie Rothschild has noted on Spiked, their "poster species" go in and out of fashion. First it was the animated penguins of Happy Feet, then the two polar bears pictured allegedly clinging to the last ice cube in the sea, and now the celebrity seals.
It reminds me of an old Denis Leary stand-up routine about an animal rights activist crying: "Don't eat those tuna fish — dolphins get stuck in the nets!" "But what about the tuna fish?" "F them. They taste good. They never had their own TV show, for crissake." And nor do fish make very good pin-ups for fundraising campaigns.
It almost seems that if seal culling did not exist, these people would have to invent it.