"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." Aldous Huxley
In continuation of AAS's response to the letter by Jack Chambers of Langley, I would like to add a few comments and answers to his questions regarding Ashley Fruno's "fishy" letter.
"When did Aquarium animals become sentient?"
It is without a doubt that Ms. Fruno would answer that they always have been. What comes into question here is the realization of sentience by humankind. Does Mr. Chambers believe that Orcas are sentient? If he would answer that question in the negative, he obviously was not present when Bjossa was moved from the Vancouver Aquarium to her death chamber in San Diego.
"...or at least more sentient than cows killed for food or leather."
No one is even considering degrees of sentience. Either a being is sentient or it is not. That's all there is to that. If a being feels pain and seeks to avoid that pain, it is sentient. Cows killed for food and leather are sentient. Mr. Chambers should take his family to the killing fields of slaughter houses and together they can decide whether cows are sentient or not. Ashley's letter was not intended to deal with the question of the sentience of cows, however, I am absolutely positive that she would include her negative views of eating and wearing cows at Mr. Chamber's request.
"...or seeing eye dogs which must control their very nature in order to serve mankind."
Of course they must. They have been bred to be obedient to the human animal and trained to do its bidding. Those two facts say all there is to say about the seeing-eye dog's sentience. If Mr. Chambers requires more perhaps he should open his eyes or, at very least, apply for a seeing-eye dog.
"And how are wild salmon less sentient than dolphins? Are both not equally aware and sensitive to their environment?"
Of course they are equally sentient. Degrees of sentience cannot be measured. The feeling of pain is the feeling of pain. The avoidance of the feeling of pain is the avoidance of the feeling of pain. A rose is a rose is a rose.... Any being that is not sensitive to its environment will not survive in its environment very long. Sensitivity itself is the proof of sentience.
"Has the "profit-driven exploitation" of salmon become so socially unacceptable that we should cease fishing?"
Well, Mr Chambers perhaps you should ask a Newfoundlander about the cod situation. Unfortunately, for the salmon, this "profit-driven exploitation" of salmon has not become as socially unacceptable as it should be. Let's just wait and see!
And finally, "dumb humans are" not "less sentient than smart ones." Even dumb humans can write dumb letters to the editor. There is a distinction between ignorance, greed, self-centredness and stupidity, but not of sentience. Those who refuse to "see" and who label "seeing" individuals as hypocrites have passed into that realm of consciousness where the lessons of history are either not seen at all or are forgotten altogether.