Thursday, 26 July 2007

Shambo will be slaughtered [insert bull/cow based pun of your choice here]

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So, today is the day that Shambo the sacred bullock will finally be put down, although the monks at Skanda Vale temple, Carmarthenshire, aren't going to let him go down without a fight.

There've been enough cow/bull puns and gags cracked in the media over this to last us a lifetime, so I won't go down that path. Behind all this there is an interesting question of religious freedom, and it'd be good to hear what this blog's readers have to say about it. I guess it comes down to whether or not the bull actually poses a threat to any surrounding farms. If it's going to cause a TB outbreak then the religious angle is irrelevant - put it down. However if, as the community at Skanda Vale claim, Shambo isn't endangering Welsh agriculture then surely the authorities could have spared us this saga and just let it live? Shambo is clearly of great significance to his devotees, so if there is no risk of wider infection why can't the authorities just respect the community's wishes and spare him?

Then again, can we really have one rule for the average farmer in his field, and another for multi-faith communities in rural Wales?

What do people think?

[27 July update: following an operation involving 30 police officers, Shambo was removed from Skanda Vale and slaughtered. This whole saga must have cost us all quite a lot of money...]

8 comments:

Bob said...

I addressed this question in a blog post last month, called The Cow Delusion:
http://bob.seldo.com/?p=312
(That's right, I go with the cheap pun every time. Heck, it doesn't even have to rhyme.)

I argue a sort of utilitarian case. Even if the cow can have his disease kept at bay with medication, and someone can pay to have him clinically isolated to insure he's no threat, there are still much better things that time and energy could be spent on! Especially if one's primary concern is supposedly "the sanctity of life".

Paul Sims said...

Thanks for that Bob. I felt like playing devils advocate on this one! If there's a clear risk of outbreak then it's a no-brainer really, but it's also important that we don't just dismiss outright what some may find sacred just because we find it irrational. If there's no real risk then the bull's worth more to them alive than it is to anyone else dead.

It seems the opportunities for secularist point scoring have been too tempting with this story. You could say they've been milking it for all its worth...

Anonymous said...

It's unfair to punners that Shambo is not a cow, but a castrated male. I expect he was castrated for the safety of his keepers, rather than religious reasons. Anyway, he will do more for religion, dead than alive. Imagine the fervour that the tale of the execution of the sacred being will arouse.

Chris said...

To give this cow any special treatment over another because of Religion would be another sad example of the power religion seems to have to demand unquestioning respect from a government, an establishment even, that is scared of upsetting anyone.

The beast should receive the same consideration as Farmer Giles' prize bull down the road. No more, no less.

When she is/was slaughtered, did she pass to the udder side?

Anonymous said...

She was a he and had no udders. Punstering gives no freedom to be idiotic.

Chris said...

Anonymous (the second one): you are quite correct. I should have checked my facts before spouting forth.
Does my obvious ignorance of the details of the story make the pun any less funny?

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