Johnny Depp, Barnaby Joyce, Privilege And Speciesism

Johnny Depp with one of his dogs. Source Pinterest
Johnny Depp with one of his dogs. Source Pinterest

Who would have thought that a seemingly innocent question asked during a doorstop interview with an agriculture minister about a local issue would result in overwhelming media attention, both locally and internationally.

Yet, this is exactly what happened when Australia’s Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, was asked for a comment on the breach of quarantine by Johnny Depp’s dogs, Boo and Pistol.

Quarantine Is There For A Reason

There are a important bit that those jumping up and down are forgetting or ignoring, in their mad rush to bash a politician.

  • Johnny Depp broke the law by not declaring and putting into quarantine, these animals when he entered the country.
  • No one can 100% guarantee, regardless of how ‘pampered’ these animals are, that they don’t pose a biosecurity risk to this country.
  • Even if there was a guarantee, should the ability to pick and choose which laws apply to whom be based on their popularity and wealth?
  • The only reason that the whole world is hearing about this is because Johnny Depp is a ‘celebrity’
  • When was the last time that the Australian government euthanised someone’s pet for similar breaches?

Reinforcing Speciesism

With all the attention that this is getting, the only thing that is happening is that society’s speciesist beliefs and attitudes are being reinforced.

Here we are spending three days focusing media attention on whether or not two dogs should or shouldn’t be killed due to their owner breaking the law. Yet in those three days, the following animals were killed in Queensland without a comment, all for no other reason than they were a particular species.

  • 21 dogs and puppies in RSPCA shelter (based on 2013/2014 figures)
  • 10,749 cattle*
  • 413 calves*
  • 11,510 sheep*
  • 4,505 lambs*
  • 10,347 goats*
  • 20,198 pigs*
    *based on w/e 08/05/2015 figures

Instead of pretending how much we care about animals by venting at a politician, how about taking the time to ask the question about why we think it is ok to keep dogs and other animals as pets in the first place?

What are your thoughts?