Thursday, March 31, 2011

Killer of Three on Display in Florida

The third killing was just over 13 months ago.  The repeat killer's been isolated since then.  Kept away from potential victims.  But enough's enough.
That sort of isolation is hard.  It's hard physically.  It's hard socially.  It's hard mentally.  So now he's back, punishment over, isolation over.
Because our commitment to the ensuring that we don't overpunish, that we trust in, believe in rehabilitation.  You know.  Because we're so damned forgiving.
As long as we're not talking about people.
There have been 10 executions in the US so far this year.  (Two each in Oklahoma, Texas, and Ohio; one each in Alabama, Geogia, Missouri, and Arizona.)  1244 since 1976 when the Supreme Court said some states' death penalty laws were constitutional.
But Tillikum's back in Shamu Stadium at Sea World in Orlando, back where he killed Dawn Brancheau, back entertaining the crowd.
Last year, when he killed Ms. Brancheau, I blogged about what we do with killer whales who kill.  I talked about the peculiar history of actually putting animals on trial.  I reviewed theories of Tillikum's mental state (premeditation, frustration, sudden passion).  I suggested that regardless of his motives, and even though he's killed before, there was no need to kill him.  Isolation would work.
But apparently not.  Bad for his self-esteem or something.
SeaWorld Animal Training Curator Kelly Flaherty Clark said in a statement that returning Tilikum to performing more than a year later was best for the whale.
“Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum’s day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment,” Clark said. “He has been regularly interacting with his trainers and the other whales for purposes of training, exercise and social and mental stimulation, and has enjoyed access to all of the pools in the Shamu Stadium complex.”
If Tillikum were human, they'd be screaming for his head.
But he's a killing, killer whale.
They come to watch.  Hoping, maybe, just a little, that he'll do it again.
And now he's back.  Wednesday was his first show, and reports are that
Because we really are bloodthirsty.  Even if we won't kill Tillikum.
By the way, reports are that he performed flawlessly on his first day back at the show.

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