Monday, March 15, 2010

How is a whale like a canary?

So I finally went and read the article about the sushi bar that got raided for serving up fillet o' Moby Dick. I made it about four paragraphs in before I nearly had a cerebral event...
Prosecutors charged Typhoon Restaurant Inc., the parent company of The Hump, and one of its chefs -- Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45 -- with the illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.

While it is considered a delicacy in Japan and some other countries, meat from whale -- an endangered species -- is illegal to consume in the United States.

The misdemeanor charge carries a federal prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $200,000 for the company, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
There is just so much wrong there that I don't even know where to begin.
  1. The only hook the feds have on which to hang their hat here, assuming they still gave a rat's ass about the Constitution, is the commerce clause. Since the whale had presumably been involved in commerce with a foreign nation, it could have been contraband since I'd assume that no duties or tariffs had been paid for Willy.
  2. Illegal to consume? Illegal to consume? You point out to me where in the Constitution that the federal government thinks it has any business telling people what they can or cannot "consume". Even during Prohibition it wasn't illegal to drink alcohol, you overreaching petty tyrants, and they at least had the common courtesy to amend the founding contract rather than just pull some BS new law out of their butts. What any citizen of this great nation chooses to stick in any orifice of their bodies is not even the slightest legitimate concern of the federal government. Mind your own business, you pin-headed pack of jumped-up Chamber of Commerce boosters and refugees from the back cover of the phone book. We sent you people to Washington to get you out of our hair, not to tell us what to put in our mouths.
  3. A Federal misdemeanor? Really? You mean in between its legitimate functions like declaring war, signing treaties, hanging pirates, and establishing post roads, the Federal government has time to throw individual citizens of the sovereign states in the pokey for misdemeanors? And this makes sense to someone?
Jesus, what a mess we've made of this thing. It was such a neat little setup for a country we had and we have effed it up so thoroughly that the Federal government can put people in jail for eating meat from the wrong species. Jimmy, Alex, Ben, George, we broke it; we're sorry.


CORRECTION: Looks like I nearly had a cerebral hemorrhage this morning for nothing. Apparently neither the heavily fact-checked reporter nor their layers of editorial oversight at CNN has access to Google. The relevant portion of the U.S. Code is here: 16 U.S.C. § 1372. No mention of misdemeanors or eating. Given how ignorant they are about firearms and firearms law, I don't know why I expect them to be any better informed about any other topic.

21 comments:

Longshot said...

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State." -- Madison, Federalist #45

They sure sold us a bill of goods with that one. Someone should have listenend to Patrick Henry:

"Now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire."

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Still peeved at Ben for this whole Daylight Savings Time thing. Maybe I should check Snopes to be sure he is the one to blame, or if he's been falsely attributed with this whole monstrosity.

So Ben get's no sympathy, that busybody.

The others, I'll cut some slack.

And now I want a whale steak....

Michael said...

The weigh also most nothing in their element?

perlhaqr said...

So, should laws against cannibalism be state laws, then?

Joanna said...

Go burn a tire. It'll make you feel better.

Tam said...

perlhaqr,

Need I remind you that not even murder is within the proper purview of the federal government?

Boyd said...

Waitasecond...

First, the article's author says it's illegal to consume whale meet in the US, then they address "The misdemeanor charge."

I know it would be heresy to think such a thing about a journalist, but is it possible that the writer hasn't a clue what they're writing about and screwed up their reportage of reality?

Naw, not even remotely possible.

staghounds said...

Um, except for the "no Federal misdemeanors" part.

I'd say the ability to prosecute crimes is inherent and necessary, and some of those crimes will be misdemeanors.

Smuggling a carton of cigarettes, that sort of thing.

But I think that my orifice, my choice is pretty reasonable.

And cannibalism is not a crime in my state.

staghounds said...

Although the term "cannibalism" is an odd one. It sounds like it means the promotion of or belief in the consumption of human flesh by humans, rather than the act itself.

Tam said...

Boyd,

"I know it would be heresy to think such a thing about a journalist, but is it possible that the writer hasn't a clue what they're writing about and screwed up their reportage of reality?"

I sure as heck hope so. I'm googling even now.

Tam said...

Here's what I got so far: 16 U.S.C. § 1372.

My blood pressure has dropped ever so slightly.

Still digging.

Siltazay said...

From what I can tell by reading the story, the reporter screwed the pooch on this one. The statute cited in the story seems to be the one linked to by Tam, which reads as if it is illegal to offer the meat for sale, but not to actually consume it. Would not be the first time a reporter completely missed the mark in regards to a law or legal interpretation.

D.W. Drang said...

Before one blames Ben for Daylight Savings Time, one should consider that he was making a joke.

John A said...

"Apparently neither the heavily fact-checked reporter nor their layers of editorial oversight at CNN has access to Google."

That is actually possible. I read an article a couple of years back by a grad student who summer-interned at a national TV network news org. In passing, she mentioned recieving a memo that personnel were forbidden to use Google.

This may be because the company subscribes to several paid search engines (eg LExis/Nexis) and wants to be sure they are used. OTOH, those seaches would come up with, at the very least, the same legal reference[s].

og said...

I am absolutely dying to get my hands on some whale bacon.

Anonymous said...

A country of Law Abiding Citizens is uncontrollable, so they make so many varied and confusing laws that is is impossible not to break some. Then, by selectively enforcing those laws and offering deals to the convicted, they can control whomevever they choose. It is the basis for the "Aristocracy of Pull": It is not what you know, but WHO, and what they owe you.

perlhaqr said...

Tam: Fair enough.

og: Whacon. :D

Justthisguy said...

Heh. Tam said "common courtesy." I'm thinking of that line in "Full Metal Jacket." You nasty girl, you.

Justthisguy said...

Oh yeah, Deathwish, It was the Germans in the Great War who really got it going. First guys with flame throwers and poison gas, too. We could annoy Marko with this.

Windy Wilson said...

Let me read that statute again. It seems that if the whale is taken legally (under treaty) then it is legal to import.

And I ate at that restaurant 2 months ago and they never offered me whale!
See if they get a big tip next time!

TBeck said...

What kind of idiot eats whale meat when everyone knows that manatee meat is both sweeter and more tender?