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Author Topic: Elephant Ivory Saddles?  (Read 5689 times)
LawDogStrgsAttach
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« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2007, 06:44:56 PM »

Loofah - no.  That is incorrect, though I see this might be a semantics issue.  If there is a moral qualm, that should be "evangelized," so to speak.  If it is an ethical qualm, then it is better to be held privately - not to say one cannot voice or discuss the ethical problem, just that the ethic is relative to those holding it.

Difference?

Ethics are standards held by a certain group of people toward certain issues.  Examples of ethics:  vegans and use of anything animal, musicians and ivory, lawyers and the model rules of professional conduct, physicians and the (now edited) Hippocratic Oath, Americans and "hard work."  Bottom line for ethics - there is a nexus with the issue and certain classes of persons. 

Morals are collective values that (should) be held universally.  Obviously, many more items fall under ethics, not morals.  Moral examples include:  murder, rape, theft, lying, slavery, anarchy (ie, absence of law), etc...  Bottom line for morals - they are universal (or at least OVERWHELMINGLY so), and those who fall out of line from the moral standard should be persuaded otherwise, as you suggested.

The ivory issue is ethical as long as law exists to protect the animals.  If no laws existed to protect elephants (feigned or otherwise, as you suggest), then it would be a moral issue as it wold violate a general concept of theft of a natural resource (not to mention waste and extinction hastenting) - hence my bringing law and legality into the discussion.

Law will always, as it always has been, an imperfect being subject to human distortion.

Let the cannons fire away...
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jimmyd
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« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2007, 12:20:02 AM »

Good thought provoking description and clarification. I see a problem in arbitrarily  accepting law to determine the difference between what is  moral or what is ethical. Moral and ethical standards are not universal. For example it took a lot of evagalizing to change segregation laws in the country not so long ago. Is that an ethical issue that morphed into a moral issue or was it always a moral issue that was protected by bad laws? Sometimes laws are changed to reflect changing values in society and sometimes to benefit minority interests. That the rub for me. Morals and ethics are all relative and not absolute. I do agree that it is law that codifies behavior for the common good. For me it is my values that are most consistent in guiding my behavior.
Good thing donuts are not endangered. We would have to shut down this forum .
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sgarnett
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« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2007, 10:46:59 AM »

Let me suggest a few questions to consider. I'm not seeking advice, nor proposing the answers, just pursuing constructive discussion 

I have a stick of ivory (presumably elephant) that was given to me years ago by an old luthier friend. It probably came from stock that he in turn had been holding for years. It's a rough billet, but would probably be enough for at least two saddles. Should I saw it into chunks to toss in the next bonfire? Use it for saddles? Continue to keep it in a drawer?

I also have a guitar with an ivory (presumably elephant) saddle that was installed several owners ago. It is my favorite guitar, with a sound I really like. Should I destroy the saddle and replace it with bone or Tusq?

A friend has quite a bit of old ivory. There's a carved tusk (though it's not all that big as such things go) and various boxes and knick-knacks. They were all collected years ago by an ancestor. Should she destroy it? If she were willing to sell it (unlikely), and I were willing to slice up a work of art to make guitar saddles (also unlikely), why shouldn't I (in the elephant context, ignoring destruction of art)? There's no way to put it back on the elephant,

Lest it seem like I'm trying to skew things in one direction despite my earlier claim ...

Years ago, I bought a "mammoth ivory" saddle blank. Well, it sure didn't look fossilized to me. It had a slight pink tint, with nothing whatsoever to suggest it had spent years underground. I don't know that it was poached, but I suspect it was. I didn't discard or destroy it, but stuck it in a drawer and eventually consigned it to hidden, utilitarian service as a shim (where it still resides) instead of making a saddle from it. I doubt if I'm contributing to a demand for poached shim stock. I pondered it for too long for returning the ivory to be an option. Should I have used it for a saddle anyway (live and learn, just don't buy "mammoth" ivory again) or destroyed it?

Note that I'm only talking about disposition of existing stocks, not new importation.
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bearsville0
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« Reply #43 on: March 17, 2007, 06:10:59 PM »

HI  sgarnett,

While I hope existing laws will be enforced regarding poachers and that legal ivory will gathered in an ethical way, I'm of the opinion, as I mentioned in an earlier post, that all existing ivory must be cherished and used.

To destroy it would be an even bigger insult to the god of elephants, if there were such a thing, but I hope you know what I mean.

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rbrown
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« Reply #44 on: March 17, 2007, 11:59:14 PM »

I think the Walrus Ivory alternative solves the problem.  It is just a light weight, porus material to, hopefully transmit a tonal quality.  How much difference can there be between Ivory pilferred from an endangered animal, and sustainable ivory collected freely from a thriving species?

Yea, it's all about ethics and I could not feel good playing my guitar if  every time I looked down I saw a threatened piece of God's kingdom.
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Loofah
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« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2007, 01:23:50 PM »

Loofah - no.  That is incorrect, though I see this might be a semantics issue.  If there is a moral qualm, that should be "evangelized," so to speak.  If it is an ethical qualm, then it is better to be held privately - not to say one cannot voice or discuss the ethical problem, just that the ethic is relative to those holding it.
Perhaps incorrect per your own personal dictionary. I really don't think there is such a distinction in common usage. The thought that ethical principles should be quietly held private is anathema to me. I just think that this is a false distinction. Defining morals as somehow ideal (ie "should be" universally held) takes away the relativistic aspect of morals.

Anyhoo, I really think the whole idea about ivory somehow sounding better could be true, however I don't think the difference is readily perceptible. The only reason that ivory is in the conversation is because of the traditional use of it in the past. At that time there simply weren't many alternatives.

I just don't think it is worth the risk that you are perhaps encouraging poaching. In that even if this ivory is completely legitimate (and it probably is), its use creates additional demand for new supply to be provided (additional elephants killed).
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LawDogStrgsAttach
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« Reply #46 on: March 19, 2007, 06:08:51 PM »

I did not make that up - ethics and morals have important distinctions in philosophy that I laid out generally in my last post.  I also do not subscribe to relativism (eg, "in my own dictionary").  "Should be" does not negate morals into relativism.  That statement merely suggests that though there are differences according to whom you ask regarding which issues are moral, the statisical average dictates that many issues are indeed universal and not relative to a group of people holding them (ie, ethics).  Just because we lost the "common usage" distinction does not mean the distinction fails.

I do agree with your concerns, though.  This issue should not be taken lightly nor should great animals be sacrificed in part of the rich American guitarist's desire to squeeze the lat bit of tone from his instrument or brag to his friends about the uniqueness therein.

Rock on!   
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sgarnett
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« Reply #47 on: March 19, 2007, 06:35:32 PM »

I don't know of any morals that are universal, and "should be" is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps a better definition would be values that are overwhelmingly held within a given community.

That said, I'd have no problem with banning all importation of ivory, regardless of the source.

I tend to agree with bearsville, though, that destroying what's already here would be a waste.

Personally, I don't see ivory content as a bragging point. I do like the sound of my ivory-equipped guitar (though I've never heard or played it with any other material for comparison), but I doubt if I'm going to inspire anyone to pursue "my sound" (in my dreams, maybe ...). Beyond that, it's not something I'd expect many people to be impressed by; quite the opposite, in fact.
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canoe65
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« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2007, 11:03:14 PM »

My gosh.  You guys (and guylettes) are really flogging a dead horse here.

I've lost track.  Who's winning here.  At least, can we ALL agree that the elephants are not?    crying

Now, I'm wondering if you can make a guitar case out of horse hide !!   
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sgarnett
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« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2007, 02:39:35 AM »

I've lost track.  Who's winning here.

Well, I don't think it's a contest. Varying opinions were solicited, and provided. The topic is pretty clear from the title, so if you are are tired of reading about it, why continue to do so? But then, I consider open, civil discussion of controversial topics to be a win-win for everyone.

I think most agree that no new elephants should be killed for ivory. I certainly do.

Opinions vary on whether legal ivory contributes to poaching. Some feel even fossil ivory (assuming it is genuine ...) contributes to demand, leading to poaching. Some feel that banning even the currently-legal sources would drive up the price, leading to more poaching (the drug trade argument). Both are probably true.

I find it curious that nobody said they would remove and destroy a pre-existing ivory saddle from a guitar. Well, maybe rbrown did; I'm not sure.

Let's raise the stakes a bit. Let's say you bought a used guitar with an elephant ivory saddle. Let's side-step issue of whether to buy the guitar at all. Let's further assume that you buy a bone/Tusq/whatever (but not fossil ivory) saddle to replace it with, and don't like the sound as well (not making that claim, it's just a thought experiment). Would you still destroy the ivory, or reinstall it?

My question is not whether you would replace Tusq or bone with newly-purchased ivory, just whether you would replace ivory with Tusq/bone, even if you did not like it as well, in order to destroy the ivory. I suspect that for some, the answer is yes.
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bearsville0
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« Reply #50 on: March 20, 2007, 03:47:42 AM »

LawDogStrgsAttach you state:
"The statisical average dictates that many issues are indeed universal and not relative to a group of people holding them"

You may be mixing up paradigms here and inadvertantly contradicting yourself. I think the development of statistical models (and  mathematical ideas such as "statistical averages")  made concepts like "relative" and "universal" or "absolute" irrelevant. Statistics only allows us to predict what MOST people will value, therefore those values cannot be universal.

Universal, Relative, Objective, Absolute etc etc as concepts have only a poetic or metaphoric use IMO. We are only ever looking for an educated concensus at best. The fact that there is wide concensus across ethnic groups that, eg, murder is wrong does not justify, technically speaking, the use of the word "universal" except in a metaphorical sense.   Philosophy and mathematics  shifted from certainty to probability some time in the early 20th century. It's a very interesting story as I recall.

In this thread the concensus seems to be "let the pachyderms go!" regardless of the linguistic nuances.


sgarnett, you ask:
"Would you replace ivory with Tusq/bone, even if you did not like it as well?"

My answer is no.  But based on Saffron Boots' earlier post, the difference may be negligible anyway. Not that I woulldn't have liked to have been in his team of researchers.

Let's hear it for the win-win situation!!!


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sgarnett
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« Reply #51 on: March 20, 2007, 12:23:48 PM »

The fact that there is wide concensus across ethnic groups that, eg, murder is wrong does not justify, technically speaking, the use of the word "universal" except in a metaphorical sense.

To follow that example, the problem is that while most agree that "murder" is wrong, there are widely differing opinions on what is or is not murder. The classical "gray area" example is war, but several others are frequently in the news too.

It's easy to be dogmatic when things are black and white, but IMHO, all progress comes from examining the gray.

Humans have arrogantly believed, for a very long time, that we are the only species with culture, but that is proving to be untrue. Elephants live for a very long time (if left to themselves) in matriarchal societies that pass on their knowledge and wisdom from the old to the young. The old elephants yield the most ivory, so they are most heavily hunted. Whole generations of orphaned elephants are missing out on not only the basic information (where is the water?) but also more advanced, cultural topics such as how to raise their young in turn. There was an article on the topic in National Geographic several years ago. Even  if the species survives, their culture may be wiped out.

Is that murder? I think a case could be made.
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bearsville0
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« Reply #52 on: March 21, 2007, 12:33:39 PM »

Hi sgarnett, LawDogStrgsAttach and others with interest in the morality/ethics question:

Hot off the press!

From yesterday's New York Times (Tuesday March 20):

"Scientists Find the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior"

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html?ref=science

Enjoy
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sgarnett
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« Reply #53 on: March 21, 2007, 12:53:21 PM »

Wow, those rhesus monkeys take discipline seriously.
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bearsville0
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« Reply #54 on: March 21, 2007, 01:11:32 PM »

I know, losing a finger!  No wonder we don't see too many monkeys with guitars.
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ElJefe
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« Reply #55 on: March 21, 2007, 10:53:04 PM »

No wonder we don't see too many monkeys with guitars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0FUvLfxyp0&mode=related&search=

Sorry for this bump. Couldn't help myself.
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« Reply #56 on: April 04, 2007, 08:51:56 AM »

A few issues here:

1) The general logic early on that suggested that doubt = an answer.  If that is the case, what is the worth in wrestling with perspectives to any problem?  The use of our higher faculties constantly involves doubt since that pressure in our thoughts leads our rationality.  If only life were that simple as to negate the process of weighing arguments and perspectives and just yield to doubt!

2) There is such thing as legal ivory.  It is either a) harvested well before the time of rampant poaching of endangered elephants or b) ivory that is managed from naturally dead elephants  or harvested within govt regs. 

Colosi's ivory is documented, so it falls under one of the categories above.  I think it would be better that if a person is offended by any ivory, then exercise that by a) not purchasing and b) telling others privately.  I think public uninformed discourse, similar to what we are encroaching in this thread, is damaging to dealers and artisans - B. Colosi in this case.

If he was found to deal in illegal ivory, I'd be the first to lead the charge.  But like our CITES EIR or Mahogany, Colosi is following the rules.  Let's make better distinctions in our logic and in the legality of bad vs. good ivory.

I have a problem with this logic as it applies to humans trusting other humans to be doing the right thing when there is money involved. Otherwise I agree totaly with the "doubt" thing.

The truth is that if there is a human involved, and the potential to make money, there is a very good chance that someone along the line is lying and cheating the system in order to circumvent the laws in place to protect the inocent (Animals in this case).

Colosi may be following the rules that are written on paper, but in my humble opinion he fails miserably at having the ethics and morals to overcome the power of greed, by just choosing to sell anyhing that is made of Ivory to begin with. Trust me, he does not really know where it comes from. He just follows the rules set before him so he can make a buck. That is wrong when it comes to selling animal parts of any kind, in my humble opinion.

The only way to truly know for sure is to never buy any Ivory at all, for anything ever. This means YOU, ME, and EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET!

In other words, I am actually saying here and now that I think Colosi, and people like him, are part of the problem, not the solution... And they will continue to be as long as they continue to use the guise of "Following the Rules" to allow them to circumvent sound morals and ethics for the love of money, or anything else.

My two cents...

Sincerely,

Froglips...
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sgarnett
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« Reply #57 on: April 04, 2007, 11:33:32 PM »

The only way to truly know for sure is to never buy any Ivory at all, for anything ever. This means YOU, ME, and EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET!

You can't do much about China (an awfully big chunk of EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET), and I've personally seen a lot of ivory hanging in shops there. Let's set global commerce aside, though.

Would you, froglips, destroy any ivory that is already in your possession for whatever reason? Would you, for example, pull the ivory saddle (or whatever) off a vintage guitar and replace it with bone or Tusq? What if you sell the guitar; would you sell it with its original ivory?

The point of asking is not to imply the answer. I simply think it is far more useful to consider the sticky questions than the easy ones. Sometimes our own answers surprise us.

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froglips
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« Reply #58 on: April 05, 2007, 06:25:24 AM »

You can't do much about China (an awfully big chunk of EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET), and I've personally seen a lot of ivory hanging in shops there. Let's set global commerce aside, though.

Would you, froglips, destroy any ivory that is already in your possession for whatever reason? Would you, for example, pull the ivory saddle (or whatever) off a vintage guitar and replace it with bone or Tusq? What if you sell the guitar; would you sell it with its original ivory?

The point of asking is not to imply the answer. I simply think it is far more useful to consider the sticky questions than the easy ones. Sometimes our own answers surprise us.

I understand that there is a large part of the world that just does not care about anything except their own proliferation. This is sad, and uncontrolable. Humans are just terrible beings, and nothing more than a virus on the planet Earth. The Earth would be a much better place without humans on it, that is a fact.

Here is a partial quote I saw on a commercial once that says it all IMHO... "There is only one being on the face of the planet Earth that has the power to protect the planet, the environment, and all other living beings on the planet."
I believe that this is the true, and only, answer to the age old questions "Why are we here?", and "What is the meaning of life?".

Sorry, I got a little too "tree huggerish" on you-all there for a sec.

To answer your question about weather or not I think a person, or myself, should destroy Ivory that is already in the world, and not on a live animal at the moment, I have two answers for you.

1.) If it is Ivory that is already in the possesion of people, and is already turned into something (Like a piece of art, or a guitar saddle), then NO I would not destroy it.

2.) If it is raw Ivory that has not been turned into anything yet, or is still in the countries that can harvest it, or is gotten from poaching, natural deaths, or any other way possible, then YES it should be completely destroyed so there will be no new supplies of Ivory at all.

3. Bonus answer) I can not say with 100% certainty that I would not sell Ivory, or not kill an animal for it's Ivory, if I was poor and had dependants to take care of. I am, after all, a part of the craptastic human race as well you know. If I did not have any dependants to speak of, then I would die before I would sell Ivory, or kill an animal for it's Ivory.

Have any of you ever seen a movie called "What the bleep do we know"? If not, I suggest you watch it. It will put things into perspective, that is for sure. Drink lots of coffee when you watch it though, as it will put most people to sleep with in aprox 10 minutes (Quantum physics/mechanics).

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Lips...
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sgarnett
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« Reply #59 on: April 05, 2007, 11:37:15 AM »

Sorry, I got a little too "tree huggerish" on you-all there for a sec.

Not at all 
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