09/11/2007 10:14 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

That's a Whale of an Excuse

Those are some amazing Native American warrior skills. It must take generations of ancient lore and learning, tribal wisdom and manly virtues to be able to kill a whale -- with a .50 caliber machine gun.

Members of the Makah tribe are allowed to hunt California gray whales for cultural purposes. But as the man with the National Marine Fisheries said, the recent machine gunning and harpooning of this whale off Washington State, apparently by tribal members, "does not appear to be of that nature. "

Still, don't be surprised if someone trots out a cultural defense argument, along the lines that if machine guns had been around 200 years ago, the Makah would have killed whales with them, so why not now?

People have tried to mount a sort of cultural defense for Michael Vick's repugnant hobby, as if torturing and killing dogs has some anthropological value. Whoopi Goldberg recently came to Vick's defense, claiming that where he comes from -- the South -- "There are certain things that are indicative to certain parts of the country."

That sounds especially creepy when you recall that about 150 years ago, the same part of the country -- the South -- was passionately defending its right to its own "peculiar institution" ... that little cultural quirk known as slavery.