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On Paul Watson and Property Damage


In fact, it is only through diversity that any movement can survive, and this diversity demands tolerance of all participating groups within the spectrum of action for each other. It makes little sense for a mainstream group to waste resources and time attacking the ALF or the ELF. There is nothing that a mainstream group can do to prevent actions by covert activist groups or individuals. Agreement to disagree is the only solution. When challenged to justify an action by a covert group, a mainstream group should reply by saying that it is unfortunate that the problem or the threat is so extreme that some people have been moved to take extreme measures to address it.

                –Paul Watson, "ALF and ELF–Terrorism Is as Terrorism Does" in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?

The mainstream world got a small dose of Paul Watson in Newsweek’s "The Whale Man," by Jimmy Langman.

You have argued that your tactics are legal. How so?

We are upholding the U.N. Charter of Nature and operating within the principles of this charter, which allows for non-governmental organizations to intervene to uphold international conservation law. For instance, in 1986 we sunk half of Iceland’s whaling fleet, and that might sound like it’s illegal, but I did go to Reykjavik to demand that they charge me and they refused to do so. Because they knew that to put me on trial would be to put themselves on trial.

So here’s my question: If you believe that property damage (you know, like sinking half a whaling fleet) is violence and you don’t believe violence has a place in the movement, what about property damage in the service of upholding the law? Is that okay? Does the law have anything to do with how you feel about property damage?

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