Paul Watson on Whales, Direct Action and Terrorism
Jason Miller, founding editor of Thomas Paine's Corner recently interviewed Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the result is "'Sticking it to the Man,' 21st Century Style". The interview is worth reading in its entirety. Here are the highlights (for me):
- "My main reason for leaving Greenpeace was because I was tired of protesting and seeing whales and seals die. I established the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society not as a protest organization but as an interventionist organization to specifically target illegal operations. We remain non-violent. Since I founded Sea Shepherd in 1977, we have never injured a single person, we have never been convicted of a felony crime and we have never been sued. That’s a better record than Greenpeace has."
- "[Greenpeace] is the world’s largest feel-good organization. People join Greenpeace to feel good, to believe they are a part of the solution and not the problem. Greenpeace is where liberals send their money to appease their conscience. It is an organization of posers doing stunts to grab media attention for the purpose of fund-raising." Ouch.
- "Robert Hunter and I were the first to place our bodies on the line and we succeeded in blocking the harpooner for about 20 minutes until the captain of the whaler ran down the catwalk and yelled into the harpooner’s ear and then turned to us and smiled and brought his finger across his throat. That’s when I realized that Gandhi was not going to work for us that day."
- "When people ask how I can risk human life to protect a whale, I cite the fact that we do not think it is unnatural or unethical to risk our lives and to kill over property like land and oil. And we accept dying and killing for ridiculous religious beliefs. I think fighting for endangered species and threatened habitats to be much nobler."
- Has Watson been accused of “terrorism?” "Many times, all the time. Yet for some strange reason I get to continue to fly on airplanes, I have no problems traveling and no warrants out for my arrest. It’s easy to call someone a terrorist. It’s a word used often these days to attack anyone someone disagrees with. Just questioning the war, or the destruction of the planet makes one a terrorist these days. I have never injured anyone. I’ve never been convicted of a crime. I’ve never been sued. I make for a pretty lousy terrorist."
- "I have been arrested many times but I’ve never been convicted of a felony nor have I ever been sued. We intervene against criminal operations and the last place criminals want to go is a courtroom."
I know that for many animal rights activists, Watson is a gray-area person because his actions are actually in the service of the law (that no one else is enforcing). Many people would call what he does "violence" (he does not) if it were in a different context, yet because of his context, it's not violence. Or it is, but it's acceptable.