Sea Shepherd: Heroes or Villains?

Discussion in 'The Octopus' Den' started by nanoteuthis, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    23
    As I type this, my husband is watching a new Animal Planet program called Whale Wars, which documents the anti-whaling efforts of a group called Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This new show got plenty of pre-screening hype on TV, and already I've seen people invoking SSCS as heroes who defend marine life (e.g., in comments about YouTube videos of Japanese capturing/killing Messies).

    I have so far been taking this hype with a grain of sea salt. I'd previously heard rumors to the effect that SSCS was actually a cadre of eco-terrorist fanatics whose "defense of marine life" entailed regularly endangering human life. If memory serves me (which, at my age, it sometimes doesn't :razz:), I seem to recall Steve-O' mentioning that the threats he received during the AMNH Archi exhibit came from that group.... but again, I could just be mixing up my facts.

    According to Wikipedia, Sea Shepherd justifies their violent actions by stating that legal action and peaceful campaigns by groups such as Greenpeace (from whom SSCS split off, and who now disavow any connection with the more extreme group) aren't enough to enforce international regulation of whaling. Sea Shepherd claims that they are simply enforcing these international laws, which governments have failed to do. Opponents of SSCS assert that saving whales should not involve sabotaging or sinking ships full of whalers.

    One of my personal concerns regarding SSCS -- and again, I could be completely wrong about this -- is the racism they seem to engender. It's probably not their intention, but from what I can see some of their supporters on YouTube make some pretty ugly (and frequently unrepeatable) comments about the Japanese.

    To be fair, that may be more a reflection of the supporters' own prejudices rather than any racism on the part of Sea Shepherd. But it bothers me because -- while I am emphatically against commercial whaling (as opposed to the very limited traditional practice of certain Inuit communities) -- I certainly do not condemn the entire population of Japan for the practices of profiteering whaling companies, any more than I would condemn the entire population of China for the oppression of Tibet by the Chinese government.

    IMHO the fact that, on their show, Sea Shepherd members appear to refer to the whalers as "the Japanese" or "the enemy", rather than as "the whalers", seems to hint that there may be an element of racism in SSCS' extreme actions.

    I'd like to hear your various takes on Sea Shepherd. As you've probably figured out, my feelings towards them at this point are very mixed. While I applaud their objective of protecting marine life, I am suspicious of their possible hidden agenda, and distressed by their apparent contempt for the lives of our own species.

    Any information or opinions you'd like to share? My mind is open....

    Curious,
    Tani
     
  2. robyn

    robyn Vampyroteuthis Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    48
    Wow..... I just finished watching the same show. I have to say, I am shocked by the calculated callousness with which the captain of the vessel seems willing to pawn the lives of the crew members for his crusade. I remember following the news coverage of the boarding of the whaling vessel over the past summer, and being quite taken with their commitment to their cause, but wow.... To goad and coerce first-time crew members into risking kidnapping or being tossed overboard is appalling.

    I personally am not opposed to the sustainable harvest of any animal per se, it is the repulsively barbaric and cruel methods of slaughter of whales at sea that I oppose vehemently. Not to mention that the unscientific harvest of animals for the purpose of demonstrating they can be harvested is patently ridiculous.

    I've supported Greenpeace in the past but I'm disappointed by their recent decision not to sail to the AAT this season and instead lobby in Japan. Just my opinion, I"m sure there are many varied feelings on this among the tonmo members.

    I'm curious to hear what other thought also. Can someone elaborate (Steve?) on the Archi exhibit issues?
     
  3. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    46
    I am thoroughly against whaling for the sheer beauty, preciousness and level of consciousness (my opinion) of whales, and that certainly includes Inuit slowly killing a 150 year old bowhead in the name of tradition, or Færøerne islanders ritually slaughtering a pod of pilots on an annual basis. I was impressed with Greenpeace in the 70's, I am no longer, although I sometimes appreciate them; it is now an institutionalised hierarchy, more than a group of defiant idealists. This is the reason that Sea Shephard branched off, but I fear it was the too millitant fraction. They were not so much distrought by the relative demise of idealism within the organisation, but moreover by the organisation coming to terms (like a child growing up) with the fact that working from within the system they wish to change (influencing legisation etc.) gives a much greater result than alienating the moderate middle ground masses. The latter wish the best for their kids and such, and are easily mongered into fear. They should, however, fear the results of the mindless exploitation of our homeworld, not the extreme actions that in practical terms could threaten human life, which is where Sea Shepherd probably misses the point.
     
  4. erich orser

    erich orser Architeuthis Supporter Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Messages:
    1,632
    Likes Received:
    0
    When I was a child, my earliest angry violent fantasies involved a Captain Nemo-style crusade to rid the world of commercial whaling by way of a ramming campaign, preferably in shark-infested seas. As an adult, I realize that you might actually get in trouble for killing evil-doers, so I had to remember that there are legal consequences one wants to avoid. Do these environmental despoilers deserve to go to the bottom with their lungs filled with freezing water? Certainly. Do I want to go jail for just doing what is right? Hell no. That's why I've long admired idealistic idiots ready to take that plunge so I can root them on safely from the sidelines.SSCS have long loomed high in my esteem as the non-wuss answer to the lame civil disobedience practices of Greenpeace. However, after watching the show, now I picture them as being more like a seaborne edition of MTV's Road Rules. I mean, water balloons? The occasional bottle? Wussies. BOO. I'm going back to Ice Road Truckers.

    Plus, Paul Watson is on record as despising sheep, calling them "meadow maggots" due to their environmental damage worldwide. Hey, you can help the environment by taking SUVs out of the hands of the ninety percent of owners who actually have no use for them, but if you threaten my woolen clothing, well, I have to draw a line in the sand. How could anybody hate tweed or merino wool? How? Paul Watson, I call you out as a badly-dressed person.
     
  5. esquid

    esquid Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    526
    Likes Received:
    0
    anybody who spends any amount of time on the water knows that wool is an ideal fiber.
     
  6. Architeuthoceras

    Architeuthoceras Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,391
    Likes Received:
    94
    Location:
    somewhere under the desert sky
    Time and evolution will eventually rid the planet of it's infestation, and replace it with another.

    Just to cop out.:wink:
     
  7. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
    Messages:
    4,887
    Likes Received:
    11
    Bah. I get frustrated that many activist groups get so caught up in solidarity and preaching to the choir about how bad the problem is that they are no longer interested in solving the problem. What's the right tool for eliminating whaling? I don't know, but based on results neither Sea Shepherds nor Greenpeace has the right answer... both appear to be more interested in what their rabid fans think.

    Of course, I also don't really understand why some groups insist on continuing to whale... all the rationalizations about tradition really seem to me to amount to "nyah nyah nyah we're gonna do it 'cause you told us we shouldn't nyah nyah nyah." Really, it's kind of pathetic, and the fact that the Sea Shepherds could attack them makes it seem far more macho and less pathetic. These whalers seem to want to be fighting a dangerous fight with nature and be all macho, but really, they're just using technology to shoot big fish in a barrel. Ridiculing them for that seems like a good idea more than treating them as foes, which plays into the machismo. And indigenous people who pull the "long tradition of using our traditional weapons to slaughter whales" should recall that imperialist Europeans have a "long tradition of using our improved weapons to slaughter indigenous peoples," and they seem to be OK with that tradition getting set aside as barbaric.

    So I'd be for an organization that's effective at belittling and ridiculing whalers until public opinion sways so far against them that they have no safe harbor, and no country will flag a whaling ship.
     
  8. baldtankman

    baldtankman Wonderpus Supporter

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    For what its worth,

    I was bought up in rural NZ and had an almost storybook small town country life. Call me naive if you like but it took me years of living and a University Education to realize that the little farming community that surrounded me was really an environmental time bomb waiting to go off. We weren't taught about the effects of over irrigation, effluent dumping, forest clearing etc etc, probably because (in the 70's) the environmental movement was only just beginning.

    Anyway I did learn about whaling and the bad shape whale numbers were in. Back then it wasn't so cool to be a "tree hugging greenie" but the plight of the big whales really touched me, because I had a teacher who was into it and he opened my eyes in a big way.

    So I guess my point is this, SSCS should be given some kudos for raising the profile of whalers and their actions, BUT in the long run I think that more resources should be put into educating the common people of the whaling nations about the real threat that continued whaling poses to these great animals.

    Then all we have to do is convince all the farmers of the world that their wasteful practices are slowly but surely poisoning the sea, and all the industrial nations that their excesses are poisoning the atmosphere, and we will live happily ever after.
     
  9. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    656
    Likes Received:
    4
    I wish....
     
  10. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,083
    Likes Received:
    171
    Mark, that was extremely well put. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
     
  11. baldtankman

    baldtankman Wonderpus Supporter

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Kat, was from the heart...:smile::smile::smile:
     
  12. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Messages:
    3,026
    Likes Received:
    1
    I too agree with everything you said. I grew up in Northern Minnesota in the middle what I naively considered to be fairly pristine territory....except, of course, for the the nearby iron mines! The lakes we swam in and considered clean we later found out were full of mercury and other pollutants. Over the many decades of my life I have become aware that even those of us who consider themselves to be environmentally aware are guilty of adding to the pollutant load of the planet. We all need to clean up our act.
    Ironically, according to some sources, the Japaneses government is engaging in a lot of propaganda to entice younger Japaneses into eating whale meat!


    "So I guess my point is this, SSCS should be given some kudos for raising the profile of whales and their action, BUT in the long run I think that more resources should be put into educating the common people of the whaling nations about the real threat that continued whaling poses to these great animals.

    Then all we have to do is convince all the farmers of the world that their wasteful practices are slowly but surely poisoning the sea, and all the industrial nations that their excesses are poisoning the atmosphere, and we will live happily ever after.[/QUOTE]
     
  13. erich orser

    erich orser Architeuthis Supporter Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Messages:
    1,632
    Likes Received:
    0
    Farmers should just grow organically again, and kick jackhole corporations like Cargill to the curb. It would seriously cut down on their environmental damage, and the food ends up tasting a helluva lot better anyway. And that's what is ultimately important. Don't you want your tomato, or corn, or prime rib to taste like heaven? I mean, you only live once. It should be a tasty life.
     
  14. erich orser

    erich orser Architeuthis Supporter Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Messages:
    1,632
    Likes Received:
    0
    But then, I'm a food snob.
     
  15. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    46
    Erich, if you had any idea on how wholeheartedly I agree, you'd be embarassed :wink:
     
  16. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    656
    Likes Received:
    4
    I agree with you on this with the food taste part, but I don't think it would necessarily be all good, fact is, we're running out of farm land, and the fertilizers, hormones, and other crappy stuff make it possible to grow waaay more food in a waaay smaller area. All organic= less forest IMO. Until we have skyscraper farms, that is :smile:.
     
  17. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
    Messages:
    4,887
    Likes Received:
    11
    I am not an expert, but I know quite a few educated people who think that industrial farming is actually less efficient than well-run organic farming. And there seem to be a lot of soil scientist types who are concerned that the impact of modern agribusiness type farming is ruining our soil assets in the long term in order to get better yields in the short term.

    I don't believe the two are mutually exclusive, either. I suspect you can do large-scale, efficient industrial farming in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Unfortunately, it appears that the farm lobby is more interested in preserving the status quo, so there's a stupid attitude that you're either in the "traditional farming" or "organic farming" camp, instead of the "do what works best" camp.

    Hallucigenia loaned me a book called Dirt by David Montgomery, and while I haven't gotten to the "modern" part, it's interesting to read about how ancient civilizations managed to screw up their farmland through various agricultural practices. Looking at the dust bowl in the 1930s is an interesting case to consider as well... this stuff is complicated.
     
  18. baldtankman

    baldtankman Wonderpus Supporter

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    All this talk about sustainable management raises an interesting question and maybe a good poll topic.

    I am totally opposed to the way whales are being hunted because it is being carried out under the "loophole" of "scientific purposes" and because its clear that whaling is unsustainable. However if whale numbers built to a level that there can be sustainable capture then how will we justify banning hunting?

    I have been lucky enough to swim with dolphin and orca and they are such impressive animals that I would think I will always be opposed to whaling but if it is sustainable and not cruel then what?
     
  19. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    46
    Then you are still left with the ethical arguments I mentioned in my previous post, not that I'm saying cows are evil...
     
  20. baldtankman

    baldtankman Wonderpus Supporter

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmmm I have met some evil cows.....
     

Share This Page