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Whales For Sale
February 15, 2010 10:25 PM   Subscribe

Paul Watson's Sea Shepard Crew is at again. On the 6th Jan 2010, the Ady Gill, a $2M dollar high speed catameran was sunk after a collision (video + story) with a Japanese whaling ship in the antartic. Now, the former captain of the Ady Gill is being detained (video+story) on the exact same whaling ship after using a jet ski and cover of darkness to climb aboard and present the Japanese with a civilian arrest warrant and $2M dollar demand for damages. Diplomatic crisis builds as governments are unsure what will happen to Mr. Bethune. He may face piracy charges in Japan.
posted by Funmonkey1 (131 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
When someone goes to that much effort to get into trouble, and succeeds, I really think we should let him enjoy it without any further interference.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:31 PM on February 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


I hate whalers with a white-hot passion but those guys have lost the original idea and are going to end up killing someone or being killed themselves before they're through.

Lock'em up now before they do any more damage.
posted by ged at 10:35 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to see how getting on board a vessel without (apparently) any attempt to gain control of any part of it could be classified as Piracy.

I bet he didn't even have an eye patch on.
posted by Brockles at 10:35 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


...but he was carrying an ipod!
posted by pompomtom at 10:38 PM on February 15, 2010


Do they still do that thing from Shogun where they put people up in the air on a sort-of wheel on the end of a pole thing? That'd be quite good.
posted by Artw at 10:38 PM on February 15, 2010


The Japanese claims that whaling is for research purposes is an obvious joke. It would be really nice if they would stop or if nations that matter could coerce them to.

But those guys running the Sea Shepherd are also douches. I mean, I hope no one hangs them or anything but a trousers down, six of the best situation might be in order.
posted by herodotus at 10:46 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This performance art is not transgressive enough.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:52 PM on February 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Now, the former captain of the Ady Gill is being detained (video+story) on the exact same whaling ship after using a jet ski and cover of darkness to climb aboard and present the Japanese with a civilian arrest warrant and $2M dollar demand for damages.
What a dipshit.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: A trousers down, six of the best situation
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 PM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Shipping industries have spies who are paid by a company which is an outgrowth of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research. These researchers need a thousand whales per season? Every headline is more outrageous than the last. These activists may be reckless and even unhinged, but they do everything in their power to prevent mass hunting of whales; none of us are doing a thing and thusly I find it hard to criticize them. Also they're getting in trouble with the food industry, and I take no issue with that.
With US Supreme Court rulings allowing unlimited campaign funding by corporations, with half of our budget being spent on defense, with more frequent and more severe e. coli outbreaks due to our unchecked food industry, with 1/5 of the world in starvation while USians suffer from obesity and diabetes on an epidemic scale, with a health-care bill that was written mostly by health insurance lobbies, with politicians and the corporations who pay them blatantly manipulating the public for greater wealth at any cost, with all of this and more, why do we allow it to progressively worsen?
We witness catastrophic greed and corruption in our Legislature, in our banks, in our Executive Branch, in our Judiciary, in our foreign relations, in our food and assuredly more. It's inexcusable, but we excuse it.
/rant
posted by KingoftheWhales at 11:01 PM on February 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


South Park Takes Aim at Whale Wars, Japan and Everyone Else

I don't know what six of the best is but certainly basic, rudimentary lessons in Seamanship, Navigation, et cetera are in order. The performance of the crew is a joke. I could not believe what I was watching when the retired USN officer was telling the 1st Mate, "60 degree, starboard" and he, flustered, replied to her, "Look, just tell me whether I have to turn left or right, ok? Forget about starboard or whatever". Oookkkaay. And how more than once the crew launching the Zodiacs botched that job, in part it seemed b/c of a break down in discipline, e.g., crew members disagreeing and yelling at one another as the Zodiac was being lifted down.
posted by mlis at 11:06 PM on February 15, 2010


What I'd like to see is a some kind of round-robin contest in arseholeness to decide the Global Grand Slam of being an arsehole. Here's how I'd figure it panning out:
Chris Hitchens ----]
                   ]--Mr Hitchens--]
Lebanese Nazis ----]               ]
                                   ]--Hitchens--]
Sea Shepherd ------]               ]            ]
                   ]--Whalers------]            ]
Japanese Whalers --]                            ]
                                                ]--[ ARSEHOLE GRAND FINAL!!!]
Sarah Palin -------]                            ]
                   ]--Mrs. Palin---]            ]
Kanye -------------]               ]            ]
                                   ]--Youtube---]
Youtube commenters ]               ]
                   ]--Youtube------]
Camille Paglia ----]
And then the winner, drop trou', six with the flat side.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:08 PM on February 15, 2010 [28 favorites]


King of the Whales: Your rant fails to draw a cause and effect relationship between whaling and everything else that is wrong with the planet.

Your point is, what, exactly?
posted by SLC Mom at 11:11 PM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


The most amusing part about Japanese whaling is that apparently nobody really wants the whale meat over there, anyway. They forced it into school lunches a while back, of all things, because they couldn't actually sell it.

I wonder what could actually be done about it. This sort of thing seems to do the opposite of help - it just solidifies the Japanese into a cultural defense stance, without which they might just stop eating the stuff because nobody likes it. Either we need to send some sort of high-level 'this is really unacceptable' message, like either political or scientific sanctions (at the very least we should be able to get this kind of bullshit 'research' blacklisted.) Or, since most of the world is pretty clear in their opposition to this, simply enact more serious anti-whaling rules with actual penalties and no idiotic loopholes.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:37 PM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I remember a long time ago (early 1980s) Patrick Watson being interviewed at the radio station where I volunteered. He was cool, a hero I guess, said all the right things (for me, a 23 year old at the time) but when it was over, he drove off in a bright yellow Porsche (or maybe it was some kind of BMW; definitely bright yellow).

I was confused.
posted by philip-random at 11:47 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The UK component isn't going to be awake for a while so I will chime in on my own behalf and say "trousers down .. six of the best" is an UK anachronistic term for a spanking. You can find it in Blackadder or, I think, Yes (Prime) Minister if you're looking for DVD confirmation.
posted by herodotus at 11:50 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


So what's the scientific community's take on Japan's whaling research? You'd think that if it's legitimate, they'd be cranking out reams of data for all the whales they're killing, and generally they'd have something to show. If it's not legitimate research then they're frauds and they deserve every bit of harassment they're receiving (and then some).
posted by mullingitover at 12:13 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good going, shithead. Way to give the whalers a "security" argument. I bet you the next activist boat to get too close experiences some gunfire.

Maybe that's what they're trying to provoke? Like, the whalers aren't acting crazy enough, they need to manufacture some additional outrage? Seems like they're making the whalers look like victims instead.
posted by ctmf at 12:14 AM on February 16, 2010


I bet you the next activist boat to get too close experiences some gunfire. ... Maybe that's what they're trying to provoke? ... [T]hey need to manufacture some additional outrage?

erm
posted by FuManchu at 12:35 AM on February 16, 2010


I bet the guy's playing all Code of Conduct and trying to make as big a nuisance of himself as he can instead of being a well-behaved captive, too. They ought to track man-hours expended on the guy at whatever hourly wage the ship's company makes and then send Sea Shepherd a big fat bill for food and labor. Plus charge them for chipping and repainting if he scratched the ship with the grappling hook or whatever.
posted by ctmf at 12:35 AM on February 16, 2010


This guy is several nuts short of a socket set.

But seriously, Japan? You don't even eat those whales, much less actually research them. What the hell are you researching that requires the wholesale slaughter of what few of them are left? Are you researching how long it takes to kill them off or something? Or are you hoping they suddenly develop opposeable thumbs and weapons? Did you not actually watch any of the Godzilla movies or what?

Here's a pro tip: Whales are best "researched" alive. Not extinct.
posted by loquacious at 12:47 AM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


I am torn on this subject.
When a group of douchebags were invited to a march in my neighborhood and proceeded to bust shit up, my roommate got pissed off and mocked them hard, I simply bought her a pizza. But, when it's not in my backyard, I've often felt the urge to ram my big, hard ship into a foreign whaler, probably sending a few hands down to suffer a salty death and then keelhaul the surviver's tight, young bodies over and over again, the guilt of my passion misting over my brow as the whales sing their praises...
Am I a bad person? Should I be punished? Is Tsunami Sushi no longer the place to go on a date?
Should I have posted this on Askme?
posted by qinn at 12:58 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


to have been a fly on the wall during that planning meeting...

"what's the dumbest thing we could do? anyone?"
posted by krautland at 12:59 AM on February 16, 2010


The most amusing part about Japanese whaling is that apparently nobody really wants the whale meat over there, anyway. They forced it into school lunches a while back, of all things, because they couldn't actually sell it.

Yeah, basically the whalers are protected by the government--more likely encouraged by the government--because there's a lot of nostalgia among those old greying politicians about the Showa, or post-WWII, era, a time during which the whaling was more common and whale meat showed up in lunchrooms all over Japan.
posted by zardoz at 1:03 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kinda support what Sea Shepherd are doing, although they do seem to fuck up and do things stupidly quite often.

However, this guy should suck it up and take whatever punishment the Japanese deign to give him. Nothing shits me more than protesters who too cowardly to take some jail time. It might be more fun cruising around the Southern Ocean in a Zodiac, but, who knows, maybe having this guy sit in a Japanese prison for a while will accomplish more.
posted by Jimbob at 1:18 AM on February 16, 2010


From the links:

Japanese ship destroys whale protest boat Ady Gil
ANDREW DARBY, HOBART January 6, 2010
Sea Shepherd group leader Paul Watson told Fairfax Media the $1.5 million Ady Gil was sinking, but its six-man crew had been rescued and was uninjured.

Activist boards Japanese whaler and demands $3.4m for sunken boat
ANDREW DARBY, HOBART February 16, 2010
...He carried an invoice demanding payment of $US3 million ($3.37 million) for the Ady Gil, which he claimed was intentionally rammed and sunk by the Japanese ship.

+$1,500.000 in 41 days? The whalers better pay up soon because the destroyed Ady Gil is somehow appreciating at better than $36,000 a day.
posted by vapidave at 1:20 AM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


That was a really nice boat. I don't know what six of the best is but certainly basic, rudimentary lessons in Seamanship, Navigation, et cetera are in order. The performance of the crew is a joke. I could not believe what I was watching when the retired USN officer was telling the 1st Mate, "60 degree, starboard" and he, flustered, replied to her, "Look, just tell me whether I have to turn left or right, ok? Forget about starboard or whatever". Oookkkaay. And how more than once the crew launching the Zodiacs botched that job, in part it seemed b/c of a break down in discipline, e.g., crew members disagreeing and yelling at one another as the Zodiac was being lifted down.
posted by MLIS at 11:06 PM on February 15


Please tell me more, You were on this craft? That was a really nice boat and I would have thought they could find a competent crew for it.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:41 AM on February 16, 2010


Those Japanese whalers had better watch out: they're not just messing with Andy Gil, they're messing with "let's get it on," Bob Barker.

I see why they have been driven to desperate measures. The Australian government is not doing very much. I know I'd be scared shitless to go on one of their boats, let alone a jet ski. While I may not approve of their methods, I approve of their intentions. And well, if Bob Barker can beat up Happy Gilmore, maybe they should send him down there to deal with those whaling assholes. Cut out the middleman.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:03 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er, Ady Gill.

I need new glasses.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:06 AM on February 16, 2010


Please tell me more, You were on this craft? That was a really nice boat and I would have thought they could find a competent crew for it.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 4:41 AM on February 16 [+] [!]


The Sea Shepherd crew have a show on Animal Planet.
posted by stavrogin at 2:19 AM on February 16, 2010


"That was a really nice boat and I would have thought they could find a competent crew for it."

If I'm reading the quote from MLIS correctly it is referring to another boat of theirs, ship actually, that was the setting for the show "Whale Wars". Their well documented lack of seamanship bordered on the suicidal. Whereas I believe your comment was regarding the Ady Gil - the comic book boat that got run over.
Apologies if I'm mistaken.
posted by vapidave at 2:23 AM on February 16, 2010


Annnnnnnd naptime.
posted by vapidave at 2:24 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I went round the maritime museum in Tokyo I noticed the whaling section wa far bigger than the WWII section... it had a big free-standing harpoon gun which I'm sure was there for kids/stupid Westerners to jump on and shout 'Die Free Willy, Die!' Right? Right?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:06 AM on February 16, 2010


When I went round the maritime museum in Tokyo I noticed the whaling section was far bigger than the WWII section...

Well, the whales lost...
posted by Skeptic at 4:02 AM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


MLIS's South Park link was hilarious. Fakku yoo waaaales!

Here's something else that was in the news today.

I was going to write something similar to what zardoz wrote above about the politicians. Since the people in my generation don't feel nostalgic about whale lunches for the most part, I think in about another decade or so, whaling will fizzle out in Japan because nobody will care enough about it anymore to continue doing it in spite of all the international friction it's causing. But maybe I'm being too optimistic.
posted by misozaki at 4:18 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


ged: “I hate whalers with a white-hot passion but those guys have lost the original idea and are going to end up killing someone or being killed themselves before they're through.”

Indeed. I mean, a little activism is all fine and good, but let's not take it too far, eh?

I don't think they should stop until every Japanese whaler is dead.
posted by koeselitz at 4:20 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's something else that was in the news today.

That's been getting coverage here too, but with a slightly different bias, as you would expect.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:39 AM on February 16, 2010


Wow, koeselitz, really? I can understand how people feel strongly about this subject and I'm not particularly proud of what some people in my country are doing that I don't have much control over, but you think the whalers should die? I enjoy reading your contributions to this site, and I sure hope you were exaggerating.
posted by misozaki at 4:40 AM on February 16, 2010


Indeed. I mean, a little activism is all fine and good, but let's not take it too far, eh?

Those harpoons could take someone's eye out!

Really, if Sea Shepherd aren't going to engage in a few provocative attention-seeking stunts then they may as well stay in port. What would be the point of just sailing alongside one of these Japanese whalers at a safe distance with a banner over the side? The Japanese whalers already KNOW that conservation groups are opposed to what they are doing. They don't care, and the governments of New Zealand and Australia (and other interested parties) won't do anything about because they don't want to upset trade agreements and so on. I think an instructive comparison with another (but successful) South Seas campaign is that of the Rainbow Warrior. Remember, the French were detonating nuclear bombs in South Pacific atolls in the 1980s, and Greenpeace was ineffectually demonstrating against it. Then:

1. The French secret service blew up the Rainbow Warrior protest ship in Auckland harbour.
2. Things started getting semi-serious with naval escorts for protest ships, orders being given to fire on ships within X nautical units etc etc. It was all very exciting.
3. France got put in the doghouse in the United Nations after their agents got caught, with threats of sanctions, condemnations and so on.
4. France no longer tests nuclear weapons in the South Pacific.

I think Sea Shepherd might be angling for something similar (but hopefully without anyone dying) with the Japanese. Some "incident" that causes a massive international furore and Rudd to promise naval escorts, Uncle Sam steps in mediate, Japanese back down and no more whaling. It will never happen though, because Rudd is a boring steady-as-she-goes centrist Obama clone. I wish there was someone like David Lange in power in NZ or Australia, who was capable of doing crazy-but-idealistic stuff like tearing up alliances with America just on general principle, while simultaneously antagonising a nuclear power, getting involved in sex scandals and refusing to back down through all of it. Those were the days.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:42 AM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not particularly proud of what some people in my country are doing that I don't have much control over, but you think the whalers should die?

Speaking for myself, if I have to choose who's going to die -- be it the Whale or the Whaler -- I've gotta admit that I am conflicted.

I might feel more sympathy for the whalers if perhaps the whales ate a few more whaling ships to even up the odds a bit, but as it stands, the whales have huge underdog appeal.
posted by mikelieman at 5:12 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


misozaki: “Wow, koeselitz, really? I can understand how people feel strongly about this subject and I'm not particularly proud of what some people in my country are doing that I don't have much control over, but you think the whalers should die? I enjoy reading your contributions to this site, and I sure hope you were exaggerating.”

Death is too much. I'm sorry. I overreacted. But I do think that long, long prison sentences would make sense - and for all involved. I really believe that; it's hard to think that anyone on board any of those ships doesn't have a good deal of culpability at this point. They know the risks. They know very well why Sea Shepherd is out there making a big fat nuisance of itself. Unfortunately, prison is difficult to impose in the current circumstances.

I have to say, it's hard not to have pretty strong feelings about this. There are very few environmental issues that I think begin to rise to the level of life-or-death, but this is one of them. It really is barbarism on a grand scale, and it reflects badly on the whole of Japanese society; and I say that with a good deal of respect for you folks, believe me.

L. P. Hatecraft is right. Sea Shepherd is doing its job perfectly. It's really quite unfair to say 'oh, they're being douches again' as several people in this thread have. What are they supposed to do - go out and offer the whalers some tea and cookies? That's not what they're there for, folks. They're there to make themselves completely obnoxious. That's the point of active protest. And they're clearly putting their own lives on the line - well, good for them. An act of bravery, I say.
posted by koeselitz at 5:32 AM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


In related news, the trial of 2 Greenpeace activists - who exposed embezzlement in Japan's whaling fleet and were then somehow arrested themselves - started in Japan a couple of days ago.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:38 AM on February 16, 2010


With all of the food options in the world, I'll never understand why people have to eat endangered animals (or gross shit like goat eyes/balls. WTF. Eat a Dorito!)
posted by stormpooper at 5:39 AM on February 16, 2010


I'm not particularly proud of what some people in my country are doing that I don't have much control over, but you think the whalers Iraqis, Afghanis should die?
posted by larry_darrell at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2010


They're there to make themselves completely obnoxious.
they're doing a pretty good job at making people who oppose whaling seem like ignorant douchebags but they are not saving the whales. if they were half-serious about their whole pirate spiel, they would have long since taken up arms or gone the greenpeace route. instead they middle around in the sort-of-outlaw on camera but really just ineffective realm.
posted by krautland at 5:49 AM on February 16, 2010


With all of the food options in the world, I'll never understand why people have to eat endangered animals (or gross shit like goat eyes/balls. WTF. Eat a Dorito!)
posted by stormpooper at 8:39 AM on February 16 [+] [!]


Minke whales aren't endangered.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:52 AM on February 16, 2010


koeselitz: It really is barbarism on a grand scale, and it reflects badly on the whole of Japanese society human race <-- FTFY

Otherwise, what you said.
posted by localroger at 5:58 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Doritos are a lot grosser than eyes and testicles, if you break down what's actually in the damn things. At least I can identify an animal part.
posted by mikeh at 6:18 AM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Comrade_robot: “Minke whales aren't endangered.”

They probably should be - it's only that the whaling community has released so much ridiculous information about Minke whales that we have very little idea how many there are in the wild. Most data suggests that there are about 50% fewer Minke whales in the wild than there were twenty years ago. And that's supposed to be a good thing?

Moreover, Minke whales aren't the whole of the Japanese quota. The Japanese whaling quota last year included 50 fin and 50 humpback whales. Both of those species are endangered.
posted by koeselitz at 6:23 AM on February 16, 2010


mikeh: “Doritos are a lot grosser than eyes and testicles, if you break down what's actually in the damn things.”

I think maybe you're right. Give me yours, and I will try them and see.
posted by koeselitz at 6:24 AM on February 16, 2010


I don't know what six of the best is but certainly basic, rudimentary lessons in Seamanship, Navigation, et cetera are in order. The performance of the crew is a joke.

Hey, you go to war with the crazy people you have, not the crazy people you want.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, am I the only one who read this and went: 'OH NOES! ANDY GILL'S BEEN DETAINED! WHAT WILL BECOME OF XTC?!?!'
posted by koeselitz at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2010


Okay. Let's see...where to start?

I hesitate to put this out there, but there are a lot of mefites I respect posting their strongly-held opinions on here and I would like to try to understand where they are coming from.

I live and work in the capital of Japanese whaling, Wakayama Prefecture. People here are very proud of their whaling culture. I am currently working in a position that allows me to communicate with many different people, local and foreign. I have on many occasions brought up this topic with the prefectural residents just to listen to their observations, reactions, talking points, and simple thoughts on this whole situation. I feel that I have learned a few things, although seeing as the way I gathered information was less than scientific, I fear that I can't provide you with any files to put in Stata so you can run regressions for yourself.

1. A very large proportion (somewhere around 80% of any given group) of the population here enjoys eating whale meat. Those that avoid eating it regularly do so because of the cost.

2. Some people seem to be open to dialogue about the future of whaling, but if you mention Sea Shepherd they immediately get upset and close up.

3. For a select few, the whaling controversy is an emotional topic that they equate to a Western attack on their culture. They usually say something like, "We don't ask for them (the anti-whalers) to understand us, just to respect that we don't agree on this issue. It's cultural. If the whales we hunt are not endangered, and there is no definitive research that proves them to be anything other than large aquatic cows, then what is wrong about it? The only research that supports their (anti-whalers) arguments is research funded and conducted by groups affiliated with them."

They also often bring up that Western tourists or residents often argue with them about religion because they find the Japanese "casual" approach to religion at odds with Western "you either believe or don't believe" attitudes, which prompts a "See? It's cultural, just like that."

Now I tend to see this as a rational point of view that they have arrived at by looking at the available information around them, which is really why I don't understand the heated positions here. (You want all Japanese whalers dead? Really?)

However, I also was lucky enough to meet a cinematographer for Whale Wars that had joined because he is against whaling but ended up quitting because he feels the show is not accurately representing Sea Shepherd. He told me that so much of the obnoxious behavior on behalf of the crew is removed because of the restrictive contract that they drew up with Animal Planet which allows them full control over what footage can or can't be used. He believes that there is a right way to approach dialog and Paul Watson's publicity stunts only galvanize the Japanese stance and end up rallying up more support for the Japanese side.

Incidentally, he is currently doing research and trying to gather up information on Japanese whaling culture (which is what brought him here), such as the traditional Japanese wooden whaling ships and their architects, which I believe to be in attempt to open up discourse from the right angle of approach.

So I guess what I am asking is, are these people wrong? These rational, well presented arguments make Sea Shepherd look like the Westboro Baptist Church of anti-whaling activism.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 7:10 AM on February 16, 2010 [27 favorites]


ANDY GILL'S BEEN DETAINED! WHAT WILL BECOME OF XTC?!?!'

gang of four. Xtc is Andy partridge.
posted by mpbx at 7:27 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: I don't think they should stop until every Japanese whaler is dead.

I totally forgive you for dissing Zeppelin in that Pitchfork thread. Carry on, brother.
posted by rusty at 7:30 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


donttouchmymustache: As an American, slavery is part of my cultural heritage. But instead of trying to defend it, I admit that it was evil and it's a damn good thing it was stopped. "Hey, it's cultural" isn't always good enough.
posted by rusty at 7:45 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]



donttouchmymustache: As an American, hunting is part of my cultural heritage. But instead of trying to deny it, I admit that it's a damn good thing that I never want stopped. "Hey, it's cultural" is sometimes good enough.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:53 AM on February 16, 2010


donttouchmymustache: “For a select few, the whaling controversy is an emotional topic that they equate to a Western attack on their culture.”

Whaling is illegal under international law. If Japanese whalers want to whale within Japanese waters, they are free to. But they don't. They go to other people's waters and kill other people's whales. Culture is all well and good, but they're not on their own territory, and they know it well. And they're breaking international law. They can blather all day about "a Western attack on their culture," but if the UN is "Western" to them, they might notice that they have membership in the UN, that they get benefits from the UN, and that therefore they might want to follow the international law that the UN lays down.

This culture thing really steams me. So the Norweigian methods the Japanese stole for killing whales with huge boat-mounted blowguns are now Japanese, simply because they've been co-opted in the last thirty years? The Japanese didn't even kill their first Minke whale until about twenty years ago! This is not a cultural thing; and even if it were, it is again a cultural thing which breaks international law and involves fishing in international waters. It's flatly illegal.

Let the Japanese fish as much as they like in their own waters. I only ask them to stay the fuck away from everybody else's. Is that so 'culturally insensitive'?

“They usually say something like, ‘We don't ask for them (the anti-whalers) to understand us, just to respect that we don't agree on this issue. It's cultural. If the whales we hunt are not endangered, and there is no definitive research that proves them to be anything other than large aquatic cows, then what is wrong about it? The only research that supports their (anti-whalers) arguments is research funded and conducted by groups affiliated with them.’”

Every one of these arguments is ridiculous. First of all, international law is very clear in 'respecting' Japanese whalers on this: if they stayed in their own waters, they'd be allowed to do whatever the hell they want. If they used their old ancestral wooden fishing boats and all that, they'd probably be granted some license. But international law makes the Japanese whaling model illegal because it has nothing to do with culture, and because it's destructive to much more than Japanese waters. The Minke whale probably should be endangered - its population has been cut in half in twenty years! Good god, what has to happen before people notice this? And the Japanese insist on hunting Fin and Humpback whales - why? I still get the feeling that it's some sort of assertion of cultural superiority - ie "we know this is illegal by international law, but we will come into your waters and kill these animals because we believe we have the right." How does this not seem the height of arrogance?

Most of all, it pisses me off that anybody claims that 'anti-whalers' have twisted science to make whales seem endangered. This coming from people who hunt whales under the guise of 'research missions?' Blech. If you're going to do it, at least have the courage to say you're going to do it. If they really believe it's a cultural heritage, why do they lie about it?

“They also often bring up that Western tourists or residents often argue with them about religion because they find the Japanese ‘casual’ approach to religion at odds with Western ‘you either believe or don't believe’ attitudes, which prompts a ‘See? It's cultural, just like that.’”

This would be a sensible metaphor - if we westerners were coming into Japan, destroying their temples, stomping all over everything having to do with their casual religion, and preventing them from worshiping at all. But we don't do that. The Japanese, however, do this every year, by sailing into our waters and breaking the law openly.

“Now I tend to see this as a rational point of view that they have arrived at by looking at the available information around them, which is really why I don't understand the heated positions here. (You want all Japanese whalers dead? Really?)”

Clearly either (a) they don't have all the information around them (they seem to be conveniently ignoring international law) or (b) they are ignoring a lot of that information. So apparently you were wrong in thinking these arguments rational.

“However, I also was lucky enough to meet a cinematographer for Whale Wars that had joined because he is against whaling but ended up quitting because he feels the show is not accurately representing Sea Shepherd. He told me that so much of the obnoxious behavior on behalf of the crew is removed because of the restrictive contract that they drew up with Animal Planet which allows them full control over what footage can or can't be used. He believes that there is a right way to approach dialog and Paul Watson's publicity stunts only galvanize the Japanese stance and end up rallying up more support for the Japanese side. Incidentally, he is currently doing research and trying to gather up information on Japanese whaling culture (which is what brought him here), such as the traditional Japanese wooden whaling ships and their architects, which I believe to be in attempt to open up discourse from the right angle of approach.”

Fuck the Japanese side; they're not killing their animals, they're killing our animals. They may as well be landing in the US, shooting cows, and stealing away with the meat.

That said, I'm sure their old wooden boats are quite nice. Start a UN petition to force all of them to use wooden boats and hand harpoons again, and thus allow them to whale all they want, and I will be right behind you. Go tradition!

“So I guess what I am asking is, are these people wrong?”

Yes. As a lover of many things Japanese, these arguments are the absolute worst things to come off of that island in a long, long time - arrogant, small-minded, ignorant, and crude. They ignore the machinery of whaling, the facts of whaling, and most importantly they ignore the fact that the Japanese must share the oceans with everyone else. These arguments seem to assume that all oceans everywhere are an ancestral heritage of Japan. Is that really what you want to suggest?
posted by koeselitz at 8:18 AM on February 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


Remember, the French were detonating nuclear bombs in South Pacific atolls in the 1980s, and Greenpeace was ineffectually demonstrating against it. Then:

1. The French secret service blew up the Rainbow Warrior protest ship in Auckland harbour.
2. Things started getting semi-serious with naval escorts for protest ships, orders being given to fire on ships within X nautical units etc etc. It was all very exciting.
3. France got put in the doghouse in the United Nations after their agents got caught, with threats of sanctions, condemnations and so on.
4. France no longer tests nuclear weapons in the South Pacific.


Doesn't sound ineffectual to me. The French government was obviously bothered enough to sink the vessel and accidentally kill a guy, which is what got things to the point of naval escorts and UN sanctions, not hot-dogging by Greenpeace. It seems that Greenpeace's tactics worked.
posted by Snyder at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2010


douchebag n: someone who reminds me of what an ineffectual slug I am by actually going out and doing important things: What did those douchebags think they were doing, sitting at that Woolworth's lunch counter?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:22 AM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


rusty: “donttouchmymustache: As an American, slavery is part of my cultural heritage. But instead of trying to defend it, I admit that it was evil and it's a damn good thing it was stopped. "Hey, it's cultural" isn't always good enough.”

Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “donttouchmymustache: As an American, hunting is part of my cultural heritage. But instead of trying to deny it, I admit that it's a damn good thing that I never want stopped. "Hey, it's cultural" is sometimes good enough.”

That's bullshit, Pogo_F, and you know it. Culture is never enough. There are further considerations with hunting, and sometimes it's an okay thing so it's acceptable. But should Canadians be allowed to cross the border into the US without so much as a nod, wander into the forest, kill hundreds of elk, and then lug the meat back at their leisure? That's the analogous situation with Japanese whaling.
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 AM on February 16, 2010


If Japanese whalers want to whale within Japanese waters, they are free to. But they don't.

Japan wants deal to scale down 'scientific' whaling

TOKYO — Japan will propose scaling down its troubled annual whale hunt in Antarctica on condition it is allowed to whale commercially in its own coastal waters, a fisheries official said Wednesday.

Tokyo will present its proposal to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at its annual meeting in Morocco in June, the official said, even though a similar plan was rejected by the 85-nation body last year.

--

Look, I'm not for whaling -- I don't eat whale meat, my lamps run on electricity, and I don't have a corset -- but I think the actions of Sea Shepherd, with its stated policy of trying to force its way rather than negotiate, is extremely counter-productive.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:40 AM on February 16, 2010


It's been over two years since I last posted my thoughts on the Japanese whaling situation, and I'm sad to see that whale conservationists are still making the same damn feels-good-but-exacerbates-things mistakes.

/ there is nothing new for me to say about this, other than my disappointment that there's nothing new for me to say about this.
posted by PsychoKick at 8:43 AM on February 16, 2010


I also was lucky enough to meet a cinematographer for Whale Wars . . . He believes that there is a right way to approach dialog and Paul Watson's publicity stunts only galvanize the Japanese stance and end up rallying up more support for the Japanese side.

This. I'd favourite that comment a thousand times if I could, donttouchmymustache, and I thank you for saying with such calm eloquence and deep local knowledge what I was intending to rather hamfistedly jam in here.

I worked for Greenpeace for a spell back in the day, and I write and speak on climate change professionally, so I spend a pretty good deal of my time interacting with folks on all sides of the debate on stuff like this. And the thing that drives me nuts about the hardcore-activist Sea Shepherd end of the spectrum is that I get the distinct impression they are much more interested in demonstrating their own passion than in actually winning the battle they've engaged in.

I don't think it's entirely conscious, and it's sort of built into the longstanding something must be done tradition of activism. Their failsafe argument - I've heard it a thousand times from a hundred different angles - is that the radicals push the debate in the direction of a moderate solution. I think this is sometimes the case, but it is not axiomatic. And it can be wholly counterproductive when - as donttouch explains - it is so wholly ignorant of the context in which the activity it opposes is taking place.

(In a similar vein, I think the shocking inability of '80s-era anti-clearcut activists in Canada to even attempt to understand the logic and motivations of logging and loggers did similar long-term damage to reasonable debate about which trees need cutting. The same shrill argument is now being directed at Alberta's tarsands, which I admit seem indefensible until you know dozens or hundreds of people who feel with good cause that their livelihood and the welfare of their family is completely dependent on them.)

There's something inherently solipsistic and ultimately counterproductive in this approach to social change, but it's wrapped in such righteous garb that it's very difficult to criticize it without being kneejerkily accused of defending the slaughter of poor innocent beautiful intelligent animals. I was once on a TV talk show (on MTV Canada) with a girl in her late teens, the daughter of a Greenpeace founder who was on her way to work on a Sea Shepherd boat. I spoke to her a bit about her motivations, and I was struck then about how much it came back to her own needs. To be in the fray. To make a righteous stand. To take any action, regardless of any objective measure of its effectiveness. It was - I'm sorry - primarily an act of self-expression, not a tool for political or social change.

It is not glamourous to slog through the work of getting to know the people whose livelihoods you intend to change, as donttouch's cinematographer friend is doing. It won't get you headlines. But I think in many cases it's the better tactic.

And by the way if you're going to casually equate whaling with slavery, then you probably need to explain how it is you live every day in a system that freely endorses concentration-camp torture and mass slaughter under the guise of factory farming. Or else explain how cows and pigs are less entitled than whales.

And on preview, koeselitz, this?

Let the Japanese fish as much as they like in their own waters. I only ask them to stay the fuck away from everybody else's. Is that so 'culturally insensitive'? . . . Every one of these arguments is ridiculous.


Right. So I mostly agree. The question is entirely how you intend to ask them to stay the fuck away, how you intend to demonstrate the weakness of their arguments. And what little I know of longstanding Japanese attitudes toward foreign interference, face-saving, and fish tells me that you won't get very far by screaming angry slogans at them and ramming their boats.
posted by gompa at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


involves fishing in international waters.

The Japanese, however, do this every year, by sailing into our waters

They may as well be landing in the US, shooting cows, and stealing away with the meat.

we will come into your waters and kill these animals

My understanding is that international waters belong to nobody in particular. I also believe that the Japanese have a kind of sketchy scientific research exemption, but that's legal trickery, not blatant illegality.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:57 AM on February 16, 2010


Comrade_robot: “My understanding is that international waters belong to nobody in particular. I also believe that the Japanese have a kind of sketchy scientific research exemption, but that's legal trickery, not blatant illegality.”

My own understanding is that international waters belong to everyone in particular - thought that's a matter of personal opinion, I suppose. And as far as blatant illegality - international law forbids whaling. What the Japanese do is whaling. It's a pretty simple matter.
posted by koeselitz at 9:03 AM on February 16, 2010



That's bullshit, Pogo_F, and you know it. Culture is never enough. There are further considerations with hunting, and sometimes it's an okay thing so it's acceptable. But should Canadians be allowed to cross the border into the US without so much as a nod, wander into the forest, kill hundreds of elk, and then lug the meat back at their leisure? That's the analogous situation with Japanese whaling.


Whaling == fishing == hunting. I don't hunt the same way my grandfather did.... Is it less culturally relevant as a result ? Who make you King Cultural Imperialist that you can say what's culturally important and to whom and why ?

Yeah, it's a limited (and rewneable!) resource that has to be managed, but I don't get the moral outrage. AFAICT, the Japanese are whaling either in their waters or international waters, so your point about Canucks killing thousands of US elk is a little off. Also, AFICT, the Japanese haven't been taking more than they are allowed. In any event, even if they were guilty of either or both of those, an appropriate sanction wouldn't be cessation of all whaling forever.

Listen, I'm not trying to argue that the Japanese are angels here, but there is a hell of a lot of ground between "never eat any animal ever forever and always" and "hunt them to extinction and then move on to the next".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:06 AM on February 16, 2010


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “Also, AFICT, the Japanese haven't been taking more than they are allowed. In any event, even if they were guilty of either or both of those, an appropriate sanction wouldn't be cessation of all whaling forever.”

You should read up on this stuff. I said it above, and it's absolutely true: whaling is forbidden completely by international law. That's because effectively whales are not a renewable resource; they are a renewable resource so long as we kill a few hundred a year, but we've been in the thousands for decades, so even the most common, Minke whales, have halved their population in two decades.

The Japanese aren't 'allowed' to take any whales. They continue to kill whales, and because the UN is ineffectual nobody does anything about it. In a bold PR move, they label it 'scientific research.' This is about the same as me selling heroin and saying I'm selling 'opiate emulsifiers.'

“Listen, I'm not trying to argue that the Japanese are angels here, but there is a hell of a lot of ground between "never eat any animal ever forever and always" and "hunt them to extinction and then move on to the next".”

They are hunting this animal to extinction. That's the point. Please understand this. This isn't killing elk or deer or anything like this - this is an animal almost every specie of which will be dead if we continue this way just a few more years.
posted by koeselitz at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


gompa: And by the way if you're going to casually equate whaling with slavery, then you probably need to explain how it is you live every day in a system that freely endorses concentration-camp torture and mass slaughter under the guise of factory farming.

I think America's factory farming system is equally reprehensible and morally obscene, and I don't eat factory meat. If someone was trying to park trucks in front of the entrances to the slaughterhouses, I'd be cheering them on too.

While we're on the subject, factory farming is also "part of my culture" to the exact same extent as whaling is "part of Japanese culture" (in that it cloaks itself in the garb of a wholly different traditional practice of yesteryear to disguise the fact that it has become something new and obscene in the last few decades) but you won't catch me making excuses for it. CAFOs should be illegal. They are wrong.

Sorry you don't get to weasel out with the "but you're a hypocrite!" card.
posted by rusty at 9:29 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]



You're full of shit. EVERYTHING I have read says they are allowed to take a certain number of whales. Here is a list of all the catches.

Which is sort of hell and gone from "forbidden completely by international law".

Now, yes, commercial whaling is largely disallowed (small craft are allowed to take whale), but they are allowed to use the meat from this research allowance. It's monitored and controlled by the UN and there is oversight.

Again, I'm having trouble feeling the outrage, since they are apparently allowed to do what they are doing.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:32 AM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


They've got me on the side of wahlers. Whalers. How the fuck does that happen?
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, these guys make PETA look sympathetic.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on February 16, 2010


My own understanding is that international waters belong to everyone in particular

Which also means that it kind of belongs to the Japanese?

international law forbids whaling. What the Japanese do is whaling. It's a pretty simple matter.

Again, there is a scientific permit exemption for whaling, which Japan and Iceland use. Yes, this is extremely sketchy, but it is legal, so saying they are violating international law is hyperbole.

From the IWC

A major area of discussion in recent years has been the issuing of permits by member states for the killing of whales for scientific purposes. The use of such permits is not new. The right to issue them is enshrined in Article VIII of the 1946 Convention. Whilst member nations must submit proposals for review, in accordance with the Convention, it is the member nation that ultimately decides whether or not to issue a permit, and this right overrides any other Commission regulations including the moratorium and sanctuaries. Article VIII also requires that the animals be utilised once the scientific data have been collected.

Prior to 1982, when it was agreed that a moratorium would come into effect in 1986, over 100 permits were issued by a number of governments including Canada, USA, USSR, South Africa and Japan.

Scientific Committee Review

Since the ‘moratorium’ came into effect after 1986, Japan, Norway and Iceland have issued scientific permits as part of their research programmes. In recent years, only Japan and Iceland have issued permits.

posted by Comrade_robot at 9:45 AM on February 16, 2010


Sorry you don't get to weasel out with the "but you're a hypocrite!" card.

Not the card I thought I was playing. More the dial-down-the-hyperbole card. You equated killing animals for their meat directly with owning human beings. If there were anything like a moral equivalency between the two, I would assume you and a great many more people would be as engaged in the ending of factory farming on your own soil (where you have a direct say in such things) with at least the kind of vehemence brought to ending segregation in the US South in the 1960s (which was merely a toned-down legacy of full slavery and thus not as intense a moral imperative for action).

In any case, I'm not weaseling out of anything. I strongly disagree with Japanese whaling and have supported and publicized organizations engaged in ending it. I don't, however, endorse the Sea Shepherd approach because I believe it is self-aggrandizing and counterproductive.
posted by gompa at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2010


gompa: I see the misconnection here. I'm not actually saying anything about killing animals for their meat. I'm talking about killing whales specifically, and more to the point, killing protected whales in international waters, in direct contravention to international treaty, using highly mechanized industrial methods, to obtain meat that is not needed by anyone and not routinely eaten even by its purported market (to the extent that most of it ends up mislabeled and dumped in fish markets as something else), and calling it "cultural tradition." It's the total package that makes it evil, and the flimsy "cultural tradition" cover that reminds me so strongly of the South's "peculiar institution." It's that bullheaded stubbornness in the defense of something no one needs and that it should be so crystal clear that humanity as a whole would be better off without.

I was trying, with maybe limited success, to make a much more subtle argument than the loopy "meat is slavery!" Although in the case of factory farming it's not far off, either. If there are human descendants of us three or four generations from now, I can only assume that they'll be about as horrified by what we did to pigs as we are about Strom Thurmond's "Segregation now! Segregation forever!" speech.

Anyway. A lot of people here do seem to feel the same as you, that Sea Shepherd is somehow making whaling seem more acceptable by its actions. I'd like to see any evidence of that that you've come across, if you have any. I know a lot of people say the same thing about PETA, but I've never heard anyone seen anyone wearing fur just to piss off PETA. I mean, lots of people think they're idiots, but it doesn't seem to translate into action counter to their goals. I was wondering if there's any evidence that Sea Shepherd's actions are doing that.
posted by rusty at 10:07 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Additionally, in 1986 the IWC banned Watson from its meetings after he 'scuttled two ships in Reykjavik's harbor ... an act of sabotage that many conservationists believe helped turn Icelandic public opinion against the cause of saving whales.

Joseph Elliot Roeschke, "Eco-Terrorism and Piracy on the High Seas: Japanese Whaling and the Rights of PRivate Groups to Enforce International Conservation Law in Neutral Waters"
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2010


btw who's talking about plan ol' international waters? Japan has been hunting inside a whale sanctuary and getting away with it because they slap a 'scientific research' label on it. They get away with this because the IWC is toothless and clinging to relevance. Meanwhile, they're not just whaling in a whale sanctuary, they've also gone ahead and whaled in waters which are explicitly Australian territory, which Australia wasn't happy about.
posted by mullingitover at 10:19 AM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is the part of Antarctica claimed by Australia and is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation. The claim is formally recognised by only four States, each of which also has a claim over part of the Antarctic
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:23 AM on February 16, 2010


The "whaling is cultural!" argument that gets brought out by the Japanese government and whaling supporters never satisfies me. It doesn't make sense as an explanation for why the Japanese government invites international condemnation just to protect this economically minor, culturally insignificant practice. I have relatives in Japan who eat whale meat from time to time, but none of them would take up arms to defend it. (I had a taste myself on one occasion. It wasn't that delicious.)

To me, the cultural argument is just one component of what is actually a food security issue. Japan's food production is nowhere near where it needs to be for self-sufficiency. In the past, whale has been an important protein source in the Japanese diet, most recently after World War II. Kids growing up then would probably have had whale as part of their school meals.

My guess is that the limited amount of whaling fiercely guarded by Japan is a part of a broader food security strategy to maintain some capacity to cope with a future disruption to food imports. If a large-scale war were to break out, and stop meat from other countries from coming in, then whaling would suddenly become a great way to get some, which the Japanese government and local companies would have full control over.

If this is the case, then no amount of protest on ecological or ethical grounds is going to stop whaling. On the other hand, there's not likely to be a massive push to increase the quota, as long as other sources of food stay stable. But the whaling is likely to continue so that the knowledge and technology to quickly locate and grab a whole ton of whales stays in place, and a food culture accepting of whale meat doesn't fade away completely, just in case.
posted by mariokrat at 10:23 AM on February 16, 2010


donttouchmymustache: As an American, slavery is part of my cultural heritage. But instead of trying to defend it, I admit that it was evil and it's a damn good thing it was stopped. "Hey, it's cultural" isn't always good enough.

Hey, we're all glad slavery stopped in America, but might there perhaps have been a better way to accomplish it than a war that caused the deaths of at least 620,000 people (of a population of roughly 32.5 million)? For more perspective, that's almost twice as many people killed as there were slaves in America at the time.

Whaling sucks. Whaling is diabolical. Whaling must be stopped. Is there anyone seriously arguing otherwise in this thread? The real argument then is Ends vs Means, which I'll throw into with the easy-to-say-damned-difficult-to-live-by maxim that the means ARE the ends.

That is, all this talk of KILLING WHALERS, while I feel your rage just reads as sadly adolescent.
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2010


If a large-scale war were to break out, and stop meat from other countries from coming in... then it's hard to see how Japan would have the naval security and fuel to head on down to Antarctica in large scale and start poaching whales to fill basic protein needs. I'm not sayng your reasoning isn't sound -- that may well be what's behind it. That makes more sense than anything else I've heard. But it still, well, doesn't really make very much sense.

I mean, aside from anything else, meat of any kind is really not necessary to the diet, especially in a country that is already devoted to tofu and various other soy derivatives.
posted by rusty at 10:46 AM on February 16, 2010


philip-random: but might there perhaps have been a better way to accomplish it than a war that caused the deaths of at least 620,000 people...?

Um... no, apparently not? I don't really get what you're trying to say. That you'd have been against slavery but not willing to hurt anyone (except slaves, of course, who are continually being hurt as long as they are slaves) to stop it? That an extremely small number of people voluntarily taking personal risks for the sake of preventing whaling is adolescent? Or is somehow going to bring on a new "civil war" over whaling? I'm sincerely puzzled.

Whaling must be stopped. Is there anyone seriously arguing otherwise in this thread?

Unfortunately, yes. There are several people saying whaling is just like hunting, or that Japan has a legitimate claim to the whaling it does because of "science."
posted by rusty at 10:52 AM on February 16, 2010


Japan has a legitimate claim to the whaling it does because of "science."

Japan has a legal claim to the whaling it does because it is operating under a scientific permit. Hence it is not currently in violation of international law. This is a very sketchy claim, but it remains legal.

This is not the same as me saying that I support Japanese whaling, which I don't.

I don't know how I can make it any clearer than this.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:08 AM on February 16, 2010


Yes, but the legal claim is on much thinner ice than you seem to acknowledge. Japan issues "scientific" whaling permits to itself. They are not issued or overseen by the UN, or the IWC, or any international body.

My only suggestion would be that I wish people would make it clearer that the issuer of the permits is the Japanese government alone, not any international body. "Operating under legal permits," as transparent a piece of legal loopholery as that is, still makes it seem like there's some international body that is permitting this. There isn't, really. The Japanese government is exploiting a hole in the international ban, which the UN and the IWC have thus far proven too toothless to close.
posted by rusty at 11:16 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


(By the way, "what they're doing is legal" could only be proven by going to an court and trying a case about it. I suspect the opponents would have a pretty good case that no reasonable science has been done, and that Japan is in fact, engaged in commercial whaling, full stop. The permit itself does not ensure that nothing illegal is being done. There's also good evidence that they're taking a lot of whales they're not allowed to take, even by their phony permits.)
posted by rusty at 11:21 AM on February 16, 2010


Figuring out a way to do that would probably be the most effective way to bring things to a halt. But that sounds complicated and not particularly televisual or fun, and has limited opportunities for scamming multi-million dollar batmobile pleasure boats on expenses.
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “You're full of shit. EVERYTHING I have read says they are allowed to take a certain number of whales. Here is a list of all the catches.”

Sorry - did you read those pages you linked to? The Japanese are the ones issuing the licenses. The UN issues no licenses, and officially sanctions no kills. I think you're confused about how international law works. They make the mild claim that they're within the law, but they're clearly not; and international law is weak, so it never gets enforced.

Read the Wikipedia page on Whaling, which describes this issue very well:
The members of the IWC voted on 23 July 1982 to apply a moratorium to all commercial whaling beginning in the 1985-86 season. Since 1992, the IWC's Scientific Committee has requested that it be allowed to give quota proposals for some whale stocks, but this has so far been refused by the Plenary Committee. Norway continues to hunt minke whales commercially under IWC regulations, as it has lodged an official objection to the moratorium.
See there? There has been an official UN moratorium on whaling since 1985. None allowed. There are some conditions under which whaling is supposed to be allowed with some quota restrictions, but no quota has ever been approved. Norway refused to join the International Whaling Commission, so technically they are allowed to whale as much as they like; still, while their whaling program is egregious, it's nowhere near the scale of Japan's.

However, Japan is a full member of the International Whaling Commission:
When the commercial whaling moratorium was introduced by the IWC in 1982, Japan lodged an official objection. However, in response to US threats to cut Japan's fishing quota in US territorial waters under the terms of the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment, Japan withdrew its objection in 1987... Since Japan could not resume commercial whaling, it began whaling on a supposedly scientific-research basis.
Do you see how this works? So Japan prints up a quota every year, saying "we are going to allow our whalers to take this many whales... oops, I mean we are going to allow our research vessels to study this many whales." And of course they fill that quota. The quota means nothing, as it's set in direct violation of treaties which Japan signed. But they keep setting them, against numerous UN objections.

Again, this is not 'monitored and controlled by the UN.' There is no oversight. The quotas you're seeing have absolutely nothing to do with the UN's International Whaling Commission rules, which have had a complete moratorium on whaling in all international waters since 1985.
posted by koeselitz at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Comrade_robot: “Japan has a legal claim to the whaling it does because it is operating under a scientific permit. Hence it is not currently in violation of international law. This is a very sketchy claim, but it remains legal.”

I'm also fairly certain that there's actually no 'scientific permit' involved. The International Whaling Commission has no such 'scientific permit' approvals for Japan. They have a process for approving some whaling in certain waters for certain reasons, but no one's ever actually gone through that process.

I think you and I largely agree on this, Comrade, but I just want it to be clear: the 'scientific permit' stuff is purely a publicity ploy. There is no official UN permitting body whatsoever, so the 'scientific permit' nonsense has no official basis in any way.
posted by koeselitz at 11:43 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, but the legal claim is on much thinner ice than you seem to acknowledge. Japan issues "scientific" whaling permits to itself. They are not issued or overseen by the UN, or the IWC, or any international body.

My only suggestion would be that I wish people would make it clearer that the issuer of the permits is the Japanese government alone, not any international body. "Operating under legal permits," as transparent a piece of legal loopholery as that is, still makes it seem like there's some international body that is permitting this. There isn't, really. The Japanese government is exploiting a hole in the international ban, which the UN and the IWC have thus far proven too toothless to close.
posted by rusty at 2:16 PM on February 16 [+] [!]


Well, I said it was pretty sketchy, and I personally think closing this loophole would be a much more productive way of stopping whaling (as opposed to the sailing around with the stink bombs). I believe some people are working on this right now.

It does look like the Japanese whaling research program was reviewed by the IWC here. I think the conclusion was something along the lines of 'Yes, there's some research being doing, couldn't you do it non-lethally'.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:50 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The tough thing is that UN agencies, especially older ones like the IWC, don't really have any regulatory structure at all in place - there's nothing they can do if a country flouts the rules. Heck, the only reason Japan ever joined the IWC in the first place was because Reagan (!) threatened to bar them from fishing in our waters forever if they didn't - but the IWC has no power to make threats like that. I think the UN has learned in later years to tie watchdog organizations like the IWC to a regulatory body that can exert some economic force, but as it is they're pretty toothless.

I agree that Sea Shepherd is certainly not the most elegant way to handle this problem. The Sea Shepherd people are of the opinion that publicity will stir public will behind them and create some pressure on the IWC. I agree that they might be wrong. It's hard to know what else to do, unfortunately - maybe reformation of the IWC.
posted by koeselitz at 12:17 PM on February 16, 2010


donttouchmymustache : ...and there is no definitive research that proves them to be anything other than large aquatic cows

Considering the number of studies over the years dedicated to Cetacean intelligence, communications, and behavior, I find this statement to be unbelievably depressing.

If people really believe that, they are being willfully obtuse.
posted by quin at 12:51 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pogo_F Again, I'm having trouble feeling the outrage, since they are apparently allowed to do what they are doing.

Allowed to do so based on their own laws, which they write. Even if they were allowed to based on UN law, these are still simply documents written by man. Slavery was allowed for much our history, and currently factory farming is allowed by US law. This does not a moral justification make. Laws are not written to make everything just, they are written to provide justification for whatever the lawmakers want to do.
Your argument is that we should simply allow governments to do as they please so long as they write laws that allow them to? I'm baffled, I don't even know how to understand that thought process.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 1:57 PM on February 16, 2010


ISSUE: accepting whaling being likened to accepting the slavery in pre-Civil War USA.

ME: but might there perhaps have been a better way to accomplish it (abolishing slavery) than a war that caused the deaths of at least 620,000 people...?

rusty: I don't really get what you're trying to say. That you'd have been against slavery but not willing to hurt anyone (except slaves, of course, who are continually being hurt as long as they are slaves) to stop it? That an extremely small number of people voluntarily taking personal risks for the sake of preventing whaling is adolescent? Or is somehow going to bring on a new "civil war" over whaling? I'm sincerely puzzled.


I'm saying that when you choose violence and/or other contemptible means to achieve your perhaps admirable ends, there is every possibility that contemptible, even cataclysmic things will happen.

Hence, ... all this talk of KILLING WHALERS, while I feel your rage just reads as sadly adolescent.
posted by philip-random at 3:00 PM on February 16, 2010


Your argument is that we should simply allow governments to do as they please so long as they write laws that allow them to? I'm baffled, I don't even know how to understand that thought process.

I agree that slavery was and is morally objectionable.

Whaling is not slavery.

I don't agree that there is anything morally objectionable to whaling.

Whaling is like fishing or hunting.

I don't agree that there is anything morally objectionable to fishing or hunting.

I do agree that exhausting a resource is a moral wrong. I further agree that management and regulation are important. I agree that with proper management and regulation, renewable resources like whales, trees, fish, and so on, can continue to be abundant and available for years to come.

I do agree that the rules and regulation on whaling could be done better. That having been said, I don't see that the Japanese have done anything illegal or against the rules as they exist. I don't think the Sea Shepard is doing good things for it's cause. I find their behavior and activity morally objectionable. They are going to get someone hurt or killed, and that is stupid.

No blood for oil, but blood for whales, evidently. I guess it matters which golden ox is being gored. In any event, they're targeting the wrong people.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:20 PM on February 16, 2010


Doesn't sound ineffectual to me. The French government was obviously bothered enough to sink the vessel and accidentally kill a guy, which is what got things to the point of naval escorts and UN sanctions, not hot-dogging by Greenpeace. It seems that Greenpeace's tactics worked.

Yes, that's basically what I meant. The tactics were ineffectual prior to the French overreaction, and then the subsequent escalation is what produced results. Hence, it is quite possible that Sea Shepherd's provocations are aimed at producing a similar escalation. However, I don't think that Greenpeace was actually intending to bait the French into blowing one of their ships up though, it just panned out that way.

This culture thing really steams me. So the Norweigian methods the Japanese stole for killing whales with huge boat-mounted blowguns are now Japanese, simply because they've been co-opted in the last thirty years? The Japanese didn't even kill their first Minke whale until about twenty years ago! This is not a cultural thing; and even if it were, it is again a cultural thing which breaks international law and involves fishing in international waters. It's flatly illegal.

Another hole in the "it's our culture" argument is that whale hunting was part of the culture of many other nations, including most of those who are strongly against it now: New Zealand, Australia, America and Canada all have a history of hunting whales. Whaling has a cultural legacy in those nations in literature (e.g. Moby Dick), painting, antique art (scrimshaw), towns that were founded as whaling ports and so on. It's also misleading and infuriating for whaling defenders to frame it as Western attitudes versus Asian ones. Norway is a Western nation but continues whaling. Korea and Taiwan are both former whaling nations who stopped the practice. Obviously whaling would have had a cultural side in those countries too but they gave it up. Why are Japan's cultural reasons for whaling so special that they can't give it up while everyone else can?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:15 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd like to note that I am actually from Cape Cod, once far and away the absolute center of the whaling universe. I do not consider it part of my culture. It's part of my people's history. And it should stay there.
posted by rusty at 5:31 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, koeselitz, I appreciate your clarification and follow-ups. For the record, I personally think whaling is anachronistic and unnecessary and should be stopped immediately, but then, I grew up in the States where whaling is considered barbaric and inhumane. And hunting an animal to extinction is just plain wrong.

Being Japanese, however, I also know that there are whaling (and "dolphining") villages across Japan whose livelihoods depend on it and have traditionally done so for years, like donttouchmymustache mentions above. No, "tradition" and "culture" don't excuse everything, and I'm a Tokyo person who's also a Western "returnee" and I don't have much of a sense of belonging to a specific culture or tradition anyway, so even I can't truly comprehend the way whaling is ingrained in the mentality of the local people in these villages. Being the ignorant Tokyoite that I am, I just wonder why these whalers just don't, you know, move on and catch fish instead (yeah, yeah, and help drive tuna to extinction next...but that's another topic). I do understand, though, how they would feel infringed upon to be told by foreign countries they have to stop what they're doing and basically starve because, according to the information that these foreign countries are providing, the whales are dying out. The Japanese government, based on the "research" they're conducting, is telling them otherwise. So who to believe?

The problem about discussing whaling in Japan is that it's really difficult to obtain unbiased data and information on the subject. You have to actually be interested in it and dig (link in Japanese on an alternative news site about the negative aspects of "research whaling") for the reasonable arguments. The Japanese article I linked to is written by someone using a pseudonym on a website where basically anybody can be a reporter, so I can't vouch for the article's validity. But the major media just passes on information that's provided to them by the government press releases and aren't willing to (or can't) pursue the truth themselves. Also, the people here in general aren't as strongly repelled by the concept of whaling as people are in Western countries, so it's hard to get enough people motivated to start an effective movement from within the country to stop it.

tl;dr. Anyway, I agree with those who are saying that what the Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are doing are counterproductive, because they're just providing news fodder for the major media outlets to gleefully fling into the faces of the majority of Japanese people who feel indifferent about the topic in a way that makes the anti-whaling cause seem totally nuts.
posted by misozaki at 6:58 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


To be fair, I get the feeling that hunting whales is not really the 'traditional' part of it for the Japanese. I get the feeling that eating whales is the traditional bit. I have heard that there are many festivals and holidays surrounding this tradition. And I appreciate that. But the difficulty with this tradition is that it's been consistently blind to the way it's fed; it hasn't cared about the rapid rate that the harvest of whales has been modernized, nor about the very real threat to the tradition which stems from the fact that the Japanese could easily kill off pretty much all the whales within a generation if they really wanted to. None of the methods of catch are actually traditional at all, but there is certainly some cultural significance in the role that the consumption of whale plays in Japan. It's hard to see a way around that which doesn't include at least weaning the Japanese off of whale a bit. Even if we stopped regulating, they'd be forced by the rapid decrease in whale populations to stop eating the stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 7:34 PM on February 16, 2010


eating whales is the traditional bit

Yes, exactly. That's why I said up above that there's a chance whaling might fizzle out in the near future because the majority of the population won't care enough about eating it anymore on a regular basis. But I get your point about that being too late if the whales go extinct before then.

And not that I mean to belittle the beliefs and festivals that have evolved around whaling and whale meat, there are plenty of cases where just the concept and rituals of a certain festival has been handed down while the actual focus of worship has been substituted by something else that symbolizes it. There are lots of instances where people celebrate "traditional" festivals without really knowing the reason why, or what it originally meant, which makes me wonder why these whaling festivals have to strictly adhere to how it's been done, just because "it's always the way it's been done." But "tradition" is a touchy subject as you can imagine, because often it's ingrained deeper in the rural areas where people tend to be more conservative. I like what rusty said above about being proud of one's history and not its culture. I wish more people felt that way about whaling here, too.
posted by misozaki at 8:36 PM on February 16, 2010


And another thing... if any policy, including whaling, is going to change drastically in Japan in the foreseeable future, it's going to be while the Democratic Party is in power. So in that sense as well, Sea Shepherd isn't helping the cause. Once the LDP is back in power (and they will come back with the way Hatoyama is handling things...), things will go right back to what it's been like for the past 60 years.
posted by misozaki at 9:16 PM on February 16, 2010


ENSLAVE THE WHALES!
posted by Artw at 9:24 PM on February 16, 2010


I don't agree that there is anything morally objectionable to whaling.

The slavers saw nothing morally objectionable to slavery. I guess that gave them the right to kill anyone who didn't leave them to it.

I find [Sea Shepherd's] behavior and activity morally objectionable.

I find your moral compass to be strangely skewed. You see no problem with wanton destruction, but point your accusing finger at those who try to stop it.

The people who have been engaging in violence are the whalers. They have attacked the Sea Shepherds every chance they have had. They deliberately rammed a boat full of people. They have shot at the boat. They threw various metal objects at the crew of the Zodiacs. It's only luck that they haven't killed someone yet. But look which way your accusing finger is pointed.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:48 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


all this talk of KILLING WHALERS

Um, where?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:27 AM on February 17, 2010


I really do appreciate the clarification in here. I think I understand the anger a lot better. Still, the hyperbole is pretty silly. Slavery=whaling? Really?

Just take a second to think about the analogy. African slaves...whales...now back to slaves again.

Now, really? I'm surprised no one has Godwin'd yet.

I understand your anger, although I think at this stage it's probably more important to send a message expressing an earnest desire for dialogue instead of Paul Watson's selfish theatrics that only shut more doors. Think: Obama-style diplomacy versus a caricature of Bush-style diplomacy. If you don't want dialogue, then I guess that's a different problem altogether.

And if you get your information about this issue from Whale Wars, I really hope you would realize that it's not the best source for that. Starting with the fact that it's not televised in chronological order because it wouldn't be as dramatic, I really wish you would hear the stories that this cinematographer has told me about the hateful, alcoholic crew-members and Paul Watson's strange blend of charisma and antisocial behavior.

misozaki: Anyway, I agree with those who are saying that what the Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are doing are counterproductive . . . that makes the anti-whaling cause seem totally nuts.

This is the way I see things filtering through the Japanese media, and while Greenpeace isn't nearly as bad as Sea Shepherd, the recent news certainly doesn't help their cause.

And I also agree that Hatoyama is just going to secure single-party rule and corruption for the next 50 years, the way his administration is currently handling things. With all seriousness, I sometimes wonder if Hatoyama and Ozawa are secretly working for the LDP (they certainly have relatives who are). The way Aso made himself unpopular and held the vote as he hit rock-bottom seems like a perfect way to have the Japanese voters get a taste of this fake "opposition party" and ensure the future longevity of the LDP. But I digress.

Keep up the good work guys. It almost sounds like civil debate, at times.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 2:34 AM on February 17, 2010


The tactics were ineffectual prior to the French overreaction, and then the subsequent escalation is what produced results.

If the tactics were ineffectual, the French wouldn't have given a shit and reacted at all, not to speak of over-reacting. Its a bit like saying that Civil Rights marches in Birmingham were ineffectual because they didn't produce the desired results, the Alabama government's overreaction is what produced results. If something is ineffectual, then it might not as well have happened. The French certainly would not have scuttled Rainbow Warrior if Greenpeace was not active in their protests.

Just because there is not a direct, "Greenpeace protests = French ending nuclear weapons tests" equation does not mean they were ineffectual. Far from it, the fact that the French government had such a reaction at all shows that the protests were effective, at least in the minds of the French.
posted by Snyder at 2:37 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jimmy Havok: The people who have been engaging in violence are the whalers.

And Jimmy, even before I ask you to question your possibly biased source of information, I hope you realize that there are at least two parties in every conflict. And crash.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 2:40 AM on February 17, 2010


Oh, and to add:

Hence, it is quite possible that Sea Shepherd's provocations are aimed at producing a similar escalation.

It's possible, but I think it will backfire. It's hard to take a moral high ground when Sea Shepard pulls stuff like this. If I punch someone breaking into my house at night because they say I'm doing something bad, vs. punching someone holding a sign across the street that says I'm doing something bad, public opinion is more likely to be sympathetic to me in one scenario than the other, nearly regardless of the accusation against me.
posted by Snyder at 2:46 AM on February 17, 2010



The people who have been engaging in violence are the whalers. They have attacked the Sea Shepherds every chance they have had. They deliberately rammed a boat full of people. They have shot at the boat. They threw various metal objects at the crew of the Zodiacs. It's only luck that they haven't killed someone yet. But look which way your accusing finger is pointed.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:48 AM on February 17 [+] [!]


You realize that Sea Shepherd has rammed ships in the past and that Paul Watson has stated that he plans to ram more? And that the past president of Sea Shepherd has stated that they will not negotiate because they feel they can use force to get a better outcome?
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:40 AM on February 17, 2010


If the tactics were ineffectual, the French wouldn't have given a shit and reacted at all, not to speak of over-reacting. Its a bit like saying that Civil Rights marches in Birmingham were ineffectual because they didn't produce the desired results, the Alabama government's overreaction is what produced results. If something is ineffectual, then it might not as well have happened. The French certainly would not have scuttled Rainbow Warrior if Greenpeace was not active in their protests.

Ok sure, point taken. Taking into account the whole picture, they were effective, insofar as all actions undertaken as part of an effective campaign can be considered effective, so I could have worded that better. However the results prior to the Rainbow Warrior bombing were negligible, that's the point I was making. It was the bombing and the escalation thereafter that produced a successful outcome. Peaceful protest on its own did not yield results in that particular case, absent a violent reaction.

It's possible, but I think it will backfire. It's hard to take a moral high ground when Sea Shepard pulls stuff like this. If I punch someone breaking into my house at night because they say I'm doing something bad, vs. punching someone holding a sign across the street that says I'm doing something bad, public opinion is more likely to be sympathetic to me in one scenario than the other, nearly regardless of the accusation against me.

I honestly think you're wrong there. If an Australian protestor ended up on the bottom of the ocean as a result of overzealous waterhose action by Japanese whalers there would be a national outcry that would quite possibly result in a stiffening of government policy, regardless of how much they had brought it upon themselves through recklessness and provocation.

I really do appreciate the clarification in here. I think I understand the anger a lot better. Still, the hyperbole is pretty silly. Slavery=whaling? Really?

Just take a second to think about the analogy. African slaves...whales...now back to slaves again.

Now, really? I'm surprised no one has Godwin'd yet.


It's not necessary for there to be an equivalence in the degree of moral evil involved in two situations for a meaningful analogy to be made. No-one said that slavery=whaling. The point being made was that in both cases legal right does not equal moral right. That point applies to both whaling and slavery so an analogy between whaling and slavery is perfectly valid, regardless of how worse than whaling slavery is. I could explain the Bernie Madoff scam using an analogy involving Tom lending Dick ten dollars and then borrowing 2 dollars from Harry to pay Dick his dividends. It makes no difference that ten dollars doesn't equal ten billion, that's not how analogies work.

Anyway, about this Japanese thing of "saving face". This is certainly something that should be taken into account by anyone pragmatically seeking to chance the opinions of the Japanese public. But please, let's not pretend that it's something anti-whalers are obliged to respect. It basically amounts to "I can't bring myself to admit to being wrong, so even though I am, I'm not going to and what's more now you're the bad guy because it's your fault for not giving me a face-saving way out of the situation where I don't have to admit being wrong, not my fault for being wrong in the first place". Somehow the blame is getting transferred to anti-whaling groups like Sea Shepherd for not being culturally sensitive enough to Japanese attitudes. Re God damn diculous.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:20 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I said above, previous Sea Shepherd actions (the scuttling of two ships in Reykjavik's harbor, for example) have been blamed by conservationists as being extremely counter-productive. When the Makah brought back whaling using a traditionally carved canoe and a hand held harpoon, Athena McEntyre wrote a poem which begins:

I AM NOBLE MAKAH WHALER!
I LOOK UPON THE SEA
FONDLING MYSELF, I WONDER
WHAT THE JAPANESE HAVE FOR ME
I’LL HONOR NOBLE WHALE
BY DOING UP SOME SMACK
AND WHEN I FINISH THAT
I’LL DO A LITTLE CRACK!
I’L SNIFF A LITTLE METH
I’LL DRINK A KEG OF BEER
THIS A GREAT CULTURAL TRADITION
TIL A BABY WHALE GETS HERE


And it gets worse. It's 'culturally insensitive', yes, and no, Athena McEntyre is not responsible for the Makah tribe's feelings about being called meth addicted alcoholics who beat their wives -- but this sort of thing is hardly going to stop whaling. It's going to do the opposite.

It's just like there are people who believe that the way to stop nuclear proliferation is to start invading countries and that any sort of diplomatic engagement is spineless cowardice.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:53 AM on February 17, 2010


The slavers saw nothing morally objectionable to slavery. I guess that gave them the right to kill anyone who didn't leave them to it.

Yes, I get that a legal right doesn't equate to a moral right. That said, whaling, like hunting, like fishing, like many things, is not morally objectionable in and of itself.

Slavery is objectionable in and of itself.

Whaling is not like slavery.

If you want to make the case that whaling is morally objectionable, then you should make that argument.


I find your moral compass to be strangely skewed. You see no problem with wanton destruction, but point your accusing finger at those who try to stop it.

I don't agree that the Japanese are engaged in "wanton destruction". The "Sea Sheepard" is engaged in activity for the express purpose of endangering the lives of people. It's a wanton and callous disregard for human life.

Which is activity that is morally objectionable. They have ceded whatever moral high ground they may have had and are now no better than common thugs - using violence and intimidation and harassment to achieve their goals.

The people who have been engaging in violence are the whalers. They have attacked the Sea Shepherds every chance they have had. They deliberately rammed a boat full of people. They have shot at the boat. They threw various metal objects at the crew of the Zodiacs. It's only luck that they haven't killed someone yet. But look which way your accusing finger is pointed.

Don't believe the hype. The "sea shepard" has been throwing glass bottles of acid and doing other things that are designed to get someone hurt or killed. They are doing this on purpose, because, like all good trolls, they cannot stand to have a legitimate discussion on the merits of their position. No, they'd rather browbeat or kill their opposition.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:04 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


before I ask you to question your possibly biased source of information

This is the way I see things filtering through the Japanese media

What.

Anyway, the video was pretty clear, the whaler deliberately ran down the Ady Gil. Then they left the crew to sink or swim.

You realize that Sea Shepherd has rammed ships in the past

Yes, and they always issue plenty of warning, and ram in such a way as to disable, and offer assistance afterwards. The contrast between way the noble whalers and the dirty, dirty hippies do it is sharp....unless you happen to hate dirty, dirty hippies.

I wonder how many whales all you people who claim Watson's tactics are counterproductive have saved?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:13 AM on February 17, 2010


Somehow the blame is getting transferred to anti-whaling groups like Sea Shepherd for not being culturally sensitive enough to Japanese attitudes. Re God damn diculous.

This reads like there can only be one side to blame in a conflict, which is wrong.

I wonder how many whales all you people who claim Watson's tactics are counterproductive have saved?

Speaking for myself, at least 49, not including dolphins.
posted by philip-random at 10:25 AM on February 17, 2010


This reads like there can only be one side to blame in a conflict, which is wrong.

Yeah, I get it. Let's assign some of the blame to anti-whaling protesters, and provide some face-saving cover to the Japanese: it's easier to back down if they're not the only ones to blame after all. If that's what works then sure, go with that. It's just playing make-believe though, isn't it?

It's not true that there can be only one side to blame in a conflict, but that doesn't mean that there can't be sometimes, even if it's not diplomatic to say so.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:34 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking for myself, [I've saved] at least 49 [whales], not including dolphins.

Sea Shepherd has removed at least six whaling ships from operation, each one of which could have killed thousands of whales. Their strategy is to make whaling unprofitable, so the whalers who are in it for money will stop.

The Sea Shepherds are using a different strategy from you. They don't fault you for your methods, or claim that you should stop your efforts, and I think you should pay them the same respect. Would you have told Rosa Parks not to sit in the front of the bus, or Martin Luther King not to march on Selma, because it would just get the segregationists worked up and make it harder to negotiate with them?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:01 PM on February 18, 2010


Would you have told Rosa Parks not to sit in the front of the bus, or Martin Luther King not to march on Selma, because it would just get the segregationists worked up and make it harder to negotiate with them?

Yes, because Watson's prop-fouling and ship-ramming is the equivalent to MLK's marches whereas the, say, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society's advocacy campaigns are equivalent to Malcom X's support of violent defense.

One day, Watson will turn to the WDCS and say, "The ultimate weakness of [awareness campaigning] is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through [awareness campaigning] you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through [awareness campaigning] you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, [awareness campaigning] merely increases hate. So it goes."
posted by FuManchu at 12:21 AM on February 19, 2010


Teh irony! So effective! Because, you know, Sea Shepherd is out there murdering whalers! Every day!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:24 AM on February 19, 2010



Here's a funny story - I used to fight forest fires. One day, my hand crew and I were working with a couple of sawyers to fell some trees along a fireline. One of the trees had been spiked by environmentalists some years prior. When the chainsaw chain broke on one of the spikes, it tore a gash in the sawyers shoulder that required him to be medavac'd off the hillside to a hospital a couple hundred miles away.

This dude wasn't even a logger full time - but collateral damage is only to be avoided if you're the American military.

People who hurt or intimidate other people in the pursuit of their moral objectives are terrorists, plain and simple. You could be making the same arguments about anti-abortionists; Dr. Tiller is just as dead and thousands are women are just as harassed. But, yeah, it seems to work, sure.

The "Sea Shepard" seeks to, and will, hurt or kill people or themselves in the pursuit of their goal. The assumed morality of their cause is deemed to give them license to do this.

I credit them with trying to raise awareness for their cause; you are correct that more people should do something instead of bitch on the internet. But their methods repugnant, and amoral, and only serve to undermine any claim to moral superiority they might have.

It's beyond stupid for people to be hurt or killed over this.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:50 PM on February 19, 2010


It's beyond stupid for people to be hurt or killed over this.

Wait! How many people have been killed by Sea Shepherd???
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:20 PM on February 19, 2010


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “Here's a funny story - I used to fight forest fires. One day, my hand crew and I were working with a couple of sawyers to fell some trees along a fireline. One of the trees had been spiked by environmentalists some years prior. When the chainsaw chain broke on one of the spikes, it tore a gash in the sawyers shoulder that required him to be medavac'd off the hillside to a hospital a couple hundred miles away. ¶ This dude wasn't even a logger full time - but collateral damage is only to be avoided if you're the American military.”

Why in god's name are you convinced that all environmentalists are exactly the same?

What's interesting is that most people I know who fight forest fires with the Forest Service see themselves as environmentalists. I'm interested in how you got so jaded that you decided the environment wasn't important any more. Most people I know that care enough to fight fires still see it as the kind of thing that requires careful compromise - but it seems like you've decided that's a mistake.
posted by koeselitz at 7:18 PM on February 19, 2010


What's interesting is that most people I know who fight forest fires with the Forest Service see themselves as environmentalists.

Well, that's the thing. I consider myself an environmentalist. My time fighting fires was as educational as it was awesome. I'm very sorry I ever stopped. But! I would never endanger someone elses life over a tree.

Which is the long way of saying that I don't believe that all environmentalists are exactly the same. But things are defined by their extremes, and those would hurt others to protect a tree represent an extreme.

It's a shame, because they hurt their cause.

So, when people are all "Who cares if people get hurt, they're protecting WHALES!" I have to look at those views askew. Because there are very few things in life worth a human injury or death, and a tree or a whale aint it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:31 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pogo: I don't believe that all environmentalists are exactly the same

Then why are you tarring Greenpeace with an Earth First! shaped brush?
posted by localroger at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2010


Because there are very few things in life worth a human injury or death

Wait! How many people have been killed by Sea Shepherd????

PS, I've used a number of different chain saws in a heedlessly foolish manner, and hit nails and rock many times, and the only cost to me was that I had to sharpen the chain yet again. I have never had a chain break or even jump the bar.

only one injury resulting from tree spiking has been recorded

Not that I doubt you any more than I would doubt any other anonymous person with an agenda on the Internet...
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:01 PM on February 20, 2010


PS, I've used a number of different chain saws in a heedlessly foolish manner, and hit nails and rock many times, and the only cost to me was that I had to sharpen the chain yet again.

I know of at least one person who was killed by his own chainsaw. Nothing to do with a spiked tree or anything; just a safety guard that didn't do what it was supposed to do.
posted by philip-random at 7:41 PM on February 20, 2010


I'm not saying chainsaws are safe, just that my experience with nails and hard stuff (as well as the documented facts) says that spikes don't break chains. It's a story very similar to the "protestors spitting on veterans" story, used by the same people for the same purpose.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:26 AM on February 21, 2010


Just a data point. I've worked building trails and maintaining cabins (including annually resupplying them with firewood) in the Petersburg district in Alaska and I've had chains break and come off of the bar while using them as intended (sawing wood).
posted by vapidave at 8:30 PM on February 21, 2010



We passed around the spike after the tree came down. It was one of those 6 inch long jesus nails.

Now, sure, I've hit rocks and things with chainsaws many times and never had a chain break. I'm sure it's a low probability event. That being said, why spike trees at all ?

It's indefensible - however complete and thorough a Wikipedia article on the subject might be.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:40 PM on February 25, 2010


Oh, you're still around...so...how many people has Sea Shepherd killed?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:13 PM on February 26, 2010


What conservationists really want on the whaling front:
So has the strategy of political and protest action succeeded? Is the fact that Japan now subsidies its whaling industry as a matter of principle a success? Is the fact that Norway continues to take hundreds of whales commercially a success? Is the fact that Canada told the anti-whaling movement to get stuffed and does it anyway a success? Is the fact that even anti-whaling countries still whale a success?

After nearly thirty years, it’s become increasingly obvious that the strategy of being a hardline, anti-whaling country fails the most basic litmus test. It’s not working to end whaling- it is a bad strategy that is failing.
...
There’s a very good reason why most countries gave up whaling. The economics don’t really work. Converting an economic issue to a matter of principle, doesn’t seem to help whales out a lot.
...
We are at a point where thousands of species are at much greater risk than minke whales. Yet the choice is to take those resources we have and put them into "stopping whaling". Trying to save a small set of species not actually threatened by whaling, and giving up on so many more species that are in more urgent need, isn’t the optimal approach. And the fact that this strategy to stop whaling has not succeeded in 30 years feels like a colossal waste of money.
posted by FuManchu at 8:00 PM on March 8, 2010


Yet the choice is to take those resources we have and put them into "stopping whaling".

Nice straw man. Sea Shepherd is an independent organization that uses their own resources as they see fit. They are not the be-all, end-all of conservation. Nor is anti-whaling the be-all and end-all of their activities. For example, they are active in protecting the Galapagos Islands from poachers, with the aid and approval of the Peruvian government.

I seem to recall you arguing adamantly for laissez faire in another thread...suddenly you don't like it. Go figure.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:21 AM on March 9, 2010


Jimmy, click the link. That's a quote from a conservation researcher speaking in general about anti-whaling. Take it up with him.
posted by FuManchu at 9:07 AM on March 9, 2010


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