Since Paul Watson has been in the news recently (again), I started thinking about this. I know this is a very emotionally charged topic and people from both sides will fight it out like you will not believe…
Now before I go on, let me just say that there is few things I hate more than whaling. One of those few things would be Paul Watson…
At least he’s doing something
Let me make my case before the flaming starts… In abstract terms, the most common argument you hear for him is that he is at least doing something and that’s more than anybody else can say. What a load of bovine manure. All he does is strain the foreign relations between Australia, New Zealand and Japan to such a degree that there is no chance of a political solution.
He claims that the only way to stop the whalers is to make it unprofitable for them. Now I ask you with tears in my navy blue eyes – How is he going to do that? How can Sea Shepherd patrol the whole arctic circle with 2 ships and prevent the whalers from killing enough whales to start significantly affecting their profits? As you can see, I don’t buy that.
But look at how the whalers attack them
Yeah, I saw what the news agencies were reporting:
– Sea shepherd retaliates with harmless butiric acid after whalers throw stun grenades at them.
– Whalers detain sea shepherd crew members after inviting them on board.
– Watson shot by whalers after skirmish with them.
– And the latest: Japanese whalers ram and sink $2.5 million Ady Gil
I happened to see the first series. The Japanese started throwing stun grenades after being attacked by Watsons crew. Also, butiric acid is not exactly harmless – There’s the foul smell, but there is also he fact that it happens to be an acid (Surprising isn’t it). So it’s an irritant, dangerous to eyes, etc…?
Then there’s the incident with the whalers capturing their crew members. They were most definitely not invited and the whole incident was engineered by Watson to get publicity and to strain relations between Australia and Japan.
The shooting incident also seemed a little too neat, so I’m guessing Watson was actually shot by one of his cronies in his inner circle (If he was shot at all), but as far as I know he hasn’t bragged about that yet, so we’ll say that possibly the Japanese went too far there.
I’ll get to the supposed ramming of his expensive speedboat in a moment…
He’s reckless and risks lives
This is one of my main problems with him. He gets volunteers that has no experience, then blackmails them into risking their lives in his crazy schemes. In the first season, the first time they try to launch a speedboat, there’s a big cockup and a couple of crew members get dumped in the frigid arctic water with an upside down speedboat.
with the incident where they boarded the whaler, two untrained people boarded the whaling ship from a speedboat moving at full speed on rough seas. That is a very good way to get yourself killed. One of the guys that “volunteered” did so because he managed to damage one of the blades on the helicopter during the fiasco where the boat wasn’t launched properly and was feeling guilty.
With this “ramming” incident, he knowingly risked the lives of six crewmembers because he knew it would get good publicity.
I also notice that he’s quick to prattle on about how he’s willing to die for his cause and he has no respect for anybody that isn’t, however, he’s never on the frontlines – Pretty convenient isn’t it…
Finally, let’s get to the ramming incident
Let’s not mince words. From the video released by the japanese you can clearly see the water at the back of the speedboat churning as they operate the throtlle. As the whaler gets close they see that it’s going to miss and gun the motors to make sure that it hits. They clearly intended to be rammed. (Look at around the 17 second mark on this video)
According to Watson the video they released afterwards show clearly that the japanese shipped turned sharply to hit the speedboat. Because there is no reference point, the only thing you can actually tell is that the 2 were moving towards each other. Besides that, the japanese vessel is too big, it couldn’t ‘veer sharply’ if their lives depended on it. And finally, a ship usually leans into a turn, especially if it’s a big ship travelling at speed. From this video supplied by Sea Shepherd, you can clearly see the ship leaning away from the speedboat.
In my mind, all it means is that Watson did it on purpose because he knew it would be good publicity (And in fact, he’s already come out and said that it’s been good for donations).
I wonder what experience the pilot has. Essentially 6 people were betting their lives on his abiltiy to manuever a speedboat into a space in front of a speeding destroyer with an error margin of about half a meter (2 feet). I’m sorry, but I don’t trust anybody that much.
So, back to the title:
Whale wars or whale whores
The 11th episode of season 13 of Southpark parodies Watson and Sea Shepherd and is titled Whale Whores. The Wikipedia page gives a good overview of the plot and protrays Watson as somebody that is just interested in publicity, and hints at the hypocrisy of fighting against whaling but having no problem with slaughtering chickens and cows. I don’t think you can really take anything away from the Southpark episode, but I only found this after the Ady Gil sunk, so I just found it interesting how polarised the opinion of Watson is.
It would seem that everybody either hates him or loves him. There is no gray area.