Thank thee oh Lord. Thou hast done it all.
~ Svend Foyn (born:1809 died:1894 at age:85) on his invention the exploding whaling harpoon.
|The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is Paul Watson’s group who is fighting the Washington State Makah Indians who have revived their ancient religious rites of whale sacrifice, only now using high power boats and high power weapons to kill four to five whales a year. They initially asserted the point of the exercise was not money or food, but to improve their self esteem and tribal unity.|
Some protestors (myself included) claim whales are highly intelligent, quoting the works of cetacean researchers or personal experience. When I say whales are highly intelligent, I don’t mean they are on par with pigs. I mean they are likely equal or superior to man. My protest makes no sense without understanding why I believe whales are intelligent.Please read my essay on why I think so.
If the protesters are right, the Makah hunters are worse than murderers. If the Makah are right, the protest is a tempest in a teapot.
In 1979, I worked with researcher Dr. Lilly at Marineworld investigating dolphin intelligence and their ability to communicate with humans using ultrasonic whistles. I discovered dolphins have a sense of humour. They play practical jokes. They tease. They poke fun by exaggerated mimicry. They practice motor skills diligently. They experiment. They love novelty. They have a way of being with you with total intelligent attention. If you ask them, they will create acrobatics never seen before. If you are disrespectful, they will throw the fish back at you. They get impatient when tasks are too easy. Dolphins process sound ten times faster than humans. They jitter at you to hurry up your communications. Dolphins are not animals in the usual sense. Dolphins have brains larger than humans and whales have considerably larger brains than dolphins.
Whales too are not animals in the same sense that deer, seals and cows are animals. Culling twenty humans would not in any way endanger the species. Yet we don’t do it because we respect humans as intelligent beings. For the same reason we should not kill whales even when the species is not endangered. We ought not to eat whales for the same reason we ought not to eat humans.
Most people who have had no experience communicating with dolphins or whales think they are about as intelligent as giant tuna fish. To them, my assertion they are probably more intelligent that man sounds crazy. Consider the possibility that there is a 1% probability that I am right. Should not even those odds persuade you to avoid risking destroying a being superior to yourself, especially when there is almost no benefit in doing so? Consider also that I have worked studying dolphin intelligence and human/dolphin communication using computers and Fast Fourier analysis. My opinion might be a tad more informed than yours. I have written an essay on cetacean intelligence. Perhaps you would be interested in reading Paul Watson’s essay on cetacean intelligence and why killing whales is murder to round out what Dr. Lilly and I say.
A tyrannosaurus rex had a brain the size of a walnut. It managed to run its huge body, balancing on two legs, a task whales do not have to do. Whales thus do not need a large brain just to move their large bodies. Further, whale sharks (which are fish not whales) have tiny brains and whale-sized bodies. Whale have huge brains, much bigger than ours. Why? Evolutionists will tell you large brains are extremely expensive from an energy point of view. Animals don’t have them unless they use them.
The Makah only succeeded in having environmentalists from all over the planet and even some tribal elders spit on them. So much for unity. If they really need to hunt to feel like real men, how about hunting deer or seals with hand-made bows? Reviving whale sacrifice sounds like a scheme hatched in a beerhall. It makes even less sense than reviving the Aztec rites of human sacrifice. That was an aboriginal right too.
White people not that long ago hunted the Makah for sport. Should that right too be revived in the name of tradition, self esteem and unity? Surely not.
If the Makah are having esteem problems because of rampant alcoholism and drug addiction, it would make more sense to attack the alcoholism and drug addiction directly rather than trying something so off the wall as killing whales.
The people who accuse me of racism would likely have little trouble understanding my oppposition had the Makah instead decided to revive ancient rites of human sacrifice and cannibalism. Morally, though not legally, sacrificing and eating whales is a far more serious crime. Whales are a superior species to humans. It is as if they murdered and ate the Dalai Lama. Those who consider whales giant cows are of course baffled at the intensity of my opposition and can only explain it to themselves in terms of racism.
If there were a seal hunt instead of a whale hunt, many protesters, myself included, would support the Makah. The key issue is Are whales highly intelligent?. If they are, killing them is equivalent to murder and eating them is equivalent to cannibalism. If not, this protest is so much silliness.
Consider some traditional rights that man has given up: human sacrifice, slavery, beating animals, cannibalism and treating women as second class citizens. Africa is currently in the process of giving up the ancient tradition of female genital mutilation (excision of the clitoris and labia minora without anaesthesia or antisepsis). Even though it is irrational, cruel and dangerous, many tribes feel they would lose their identity if they stopped. There is nothing sacred about tradition per se no matter how attached people are to it.
When I was a child I read a short story called The Lottery by Shirley Jackson about a village that developed a tradition of holding a lottery each year. The winner was stoned to death. Even though nobody liked stoning or being stoned, they could not break the tradition. The Makah are creating a new tradition that is bringing infamy and eventually violence back on them.
Consider that Indonesians once had the right to head hunt fellow humans, Canadians had the right to kill gay people and keep slaves. Americans had the right to beat their horses to death or to lynch black people. North Africans to this day have the right to kidnap little girls and rip out their genitals often killing them in the process. In India, children are forced into arranged marriages. Just because it is a tradition does not necessarily make it right. We are much smarter and more compassionate now than we used to be. If we used tradition as our only yardstick we would still be stoning adulterers and executing people who ate shellfish.
Supporters conveniently forget that the Makah are Americans subject to American law where the Norwegians and Japanese are not. Protesting the Norwegians and Japanese is mainly symbolic. In contrast, protesting the Makah may influence American lawmakers to ban whale slaughter by all Americans, thus ending the Makah hunt. Further, you can’t very well complain about the actions of foreigners until you have cleaned up your act at home.
Canadians are especially interested in this hunt because gray whales migrate through Canadian waters each year. The whales can, in some sense, be considered Canadian.
There are others killing the whales, but more indirectly, by polluting their feeding grounds with oil spills or by competing for krill. These sorts of activities, though more devastating, are much harder to protest. They are too indirect for the newsbite.
Love, whether sexual, parental, or fraternal, is essentially sacrificial and prompts a man to give his life for his friends.Somebody complained about to the police about this section of the website. On 1999-05-25 two Burnaby police officers arrived at my door and took me to the Burnaby hospital for psychiatric assessment. There they pronounced me sane and released me. However, they insisted I remove this section of my web page. Suffice it to say that, as a protest of the Makah whale sacrifice, on 1999-05-17 I stopped taking the AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) medications that keep me alive. In 2000-03-01, I came close to death with interminable nausea and then friends talked me out of my suicide protest and started taking them again on 2000-04-25. I saw that my protest would have no effect. I was more use to the whales alive than dead, even if I would forever be teased for chickening out. New experimental drugs restored me to reasonable health in three weeks.
~ George Santayana (born:1863-12-16 died:1952-09-26 at age:88)
Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Society and I stayed in the same frat house in our university days. In 1985 he invited me to come with him on a trip to Africa to help with the Ethiopian famine. I was too chicken. That was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. He will be remembered as one of the greatest heroes of this century.
The Makah claim they need the oils from sea mammals to help them with rheumatism — much the same sort of argument that the Chinese poachers use to justify killing bears for their gall bladders. Let them kill seals or buy seal meat from Newfoundland. Whale flesh tends to concentrate pollutants in the waters. Dead belugas have to be treated as toxic waste since they concentrate so many heavy metals and PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenylses). After the whale had been slaughtered and the Makah gorged on the raw flesh, they claimed they needed the whale for food. They explained Surely it was better that a whale die than a Makah starve. However, the Makah looked exceedingly well padded. They needed not more fatty blubber in their diets, but less alcohol and more exercise.
A few days after the hunt, seeing that the warrior excuse was not flying, the Makah floated another idea. The female whale offered herself noting she came right up to the Makah boat. The Makah conveniently forgot that whales are used to approaching whale watching vessels to let people touch them. The Makah betrayed that trust with treachery.
|What is even more shameful is the United States federal government aided the
Makah in scoffing international law with $7 million
in subsidies for their whale hunt.
The US Federal government by allowing this violation of international agreements will open the door to renewed whaling by traditional Japanese and Icelandic whalers. There is so little to gain and so much to loose.
Ironically on 1999-05-16, the Coast Guard charged one of the protestors under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for getting too close to a whale when he tried to scare it off. It is legal to kill a whale, but not to save it. Try to save a whale and you get slapped with a $50,000 fine and a jail term. Promise to kill one and you get a $7 million grant. Most Americans don’t want whales killed. What is wrong with this picture?
The treaty arrangement the Makah have allows them to hunt whales only if Americans in general are allowed to hunt them. A simple bill prohibiting whale killing generally would stop the hunt. American politicians have the power to end the hunt tomorrow.
Products you can boycott include:
I quote from his book, Ocean Warrior: My Battle to End The Illegal Slaughter on the High Seas in his open letter to the people of Iceland after he had sunk two Icelandic whaling ships and caused $8 million damage to a whaling station.
I would like to address the people of Iceland as an ambassador. I do not represent any form of human government. I am speaking to you on behalf of the Cetacean nation.An Icelandic man chastised Watson for sinking the whaling ships. Watson retorted We sank those ships for the whales. Not for you and not for any other goddam human being on the surface of the earth.
I am representing whalekind in an effort to reach a state of coexistence with humankind.
My credentials in this regard are simple. I am a human who has swum with, communicated with, studied and respected the great whales al of my life. I have repeatedly risked my life and freedom to protect and conserve the whales. My love for the whales is such that I would not choose to live upon this planet without them.
I have touched and I have been touched by the whales. I have been with them at the moment of their birth when they have taken their first breath. I have been with them in death. I have felt their hot blood on their skin as the life ebbed slowly away after the horrendous shattering impact of the grenade harpoon. Once on the rolling Pacific swells I comforted a dying child whale, a young sperm killed illegally by a Soviet whaler. I felt its last breath against my face and closed one of its large eyes, but not before seeing my own reflection in that eye and the despair reflected back to me from my own eyes. I knew then, as I know now, that the survival of whales is the most important objective of my life.
~ Captain Paul Watson (born:1950-12-02 age:64)
The Makah figured they were experts on whales and had nothing new to learn about them. After all, they had hunted them back into the mists of time. However, none of them had done what I had done, study them scientifically, communicate with them with computers and swim and play with them. They had no appeciation of cetacean neuroanatomy. They flatly refused to conside the possibility they had been butchering creatures more intelligent than they were all these years. Why should they believe me since popular wisdom had it that whales were just giant sea cows?
The native people of BC have a quite different attitude. They fight to protect the whales. They even believe one of their chiefs recently reincarnated as an orca, a step up in status.
Why the difference? I thought the problem was in the economic deprivation of the Makah and its attendant ills of alcoholism and drug addiction. They resorted to a desperate ancient belief that causing suffering to a scapegoat will bring abundance to you. Such a resort to ancient barbarity is sign of their desperation. It is akin to white folk resorting to black magic and devil worship for material gain when they feel they have no other option.
However, now I think that religious argument was just an ingenuous legalistic ruse, a way to get constitutional protection for the hunt. The purpose of the hunt was not religion or blood lust, but status and fun. It was a big party with free giant water pig for the main course. The Makah see their whale sacrifice as no more remarkable or wicked than killing a wild boar. I of course see it as morally equivalent to roasting alive a bus full of children.
|recommend DVD⇒Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson|
|by||Trish Dolman [director]|
|I met Paul Watson, back in 1968, when he was shy and thin. He started his seal and whale protests a few years later. In 1985 he asked me to come on a voyage with him, but I was too timid. He is on my planetary heroes page. There is no more heroic figure in the 20th century. His life reads like a James Bond novel. This documentary covers his entire life from babyhood to the present day. His friends talk candidly about him. Paul explains why he has done some of the things he has done. He accomplished more by his 25th birthday than most people accomplish in a dozen lifetimes. When there are people illegally butchering whales, why should you tie your hands behind your back and insist everything you do conform to Harper’s anti-envirnomental laws and be totally non-violent? We are in the midst of a war for environmental survival. The Sea Shepherd flies a pirate flag and it goes after pirate whaling ships that masqueade as Japanese whaling research vessels. Whales are superior being to humans, especially phony Japanese research scientists. It does my heart good to see the slime bag ships rammed. Most people have no dedication to the whales. They see them only in how they are useful to humanity. That it why Paul’s detractors totally misunderstand him. I think I know how he feels. I did my own Gandhian fast to the point of death to protest the Makah whale sacrifice and he is a lot braver than I am.|
|Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock|
A woman was making a roast. She cut off the ends and discarded them. Her husband was watching and asked why she did that. She said, that’s the way mother always did it. She then phoned her mom to ask why she cut the ends off. Mom explained that she had only a very small pan and otherwise the roast would not fit. There was nothing the matter with the ends — no reason at all to discard them. She reminds me of the Makah, blindly aping their ancestors.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:67)
You can have quite a bit of fun choosing frames and mattes and seeing what they would look like using their simulator program. You can even see what the picture would look like on your wall.
|recommend book⇒Ocean Warrior: My Battle to End The Illegal Slaughter on the High Seas|
|by||Captain Paul Watson||978-1-55013-599-2||paperback|
|This is an amazing book. It is the greatest adventure tale of modern times. The way Watson inventively gets out of scrape after scrape, miraculously, time after time would put the writers of Star Trek to shame. It is also a story of a passionate love affair between man and whale. He is lives like a viking pirate in his quest to save the whales. Nothing stops this guy.|
|Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.|
|recommend book⇒The Year of The Whale|
|by||Victor Blanchard Scheffer||978-1-55821-448-4||paperback|
|Describes a year in the life of a young sperm whale, an in the telling fills you in all manner of lore about whales and whaling.|
|Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.|
Write or email your Member of the federal Canadian Parliament or any other Member of Parliament or
Stephen Harper (I can’t bear to call that homophobic bigot the Prime Minister).
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Fax: (613) 941-6900
It is best to hand write your letter. However in a pinch you can email:firstname.lastname@example.org No postage is required to send a letter to any Member of Parliament. Only mail sent to the House of Commons in Ottawa (that is, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6) is eligible. Just write the letters O.H.M.S. where you would normally put a stamp.
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Opposition and the NDP party email@example.com
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal party firstname.lastname@example.org
Write your American federal Senator, Member of the House of Representatives or
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500 USA
It is best to hand write your letter. However in a pinch you can email:email@example.com
Write or email your Member of the UK Parliament
British MPs usually ignore mail from anyone but their constituents.
Office of the Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London, UK SW1A 2AA
Fax: 020 7925 0918
No postage is required to send a letter to any Member of Parliament. Only mail sent to the House of Commons is eligible. Just write the letters O.H.M.S. where you would normally put a stamp.
Whales at first glance don’t look very bright. They move slowly. They spend most of their lives just swimming about and feeding. Then again, Einstein spent most of his time staring at the ceiling. You really have to spend time with them or study up on them and their smaller cousins the dolphins to realise how bright they are. To win this debate, we must persuade the Makah they are killing creatures perhaps more intelligent than themselves. Otherwise, their arguments make perfect sense. Truth should prevail because those who have had most contact with whales and done the most studying are opposed to the Makah hunt. Unfortunately there are millions of ignorant people who have had no contact with dolphins and whales who are cheering on the hunt as if it were a Roman gladatorial spectacle.
If there is reasonable doubt about cetacean intelligence, I would think it prudent to err on the side of avoiding murder. There is little gain in killing a whale.
The Makah held a potlatch. They invited people from as far away as Tanzania to feast on whale flesh. They had quite a party, singing traditional songs. Too bad they just don’t get it. They could party like that just as well without killing a whale. I am very pessimistic these people will ever get it. They want to be blind.
I want to encourage the Makah to offer whale-watching tours from genuine native canoes. The Makah should make far more more money that way than from killing a few whales, especially considering the spin-offs for the local businesses. The current fuss gives them a perfect chance to pitch the idea to the entire world on the global media without spending a cent. They might even continue to harpoon the whales, using a blunt harpoon with a miniature camcorder mounted on it.
I feel like a missionary trying to convince cannibals to give up their favourite delicacy. In their value system there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating fellow humans. They have always done it. The meat is indescribably delicious and optimally nutritious. Where do you start?
In 2001-07 the American congress passed a law allowing the Makah to sacrifice or kill whales as they please. We have to fight this all over again.
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