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(This article originally appeared March 7, 2013 - Editor)
I am not against the occasional insurrection.
When tangled up in the Resource Management Act, or a vicious tax audit, who doesn’t think that for a people suffering “a long train of abuses and usurpations … it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government”?
Even misguided uprisings serve a purpose. As Thomas Jefferson wrote to Abigail Adams: “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.”
And so I have no problem with “Captain” Paul Watson and his fellow Sea Shepherd pirates. They think whaling a terrible sin and are prepared to risk life and limb in the Southern Oceans to stop it.
Good for them. My only objection is that they don’t accept the consequences. They want the fight, but only on their terms. They use the law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t. True pirates are outlaws and accept the consequence.
Mr Watson declares himself a pirate: “It takes a pirate to stop a pirate and that is why the flag of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the Jolly Roger. Yes, we be pirates! I’m not going to pretend otherwise. … We answer only to those we have sworn our allegiance to … [and] we intervene against their enemies in an effort to defend and protect their lives and freedom.”
Serve the global ecosystem
Stirring stuff. And to whom do they swear allegiance? “We serve the global eco-system, specifically the marine eco-system.”
It’s not just whales. “This means that the survival of fish, whales, worms, bacteria, trees and humans are all equally important.”
Unlike other Greens, Mr Watson is consistent. It’s not about downsizing the car and recycling garbage. The problem is humans. Right from the start: “The entire ecosystem of Australia some 50 millennium ago was disrupted and transformed by humans.”
He would have been there threatening hunter gatherers for daring to light a fire.
For Mr Watson, humans are a nasty virus. “I was once severely criticized for describing human beings as being the 'AIDS of the Earth'. I make no apologies for that statement.”
It’s no surprise that the US courts declared: “When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.”
Mr Watson dismisses the US ruling as one-sided and irrelevant. Fair enough. He’s a pirate. He is an outlaw.
But pirates must accept the consequences of their actions. The Japanese whalers have every right to defend themselves and their property. And that’s the trouble with Mr Watson and his crew. They cry like babies at the merest hint that the whalers might hit back.
Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and the other US Founding Fathers committed high treason when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They risked forfeiting everything they owned, ruining their families, and being drawn to the gallows, hung by their neck, their entrails cut out and burnt while still alive, their heads cut off and their bodies quartered for the King’s disposal.
I would have a lot more respect for Mr Watson and his band if, every once and awhile, the whalers were less polite and instead dealt to them as the pirates that they are.