Jeff Phillips: Report from the whaling front lines


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 17:43:54 -0800 (PST)
From: jeff wefferson <•••@••.•••>


To: •••@••.•••

NOTE FROM JEFF:  Japan is back at the whaling thing in the Southern Ocean 
Sancturay, and Sea Shepherd and crew are off once again to do battle with the 
evil carnivore-pirates of the Rising Sun!  Here is a recent posting concerning 
Australia's position re:  this internationally-illegal whaling activity.  Below 
also are links to other relevant articles and a very incisive interview with 
Capt. Paul Watson.  But first, read my personal report...

I WAS THERE DOCKSIDE LAST WEEK:  On a personal note, I happened to arrive in 
Melbourne on the day that Sea Shepherd was departing for Antarctica.  Having 
been involved in dolphin communication work myself, and being big fans not only 
of the cetaceans but also of Capt. Watson, I had always wanted to make a 
personal connection.  Two years ago I sent him some gifts, two stone pendants, 
two hand painted rocks and some cd's;  as well, my friends in California gave 
him another hand-painted rock a few months ago.  I never heard from him, 
although people in his Friday Harbor office said he got the stuff.

Finally it looked like I might get to say hello to the Sea Shepherd.  In the 
interest of journalistic reporting, allow me to share with you what happened.  
The Melbourne SS office had given me directions to find the boat at docklands.  
Liesbet and I went down after we had stowed our gear, as we had just arrived 
back to Melbourne earlier that morning on the Spirit of Tasmania.  We went there
and saw the imposing black boat from a distance.

To make a short story even shorter, I didn't like the vibe.  Sure they were 
getting ready to leave in a few hours, but check this out.  I first spoke with a
rookie volunteer crew member, Tim Wilcox.  I filmed a brief interview with him 
and told him about myself.  I told him that Watson knew who I was from the 
rocks, and wanted to ask if he could at least come down and say hello, or 
possibly allow me to interview him for say 3-5 minutes.  Tim went on board, and 
a few minutes later he called out to me telling me to go and meet with Christine
something, who was the media director for SS.  I went over to her, and she was 
quite enthusiastic.  I had my video camera out, as I do, and she said, "So you 
want to do an interview with Paul for a few minutes?"  I explained who I was and
that he had my rocks, and that, yes, an interview of just a couple minutes would
be very cool.  She phoned him and told me that it wouldn't be a problem, that he
would be down in a few minutes.  After a bit of talking with other people, she 
then asked me "By the way, who are you with?"  I wasn't sure what she meant, but
I explained that I only work for myself in all that I do.  Then, when she 
realized that I wasn't with CNN or ABC or the BBC, she shit-canned my little 
interview meeting...guess what?  Because "the press conference was at noon."  
This after first telling me that it was no problem.  I then listened to her 
making arrangements with other people holding video cameras about interviewing 
Watson later.  In 10 seconds I went from being "an important media person" to 

To be honest, even though I do not think of myself as "media" and certainly 
would never misrepresent myself as such (i wouldn't misrepresent myself as a 
politician or lawyer, either!), I probably reach more people with relevant 
information via my internet and personal networking activities than some of 
those people with video cameras there who were allowed to interview Watson.

The whole scene began to remind me of what happened with John Lilly's dolphin 
communication group in California.  Almost all the people who were supposed to 
be there to try to understand the dolphins became subverted by their own agendas
of getting in the limelight;  the dolphins became relegated to the background of
being their ticket to celebrity.

In addition, I learned that a singer named Mihirangi was accompanying them on 
this voyage.  She has probably forgotten that it was me who first told her about
Sea Shepherd in Melbourne two years ago.

This Christine person seemed really up herself, as did several other of the SS 
people I talked with.  In fact, they seemed very uncool, even to the point of 
being almost hostile.  I was talking with the guy manning the table where they 
sell books and t-shirts, and explained what was happening.  They didn't care!  
They couldn't even give me a t-shirt, because, guess why?  In his own words:  
"We're here to make money!"

This confirms what I already felt about this organization:  their main job is to
make money.  I am not saying this to detract from the extreme importance of what
Sea Shepherd is doing with their direct action campaign;  I am saying this as a 
warning to them...NOT to become that which they despise.

Watson founded Greenpeace then left because he didn't want only to protest in 
words, but actually to do something;  but if his bottom line is getting money, 
then he shares the lowest common denominator with Greenpeace and many other 
'non-profit' organizations.

I knew from last year that, for example, you can't even fill out an application 
to be crew with SS unless you pay a membership fee to join.  And even though I 
have given Watson prob. $150 worth of custom gifts, they could never be bothered
to even give me a membership (so I could apply) or a t-shirt or even to thank 
me.  I'm not concerned about the dollar value of my gifts, and I really don't 
care about a t-shirt.

It's the principle I'm talking about.  What I'm saying is that the Sea Shepherd 
people only want to talk to you if you are giving them money and/or if you are a
famous celebrity.  That's the bottom line and that's all that matters to them.  
They have their "mission" and while I support it in many ways, I also must 
question what Watson himself refers to as their "obsession" with stopping the 
Japanese whalers.

And making money probably IS the main thing they do;  this would be a constant 
and on-going process, whereas the direct action campaigns, involving both of 
their boats, would only occur for a few weeks out of each year.

While I do think that Watson's direct action approach is in many ways admirable,
it is also very "old school" in its "cowboy and Indian" polarization of the 
"good guy" and the "bad guy."  It is also a very testosterone-oriented approach,
using the "attack and bash" approach of karate or kung fu, as opposed to the 
"dance and blend" approach of a more sophisticated martial art such as aikido.  
Plus, in all their videos I've seen, the only time women appear is when they are
in the galley cooking!  For real!

People and organizations can indeed become what they most greatly detest.  I 
think the Sea Shepherd people need to look at themselves for a minute, step back
and consider that a deeper and sounder approach to "saving the whales" would 
involve not so much direct action against an "enemy" but the creation of 
awareness in the public mind concerning the unique power, beauty and spiritual 
nature of not only the whales and dolphins but of all life on the Earth, maybe 
not so much in the spirit of Steve Irwin but more in the spirit of Sir Peter 

To put their primary energetic thrust FOR something, IN FAVOR OF SOMETHING, 
instead of AGAINST something.  Is this path not more powerful in the long run?

And maybe they could consider the value of having supporters like myself, who 
are working in their own small way to create this awareness, and who contribute 
to Sea Shepherd not with money but with something more real:  thought, gifts of 
art and music from the heart and from the Earth, and the realization of 
co-crew-ship of Spaceship Earth?


"Can the government of Australia stop Japan? The answer is yes. They just need 
to exercise the will to do so...A great many of the whales are slaughtered in 
the Australian Antarctic Territory, the same place that Australia intercepts, 
arrests and seizes Uruguayan toothfish poachers. If Australia can stop Uruguay 
from killing fish than they have the legal authority to stop the Japanese from 
killing whales. By not enforcing the law against Japan they are sending the 
message that Australia only intercepts and punishes poor Indonesian and South 
American fishermen but ignores the rich and powerful Japanese pirates."

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