Mercifully, the second season of the Animal Planet program Whale Wars has come to an end without anyone dying, despite the great efforts of eco-terrorist Paul Watson, the captain of the Sea Shepherd ship the Steve Irwin.
This show has been a frequent topic for discussion here and like with a train wreck, I just can’t seem to stop myself from watching. As always, I’ll start with the obvious. I fully support legitimate operations like Greenpeace who work within the law to do their part against illegal whaling. I am anti-whaling. I cannot, however, condone what Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherds do. How he continually gets these people to drink the Kool-aid is beyond me.
Sea Shepherd, an organization started when Watson was kicked out of Greenpeace, uses non-peaceful tactics to try to accomplish the goal of ending whaling by Japanese whalers in the Arctic. And let’s be honest here, the Japanese whalers exploit a loophole in the laws that outlaw whaling in order to kill, sell and eat an endangered species. What they do is wrong. But, as my dear mommy used to tell me when I was a boy, two wrongs don’t make a right and it seems that’s what the Sea Shepherds ignore. They don’t fight the system, they fight the source and they use tactics that cannot be called anything but terrorist in nature.
The arrogance, idiocy and delusions of grandeur that “captain” Paul Watson constantly displays are astounding. His lack of knowledge of basic seamanship and his ship’s capabilities leave you with open mouth and a sore neck from repeatedly shaking your head. Watson almost seems driven to get himself or someone from his crew killed in what his eyes, would be a great publicity move.
So it is that Season 2 begins and after the pestering that Watson’s crew accomplished in the previous year and the publicity it got, the Japanese whalers stepped their game up in defending their ships. Sadly, knowing full well what those evil people were doing, I couldn’t help but root for them as they—with intelligence, strategic planning and well thought out defenses—constantly repelled the—wing it and hope for the best—strategies of the Sea Shepherd crew.
It was like watching Star Wars and rooting for the Empire, but it couldn’t be helped. The Japanese whalers equipped themselves with anti-pirate/terrorist devices like water cannons, protective netting and LRAD systems, which are acoustic weapons that attack a person’s nervous system and often render them unable to move or properly function. The Sea Shepherds, not anticipating any of this and not being prepared for or intelligent enough to counter the strategies, spent the entire season floundering.
Instead of creating sympathy for his cause and helping the whales, Watson succeeds only in almost getting him and his crew killed or hurt. He is such a buffoon and so obviously overmatched in tactics and seamanship that he only succeeds at being laughed at and not taken seriously.
Finally, frustrated failure after failure and the seemingly mocking way that the Japanese whalers start killing and processing whales right before his eyes, with reckless abandon and zero regard for the safety of his crew, Watson rams one of the Japanese vessels and sustains a hull breach that fortunately for him, was above his water line or he and his crew would now be dead and frozen in the frigid waters.
I won’t lie, I hope the charges filed against him for ramming the Japanese ship don’t stick because I certainly want to see a third season of this show. Of course it would be much more safe for the Kool-aid-drinking crew, Watson himself and the Japanese fleet if he was tried and convicted.
It’s nice to have something you believe in so strongly that you’re prepared to die for it. Just ask al-Qaeda. I just can’t help but wonder how much more trouble the Sea Shepherds could have caused by using all the money it takes to make these recapture your youth, pirate, eco-terrorist adventures and spent it on changing the laws and policies of the countries involved?
Be prepared. Sooner or later Watson is going to get someone killed. It’s going to be big news when he does. He’ll be smiling behind his crocodile tears though, because this fanatical man is counting on that death. There’s a big difference between being prepared to die for something you believe in, and seeking that death out. And like a train wreck—or a ship crash—I just can’t look away.