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“Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist” — Peter Jay Brown on Paul Watson, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Media Manipulation

I spoke recently with Peter Jay Brown, whose documentary film Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist chronicles the efforts of Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to protect our oceans’ marine life from those who seek financial and spiritual reward through the slaughter of other species.

More specifically, Brown’s film documents 30 years of “manipulating of the media” and celebrates Watson as a “brilliant tactician and strategist” in that regard.

Brown’s use of the word “terrorist” in the film’s title is itself a smart piece of manipulation in that it paints him — and Watson and everyone who’s been involved with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society over the past 30 years — as the “bad guy” when, in fact, the barbarians who club harp seals to death, hack trapped pilot whales to pieces, and drag nets full of life from the world’s oceans are more deserving than anyone else of being labeled “terrorists.”

Images in the film of Canadian seal hunters unleashing their bloodthirsty savagery are as enraging as Brown’s apt description of the annual slaughter as a “blood orgy” in which club- and hakapik-wielding savages “kill for the sheer pleasure of killing.”

Efforts to stop the annual seal slaughter have had a down side, Brown laments, suggesting that “the eco-tourists are pumping new life into this gruesome pastime” by contributing to the local economy.

The vicious cycle is further lamented in Brown’s film with a reference to Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo, who famously declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist reminds us that certain populations, including the Makah tribe and the Faroese, insultingly invoke “cultural tradition” as a defense for their unabashed bloodlust.

One Faroese woman describes the butchery of pilot whales thus: “I think it’s beautiful … powerful … the sea is red.”

And another says, “It’s fine if (Paul Watson) likes the whales and so on, but they are not human, they are whales.”

And that attitude is the problem, isn’t it?

Fortunately, there are good people among us, including Brown, Watson, and many of you reading this commentary, who want nothing more than for the whole of our species to agree that we’ve evolved beyond that kind of thinking — or at very least that we aspire to collectively get to that point.

“Our job is to manufacture awareness,” Brown told me during our conversation about his film, which is not without humor.

Particularly amusing is Watson’s decision to keep pilot whales away from their would-be murderers by blasting “orca whale sounds” underwater and above.

“(We) lied to everyone about the underwater speakers,” Brown says in the film, making reference to the dozens of reporters who were aboard the Sea Shepherd vessel at the time.

They also lied about the whale sounds themselves, which were those of the humpback species.

“Like Homer’s Sirens, they were meant to attract, not repel,” Brown says in the film.

Attempting to reach those who find the slaughter of pilot whales “beautiful” or apologize for it on the basis that “they are not human, they are whales” isn’t necessarily as productive as trying to engage those whose consciences might lead them to do something about it, Brown’s film points out.

“You can’t appeal to people’s sense of morality when they don’t have any,” Watson says in the film.

“Our job, as I see it, is to make noise,” Brown says, “enough noise that the whole world hears.”

Listen to my conversation with Peter here
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Visit confessionsfilm.com to learn more about and watch Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist, which is available for sale in DVD format at blueseals.org.

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