What are your thoughts on Paul Watson specifically, but also the Sea Shepherd society as a whole?
I get a lot of people asking me about Sea Shepherd these days, perhaps because some opposition groups have falsely stated I was once a crew member. For the record, I never crewed for SSCS. I was a volunteer for Sea Defense Alliance, who were later known as Ocean Defense International.
As far as Paul Watson goes, I think that he is a flawed human like the rest of us. I wouldn’t have made some of the decisions that he has made, but I admire his longevity and I recognize the impact of his contributions. In the 1970s he helped popularize the idea of direct action on behalf of animals and the natural world, and directly inspired folks like Rod Coronado and Alex Pacheco. This doesn’t mean that I ignore his faults, but as we are already such a fractured, isolated minority I’d rather focus on positives than negatives when examining my comrades.
As for Sea Shepherd, they are also not perfect, but as an organization which carries out direct action they have managed to gain widespread acceptance. I think that makes our critical support for them more important than ever because Paul won’t be sticking around forever. If they are heading into a new chapter soon I want that chapter to feel tied to and influenced by animal rights oriented vegans. Given their popularity and resources I think it would be a strategic mistake to abandon the group for their errors rather than to embrace and change them in order to increase the good that they do. To that end, many of their crew members now days are vegan, and are in favor of changing the relationship between humans and all other species- not just marine mammals. I hope this means that these young members will fill future “leadership” gaps and improve the organization. Let me know if that answers your question!
“Well, last night in a tavern, a captain in the king’s guard offered violence to the sweetheart of a young soldier, who naturally ran him through. But it seems there is some cursed law against killing guardsmen, and the boy and his girl fled away. It was bruited about that I was seen with them, and so today, I was haled into court, and a judge asked me where the lad had gone. I replied that since he was a friend of mine, I could not betray him. Then the court waxed wroth, and the judge talked a great deal about my duty to the state, and society, and other things I did not understand, and bade me to tell where my friend had flown. By this time I was becoming wrathful myself, for I had explained my position. But I choked my ire and held my peace, and the judge squalled that I had shown contempt for his court, and that I should be hurled into a dungeon to rot until I betrayed my friend. So then, seeing they were all mad, I drew my sword and cleft the judges skull; then I cut my way out of the court.”—Conan the Barbarian