Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: sea shepherd

the times, they are a changing (maybe)

This has been an interesting week in the news. There is the tales of the weird:

Dr. Paul Grabb, a pediatric brain surgeon, said he was surprised when he discovered a small foot growing inside the brain of 3-day-old Sam Esquibel.

“The foot literally popped out of the brain,” Grabb told TheDenverChannel Wednesday.

I looked at the picture linked in the article. It was fascinating, and horrifying, and makes me feel queasy to think about. And while there are occasional cases of what they call a “fetus in fetu”, where a fraternal twin begins to develop inside the other twin, I can’t help but to wonder, when I hear of cases like this, if we are beginning to pay the price of all the poisons dumped into our ecosystem for all these years.

Will, over at Green is the New Red, posted a challenge for his readers to connect the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) to terrorism in less than 6 steps. Real terrorism, that is, not the saving of bunnies or the waving of signs. This was in response to the CCF taking out a huge ad in the NYTimes linking HSUS to “terrorism”. They had to use a diagram in the ad because it was so weird and convoluted, and frankly absurd. They had six steps to form that link, which is why Will’s challenge was for us to connect CCF to real terrorism in less than six steps.

The result? Two steps separating CCF from the funding of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. Go read his post, it is eye-opening!

And that leads me to a post on Crisis? What Crisis? regarding Obama’s chosen appointee for the energy secretary.

Scientists and everyone else who value intelligence, accuracy, research, and freedom of thought over dogma are rejoicing over one of PEOTUS Obama’s key appointments. The Tribune yesterday used a brief profile of Steven Chu, the new energy secretary, as a jumping-off point to examine the anti-science, pro-corporate stance the Bush Administration has taken the past eight years.

Chu is a scientist. Imagine that, putting a scientist in a position where scientific knowledge is not only useful but downright necessary.

It remains to be seen what Obama’s presidency will look like, but one thing is for sure – he’s making big changes, away from anti-science positions. He gives a shit about the environment. How far that will get us, time will tell.

And of course the environment is one thing, his attitude towards freedom and activism might be an entirely different topic. He voted for the FISA after all.

An email tonight reminded me that Sea Shepard’s final episode of Whale Wars on Animal Planet airs tonight. Not that I’ve seen any of these episodes myself, but someday perhaps I’ll get them on DVD and remember to watch them. (It is a challenge…for all my focus (haha) on photography, I have a hard time sitting down to watch movies!)

Sea Shepard’s email also provided a great visual to highlight the difference between the tools used by those who have an intent to kill, and those who have an intent to prevent killing. The preventateurs (yes, I made that up) are called terrorists by most governments. Yet who has the deadly weapons? Sea Shepard lays it all out for us.

My friend, Rich, sent this to me earlier today. I have no idea how he stumbled on it, but it seemed the perfect cap to this post!

Sea Shepherd: Whale Wars

I think it is pretty exciting to hear that a series about Sea Shepherd is going to appear on Animal Planet in November. Animal Planet! Even my exceedingly conservative coworkers watch things like that.

The series is called Whale Wars and I find it even more exciting that there is a series planned than the simple fact that it will be on a regular TV show to begin with.

If you go to animal planet’s site, you can see more info on the series, as well as a video sneak peak. It will premiere November 7th at 9pm EST/PST.

I’ve heard Paul Watson speak at a couple of the Animal Rights conferences. One thing that always sticks out in my mind is that he is not an animal rights activist, he is an environmental activist. He points that out to us often, perhaps because it is so unusual for us, as animal rights activists, to see people in other movements (other than the anarchist movement, in my experience) who so strongly see that these thing are connected.

Paul’s pretty blunt about it. I think that he’s a great person to use as an example and source of information for people primarily concerned with the environment. Have you read his essay, “A Very Inconvenient Truth“?

He starts with:

The meat industry is one of the most destructive ecological industries on the planet. The raising and slaughtering of pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys and chickens not only utilizes vast areas of land and vast quantities of water, but it is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry.

The seafood industry is literally plundering the ocean of life and some fifty percent of fish caught from the oceans is fed to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc in the form of fish meal. It also takes about fifty
fish caught from the sea to raise one farm raised salmon.

We have turned the domestic cow into the largest marine predator on the planet. The hundreds of millions of cows grazing the land and farting methane consume more tonnage of fish than all the world’s sharks, dolphins and seals combined. Domestic housecats consume more fish, especially tuna, than all the world’s seals.

And that’s just the intro paragraphs.

I’m not actually putting the blame for the disconnect between movements on the shoulders of others. I think that we have a lot of work to do ourselves, and I think that we need to put in time in other movements instead of letting ourselves be isolated. It was surprising to me when I first learned what a negative opinion most movements have of animal rights activists. “What have we done?” I wondered to myself. Well, we’ve done nothing, and that’s the point. We tend to point fingers without offering a hand.

But I’ve talked about that before.

The real point here is that what we eat, it matters. It is a choice, and it is a choice that is about a hell of a lot more than just what it tastes like. It is a choice that has a rippling effect – from the environment to the animals to the workers, and back around to our health and the environment and … well, it is a feedback loop, see?

What we eat matters, and our choices arguably impact others more than they impact us.

And that impact has nothing to do with the grumbling of the people in our lives as they complain about the “inconvenience” of feeding The Vegan.

Enforcing Protective Laws

pig at ps

I am never sure exactly what I think of protective laws, welfare laws. Better than nothing? A waste of time? Not enforced anyway, so what’s the point? A place to start?

All of those, I suppose.

The truth is that there aren’t many laws, and what laws there are have extremely limited scope and poor enforcement in addition. It is easy to be cynical about the laws preventing downed cows from going to the slaughterhouse – mostly it is to prevent a possibly “diseased” animal from entering the human food market – and it is discouraging to realize that chickens aren’t even covered by the farm animal welfare act, despite that (or, really, because) chickens make up the greatest number of individuals being raised for food, by far.

So, do we turn our back on the laws, on legislation in general? What is our end goal, really? For the whole world to be vegan, ideally, but in our ideal vegan world are there laws about this? I think there would be. I think there have always had to be laws against things, such as rape and murder, stealing inheritances from vulnerable elderly folks, and leaving dogs in hot cars, even if the majority of the population believes these acts to be morally corrupt. And, okay, yeah, I have to suspend my distrust of the government in general to make this argument, but is it more naive to think that people will do what is right simply because it is right, or that the government will properly legislate and enforce laws in this ideal vegan world?

I don’t know. pattrice talks quite a bit about capitalism, about the exploitation of humans and non-humans being so intertwined with capitalism, that one can only be broken when both are. I can see her point, but somehow I find it impossible to imagine a world without these behemoth governments standing on our backs.

Honestly, I’m not sure if it is worth our time to fight for legislation, but I do think it is important that we know what the protective laws are. If we see them being broken, we can actually make a citizens arrest. What does that gain us? Well, it depends.

The most obvious is that it could save a life. Think of the dogs (or cats or babies or alzheimer patients) left in hot locked cars, a deadly situation. That there are laws against this means we can take action, and the police will (or should) aid us in the attempt to rescue the individual(s).

Also, as long as there are laws in place (few and limited as they are) for farmed animals, it makes sense to force the farmers to follow them. There are few animal advocates doing this, but there are some. Animal Acres Sanctuary, outside of L.A. is one of them. They have a team of investigators going to stockyards and getting footage, forcing certain welfare laws to be followed. Most of the time this means suffering animals get a humane euthanization. Better than dying of dehydration 20 hours later, I suppose. Sometimes it results in rescues. They believe that with enough infractions against some of the stockyards, some of them might be shut down, or severely penalized.

It is also worth it to know the zoning ordinances; there is one stockyard that is not in compliance with the zoning ordinances in the area, and will potentially be shut down because of it.

When I went to the session at AR07 on enforcing these laws, I was going partially in support for Frank, one of the primary investigators at Animal Acres, who I had met the day before when I’d visited the sanctuary and watched their videos. I didn’t agree with everything on those videos, I felt like they focused too much on cruelty, and as so many have been saying lately in their blogs, when we focus on the cruelty, we seem to be implying that if it wasn’t cruel, it would be okay. Is cruelty-free slaughter possible? Honestly, I don’t care. Cruel, inhumane, or not, I do not think that we have the right to treat other sentient beings as property, deciding for them what their lives will be. Or not be.

Yet, I don’t have to agree with everything in the videos to respect and admire the investigations they are doing – it isn’t easy, but I do believe someone needs to do it.

I know one of the arguments against protective laws is that they more firmly entrench animals-as-property in the judicial system. I think this is a valid concern, especially as relates to welfare laws (as opposed to laws banning cock fighting, for one example), and in some ways it is a concern for me with investigations in general. Yet I also know that some lawyers are using these very laws, these protective welfare laws, to inch their way towards getting “pets” recognized as more than property.

My doubts remain about the laws themselves, but I am convinced that the investigations are worth supporting.

What I didn’t expect to learn in this session was how this relates to Sea Shepherd, international whaling laws, and the reality of the high seas. It seems so obvious now, but it wasn’t obvious to me until Paul Watson began to speak. There are laws against whaling, against so many things that are done out there on the vast oceans, yet who is enforcing them? Sea Shepherd is, and sadly, that is it. This year that might change, but so far the international governments have shown a sad lack of conviction by turning a blind eye to what Japan and other countries are doing to our oceans.

The oceans are vital to the health of the earth. Protecting them is vital. And that means, in part, enforcing the protective laws that already exist.

And the interesting thing, to me, with regards to the laws protecting the whales and other creatures of the sea is that it isn’t an issue of property at all. I don’t believe these are welfare laws, and if anything is abundantly clear, it is that Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd are directly saving lives as they enforce the protective laws.

It makes me wonder, it makes me think again about the laws. What good will it do to get countries to agree to signing pieces of paper that directly impact our future if no one bothers to see that those laws are actually followed? I can’t say that laws are of no worth, however, not when they give the Paul Watsons of the world a chance to be (legal) pirates of the high seas, saving animals.

ocean la