Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
It is always such fun to respond to writers who defend the barbarity of whaling. They always seem so self-righteous, as if killing a whale is some sort of noble heroic endeavor, when in reality any coward with a harpoon, a knife or a spear can slaughter such a defenseless sentient being. This time it is Elin Brimheim Heinesen.
Cultural clashes make Sea Shepherd campaign counterproductive
Perceived disrespectful behavior on the behalf of activist groups like Sea Shepherd only entrenches resistance to their efforts.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: In the old days the Faroese killed pilot whales, because they needed the food. Nowadays the Faroese still kill pilot whales – not only because they need the food – but also to prove to them selves that they are Faroese. What people eat becomes intrinsic to their identity as people. And this might probably be an even greater need than the need for this particular food. It seems very difficult for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to understand that their highly visible and provocative presence in the Faroes for the time being only strengthens this need even further. The Grindstop campaign is therefore highly counterproductive.
Captain Paul Watson: Precisely, they killed whales because they needed the food. Today, they do not need to eat whales. The Faroese enjoy one of the highest standards of living on the planet. They don’t need to steal whales from the sea. What Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not understand is any rationale for murdering an intelligent, self-aware, socially complex, sentient being. All psychopaths rationalize their crimes, and whaling – especially the way it is conducted in the Faroes – is psychotic behavior. What the whalers fail to understand is that Sea Shepherd’s objective is to expose this atrocity to the world. Sea Shepherd cannot end the killing and we have never pretended that we could, but building up global awareness and working to construct a strong political and economic base will lead to economic, diplomatic and political pressure that will be effective.
What the whalers fail to understand is that Sea Shepherd is not in the Faroes attempting to convince the Faroese to stop killing whales. It’s hard, if not impossible, to change the psyche of a committed killer. No, our targets are the people off the island – the people of Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia. It is for this reason that the volunteers have come to the Faroes from more than 30 different nations.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Especially in this day and age, where globalisation threatens indigenous or local cultures everywhere all over the world, it has become very important for many to hold on to what is left of their distinct cultural identity with even greater determination.
Captain Paul Watson: The Faroese abandoned their rights to a culture that practices ritualized slaughter when they embraced technology and all the benefits of civilization. In fact, the people of the Faroes have all of the benefits of globalization. Sea Shepherd has nothing against retaining cultural rights except when they infringe on the rights of other species. The rights of a species take precedence over the rights of any specific culture.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Despite the Faroe Islands’ relative remote location, the Faroese people have not been able to avoid globalisation. In fact, the Faroese people have welcomed globalisation and have become quite westernised and modern in most ways, but the Faroese have, at the same time still managed to preserve a great deal of their old cultural heritage – some of it unbroken for more than a thousand years.
Captain Paul Watson: The Faroese have never attempted to avoid globalization. They have embraced it in order to market their fish and to purchase the luxuries of civilization. There is nothing traditional about hunting down whales with modern motor-driven vessels or driving to the beaches to kill whales in automobiles. In the past the Faroese killed whales out of necessity. Today, it is done for fun, and we have all seen the joy of the whalers as they wallow in blood and gore or invite their children to poke and mutilate the corpses of whales.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese are very proud of the fact that they to a great extent have managed to let their modern lifestyle coexist in harmony with their old inherited life style. They are proud of the fact that they – in contrast to many other modern cultures – have managed to preserve basic values from a time, where life was much simpler, which also makes their culture as unique as it is, and they don’t want to loose what they regard as this very valuable and important part of their cultural identity.
Captain Paul Watson: There is no reason for any culture to retain practices that inflict suffering and death. If Catalonia can give up the bullfight, the Faroes should be able to give up murdering whales. Today, life is not so simple and there is a growing intolerance to the infliction of pain, suffering and death on highly intelligent, self-aware, sentient beings.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: They certainly do NOT agree with foreigners who claim that certain parts of their culture – like the controversial pilot whaling – is a primitive and barbaric tradition. Seen from a Faroese perspective, people who claim so have been misinformed or just don’t understand the basics of life in the Faroes, probably because they are prejudiced, alienated city-dwellers with no real understanding of how it is to survive in a place where people live in a very close relationship with nature, and where most people are dependent on what they provide for themselves directly from nature’s larder.
I don’t buy this old propaganda about how the opponents of the slaughter are all alienated city dwellers. I, myself, was raised in an east coast Canadian fishing village, and have spent decades on the ocean. I have weathered some of the most hostile seas on the planet, and have worked in extremely hostile areas like Amazonia, the Arctic, the Antarctic, Africa and in war zones. Many of my crew have similar backgrounds. There simply is no truth to the accusation that we are alienated city dwellers. I also don’t believe living close to nature means killing puffins, sea gulls, whales, seals and plundering the ocean of fish. All these so-called close to nature communities around the world have placed practically every single commercially-fished species in a state of collapse. Collectively, they are destroying life in our seas.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Faroese mentality molded by tough circumstances When we meet other cultures, unfamiliar to us, and compare our culture to other cultures, we notice the differences between us and “the others” and the feeling and understanding of our own distinct identity grows stronger.
Captain Paul Watson: That is certainly a very true statement. There are very few cultures with practices as brutal as the Faroese Grind. There is the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, the massacre of baby seals in Namibia and Eastern Canada, and other atrocities scattered around the globe. Between Taiji, Japan and the Faroes, it is hard to say which one leads the list, but they both number one and two.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese are a very self-aware, proud and stoic people. On a daily basis, the Faroese seem to have a very individualistic mentality, but in times of crisis they have in fact a great willingness to help each other. Everyone is determined to do whatever it takes to protect and secure the survival of the community. Otherwise the Faroese would never have survived for so long on these remote islands.
Captain Paul Watson: Pride goeth before the fall. It is great that the Faroese people support each other but there is resistance to the Grind in the Faroes and we have seen it. The world is evolving and I have seen that evolution even in the Faroes from the first time I came to the Faroes in 1985, until the present. Changes have taken place and these changes have taken place because of outside pressure. No culture is an island entirely unto itself these days.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: This strong Faroese mentality has been molded by the tough circumstances in this very small and remote place with a very harsh nature and a hostile climate, especially in the dark, stormy winters – a fact of life that makes the Faroese society quite vulnerable. This society has been ridden by countless crises since the beginning of time. It’s almost incomprehensible how people have managed to survive here for such a long time.
Captain Paul Watson: Well, not since the beginning of time but to be fair, a dozen or so centuries, and I agree it was a tough life for many of those centuries, but no longer. The people of the Faroes live a very comfortable and materially wealthy existence today, ranking amongst the world’s highest in per capita income. The only crisis remaining is the adherence to a barbarically cruel custom that should be tossed into the dustbin of history.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The fact is that all these recurrent threats from outside, that still occur from time to time – whether we’re talking about natural, economical or other threats – have unified the Faroese people in the most extraordinary way. The pilot whaling practice is an example of the special Faroese solidarity that lives on – it’s a communal effort and a way of providing free food for everyone leaving no one out, regardless of the person’s status in the society.
Captain Paul Watson: It may be free food, but to us, it is stolen from the sea with a horrendous price paid in suffering and waste. A living, swimming, beautiful whale is far more valuable to this planet than some unhealthy methyl-mercury-laced piece of meat. Nothing is taken from the sea for free. Diversity is weakened and thus interdependence is diminished. The whales pay the price with their suffering and their lives and that is a hellish price to pay so that a land-dwelling primate that does not even need the meat out of necessity can boast proudly the justification that it is a gift from God.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: This strong solidarity, which is natural for the Faroese people to show each other has enabled the Faroese to tackle the most incredible challenges over and over again, to such an extent that they have even managed to multiply and thrive in this place – to be fair, sometimes with economic aid or loans from Denmark, which the Faroese always have paid back, with interest.
Captain Paul Watson: Perhaps it is time to pay back the whales with interest. They sustained the Faroese in their times of need. Good stewardship requires an acknowledgement to other species and most importantly consideration.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroe Islands are still a part of the Danish kingdom, but this North Atlantic archipelago is it’s own nation with an extensive, independent home rule. Even though the Faroese have not (yet) chosen to leave the Danish Kingdom completely (mostly because of strong historical, cultural and family bonds) there is no doubt that the Faroese hold their national pride and self-determination in high regard. The strong self-reliance and proudness of the Faroese people is one of the reasons that the Faroese chose not to followDenmark into the EU in the early 70’s. They do not want to sacrifice their autonomy, which they have fought so much for, just to become puppets among other puppets of the Brussels administration.
This self-determination is in fact very significant for the Faroese. People who intend to have an impact on – or that want to change Faroese cultural values, will not succeed in their efforts, if they don’t understand these important factors of Faroese mentality.
Captain Paul Watson: We are well aware of the connection between Denmark and the Faroes, and we are also aware that the killing of whales is illegal under the laws of the European Union. Denmark is openly supporting the Grind with Special Forces and the Navy, and we intend to make a case of this before the European Union. The Faroes receive subsidies from Europe through Denmark. We believe there are grounds to challenge these subsidies if the Grind continues. But it is imperative to raise international consciousness of the slaughter. Our goal is to see that whenever anyone sees the Faroese flag or hears the name, the first image that will come to mind is of the blood-soaked beaches.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese will never tolerate being shamed by others It’s not that the Faroese want to isolate themselves totally from the rest of the world. Anyone who visits the islands notices how remarkably knowledgeable, literate and cosmopolitan in general most Faroese are. The Faroese certainly welcome foreigners and are willing to cooperate with anyone who, notably, shows them respect and has well-intended purposes.
Captain Paul Watson: It is not a question of tolerating it, it is a question of enduring it. We respect the Faroese in all aspects except one, and that is the ruthlessly vicious, inhumane slaughter of whales. That we will never respect, and it is our mission to see that growing numbers of people internationally also demonstrate their sincere disrespect for this part of the Faroese culture.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroe Islands is one of the oldest democracies and most peaceful countries in the world. The Faroese are perfectly alright with the fact, that other people’s opinions might differ (even a lot) from theirs, and they are also always willing to discuss any issue with others in a respectful manner – yes, even willing to change some of their ways, IF other people have convincing arguments and, of course, ask them nicely.
Captain Paul Watson: Slaughtering thousands of whales on bloody beaches is not our idea of peaceful. It is horrifically violent. This is not a question of opinion. You have opinions on religion or politics. When it comes to slaughter, opinions mean nothing. A serial killer may have an opinion that satisfying his lust to kill is justifiable, but it is hardly relevant to those who oppose murder. As for asking nicely, we tried that route over two decades ago. I sat in Prime Minister Atli Dam’s office in 1986 and heard him say that the Grind was a gift from God, and any discussion about ending it would not be entertained. Thus, out of strategic necessity, we were forced to develop alternative strategies. Asking nicely achieved nothing. Been there, and done that to no avail.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: What they don’t want, is to be overruled by others! They do NOT accept that others interfere with their affairs by coercively imposing their own values on the Faroese, acting as intruders, obviously with no interest in having a respectful dialogue, but mostly just throwing dirt and spreading sensationalist propaganda to attract international media attention, purposefully to create international outrage and thus hoping to put enough pressure on the Faroese to make them stop doing what they do.
Captain Paul Watson: Again our attempts at respectful dialogue were stymied from the beginning, but things have indeed changed and our volunteers on the ground are having respectful dialogues with many Faroese citizens. What you say is sensationalistic propaganda is simply a difference of opinion. We stand by the truth of all of our statements. We are not even attempting to put pressure on the Faroese whalers to stop. Our pressure is being applied elsewhere through international media attention, and international outrage because people should be outraged by this cruelty and this slaughter, and as we reach more and more people we are finding that they are indeed outraged.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: But the Faroese will certainly NOT tolerate being demonized and shamed by others! The Faroese are not ashamed of who they are. On the contrary! They have never ever made a secret of what they do and how they live, and they have never been afraid of discussing openly about their ways with those, who oppose them.
Captain Paul Watson: None of us are demonizing the Faroese. We target only the killers. However, I notice that the Faroese media and many others have no hesitation in demonizing Sea Shepherd, and certainly myself. It does not bother me for the simple reason that change never comes without hostile reaction so it is to be expected.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese are a strong-minded people, not afraid to stand up for themselves and defend what they consider to be their legal, historical rights – even if their opponent is a 100 times larger or more. Just think of the recent herring and mackerel war between the EU and the Faroes, which the Faroese ended up winning.
Captain Paul Watson: The thousands of Sea Shepherd supporters and volunteers are also a strong-minded bunch and determined to defend the lives of marine species despite the risks involved in doing so. You may have won the right to kill more fish than you deserve to be killing, but it is simply a battle won in a war you will lose for the simple reason that the oceans are dying, seriously over-fished and heavily over-polluted with chemicals, oil, plastic, radiation and noise. I remember the Atlantic fisheries of the fifties and sixties and what you have today has been seriously diminished since then – and that diminishment will continue.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese hold on to their rights, but are willing to improve The Faroese are convinced that they have a right to make use of the natural resources in their own territory, including pilot whales. Theseresources have laid the foundation for the survival of the Faroese people for a very long time, and even though some claim that it is “not necessary” to kill pilot whales any more and that pilot whales are too contaminated to be fit for human consumption, the fact is that pilot whale meat and blubber – besides being a very important part of Faroese culture – still plays a big role in sustaining a healthy economy in the Faroe Islands, because this free food saves the Faroese from buying a lot of expensive foods, imported and transported (in vessels that pollute) from countries far away.
Captain Paul Watson: As I said before, it is not free food. The whales and the ocean are paying a price for it. But it is also a toxic food, and plain common sense should dictate that it should not go into your mouth. The vessel bringing meat and dairy products, vegetable and fruits will continue doing so no matter if the Grind continues or not. The Faroese are operating hundreds of vessels that pollute so it is silly to pretend that eating whale meat reduces pollution when even the act of driving the whales to the beaches requires the operation of boats and automobiles that pollute.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese believe that they have the sovereign right to decide if or when they should stop pilot whaling. They think that whale-saving efforts should rather be concentrated on stopping the pollution that threatens the oceans and the maritime foods the Faroese live on, among others the pilot whales.
Captain Paul Watson: We believe we have the ecological and ethical right to oppose cruelty and slaughter and the diminishment of life in the sea. Sea Shepherd is involved in opposing pollution with campaigns dedicated to addressing plastic pollution and researching the toxic impact of oil dispersants on sperm whales. In addition, we have campaigns opposing the poaching of sharks, other fishes, seals, turtles, sea birds and invertebrates. As for whales, we have tackled whaling since 1974, and quite effectively in many places around the globe. In fact, you might ask your Japanese guest who will be visiting the Faroes the first week in September just how effectively Sea Shepherd has dealt with their illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The Faroese also have every reason to believe that they are perfectly fit to take care of this natural resource, because they have done so in a sustainable way ever since people inhabited this remote archipelago more than a thousand years ago. They have, in contrast to many other hunter-gatherer societies, kept records of their whale-catch since medieval times, and they continue to ensure the sustainability of this practice, constantly trying to improve their methods.
Captain Paul Watson: There is very little sustainable fishing, whaling or sealing done by anyone these days. The word “sustainable” is thrown around so much it has become meaningless. The oceanic eco-system worldwide is no longer sustainable.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The pilot whaling practice has, in fact, improved a lot, especially in later years – NOT because of recurrent confrontations with SSCS, but because of an increased knowledge among the Faroese, based on scientific facts, provided by, among others, the Faroese themselves, and because of convincing arguments put forward by sensible and credible people who understand the importance of a mutual respectful dialogue. Nowadays the Faroese do everything in their power to make sure that the whales don’t suffer more than necessary during the herding and killing process.
Captain Paul Watson: Actually our activities in the past did contribute to so-called improvements in killing procedures. We brought this to international attention in 1986 with the BBC documentary “Black Harvest,” and that film was very instrumental in helping to bring about these changes. The driving of the whales to the beaches is highly stressful and exceedingly cruel; the slaughter of whales being witnessed by family members in the pod is highly stressful and exceedingly cruel. The Grind remains a very cruel and grossly inhumane slaughter of highly evolved sentient beings.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: So in the eyes of the Faroese, there is nothing others really can point their fingers at here. Especially not meat-eating people from countries with a polluting big farm industry, exploiting animals in the billions, which, seen through Faroese eyes, is a much more destructive and cruel practice than their own pilot whaling practice.
Captain Paul Watson: The meat sold in Faroese supermarkets comes from factory farms in Denmark – the same factory farms that have fed so much tonnage of sand eels to puffins that their populations have plummeted – and now, we have the ludicrous situation where chickens in Denmark eat more sand eels than all the world’s population of puffins. The Faroese participate in exploiting farm animals. On the other hand, Sea Shepherd does not participate in the exploitation of farm animals for many reasons, but one reason is the fact that over 40% of the fish taken from the sea is fed to domestic farm animals to the point where humans, cats, pigs, chickens and farm-raised salmon are literally eating the oceans alive.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Ethnocentric cultural imperialism does NOT save whales This is what the people in the SSCS don’t seem to understand: That if they invade the islands the way they’ve done this summer and put pressure on the Faroese people by confronting, judging and moralising the Faroese, sensationalizing their way of life in international media, claiming that the Faroese people kill pilot whales, not for food, but only “for fun and entertainment” (which is one of the most outrageous claims infuriating the Faroese), imposing their own self-righteous rules onto the Faroese by telling them that their way of life is “wrong”, and that they need to change – not ever listening to Faroese arguments – it will only have a counterproductive effect.
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd is an international movement of volunteers; there is nothing ethnocentric about us. We even have Faroese supporters. No one invaded the islands; every volunteer entered legally through the proper ports of entry.
We have seen the evidence and heard the boasting of the whalers who do say they enjoy the kill. We have read their accounts and seen their actions on video and in reality. Our claim stands that many of the killers enjoy the kill, and thus, it is for fun. The killing of these whales and dolphins is absolutely and most definitely wrong and we make no apologies for saying so. There is no argument that justifies cruelty and death that we could possibly accept.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The outcome is that the Faroese shut their ears too and will just be even more convinced that they need to hold on – even more strongly – to their old way of life and that they need to fight against what they see as ‘ethnocentric cultural imperialism’ from foreign alienated city-dwellers, who just don’t understand the basics of Faroese culture, on which they base their life and survival.
Captain Paul Watson: Some do, and some don’t. We have spoken to many Faroese who do oppose the killing. I remember when many in Catalonia said that the bullfight would never be abolished, that it was part of Catalonian culture. They said it was an ancient tradition, and no one from the outside would ever change that, and no one from the inside would ever accept it. Yet, this particular barbaric tradition has been ended.
And once again this “alienated city dweller” propaganda is simply a case of “if you repeat it enough, you may begin to believe it.” We also hold no allegiance to any ethnicity or culture. Our entire motivation is guided by ethics and ecology, and we are opposing ecological imperialism by Faroese whalers who impose their chauvinistic cultural values lethally against the very real culture of whales and dolphins.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The fact is that the SSCS – by doing what they do for the time being – actually only harm their own cause! They are even postponing possible improvements of the pilot whaling practice, because as it is, the Faroese definitely won’t give anyone the impression that they are giving in to SSCS’ pressure.
Captain Paul Watson: That is an opinion that we reject. After four decades of activism, we are well aware of our accomplishments and very experienced in our strategies. The whalers will not give in to us and we don’t expect them to, but they will give in, for international public opinion has been evolving very rapidly to oppose both cruelty and slaughter. The times have changed so much that even SeaWorld is now collapsing under international pressure instigated by activism. This atrocity will be ended, and of that I am certain because I have faith in the ability of people to evolve, and especially the young people of the Faroe Islands whose understanding of interdependence, diversity and finite resources, is on par with this same realization by young people everywhere on the planet. Survival means sacrificing archaic traditions in favor of developing a system that is harmonious with the rest of creation. We are becoming aware that we need other species to ensure our own survival and that these species, left alive, provide strength to the integrity of the ecosystems that support us all.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: SSCS may succeed in postponing some whale kills for a little while. But rather sooner than later the Faroese will go back to their old ways, even more determined and eager to keep on doing what they’ve always done. Before you know it, the Faroese have caught up and reached the average number of annual whale kills again – just as it happened the last time SSCS were in the Faroes. The year after, the Faroese killed almost 1,500 cetaceans, and thus almost doubled their yearly average, so people could fill up their freezers again with this beloved tasty food, many consider to be the Faroese national dish.
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd’s overall strategy is not limited to postponing a whale kill. In fact, if a whale kill happens, the opportunity to bring awareness to this atrocity will be fully taken advantage of.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Claiming that Paul Watson and SSCS save pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, is just not a fact, I’m afraid. It’s quite the opposite!
Captain Paul Watson: We shall see. I firmly believe otherwise.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Others have been much more successful than SSCS If people want to have an impact on the Faroese pilot whaling practice, there are in fact other more effective ways. Ady Gil and Pete Bethune from the Earthrace Conservation Society, which has a whale-saving agenda, similar to the SSCS’ agenda, just using different methods, were actually much more successful than the SSCS has ever been, when they visited the Faroe Islands a couple of years ago, because they were clearly not as confrontational and conflict-seeking as SSCS – or especially Paul Watson – himself.
Captain Paul Watson: Of course you would endorse them. They agreed with you for the most part, and did very little otherwise. Their agenda is in no way similar to Sea Shepherd, in fact they don’t appear to have much of an agenda at all besides visiting, having some drinks and badmouthing Sea Shepherd – which of course, brought them into immediate favor with those who support whaling. Sea Shepherd did not come to the Faroes to kiss anyone’s behind or to say what the whalers want to hear. Yes, Sea Shepherd is confrontational, but there are thousands of whales swimming freely in the Southern Ocean right now that would otherwise be dead from Japanese harpoons if Sea Shepherd were not confrontational.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Ady Gil and Pete Bethune didn’t invade the country with a hoard of very visible, uniformed people and vehicles, threatening to break Faroese laws and painting grim pictures of the Faroese people in international media. Instead the two came to the Faroes, behaving as respectful guests with a positive attitude, visiting different people in the Faroes, including whalers, talking to them about their lives, making research about Faroese culture, and inviting the Faroese to have a mutual respectful dialogue about the whaling issue. These two people showed genuine interest in the Faroese, their culture and their arguments and respect the Faroese right to decide for themselves how they want to live and behave.
Captain Paul Watson: As for genuine interest in the Faroes, I will be quite truthful about what our genuine interest is and that is to abolish the killing of whales and dolphins worldwide by anyone, for any reason, anywhere. I’m glad you enjoyed their company but to say they contributed to ending the Grind is laughable.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: By behaving in a respectful way, using only information and dialogue as means and trying to establish a whale-watching business in the Faroes, they actually succeeded in convincing some Faroese people to join their cause and start a branch of the Earthrace Conservation Society in the Faroes. A movement that grew – until the SSCS arrived!
Captain Paul Watson: Did they establish a whale watching business? No, they did not. And what did this Earthrace group in the Faroes do? Did it oppose the Grind? No, it did not. Sea Shepherd is an international movement. Earthrace is not.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Even Faroese who strongly support the pilot whale slaughter, actually respect people like Ady Gil, Pete Bethune AND the locals who have joined them, acknowledging their compassion for the whales, even though they don’t agree with their views that the Faroese pilot whaling should be stopped.
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd is not in the Faroes to gain the respect of whalers, and we would be damn disappointed if we did. Compassion without action is just impotent posing and nothing more.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Even Faroese against pilot whaling turn their backs to SSCS and their methods In contrast to this, the average Faroese people see no reason to why they should respect the SSCS as an organisation – or Paul Watson in particular. And why is that? Well, it’s simply because Paul Watson and other SSCS people haven’t shown any respect for the Faroese. They have gravely damaged the relationship by aggressive rhetoric in which they again and again dehumanise and demonise the Faroese people.
Captain Paul Watson: Like I said, we did not come to the Faroes for respect or to win any popularity contests. Truthfully, we do respect the Faroese just as we respect Norwegians and Japanese. It is just their whale killers we have a problem with, and yes, we do not respect their ilk one little bit. We have not insulted, demonized or dehumanized Faorese people unless they happen to have the blood of the whales on their hands. We have also been dehumanized, demonized and insulted but quite frankly that goes with the turf and bothers us not one bit. Our clients are the whales, and it is them we represent, it is them we fight for, and it is them whose welfare we are concerned with.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: They have told so many lies and have spread so much disinformation in worldwide media, calling for a boycott of the Faroe Islands, ditching the Faroese population as a whole, censoring and not allowing the Faroese people to defend them selves, for instance, on their pages in social media – and thus proven over and over again that they in fact have no regard for the Faroese people, even though they claim, that they do have respect and that they only do what they do out of compassion and in defence of the whales.
Captain Paul Watson: I have yet to hear any evidence of any lie we have told. All we hear are differences of opinions, and those opinions are rendered into lies simply by the fact that what we say they disagree with. We have not called for a boycott of the Faroes. Other groups have. We delete people who make insults and unsubstantiated accusations, and the pro-whaling social sites also remove those they don’t like. I also have little interest in debating killers who are trying to justify their cruelty. And we stand by our position that we are in the Faroes for one reason and one reason only, and that is to defend the whales and work towards the abolishment of this obscenity called the Grind.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: But in any case, the fact is that this disrespectful behaviour, especially presented by Captain Paul Watson himself, only creates deeper conflicts between the Faroese and the SSCS and makes it almost impossible for the Faroese to believe that the SSCS has come to the Faroes with good intentions.
Captain Paul Watson: Focusing the attention to me is only an attempt to avoid the fact that hundreds of volunteers from more than 30 nations are in the Faroes this summer. I am not even leading the campaign. The land crew is led by Rosie Kunneke of South Africa, and the offshore crew is led by Lamya Essemlali of France. I don’t give instructions or orders. I am simply writing this summer.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: This is why any discussion between SSCS and the Faroese always seem to end up being unfruitful and pointless, only digging the trenches deeper, making the Faroese even more convinced to keep on practicing the pilot whaling.
Captain Paul Watson: Most likely it is pointless and unfruitful, but any conversation between people intent on saving lives and people intent upon destroying life usually is. And as I said before, our focus is on a much larger picture.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: The demonising, insulting and hostile rhetoric the SSCS leader has put forward so far, only postpones any possible solutions or agreements, and has resulted in the fact that even Faroese people that earlier maybe leaned towards being against pilot whaling, now turn their backs on SSCS and join the pro-whalers.
Captain Paul Watson: Again this is simply an opinion. I have not demonized anyone. I have simply pointed out you have to be psychotic to butcher defenseless whales in this manner. That is a valid opinion backed up by a great many people. However, we are getting more support from Faroese people now than in any campaigns in the past.
Elin Brimheim Heinesen: Fail, SSCS!
Captain Paul Watson: We shall see Elin, we shall see. If history is our guide, I am confident that life will triumph over death, and kindness will triumph over cruelty. I am just happy to be siding with life and compassion in opposition to suffering and death.