Yesterday, I posted on Peter Gullage's breathtakingly comprehensive investigative pieces on Jerry Vlasak, MD.
Dr. Vlasak is a former spokesman for the PeTA front group The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a press officer for the terrorist Animal Liberation Front's (ALF) Press Office, a current or newly defrocked (see below) member of the Board of Directors of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and a man who justifies the ethics of assassinating scientists to stop their use of animals in biomedical research, as well as openly advocating the practice of assassination itself.
In preparing his report, Mr. Gullage interviewed Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and posed this to Skipper Paul for a reaction:
Mr. Gullage: I asked Watson in an interview last week, he was out on the Farley Mowat, I said: "I've read these quotes from Dr. Vlasak, your board of directors and he seems to be talking about killing people." And here is what Paul Watson said to that:
Skipper Paul: And the quotes that are attributed to him, you'll have to talk to him about them, but what he was referring to was completely taken out of context. What Dr. Vlasak was saying was that he was concerned that there would be violence directed against researchers, and that's turned around to say he's advocating it.
When Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Board of Directors member Elizabeth May learned of Dr. Vlasak's position on assassination, she contacted Skipper Paul saying she would resign if the allegations against Vlasak were true, unless he (Vlasak) was dropped from the SSCS's Board of Directors. Skipper Paul's response was clear and unequivocal:
Contacted aboard the society's ship Farley Mowat, Watson says he is prepared to lose May as an adviser to his organization if it means retaining Vlasak, a Los Angeles-based physician.
"You ask me to condemn a trauma surgeon, who saves lives, who simply spoke up to expose the hypocrisy in our society … absolutely not," Watson said.
"I would never condemn him. So, if she has a problem with that, that's her choice." [My emphasis . . . ed]
My comment in yesterday's post: "I suspect Captain Watson will come to rue the day he said that . . ."
According to the CBC, that rueful day has evidently come:
ST. JOHN'S — The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is disassociating itself from comments made by Dr. Jerry Vlasak, who has condoned assassination as a means of protecting animal life.
Founder Paul Watson – who earlier this week supported Vlasak's position on the society's board of directors – issued a statement Thursday afternoon, saying the society does not condone violence against sealers.
"We are a non-violent organization … we certainly don't advocate threats against anybody," Watson said Thursday from the society's ship, the Farley Mowat.
Vlasak has been barred entry from the United Kingdom, after he told a 2003 conference in the U.S. that he supports assassination of animal researchers as a means of stopping animal-based research.
"If these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination, and call it political assassination or what have you … strictly from a fear and intimidation factor, that would be an effective tactic," Vlasak said at the time.
(Parenthetically, in a Washington Times Op Ed piece today, David Martosko of the Center for Consumer Freedom notes that: "Dr. Jerry Vlasak was billed on the "Animal Rights 2003" conference program as a PCRM representative." And thus it is . . .)
The CBC's report continues:
In an interview this week with the CBC, Vlasak did not back down from those remarks, and also said he also supported violence against sealers.
"Are these people comparable to people that chop up animals in laboratories just to further their academic careers? Yeah, I think they're all abhorrent in a certain way, yes," he said.
"The comments made by Dr. Vlasak do not represent the policy of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society," the society said in a statement.
"The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society disassociates itself from these views."
Prophetic words these, since the good Dr's. name no longer appears on the SSCS's web page listing its Board of Directors. It would seem that "disassociation happened" with lightening like quickness — Dr. Vlasak's Boardly presence has dissipated into the ethers, as if it never was, never had been . . . What an ignoble ending to such a noble crusader.
It appears that even before tomorrow's meeting of the SSCS's Board of Directors, someone has answered Skipper Paul's rhetorical plea: "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?"
The statement says the society "does not condone nor advocate any act of violence to any person for any reason at any time."
Elizabeth May, the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, says she would quit an advisory post with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society if Vlasak did not resign.
Earlier this week, Watson said May was free to resign, and that he would not "condemn" Vlasak.
In a Thursday interview, however, Watson said he did not have all of the facts now available to him.
Skipper Paul's lateral arabesque is graceful, but unpersuasive . . . first off, the notorious Rodney Coronado, who served time for torching a university lab, was once a member of Sea Shepherd, so this is not the first time the SSCS has soiled itself with unsavory people.
Beyond this, the good captain was unequivocal in his assertion that Dr. Vlasak's comments had been taken out of context, and that Dr. Vlasak was merely trying to protect scientists from violence. Had our opinions been formed on the basis of Skipper Paul's assertions, the public would remain sadly misinformed. (An ass-covering press release from the SSCS about violence and the regrettable Dr. Vlasak may be found here.)
Kudos to Mr. Gullage: he tracked down the truth, and made it clearly available to his audience.
As for Skipper Paul. He clearly was aware both of the allegations against Dr. Vlasak and of Dr. Vlasak's spin on them. But in bestowing his vote of confidence on Dr. Vlasak, Skipper Paul was either willfully and terminally incurious about assessing for himself the accuracy of the charges, or was deliberately lying when he reversed the thrust of the story to reflect positively on Dr. Vlasak.
I'll leave it to the readership to determine which is worse: a disengaged and reckless Skipper Paul, willing to believe what he wants to believe rather than ascertain what the dark facts really are, or a lying and conniving Skipper Paul, trying to engineer the coverup of a close friend, if not a soul mate.
You make your own call.
The board, he said, would meet imminently to discuss the issue, and whether Vlasak will be asked to resign as a board member.
Meanwhile, Vlasak – who did not back down from any of his previous comments about violence – has blasted CBC's coverage of his views. He says his comments were not comprehensively reported by CBC, and that he was not speaking on behalf of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
"What an unethical breach of journalistic integrity … where are my repeated comments about Sea Shepherd Conservation Society being a non-violent organization? ," Vlasak wrote in an e-mail.
Dr. Vlasak is simply . . . not . . . being . . . rational . . . He is merely being held accountable for having openly advocated the assassination of scientists, and by implication, sealers as well. (Parenthetically, the SSCS made the task of locating at least one sealer far easier for Dr. Vlasak or one his acolytes by posting personal information about him - his name, phone number, address, and even his wife's name — on the internet; the person named received threats, and the SSCS has now removed that information.)
Unfortunately, by virtue of him being on the SSCS's Board of Directors and a close pal of Skipper Paul (who would never condemn him because he saves lives . . .), Dr. Vlasak's injudicious words have tainted the SSCS, as his words had previously tainted the PCRM, a group of worried wingnuts who are even now quietly but energetically trying to forget they ever had anything to do with him (as if . . .).
"I didn't expect much from a Newfie, but you have hit a new low for one-sided reporting," Vlasak wrote.
For those of you who don't know, the term Newfie is as disparaging and contemptuous a word for our Newfoundland cousins as is the "n" word for African Americans, or the "k" word for Jews. Dr. Vlasak hurls invectives with the best of them . . . Perhaps he might profit from a few sessions of sensitivity training, or classes in anger management.
So what are we to make of all this?
With apologies to Joseph Heller, some people are born idiots and some have idiocy thrust upon them. But Dr. Vlasak seems to have become an idiot the good old fashioned way: through hard work and effort. Or so I would argue. Not only has he managed to be booted out of the PCRM, but now he's being fired by the SSCS! Still, he can rejoice that he retains his standing as a Press Officer of the Animal Liberation Front, a position he holds because he appointed himself to it!
Still, given the way things are going for Dr. Vlasak, it is entirely possible that he will find himself to be a liability to the ALF, in which case we can only wonder if he will be perceptive enough to fire himself.
In the past, I've pointed out a variety of "Useful Idiots" who have fallen for the radical AR/Eco propaganda hook, line and sinker: they are people who do dumb things — things that hazard themselves and their future, but that are at least of some perverse use to their ideology.
But in Dr. Vlasak, we appear to have an entirely new category: the Un-Useful Idiot. Not only has he hazarded himself and his future, but he's brought even his radical cause a whole ton of grief!
Finally, there is the irony: the United States is paying countless millions of dollars to protect itself against terrorists; yet our government continues to grant organizations like SSCS, PeTA and PCRM, all with glaringly obvious ties to terrorist organizations, tax exempt status. And then these organizations sally forth to do their thing against our neighbor countries, in this case, Canada. It's almost like we're subsidizing and exporting terrorists ourselves . . . Or so it seems to me . . .
Once again, well done Mr. Gullage. And thanks to Tom P. for the SSCS Board of Directors link.
UPDATE: 4/22/05 — My sources tell me that the SSCI Board of Directors met last night, and ousted Dr. Vlasak.