Well, that didn't take long:
ST. JOHN'S — The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has removed Dr. Jerry Vlasak – who has endorsed assassination as a way of stopping animal abuse – from its board of directors.
The board of directors made a decision in a conference call.
Vlasak, who did not take part in the call, indicated he was not surprised by the decision.
He said the decision was likely necessary so that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society could maintain its funding, and continues its operations, including protests against the seal hunt.
"They saw a threat to their organization as it was operating … they felt like taking me off the board presented them with the best opportunity to do so," he said.
Funding is important. Which brings me to a recent post by regular Donnie Mac Leod on Brian Carnell's excellent site AnimalRights.net. Mr. Mac Leod points out that Paul Watson "has publicly admitted that the seal hunt is the most profitable of all the activist activities and that is how Greenpeace used to raise the bulk of their money" and points us to the 1978 audio of that CBC interview (Watson had resigned or was booted from Greenpeace in 1977 after a dispute with the Greenpeace Board of Directors):
Here's a verbatim transcript of part of the interview:
[ . . . ]
Announcer Beyond the sound and the fury, there's a lot of hard cash on the line. The seal hunt is big business. It means $3 million a year for several thousand Newfoundland fishermen. Another $2.5 million a year to secondary industries of packaging and processing.
[02:16] And now, the third and fastest growing sector of the seal business: the protest industry, worth well into the millions, and still growing.
While Newfoundland fishermen struggle along at the poverty line, the seal protest business is booming. From all over the world, hundreds of thousands of dollars pour into the offices of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Animal Protection Institute, the Greenpeace Foundation.
It comes in so fast the groups just can't seem to spend it all.
Paul Watson, a former director of the Greenpeace Foundation in Vancouver, was kicked off the foundation's Board of Directors last June after a disagreement over the tactics for fighting the hunt.
[02:55]Female voice Mr. Watson, how easy is it to raise money against the hunt?
Watson Well, I think that of all the animals in the world or any environmental problem in the world the harp seal is the easiest issue to raise funds on. Greenpeace has always managed to — to raise more money on the seal issue than for the campaigns than has actually been spent on the campaigns themselves.
The seal hunt has always turned a profit for the Greenpeace Foundation. And then other organizations like IFAW, API, Fund for Animals, also make a profit off the seal hunt.
[03:29]Female voice You suggesting that they fight for seals rather than other animals because it's easy, or easier to raise money that way, or because it's a profit maker for them?
[03:38]Watson Well it's definitely because it's easier to make money and because it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them. [My emphasis . . . ed.]
Female voice Did anyone in Greenpeace ever express that aloud, that it was easy to make some hay on the seal hunt so let's get into that?
[03:55]Watson Well, a lot of people have done that. See the thing is the seal is very easy to exploit as an image. We have posters, we have buttons, we have shirts, all of which portray the head of a baby seal with the tears coming out of its eyes. Baby seals are always crying because — its — they're always — the salt tears keep their eyes from freezing. But they have this image — they're baby animals, they're beautiful, and because of that, coupled with the horror of a sealer hitting them over the head with a club, it's — it's an image that just goes right to the heart of — of animal lovers all over North America.
[ . . . ]
And now we have a dozen people this year from Greenpeace California — I mean they're coming from the highest standard of living region in North America — they're traveling to the place with the lowest income per year on this continent telling them not to kill seals because they're cute but not endangered species.
Yet off the coast of California there are three species of dolphin — the spinner the spotted and the white belly — and they're being slaughtered towards the brink of extinction by American tuna boats. And then the slaughter of (unintelligible) sea turtles in (unintelligible) in Mexico.
Female voice Now what happens within Greenpeace when you raise a point like that?
[05:08]Watson They know they can't raise any money off of it. They know that if they send a crew down to try to interfere with the killing of sea turtles in Mexico that they're not going to get any support. And they know that if they — the problem with the dolphins is that there's so much competition there is so many groups that are trying to raise money to protect dolphins and protect whales . . .
[05:27]Female voice How much money did Greenpeace raise the year you left against the seal hunt?
Watson Well, last year, I had submitted a budget for $60,000. We spent $55,000, and I believe we raised well over $100,000. And I do know that . . .
[ . . . ]
Watson Well, Greenpeace protesters in the last two years were not paid a salary. They were all volunteers.
This year, the crew members are paid volunteers. Their salaries, I would believe — I would think that the amount of money spent on salaries for the Greenpeace organization right now is about a quarter of a million dollars a year.
There are other groups too, like API — Animal Protection Institute —
Female voice How much do they spend to fight the seal hunt?
[06:49]Watson I don't think they spend anything. They put their money into advertising, which they say makes the public aware, and also it has their address on the corner which has people send in more money. So, in fact every time they invest money in advertising, they make more money back in return.
Female voice Any idea of total sum of all the money raised every year, to fight the seal hunt?
Watson Well, I would estimate between API, IFAW, Greenpeace and any other groups that's three to four million dollars.
Female voice Are these funds collected from individuals who feel badly, or are there corporate givers, do you know?
Watson No, mainly they're from . . .
Female voice So two and five dollar customers?
Watson Yeah. A lot of school children, a lot of pensioners.
Female voice Your fear then is that it isn't just money that people can easily spend, that it's coming from people who you think would be better off keeping it.
Watson Well, I think that a lot of the money is now being abused.
Female voice In addition to their salary, I assume that there's a lot of money to be used from the group for your personal living expenses — traveling, money raising . . .
Watson Oh certainly. The people in additional to getting a salary — Greenpeace people are flying around the world all the time. I mean Australia, Japan, Hawaii, California, Norway, England. There — at any time there are a dozen people that are on their way to or from these countries. Right now we have Dr. Paul Fong is in Hawaii on his way to Japan. People are in Europe. You know. So there's a lot . . .
Female voice And those are all business expenses.
Watson Yeah. I think that the problem that is happening, and that it deserves criticism, is that the organization becomes more important than the issue.
So there you have it . . .
Though the interview dates from 1978 and Skipper Paul was talking mainly about Greenpeace, the logic certainly works for the SSCS: the organization becomes more important than the issue, which makes money all-important, as it must be if the organization is to thrive. Any capitalist will tell you that . . .
The non-endangered harp seals are the focus of attention, rather than endangered species like dolphins and sea turtles which really are on the brink of extinction, because the harp seals appear cute and cuddly and are therefore very useful levers for prying money out of pockets — if mainly from the pockets of kids and pensioners, so be it. The harp seals are also useful because, at least at the time, there were so many groups championing dolphins and whales that it would have been hard to compete with them for funds . . .
Assets — like a good reputation that will help raise bucks — are to be nurtured. Liabilities — like Board members who advocate assassination and might jeopardize fund raising — are to be discarded . . . but only if absolutely necessary.
Let me make this ethic crystal clear: good = anything that benefits income; bad = anything that jeopardizes income.
So let's return to today's CBC story of Dr. Vlasak's removal from the Board of Directors of the SSCS.
Vlasak, a California-based physician, 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.
In interviews this week with the CBC, Vlasak said he would also support the use of violence to bring the seal hunt to an end.
Unlike Dr. Vlasak, I'm strongly opposed to substituting violence for persuasion and ballots . . ..
Fortunately for the good Dr., the board members of the SSCS are more of my mind than his, and chose not to invent an ethical rationale to "off" him, even as he invented an ethical rationale to "off" a few scientists to intimidate the rest into toeing his ideological line.
Still, Dr. Vlasak is a liability — meaning he's bad for SSCS's fund-raising business . . .
He participated in demonstrations at the seal hunt this spring near the Magdalen Islands. He is facing a charge of interfering with the hunt, but says he was punched in those by a sealer.
Vlasak agreed with a suggestion that the Sea Shepherd Conservation has been turning a blind eye to his views on violence as a means of stopping animal research.
Which speaks volumes about the minds running SSCS . . . they chose to ignore Dr. Vlasak's open advocacy of assassination rather than dealing with it out of principle.
Indeed, the only reason they are now dealing with Dr. Vlasak and his incendiary and publicly-expressed opinions is because of Mr. Gullage's remarkable series of articles, interviews and on-air reports exposing Dr. Vlasak for what he advocates, and supergluing him to Skipper Paul and the SSCS.
In fact, an initially defiant Skipper Paul and his SSCS were quickly overwhelmed by events — easily foreseeable events I might add — indeed, events that propelled Skipper Paul and his SSCS kicking and screaming to the point of taking action, apparently against their wills (Elizabeth May excepted). The bad publicity that flowed from Mr. Gullage's reporting and Director May's impassioned public ultimatum (Vlasak goes or I go!) left Skipper Paul no choice. (Audio of Ms. May here, partial verbatim transcript here.)
"I'm not a different person today than I was the day before they removed me from the board," he said.
Totally correct . . . which makes the point sharp as a pin: Skipper Paul wasn't so much disturbed by Dr. Vlasak's inclinations towards assassination as he was by the prospect of the bad publicity visited upon him and the SSCS by Dr. Vlasak's loose cannon of a tongue.
Can this be?
Can we really believe that Skipper Paul was more driven by base financial expediency than he was by principle?
Let's see if I understand this . . . the harp seals, a non-endangered species, are more important than endangered dolphins, because they (the harp seals) are especially useful for prying money out of pockets . . . the organization is more important than the issue . . . and Dr. Vlasak and his advocacy of assassination was fine with Skipper Paul right up to the point where income became threatened . . ..
Then he took action! How very . . . capitalistic . . . of him . . .
"[Founder] Paul Watson and I are still friends and will always be friends. But if they feel, for strategic reasons, that I needed to be removed from the board, then that's OK with me." Watson said Thursday he would be asking Vlasak to renounce his views or face being removed from the society's board.
Vlasak said he would not do that.
He likened his work on animal rights to "lots of people who have taken up arms, like Nelson Mandela and lots of other brave people, who have been to prison and won the Nobel Peace Prize."
And here Dr. Vlasak parades his ideological blindness before the world . . . true, some people have taken up arms in righteous causes. That is indisputable.
But there are a great many more who have taken up arms for self-serving reasons and in the cause of tyranny. I'd wager that each one of them justified his actions within a moral framework that made sense to him . . .
Dr. Vlasak believes those little voices that tell him his is a righteous cause . . . as if those voices were infallible.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but it does not occur to Dr. Vlasak that the likes of Adoph Hitler thought their cause was righteous too . . .
I guess the question for Dr. Vlasak is this: how do you know your conscience isn't lying to you? Or is it indeed infallible? If so, how did you reach that conclusion?
Vlasak said he would not counsel others to organize an assassination and would not commit violent acts himself, but says "the fear of violence" would be a "necessary strategy" if other tactics do not work.
"Counsel others?" Dr. Vlasak is parsing words. He openly advocated the assassination of scientists. But don't take my word for it: follow the link and watch him do it yourself.
Meanwhile, Vlasak will be returning to Canada for his trial.
"I intend to have my day in court, and I can't wait to get there," he said.
A word to the wise Dr. Vlasak — don't expand your fatwa to include judges or magistrates . . .