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Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Philadelphia) recently participated in an event called “The Philadelphia Science Film Festival” in which they screened the Philadelphia premiere of the new documentary “Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson” [https://www.facebook.com/events/354063081313118/]

This event was a science based event, sponsored by Dow Chemicals, who state on their website [http://www.dow.com/productsafety/faq/animals.htm] the following:

”Animal testing is not something Dow undertakes arbitrarily, but neither is it something Dow can discontinue, as this testing plays a critical role in enhancing Dow’s understanding about the safety of Dow’s products, thereby protecting public health and the environment.”


Do vegans find it problematic that SSCS participated in this event, and if so, why?

 



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Yes very much a problem. They even knew it was questionable because they put a disclaimer on the page that talks about the event saying it was ok because Dow wasn't profiting. But they were still promoting a science event for a company that proudly announces they test on animals. 

We can write to info@seashepherd.org and tell them it was a bad choice. 

Is posting on their facebook page about how we feel an ok thing to do?

It depends on the motivation behind it. Since this was a science-based event, that draws a certain audience that often insulates itself from animal rights concerns. I would give SSCS the benefit of the doubt and explore whether they were attempting to "reach out" and evaluate from there how effective that was.

I know someone that works for them and they said they just wanted to go where the movie was instead of getting the movie rights and showing it at a theater where Dow wouldn't benefit from people being there. Even if theres no money they receive don't they still benefit from the advertising? They advertised the festival for Dow pretty much and drew an audience in there who wanted to see the film that might not have gone. Why not show the film some place where the testing of animals is not promoted? Even if they "reached out" to one person is that worth it to promote an evil company?

More and more I feel like nobody is going to be 100% perfect, no matter what any organization does, there will be something to object to. For instance, not everybody involved in Sea Shepherd is vegan, and they take the conservation approach instead of promoting veganism and animal rights explicitly.

Are there any 100% vegan corporations that sponsor 100% vegan film festivals? If there are, how many members of the general pre-vegan public do they draw?

Animal Equality is arguably the finest vegan organization on the planet, but are they operating at the level Sea Shepherd is (running direct action campaigns to harass exploiters to the point that the exploiters are unable and/or unwilling to continue)?

Sea Shepherd screened their film at a film festival that is sponsored by a company that tests products on animals.

An animal rights activist writes a column for a website that is owned by a corporation that also owns cattle ranches.

A professor of philosophy who has written a landmark book on animal ethics collected his paycheck from a research university that conducts experiments on primates and other animals.

Today I'm going to be holding signs at busy intersection advocating for animal rights. I suppose that the materials for the signs weren't purchased at a store owned and operated by vegans. 

Where does this end? 

I wonder if it would be regarded differently if Sea Shepherd were to hold a fundraising event for their campaign against whaling in the Southern Ocean, at an establishment that was serving squids as food, and if so, why? 

More whales die each year due to the depletion of their food source, squids, along with krill,  being a major part of that, for human consumption, than anything else. 

Where does this end is a great question. I guess we might all have our own different answers though. 

I see a big problem here.  In attending a function sponsored by Dow, the Dow company comes out of it being regarded as responsible because they have had the tacit approval of  well known animal rights activist.  It is if you like similar to the RSPCA allowing their logo to be put on cage eggs in supermarkets, which gives consumers the impression that because they have their stamp of approval, no cruelty occurs.

It is unfortunately a political issue.  Where a name is associated with something, it does send a message to the broader, less informed population, that makes them feel more comfortable about not changing their consumer habits.  Yes we all need materials to work with, and we can only try to locate those that we think don't involve abuse of animals.  I think Sea Shepherd in this instance demonstrated very poor judgement, even tough I understand why they may have decided to do so.  Dow has benefited here by appearing to support animal rights activists, Sea Shepherd has compromised itself.  Putting a disclaimer is a bit like eating eggs and putting out a disclaimer against grinding male chicks alive.  I for one am very disappointed that they did this.

Hi Pranav, and Kerry,

Paul Watson actually explained it in his ARZone Interview himself here as well: 

http://arzone.ning.com/profiles/blogs/transcript-of-captain-paul

In which, when asked: 

As a follow-up to Tim Gier’s earlier question, a lot of “animal people” continually insist on classing SSCS as an animal rights organisation, despite the word “conservation” being quite clear in the name. I believe that the direct action of Sea Shepherd is attractive to many people and they therefore like to claim SS as part of their own ideology.

Would you like to clear this issue up for us, as I believe in classing SS as an animal rights organisation, unrealistic expectations are placed on SS.

Captain Watson stated: 


We are a marine wildlife and habitat conservation organization. We believe that veganism is an answer to many ecological problems. The meat industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the auto industry. That’s why I said that a vegan driving a hummer contributes less to greenhouse gas emissions than a meat eater riding a bicycle, but Sea Shepherd promotes veganism as an answer to mitigating our damage to the environment.



Pranav Merchant said:

Kerry, Sea Shepherd is not an animal rights organization.  It is a conservation organization, and the founder of Sea Shepherd is open about that.  Roger Yates explains here: http://human-nonhuman.blogspot.com/2010/10/pete-bethune-sea-shepher...

Kerry Baker said:

I see a big problem here.  In attending a function sponsored by Dow, the Dow company comes out of it being regarded as responsible because they have had the tacit approval of  well known animal rights activist.  It is if you like similar to the RSPCA allowing their logo to be put on cage eggs in supermarkets, which gives consumers the impression that because they have their stamp of approval, no cruelty occurs.

It is unfortunately a political issue.  Where a name is associated with something, it does send a message to the broader, less informed population, that makes them feel more comfortable about not changing their consumer habits.  Yes we all need materials to work with, and we can only try to locate those that we think don't involve abuse of animals.  I think Sea Shepherd in this instance demonstrated very poor judgement, even tough I understand why they may have decided to do so.  Dow has benefited here by appearing to support animal rights activists, Sea Shepherd has compromised itself.  Putting a disclaimer is a bit like eating eggs and putting out a disclaimer against grinding male chicks alive.  I for one am very disappointed that they did this.

Thanks Pranav and Carolyn.  Points taken.  But I think by default they are perceived to be an animal rights organisation because of their own record in the media.  I have seen Paul Watson speak, and he stresses how beautiful the whales are and what horrible deaths hey go through in the whaling season.  Not all whales are endangered (yet) and I'm not sure if SSF targets specific whaling activities towards endangered species of whales or all whales.  However, I have seen Paul Watson speak passionately about looking into the yes of a whale as she was dying, bonding with her for those moments before death when he had been trying to stop the whalers which is what got him started.  So I stand corrected but I do think they are aligned with animal rights regardless of whether they claim to be conservationist. It actually does raise for me a question about conservation, what the difference is really.  Conservation only of endangered species or something broader?  I can understand arguments based on the science of ecosystems, but then I'd wonder why the emotive issue of the cruelty involved in whaling would be a major issue.  based on Paul Watson's observations of cruelty to whales however, I'd still then wonder why they would align with an organisation that uses other animals in experiments.  I suspect the public sees SSF as an organisation that opposes cruelty towards whales, and donates to them on this basis.  It would be interesting to do some sort of research about perceptions to see if this would or has affected heir support.

The problem I have with this is not "where does it end?" because as Tim said, no one is 100% vegan, so that's not the point.  My sister worked for them and on the event page for the event they wrote: 

"NOTE: There has been some discussion about one of the sponsors of the Science Film Festival, Dow Chemicals, and if they will be making any profit from ticket sales on this event. The answer is NO, they are not making any profits from this festival. Dows' roll was simply to put forth some of the funds to help pay to advertise and cover the costs of the film rights for the film festival."

They made this disclaimer because they said they didn't want any "controversy."  I live in this area and Dow is known for how horribly they treat animals and by going to Dow's event with a table, they are bringing along supporters and giving their stamp of approval for the company.  

To me it doesn't matter if Dow didn't make money from them, it's that they were there in their Sea Shepard shirts standing under the Dow Chemical sign and to me that's supporting them. 

I think I agree with you, Shelia. Although SS are obviously not a rights based organisation, nor an animal protection organisation in any way, I think they should be more aware of the opinions and thoughts of those who support them, and of the implications of supporting an organisation that is proud to commodify, objectify and kill other individuals for financial gain. 

Hi Roger, I was referring to the label Captain Watson would prefer his organisation be referred to as, which I mentioned in a previous comment in this thread: 

Paul Watson actually explained it in his ARZone Interview himself here as well: 

http://arzone.ning.com/profiles/blogs/transcript-of-captain-paul

In which, when asked: 

As a follow-up to Tim Gier’s earlier question, a lot of “animal people” continually insist on classing SSCS as an animal rights organisation, despite the word “conservation” being quite clear in the name. I believe that the direct action of Sea Shepherd is attractive to many people and they therefore like to claim SS as part of their own ideology.

Would you like to clear this issue up for us, as I believe in classing SS as an animal rights organisation, unrealistic expectations are placed on SS.

Captain Watson stated: 


We are a marine wildlife and habitat conservation organization. We believe that veganism is an answer to many ecological problems. The meat industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the auto industry. That’s why I said that a vegan driving a hummer contributes less to greenhouse gas emissions than a meat eater riding a bicycle, but Sea Shepherd promotes veganism as an answer to mitigating our damage to the environment

 From my experience, it seems that Captain Watson would prefer not to be regarded as an animal rights/welfare/protection organisation, but as a marine conservation organisation. I think it's fair to respect his wishes. 

Of course, they do protect some individuals, as does my neighbour and her neighbour and so on down the line. I don't think that qualifies my neighbours as an animal protection organisation though.  

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