Greenpeace Supports* Killing Whales — But Do Detractors Support Something Similar?

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Greenpeace Supports* Killing Whales — But Do Detractors Support Something Similar?

By Stephanie Ernst, Animal Rights & AntiOppression
June 2010

In a move that perhaps shouldn’t be surprising from certain sellout environmental and “wildlife” groups, Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund are going defeatist — and giving their blessing to resumed commercial whaling as long as certain conditions are met.

It’s about as logical and consistent as, oh, I don’t know, advocates for domesticated land animals in essence promoting the products of, and giving their blessings and “humane” certifications to, the businesses that still mutilate, physically and emotionally torment, and brutally kill the animals who pay the price for cage-free and free-range eggs, local dairy, and “pasture-raised” flesh; as land-animal advocates pronouncing that the best way to advance nonviolence toward (and the rights of) currently farmed animals is to slightly change how and where we use, mutilate, torment, and kill them.

Is there a difference here? Sure. Far more people oppose whaling, just as far more people oppose killing seals and oppose sport hunting, than oppose killing pigs, chickens, goats, cattle, sheep, turkeys, and other animals en masse – because they’ve romanticized the former groups, while maintaining distance from and wrongheaded ideas about the latter animals. So we are further along in the fight against whaling than we are in the fight against exploitation and slaughter of domesticated animals. But among those of us who don’t distinguish (or who think we don’t or who want to make progress in not falsely distinguishing), I hope that all of us who are rightly disgusted by this defeatist, backward shift from Greenpeace with regard to killing whales stop to question whether we ought to apply that same expectation of consistency to how (and what) we advocate for farmed animals — and what we call “acceptable” and “progress.”

*Edit: Okay, so “supports” is probably too strong a word. “Resigns to”? “Compromises on”? The bottom line is still crappy. And I meant to acknowledge last night that another difference between the two groups of animals is that as part of the further progress on the fight against the slaughter of whales, we do have an (unenforced) law against (commercial) whaling whereas we don’t yet have such laws against massacring domesticated land animals. But with regard to whaling, that makes the defeatist willingness to compromise only more disconcerting to me. Finally, see Amy Clare’s comment on this post if you want a more detailed, thoughtful look at the (flawed) reasoning behind Greenpeace’s strategy. Here’s part of that comment:

It gives power to the nations currently flouting the ban, and shows them that if they dig their heels in long enough, the IWC will cave in. As any parent knows, you do *not* reward bad behaviour! Not if you want the behaviour to stop. It’s basic stuff. Greenpeace’s anti-whaling stance and reputation has been severely weakened.

Of course people are always going to break rules, but that doesn’t mean you change the rules to suit these people – imagine if we changed our laws on murder or robbery because some people break them… how ridiculous! It’s only because the victims in this case are non-human that this type of compromise is even being considered. Because to many, non-humans are ‘a species’ or they are ‘biodiversity’, not individuals.