The 2004 story
about how the blogosphere exposed veteran anchor Dan Rather and CBS
News when they were stung by dodgy documents detailing Dubya’s draft
dodging has become the stuff of legend.
Yet we seem to be happy with accepting second hand and subjective news
from Japanese whalers and that multi-million dollar multinational
Greenpeace about just what’s going on in the Antarctic Ocean. Where are
our sceptics on this issue?
Most Australians dislike Japan’s “scientific” whaling program – and
despise the doublespeak used to cover the slaughter of the
awe-inspiring marine mammals. Yet Greenpeace is as much of an objective
broker of the truth as the Sporting Shooters Association or any other
Reports today show the intensity of the dangerous drama being played
out to our south as whalers and Greenpeace activists clash. Take The Australian‘s report, for example:
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Anti-whaling protest ship the Farley Mowat yesterday
morning deliberately side-swiped the Japanese whaling supply ship
Oriental Bluebird after it refused “demands” to leave the Antarctic
whale sanctuary. No serious damage was suffered by either vessel,
despite the crew of the Farley Mowat using a “can opener” cutting
device attached to its vessel’s hull to damage the Bluebird’s hull. The
same whaling supply vessel was at the centre of a collision between the
Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, and the Japanese whaling vessel
Nisshin Maru on Sunday.
Greenpeace claims the Nisshin Maru deliberately rammed the Arctic
Sunrise in response to its crew using long-handled brushes to paint the
words “whale meat” on the Bluebird’s hull. However, the Japanese
Institute of Cetacean Research, which conducts the so-called scientific
whaling, insisted the Nisshin Maru was rammed twice by the Arctic
Sunrise, releasing photographs it said proved Greenpeace was the
Farley Mowat skipper Paul Watson, of the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society, made no apology for ignoring international conventions
requiring captains to avoid collision.
Is it responsible to run risks like that in Antarctic conditions? Are
there goodies and baddies in this battle – or just two implacable,
irresponsible forces fighting an irresolvable war in some of the most
dangerous waters in the world?
Who, for example, is providing the on the ground coverage – let alone
the highly emotive vision – on this story? Do media organisations have
anyone on board Japanese or Greenpeace vessels? Or are they doing what
the New Zealand Herald is doing – running pieces by Farley Mowat captain and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society president Paul Watson?
The best coverage of the drama is coming from environmental blogger Jennifer Marohasy. She writes that Greenpeace has a moral duty to discipline its own:
Someone in authority has to take control at Greenpeace, or
it will lose much of its credibility. Since yesterday Greenpeace has
posted at least three versions of their collision with the Japanese
whaling mother ship on Sunday.
This is a serious matter that might even have repercussions in criminal
law. Greenpeace has to tell the truth, discipline its operatives and
move on. Otherwise the organisation that drew so much credibility from
the criminal actions against it of the French government will lose its
own credibility, not just on whaling, but on all of its campaign issues.
It’s an issue we should all take an interest in. All the major
Australian political parties have made their opposition to Japan’s
whaling very clear. And Greenpeace is accountable to us, too. After
all, we provide the charity tax breaks that help fund its activities.
We have a right to know that they’re neither dangerous – nor dodgy.