How far should you go to make a point?

Japan says environmental protesters have thrown containers of a mild acid onto one of its whaling ships in waters off Antarctica. Japanese officials say the attack by activists from the Sea Shepherd group slightly injured several crew members.

The acid — made from rancid butter — stings the eyes. The Japanese government has condemned the attack, calling it illegal. Activists described the act as non-violent chemical warfare aimed at halting Japan’s whaling fleet.

Last week five activists were arrestedafter climbing on to the roof of the Houses of Parliament in their protest over the expansion of Heathrow airport.

When is it acceptable to break the law to get your voice heard? When does a protest go too far..? And how far would you go to make your point?

Are we getting dumber?

As we trailed last week, Susan Jacoby will be on the programme tonight putting forward the argument that Americans are in serious intellectual trouble. In her new book, The Age of American Unreason, she says America is so obsessed with the digital media, it’s forgetting to read books. Is she right?

Are videos and the internet, stopping you from picking up a book..?

If you want to put a question to Susan get in touch.

67 Responses to “How far should you go to make a point?”

  1. 1 Count Iblis
    March 3, 2008 at 14:23

    I think that GreenPeace’s methods are counterproductive. Japan will only stop whaling if the proponents of whaling in Japan change their minds. So, we have to argue with Japan about this in a way that can lead to such a change of opinion.

    Another thing is that the International Whaling Commision has effectively changed their charter from a commision regulating Whaling to a commision that wants to imposes a ban on Whaling. The traditional whaling countries like Norway and Japan are often accused of abusing the rules of the commision by killing whales research, while all the other countries are in fact also abusing the rules by voting against resuming of whaling even though a ban is no longer justified.

    So, you have a very polaized situation, and Japan is not going to take us seriously. I think we should change our attitude toward whaling, stop to abuse the Whaling Commision to impose a ban. We can then put forward the real arguments against whaling: That killing of whales is inhumane, because they take a long time to die. Basically we should try to outlaw all forms of slaughter of animals which are too painful for the animals at the UN.

  2. March 3, 2008 at 14:27

    It is never acceptable to break the law of do something illegal to make your point. Peaceful demonstrations, writing, calling or talking with no violations, no violence or threates are OK.

  3. March 3, 2008 at 14:30

    How far should you go to make a point? I am basically non-violent unless there is no other alternative, in a life or death situation. If a dog has been trained to kill and it is used in the attempt to kill a pet on my property, it is seen as a weapon to be destroyed. We as home owners have the right to protect the lives of those on our property with lethal force if necessary. A criminal that abuses this right be it a judge, law officer, military or lawyer of any government, is a corrupt enemy of it’s citizens and allies.

    I can not condone attacks on anyones property as that of the whaling ships in this regard..

  4. 4 Julie P
    March 3, 2008 at 14:33

    I do not support whaling. It is an abomination and needs to end immediately. I support a person’s right to free speech, and to peacefully protest; once political activism crosses from free speech and civil disobience to criminal activity I no longer support it. Climbing onto a roof to protest is far more dangerous to the protestors than anyone else. It may seem extreme, but it is peaceful. Throwing chemicals at people goes from peaceful protest to violence, which is criminal.

  5. March 3, 2008 at 14:37

    How far should you go to make a point?

    I am basically non-violent unless there is no other alternative, in a life or death situation. If a dog has been trained to kill and it is used in the attempt to kill a pet on my property, it is seen as a weapon to be destroyed.

    We as home owners have the right to protect the lives of those on our property with lethal force if necessary. A criminal that abuses this right be it a judge, law officer, military or lawyer of any government, is a corrupt enemy of it’s citizens and allies.

  6. 6 steve
    March 3, 2008 at 14:45

    I believe in the golden rule. If whalers have no problems killing whales, then having butter thrown on them is quite minimal compared to having the environmentalist harpooning the whalers. It’s a shame that whales are peaceful and don’t kill humans. Maybe we could learn something from them? Oh wait, ME ME ME! I WANT THIS! I NEED WHALE BLUBBER! I NEED THIS! I NEED THAT! GIMME! Humans are too selfish, disgusting, worthless creatures.

  7. 7 George USA
    March 3, 2008 at 14:59

    Rancid butter?

    That is not sinking ships.

    Rooftop protests?

    Since when is attention getting bad protest tactics?

    The definition of going too far in all respects is the use of Palestinians and Hamaz to attack Israel then play victims, and world press going along with it.

  8. 8 Richard Beers, USA
    March 3, 2008 at 15:21

    It’s criminal to cross a ship boundry without permission, as it is to throw a rock through someone’s window. You want to prevent them from leaving, you have the right to sit or lay down, blocking that individual person or vehicle. Once you touch that person or vehicle, you’re on the wrong side of the law and it’s hard to demonstrate when you’re locked up, your transportation impounded, and the courts issuing restraining orders.

    Too far is endangering others. Period.

  9. 9 John in Germany
    March 3, 2008 at 15:41

    If someone gets hurt from any protest action, then it has gone too far.
    nothing more-nothing less. To simple?, Why should it be complicated. The captain is responsible for his ship, any one working on the ship is an innocent party, they are fulfilling a contract where the law of the sea applies.

    I abhor whaling, but i don’t hate the crew of a whaler, as a soldier i did not agree with everything we did, but i obeyed orders , as that was part of my contract.
    It has nothing to de with standing up for what one believes, there are circumstances where it is better to comply.
    John in Germany

  10. 10 steve
    March 3, 2008 at 15:44

    Richard Beers, Doesn’t that harpoon cross the ship’s boundry? Isn’t it unlawful to be brought on board a ship against your will? I doubt many of those whales would agree to be killed and brought on board. Too bad there’s no modern day Captain Nemos.

  11. 11 Mohamed Gade
    March 3, 2008 at 15:57

    Is the whole purpose of making your point to point out social, political or economical constraints which may affect/benefit one over the other? or is it some sort of propaganda with no clear intentions? living in a liberal, democratic country these should be the sort of questions the state should be asking itself and for the environmental protesters to work accordingly.

    If it’s a ‘genuine’ message constructed in a peaceful, civilised manner, aimed to raise awareness among society on a particular subject then you’re point should be supported and mediated with no restrictions.

    I think the question to ask is, Do environmental protesters have equal access to the media or civilised/authorised platforms?

    I don’t think the Palestinians need to play victims, they are victims already, they’re an accumulation of all sorts of torture, brutal israeli military assaults and human rights violation to the highest degree. If you don’t know that already then you’re internet, tv and whatever medium device you have is restricted and censored like that in china. Pitty on you.

  12. 12 Paul, Liberia
    March 3, 2008 at 15:57

    “The right way” is always “the right way”, what way is right depends on who’s taking the action and for what reason. When issues are not address when “the right way” is applied, people tend to find another way and that also depends on what is going on and the environment. Therefore, another level of “the right way” becomes an option….

  13. 14 Mohammed Ali
    March 3, 2008 at 16:21

    I fully support the idea of free speech and peacefully protesting to convey one’s point(s). But endangering your own life such as climbing on a rooftop or infringing on others rights like wasting butter on another person is share stupidity and that can in no way be classify as free speech or peaceful protest.

  14. 15 Nick, Kenya
    March 3, 2008 at 16:30

    I think as long as one can go without harming others or causing problems to them ,otherwise it is needless to claim to be right and yet you are violating others rights.

  15. 16 Archibald, Oregon
    March 3, 2008 at 17:31


    There is a point where words fall short and because there is no true support of the “right way”, stronger action becomes necessary. However, it must be specific and in the case of whaling and the needless slaughter of sentient ocean beings, how can the Japanese call the acts of the Sea Sheperds illegal when there is a global outcry to cease whaling operations which they continually ignore solely for profit reasons. It is unfortunate that people ever have to be injured to make a point, but what is more unfortunate is that no one was listening when people were still willing to talk and solve problems peacefully. The fault of this lies in the hands of the executives who choose the path as much as it does in the hands of those who threw acid. Goodwill can only sustain so much pushing before it pushes back.
    If we all stood together, there would be no need for extreme acts, counterproductive to the overall process of change, majority would dictate action. For now that is only a dream…..

  16. 17 Tommy C.
    March 3, 2008 at 18:04

    The Japanese break the law on whaling ships, so I see no problem in protestors reacting this way.

  17. 18 Shane Prychun
    March 3, 2008 at 18:04

    This is a fast, easy, and last resort way to get noticed. Sometimes it feels like the only way.

  18. 19 John via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:06

    I think that society should learn to listen sooner and be more open and receptive. Society as a group (USA) tends to be so much more conservative and unwilling to make much of any type of change or to truly listen to others views. Driven by the here and now, the profit motive etc and this can force the opposition to take “extreme” steps to be heard and acknowledge and for true discourse on the protested matter to be taken.

    John in Ohio

  19. 20 Andiinda via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:09

    protests are generaly another way of free expression. it’s part of the general right of being free. But occassionary protests turn violent especially when the protestors are confronted with state power like the police. at this point protests become wasteful to both those directly involved and the passers-by and the community as a whole because they involve alot destructions. both parties(protesters & gov’t) should exercise maximum restraint so as to avoid excessive force.

  20. 21 steve
    March 3, 2008 at 18:09

    Hiam, even Gandhi broke the laws. Breaking the law doesn’t mean violence. Rosa Parks broke the law by not giving up her seat on the bus to a white. Civil disobedience can only be done by breaking the law, but breaking the law doesn’t mean violence. Virtually everything Gandhi did was illegal. He burned passes in south Africa. He made salt in India, he did everything to make life for the British difficult in India, but in a nonviolent way, yet it was illegal, and he spent a lot of time in Jail, and when Indians acted violently, Gandhi would go on hunger strikes to protest against the violence.

  21. 22 yogesh pareek india
    March 3, 2008 at 18:13

    In the land of Gandhi,I feel if you dont protest in a violent way noone is going to haer your voice.
    Its true I see it everywhere.
    To make a point clear,and draw attention towards a issue,its necessary.Japanese kill a lot of whales,are they not creations of God?
    We make hue and cry when humans are killed or harmed.I completely support this protest.
    yogesh pareek

  22. 23 Shane, Portland, Oregon
    March 3, 2008 at 18:14

    Bravo to the environmentalist doing their work on the open seas. The stubborn insistance of the japanese to continue whaling in the face of worldwide outrage must be put to an end. Each year, the disastrous impact of our modern lifetstyle on our world’s oceans becomes more clear. We must take steps to halt ocean dumping, and global warming, and the outdated whale hunt musts be fought head on.

  23. 24 Justin via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:15

    I recall a little disagreement about tea that was one of the celebrated acts founding America. Fundamentally protests are at best tolerated by governments and are often illegal. If you believe in protesting, you often must also believe in breaking laws.
    Justin From Chicago

  24. 25 Natalie Leung
    March 3, 2008 at 18:17

    It is much obvious that environmental concern protest of GreenPeace is more of a raid than an action of rasing public concerns. Should they want to raise awareness or pressurize organizations to take the Green message seriously, they should first ask if their actions will bring nuisance to the public or, in this case of throwing “mild” acid, hurt people physically or mentally.

    In Hong Kong we’ve got GreenPeace activists demonstrating their concerns to the public or the Government too. In earlier years, they would chain themselves to the gates of the work builidings of the organization or stop cars by lying on the streets. Such actions became “another show” for us citizens to watch on the news, and eventully what became “news flash” turned to “nuisance flash”. Until recently did they change their way of protest did the messages really catch the eyes of Hong Kong and eevn the Goverment itself. Activities inviting schools to start a recyling programme concerning lunch-box left overs to fertilizers, collection of mooncake tin boxes and cover the football stadium to demonstrate the seriousness of non-environmentally-friendlly packges during festivals, eventually “less packaging is green” stuck to each and every citizens’ mind, and the problem of pollution is already a concern to Hong Kong.

    This is what I call “effective protesting” and not “by throwing acid” could achieve — whether it’s plain vinegar or chemical acid.

  25. 26 Anthony
    March 3, 2008 at 18:18

    Richard Beers. steve is right! We should also kill all the farmers who slaughter cows, kidnap their children like they do to their live stock, and shave their hair so that we can wear it for comfort like they do to sheep. Too bad there’s no modern day Buffalo Bills.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  26. 27 Brett
    March 3, 2008 at 18:19

    I fully support causing problems with Japan so that they do not meet their quota. But I would certainly not support the harming of the crew of the ship under any circumstances. They are people too, horrible ones, but they are still people. They have families to support, lives to live. With the situation at hand, Greenpeace is handling it quite well.

    When no one is listening to what you have to say, sometimes you need to do things to get the attention of the ones in power or making decisions. No lives are being threatened except those of the whales.

    Get Japan the hell out of international waters, but do it peacefully.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  27. 28 Jesse
    March 3, 2008 at 18:19

    I commend the captain and his crew for their brave and diligent actions saving endangered whales from illegal poachers.

  28. 29 Kwabena via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:19

    I wil only use means within the law to make my point. No matter how right you are, you wil have no sympathizers in my community here in Ghana if you resort to violence.

  29. March 3, 2008 at 18:20

    Some texts we’ve received during the programme…

    Christopher, US citizen in Senegal.
    Is it ever ok to protest? YES. is it always ok? Of course not. sometimes the law is wrong.

    Julius, Nigeria.
    Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to make your point as long as you seek a just cause.

    Dr Uyi,Nigeria
    Breaking the law negates your agitation. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You’re protest should never hurt physically. Apartheid? Yes! Whale / environment? No!

  30. 31 Warwick Young
    March 3, 2008 at 18:21

    It is usually necessary to break laws in order to challenge injustice. For examples, consider Ghandi’s campaign for freedom from colonial rule in India, Martin Luther King and the civil rights struggles in the USA, and the illegal protests in Burma against the repressive, non-democratic government in power.

    The real question is the amount of violence your are willing to perpetrate.
    Do you choose non-violence or will you harm people?

    Protest is messy, and I believe that some violence is inevitable. (See, for example, the labor struggles in the USA in the early 20th Century when industrialists deployed hired thugs against striking workers.)

    I don’t see sabotage and deliberate vandalism of property and equipment as being violent, so long as it does not threaten lives.


  31. 32 Janet
    March 3, 2008 at 18:21

    Civil disobedience relies on some basic principles:

    1. It is non-violent.
    2. The law you break is the law you’re protesting (e.g. Jim Crow laws).
    3. You offer only passive resistance to the police.
    4. You accept whatever penatly the courts mete out.

    The point of all of this is to bring your cause to the attention of people who might agree with you and generate support.

    I find it hard to understand how anybody could think this immoral, even if they don’t agree with the particular cause.

  32. 33 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    March 3, 2008 at 18:24

    The ‘Sea Shepherd’ group threw rancid butter derived ‘acid’ onto the deck of a ship!

    Did the ship sink? Are any of the crew members in critical condition? Did the ship sink? I think the answer to all the questions is NO!

    On the other hand:

    What are the Japanese ships doing? KILLING WHALES! Yes! KILLING WHALES!

    What’s wrong with killing whales? They’re just animals! Yeah! And what are we? The homo sapiens? Aren’t we animals too? So, let’s go and kill other animals, oops humans for research purposes! What’s wrong with that?

    Will the entire Japanese population die of famine without whale meat?

    The killing of whales for SO CALLED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH is as illegal (if not more illegal) as the SO CALLED MILD ACID thrown by the environmental activists.

    The only difference is in the nuance or the diplomatic double-speak that the Japanese are hiding behind.

    Why is the USA allowing this to happen?

    Because it is INDEBTED to the world and the Japanese especially!

    MaxMaxmilianMaximusI, Indian Caesar in, Singapore

  33. 34 Anon via text
    March 3, 2008 at 18:28

    In Nigeria when You protest even if peaceful as it may be. Then you r definately selling your soul to military and police bullets that will terminate you

  34. 35 Alex, Portland, OR
    March 3, 2008 at 18:32

    Are we getting dumber?

    In my experience not at all. Computers, calculators and the internet are shining examples of the new ways in which we learn and function. Honestly, Ms. Jacoby’s viewpoint sounds to this twenty-something like another aging intellectual frightened that her type of knowledge might soon be rendered unnecessary.
    I hope for a future in which the internet will actually replace $100,000 degrees. Thats not getting dumber thats getting smarter.

  35. 36 ransom
    March 3, 2008 at 18:36

    Protests are grate, however they should have their limits. You should never attack or defame someones property. Freedom comes at a price, and points as well. If you want to be the sympathetic member in a fight, you would never wish to be the aggressor. Throwing “salt in a wound” or “dust in the eyes” is a dirty tactic.

    I think the apartheid comment was ludicrous. Their actions were violent. If you want to make a point also talk about Vietnam’s protests at the universities and colleges where the American government called it’s own troops to shoot students with live ammunition. It sparked sympathy across America and inspired change. At a high price of lives, but like gandhi peaceful protests this is truly how you protest. Martyrdom for a cause is always a better choice than winning through aggression.

    If you are trying to win hearts and minds this is how you do it, lead by example, save the wails with signs. Break bread not bones. Perhaps American’s can learn from their past in their own “war on terror” and “win the hearts and minds” through diplomacy.

    Ransom, Portland OR.

  36. 37 Scotty, Vancouver, WA
    March 3, 2008 at 18:41

    If the Sea Shepherds statement that the whalers were whaling in protected waters, than I believe they were correct in disrupting the operations of the ship. Let’s look at it not as a protest but policing of a international agreement that is not being enforced.

  37. 38 Joe Wise
    March 3, 2008 at 18:42

    I have a question to your guests. What advise do they have for the palestinian people as they deal with the Israeli Apartheid?

  38. 39 Tom via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:46

    History is filled with examples of people breaking laws in order to bring about change; in the Torah, Bible, and Koran is the story of Moses and Gods fight against the Egyptian Pharoah, In England is the great story of the Magna Charta, in the United States is the colonial Revolution of 1776, in India is the story of Gandhi against the British.

    But you better be able to justify your actions to the world like the American colonists did with their Declaration Of Independence.

    Bend, OR

  39. 40 Emilio via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:47


    Yes, the U.S. does lead the world in veering away from the written word. And the youth of more affluent European cities follow close behind.

    The worst assault on reading are 1) the “code-writing” used in text messaging and 2) the audio/video communication on cable television and the Net.

    This is not all that bad; it is the way Western Civilization is progressing. Yet, as a professional writer, I have had to shift my story-telling focus from novels to screenplays.
    This is not a dumbing down of the populous — yet, it does make those who can actually read and write a dwindling elite. And this group of intellectuals will have less competition in guiding the masses.

    So, effectively, the youth of today are doing their best to defer affecting and controlling the future.

    Emilio — Pittsburgh, PA, USA

  40. 41 Steve via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:48

    Your guest comparing protests, and mentioning “israeli bombardment”
    really doesn’t understand the situation. Israel is attacking Gaza because Gazans are launching rockets into Israel. If Gazans stopped rocketing Israel, Israel wouldn’t retaliate, so it’s shameful that you would mention Gaza in the same breath as Rosa Parks. I realize the Palestinians are the darlings of the far left, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Gazans are trying to kill Israelis on a daily basis.


  41. 42 Bart via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:48

    The level of law breaking should be equal to the injustice you are protesting. Where the Boston Tea party was a measured response, Guy Faulkes protest would have been too extreeme, if he had been sucessful.

    Bend, OR, US

  42. 43 Pieray via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:49

    When people create a situation that necessitates the logical or moral reaction of people, it does not mater how far they go in order to redress the situation, so that permissiveness or slavishness would not be promoted, wickedness, evil or corruption will not be institutionalised as good, virtuous, moral, appropriate, progressive or moving forward, and the moral ecology of the nation would be preserved.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  43. 44 Pieray via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:50

    I heard you speak about law.

    No law should promote harm, oppression, poverty, and any form of the violation of the inalienable rights of people.

    In this regard, leaders should bear it in mind ALWAYS that they are the servants of the people and not laws unto them; and that laws are made for men not men for laws.
    Pieray, Lagos

  44. 45 Pieray via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:51

    The onus is on the person, government or organisation that carries out a political, social, economic, or cultural action to ensure that the action does not cause people to go “too far” — a relative, indefinite and unintelligible expression.
    In other words, the onus is on the executor of an action to be mindful of the feelings of those who would suffer or feel the consequences of the action.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  45. March 3, 2008 at 18:56

    I think throwing acid on other people is violent. How can the activists protest against violence against whales when they themselves are not following non-violence?
    There are a number of non-violent methods of protesting.
    Take Gandhi for example – If one man can gather enough support completely by non-violent means to free an entire country, don’t you think there are ways of protesting and curbing the whale hunt by non-violent means?

  46. 47 Christopher via text
    March 3, 2008 at 18:57

    is it ever ok? YES. is it always ok. Of course not. sometimes the law is wrong.
    queer people world round are forced to act illegally in protest. we are FORCED! so yes. it is ok to live illegally in protest.
    christopher us citizen in senegal.

  47. 48 Alan via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:57

    If a so called free government must use force to keep you quiet, then force maybe be required to protect your voice to be heard, your personal freedom and your life and that of your family!

    Mesa, Arizona

  48. 49 Jeffrey via email
    March 3, 2008 at 18:59

    The United States and Great Britain broke international law when they invaded Iraq in 2003. That got a point across, to be sure. The point was that the law only apparently applies to the powerless, and those with power write and rewrite the law as they see fit.

    Portland, Oregon

  49. March 3, 2008 at 19:08

    There is a difference between violence and breaking the law. This distinction is often blurred, but is pivotal in today’s discussion.
    Breaking the law does not necessitate violence. And violence (especially when used by the state, i.e. tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, etc.) can be legal within the judiciary system.
    Can the law be broken to make a point? Absolutely! In countries where the legal space for dissent is vanishing or nonexistant the citizenry MUST break the law in order express their voices.
    Breaking the law, however, does not condone violence. The use of violence, more often than not, is counter-productive to a social cause; however, it should be known that agents of the state often initiate violence in order to deligitimize an otherwise peaceful protest. It is a documented fact that FBI agents “threw the first stones” in anti-war protests in the US in the 60s, which “legitimized” the retalitory use of violence by police forces.
    It is important that we remain peaceful in our demonstrations, and it is EQUALLY important that we demand agents of our state to remain peaceful as well. Let us not forget the long lists of violence perpetuated and sanctioned by governments supposedly “maintaining the peace.”
    Lastly, we may find the words of an authority on this subject–Martin Luther King, Jr.–pertinent: “It is our moral duty to oppose immoral laws.” Should we be willing to break the law in order to make a point? Indeed, it is often our duty to do so.

  50. 51 Scott, Oregon USA, by email
    March 3, 2008 at 19:19

    The mainstream or the masses of society are getting dumber. People are not taught how to think, they are taught what to think. Access to information does nothing to increase true intelligence. More book-smarts is not more intelligence, it is simply knowing more facts. I guess I would call it Philosophical intelligence; which is what truly matters.

    In any society where people are becoming more religious, this is clearly an example of people getting dumber!!

  51. 52 Steve USA, by email
    March 3, 2008 at 19:22

    The author says that American don’t read anymore, and seems to discount reading what’s on the internet. Perhaps a compromise? You can read on the internet. My local library has a membership at http://www.netlibrary.com .
    Check to see if your library is a member (if not, try to see if they’d join it), and you’ll get free access to ebooks and audiobooks. I’ve been reading and listening to lots of books from there, though I admit I really don’t like to read that much given that I have to read all day long for my job and my eyes really need a break otherwise they’ll hurt a lot. As for print newspapers, isn’t it better for the environment if we didn’t read paper newspapers? Think of all the trees killed, the CO2 released, and the issue of disposing of the paper? I’ve been reading newspapers online for years now, and I find I read much more than I do with the paper edition, simply because it’s less awkward.

  52. 53 Nancy, USA, by email
    March 3, 2008 at 19:22

    I have been forced — by frustration — to retire from teaching composition and reading at college level because of the inability of Americans to exercise critical thinking.

    The problem is not that we have too much information via the media. The problem is that we don’t evaluate or analyze it.

    The American community is becoming lazy in terms of critical thinking.

  53. 54 Neil, Glasgow, by email
    March 3, 2008 at 19:23

    Your contributor from USA’s Grandma would not have any difficulty with an IQ test today. IQ does not test knowledge but cognitive process. Does she not know that?

  54. 55 Alan, by email
    March 3, 2008 at 19:23

    Which act is more violent:tossing a can or rotten butter onto a ship’s deck, or shooting an explosive harpoon into an intelligent animal with a much bigger brain than our own? The morality of Sea Shepherd’s actions depend on how you answer that question. Laws are promulgated by nations, and sometimes nations are wrong. I personally have lived a life of near-total nonviolence, but I can understand how some people could feel an action is so wrong, and its perpetrators so intractable, that the only way to get their attention would be to toss a stink bomb. That doesn’t even reach to the level of violence of tear gas.

  55. 56 Rashid Patch
    March 3, 2008 at 19:44

    Just to clarify things – butryic acid is a chemical which smells really, really bad – like rotten butter, or the ripest Limburger cheese. It is not that chemically reactive – probably less reactive than table vinegar. It would really sting badly if it splashed in your eyes, and you should rinse it off immediately. It wouldn’t dissolve holes in a ships deck, or in anyone’s clothing – though you might want to throw the clothing away, it would smell so bad.

    Yes, it is a moral duty to oppose immoral laws. If a law, or a system of laws, produces immoral violence, sometimes the only way to stop it is with violence. However, this is the realm of revolution, and it can cause more violence than it is intended to stop. It is not to be undertaken lightly.

    Rashid Patch
    Oakland, California, U.S.A.

  56. March 3, 2008 at 20:02

    How far should you go to make a point?

    I am basically non-violent unless there is no other alternative, in a life or death situation. If a dog has been trained to kill and it is used in the attempt to kill a pet on my property, it is seen as a weapon to be destroyed.

    We as home owners have the right to protect the lives of those on our property with lethal force if necessary. A criminal that abuses this right be it a judge, law officer, military or lawyer of any government, is a corrupt enemy of it’s citizens and allies.

    (I can not condone attacks on anyones property as that of the whaling ships as in this regard..)

    Sorry, in my cutting and pasting I left out this vital point.

  57. 58 steve
    March 3, 2008 at 20:02


    Hate to be technical, but because something is “acid” doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Sure, HCL could burn your face off, but say if they threw vinegar, which is acetic acid? Say if they threw lemon juice? That’s citric acid. According to the guest, what they placed on the deck only smelled bad, and couldn’t harm anyone. That’s far less violent than firing a harpoon into a swimming mammal, then cutting it to pieces. If the Japanese are such babies that it’s okay for them to kill some of the most intelligent animals on earth , but not okay for their decks to smell bad, then maybe they need to learn how to grow up?

  58. 59 dave
    March 3, 2008 at 22:27

    violence? yes or no? who can say…? In certain circumstances, I can understand why someone would think there is a reason to turn to violence, and I am not sure I am in a position to judge.

    If I thought that there was no alternative, if I thought the freedom and safety of my family was at stake…if i thought that oppression was that severe that there was no future…then who can say….

  59. March 4, 2008 at 00:33

    My freedom ends where yours begins, and viceversa! Protecting whales or whatever else IS NOT a justificantion for inflicting harm upon any living being, including the men on the offending vessels. There is no such thing as an innocuous acid. Harmless to some, yet potentially and seriously harmful to others! Having said this, one would think that the views and sentiments of the world’s people should carry weight with those at the head of a responsible and caring government. So assessing their conduct, I can only conclude that youths aboard the Shepherd were wrong and should desist from such tactics as well as apologize; and elders in the halls of government in Tokyo are neither responsible nor caring and should resign. Tokyo persistently justifies the killing of whales as ‘research’ but gives NO account of such research anywhere. It is only too simple and easy to find where the whale meat goes–to the finer markets in Japan for sale to the public! Through such lies Tokyo adds insult to injury. But the youths aboard the Shepherd and elsewhere in the world are not stupid nor blind nor deaf. So, it is you, Japan, in this case, who bears the responsibility for safekeeping both the world’s whales and the right upbringing of the world’s youth–through right action and right speech. High time you place these values above your GREED.

  60. 61 Catherine
    March 4, 2008 at 00:54

    In America and throughout the world, the voiceless sometimes need the aid of humans to break the law in order to bring attention to their cause. Had it not been for your show, I would not know about the whaling ship event. How do the animals and trees protest their own destruction? How many died in Ghandi’s, Martin Luther King’s and Mandela’s protests beaten by government forces? If they can use illegal force, why can’t the people?

  61. March 4, 2008 at 00:55

    On principle alone, let alone in fact and deed, the very act of chemical warfare is and should be abominable to all human beings. It makes no matter whether the substance was innocent or not, harmful or not. It is the principle, the idea, as well as the deed, the very act of chemical warfare, that counts. (Here cw is justified as harmless to make a point; in Iraq cw is justified as necessary also to make a point. In intent, BOTH are an attack upon LIFE, unjustifiable and unforgivable). Likewise, it is the principle, the idea and the deed, the very act of killing the whales that counts. The reasons advanced by either side to justify their respective conduct are NOT valid NOR acceptable. Both are inherently wrong for the very same reason: both acts violate the sacred trust that impinges upon all human beings to protect and safeguard LIFE. Therefore, the killing of whales by the Japanese, and the tactics used by those young people to protest the killing and protect the whales, BOTH are equally in error. Their acts differ; their conduct does NOT. Neither is justifiable or acceptable. Both must desist and are honor bound to do so. Life, ANY life, cannot be protected through acts that threaten harm to any living being. The energy released by such acts brings about its true intent. Sooner or later. Whether one knows it or not.

  62. 63 primal convoy
    March 4, 2008 at 02:07

    The main problem anyone making a statement is that you need to be loud to be heard. Even today, where the public is meant to be informed and have access to the internet, political speakers and public speakers must make their voices heard not by rational and balanced statements, but by hard and strong messages and soundbites that the public will understand quickly and easily.

    Unfortunately, in Japan, where I live, due to media control by the government, political debate is left to childrens TV presenters and pop stars with little or any actual debate about the country’s actual socio-political problems. Debate is frowned upon in Japanese society and, although most Japanese would never again try whale meat again (its hardly if ever eaten over here, meaning that there is little or no real need for commercial whaling as there are already large stockpiles of surplus, unwanted and uneaten whale-meat), the issue of Japan’s questionable whaling practices, or the fact that dolphins are killed and sold off as whale meat in Taiji, is often obscured to the point of being covered up in mainstream, “dont talk about such things”, Japan.

  63. March 4, 2008 at 10:30

    Lampoon don’t harpoon!

    I am trying to create social change by making fun of people. I call this humilifying: using humiliation and humor to create humility and social change.

    I realize this might not stop whalers and it’s probably beside the point, but i loved the opening line.

    But with Japan’s cultural emphasis on dignity and reputation some social lampooning might go a long way.

    I find that my words are sharp enough so far to protect me, but I do not know how far i could go, so I try not to “should” on other people about how far they can go. violence is icky and wrong. I will use it to save my kids and myself.

    And to some people eating meat is violence. Me, I say vegans are cereal killers.


  64. 65 George USA
    March 4, 2008 at 22:14

    Violence is getting a bad rap on here today.

    Suddenly everyone is coming from the viewpoint that all conflict should or could be Nonviolent Protest.

    There is a time and a place for non-violent protest.

    There is also a time for violence as a tool for social reform.

    In Texas there was a norm- pester the women (or God forbid molest one) and you were likely to be found outside of town. In such circumstances the sheriff would shake his head and say, “Clear cut case of suicide”.

    That has long since disappeared with television, interstate highways, and changing social mores.

    It is worth noting rape was very rare back then, today it is common.

    The point is there are times when violence works just fine, times when nothing else will do.

    I personally do not endorse the saying, “Beat up a vegan, you’ll be glad you did.”, in ranch and cattle country.

    Violence has a place in the scheme of things and always will. It is ridiculous to pretend it does not.

  65. 66 Evan
    March 6, 2008 at 15:12

    Violence is caused by anger, and in an argument, anger arises out of desperation, usualy when the argument is failing, or falling on deaf ears.
    These people feel like they can’t win through peaceful means (lobbying government, Petitions, peaceful protests and rallies) so they decide to act like small children throwing temper tantrums. I don’t care about whaling, its a moot point for me, what I do care about is immature nutjobs harming the safety of other human beings trying to feed their families. As if this were not enough criticism against these crazy immature ‘protestors’ I am personally against forcing an opinion on someone else through violent means. These people are tantamount to Communists or Fascists, or some other kind of ‘ists’ and should not be tolerated based on that simple principle.

  66. 67 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 04:21

    it is never a good idea to break the law to make a point…..

    dennis from madrid, united states of america

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