Terrorism & Justice

If just one caucasian Christian kills others because of radical ideology, it’s called “murder.”

If just one caucasian anti-Semite kills others because of radical ideology, it’s called “murder.”

If just one black Muslim kills others because of radical ideology, it’s called “terrorism.”

But if many Muslims kill others because of radical ideology, it’s called “an act of war.”

Institutional, systemic bias is bound to influence public opinion and policy. And if you repeatedly frame the news in certain ways, you should not be surprised when your audience takes your cues and makes them explicit (reap what you sow, etc.)

Speaking of… how about “eco-terrorism?” Animal Planet just started the second season of “Whale Wars,” a series about radical conservation efforts to halt Antarctic whale hunting. The show is my new addiction, but I’ll admit to being shocked by the first episode: with no previous knowledge of the series premise, it came as a disturbing surprise to see a whale being shot (with harpoon & then shotgun) to death within the first 60 seconds. “Whale Wars” documents the efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society aboard the MV Steve Irwin. The Sea Shepherds are led by Paul Watson, an anarcho-primitivist on a power-trip, and include a merry band of vegan volunteers who use direct action to stop Japanese whalers at the bottom of the world.

As usual, The New Yorker has a great write-up that provides an excellent overview. It seems pretty ballsy of Animal Planet to air this kind of program, but it’s great television because the Sea Shepherds are a bumbling mess of disorganization & hypocrisy coupled with inspiring idealism. Insofar as I back their efforts without sharing their philosophy (nor even liking Watson as a person), it’s great fun to watch the shepherds mess with the whaling ships… and cute bohemian girls don’t hurt the show either.

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