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South Park puts spotlight on Paul Watson and his "Whale Wars"

Paul Watson, a self-described "Earth Warrior," is set for another round of Whale Wars against the Japanese fleet as South Park takes aim.

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This year, Watson's visa for Australia, where the organization bases its Southern Ocean operations, was briefly held up by the government, something that Watson charged in an open letter was due to pressure from the Japanese government, which licenses a hunt for about 1,000 whales annually. Japan insists the hunt is for scientific research programs, but the meat invariably ends up in Japanese sushi bars and school lunches.

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South Park takes aim

But that was nothing compared to the drubbing on US television. On Wednesday night, the satirists from the cartoon show South Park took aim at the group (and Japanese whalers and, typcially, everyone else) in an episode that they named, in their inevitably "classy" fashion, "Whale Whores." In the story, the Japanese are filled with a burning hatred for whales and dolphins, and Stan (one of the South Park kids) teams up with Watson to fight back. Watson is dispatched by a harpoon early in the episode, and Stan ends up captaining the ship, adopting more aggressive tactics that send "Whale Wars" ratings through the roof.

But what might sting Watson, an action-man environmentalist who scorns mere protests in favor of throwing stink bombs at whalers and ramming their ships, is one of South Park's fictional headlines praising Captain Stan and skewering Whale Wars penchant for trying to squeeze drama out of rather mundane ship-board activities: "“Whale Wars Gets Better: Things Actually Happen!”

The episode also touches on one of the things that has made Watson so controversial – his frank willingness to bend the truth. South Park's fictional Larry King calls Watson "an unorganized, incompetent... who thought lying to everyone was OK as long as it served his cause.”

That Watson isn't particularly concerned with the truth isn't a smear – it's a tactic, according to one of his own books, in which he wrote that "all confrontation is based on deception."

More confrontation is what's in the offing when Watson and the rest of his Sea Shepherds depart Australia in December to try to intercept Japan's whalers. They're armed with not only a faster ship this go around, but with water cannons of their own (Japanese whalers have taken to using the canons - which are also used by merchant marines to repel pirate borders – to keep Watson's people away).

The group's intent, Watson has said in recent interviews, is to make whaling commercially unviable for the Japanese, an approach he argues is working.

“We’re speaking the language that the Japanese whaler understands: profit and loss,” Watson said at the unveiling of the Ady Gil. “For the last few years, they’ve made no money. Give us one more year and we can bankrupt them.”

You can watch the video here.

See also:

Scientists warn of unregulated whaling in Asia

Whales, Navy clash in high court

PETA comes up with some really lame superheroes

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