Terror on the High Seas: A Whale Of An Expedition

"They're violent environmental terrorists," mission leader Hajime Ishikawa told the ceremony. "Their violence is unforgivable ... we must fight against their hypocrisy and lies."

   -- mission leader Hajime Ishikawa

The largest whaling expedition in decades set forth from Japan on Sunday, aiming to net 50 humpbacks, 935 minke whales and up to 50 fin whales. The opening quote was said by the leader of the expedition, speaking about the anti-whaling protesters who are opposing the fleet. The expedition is termed a "scientific" whale hunt by the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

Japan says it needs to kill the animals in order to conduct research on their reproductive and feeding patterns.

Ah, yes -- killing in the name of science. While the World Conservative Union lists the humpback species as "vulnerable" and the American Cetacean Society estimates that number of humpbacks have only returned to approximately one-third of their numbers before the onslaught of modern whaling, Japanese officials insist that the species has returned to "sustainable" levels.

All the whale meat from these "research" expeditions ends up in commercial markets, which seems to back up claims by critics that "science" is being used as a cover to continue commercial whaling.

The technique of redefining a term or applying a different label to an activity, providing a false façade and air of approval for an otherwise illegal or distasteful act, reminds me of another such instance of "convenient" redefinition: it's very much like the way the Bush Administration's redefinition of what constitutes torture now permits the practice of waterboarding, isn't it?

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