July 7, 2010
Pete Bethune will not serve additional containment in Japan. He will shortly be deported to his homeland New Zealand after some five months in captivity. A Japanese court sentenced him to a suspended sentence, thereby getting rid of a major political embarrassment and a potential martyr.
Who is Pete Bethune? To many of us he is the guy skippering Earthrace to a World Record powerboat circumnavigation a few years ago. To us, he is an inspiration who overcame tremendous odds to not just to win a boat race but to do so serving humanitarian goals. He is a man to whom personal sacrifice means little.
To others, he is a hero standing up to illegal Japanese whale killing in the Southern Ocean. That effort almost killed him and his crew as the Japanese whalers rammed his boat which subsequently sank. Miraculously, no one was killed. Assigning blame for the sinking is a hot potato no official wants to touch. To any seaman, the evidence is clear in that the Japanese whalers took the game of chicken too far. The Japanese whalers were not the only party playing the game, but the fact is they went too far almost killing a crew of six. In truth, the so called whale war is just an immense sample of poor judgment and lousy seamanship, no matter the commercialization of Reality TV, providing junk to a junk-hungry audience.
To Admiral Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd, Pete was a massive PR scheme for a year or so, but of no actual worth as a person, activist or fellow seaman. Luckily, Pete and Watson will part ways, perhaps not in the most amiable way. After all, the sinister ways of Watson do not leave many of us with a good taste in our collective mouths. Denouncing a fellow companion in the mid of a crisis, no matter the implausible excuses, simply is not the way to go. Yet that is what Watson did.
As you may have missed, the International Whaling Commission recently met in Morocco. At the top on the agenda were the whaling activities of Japan, Iceland and Norway. In essence, all recognize a 1987 moratorium on killing whales is a complete failure. Thus a “compromise” was circulated eliminating the moratorium in return for a “controlled, smaller” commercial harvest. The talks soon broke down. Status quo prevails. This Commission is comprised of many nations, most without any presence of whales within their borders or any obvious interest in whaling. Rumor has it that Japan buys the national votes through “foreign aid” which apparently includes luxurious travel arrangements such as the services of ladies of the night. Lucky them, those impartial delegates. Let’s do it again, next year.
Yet to others, including even some right wing US nut cases, Pete is a bona fide terrorist. Astonishingly, some of his fellow Kiwis agree, self righteous and of debatable sanity, no matter what the known facts are. To a cowering NZ Government caring more about dollars than decency and morality, Pete is simply of no consequence. God help the Kiwis if the price of Hondas go up. But then, does morality and Government ever sit on the same bench?
To yet others, Pete is a misguided fool who’s got it coming. He became the icon of many fractions of a diverse society. Most really couldn’t care less, the story never hit the headlines anywhere. The news of Pete’s verdict stayed up on Google’s top news site for less than a few hours. In a day or so, this whole affair will be gone from the World’s attention. Even the Japanese demonstrators who loudly denounced him as a terrorist earning capital punishment or worse will head for new adventures. After all, eating whale meat is a cultural right, don’t you think?
To his two daughters Danielle, 15, and Alycia, 13, he is a devoted father. To Sharyn, his wife of many years, he is a husband and companion since high school. Perhaps as a husband and father, the last five plus years of absence have taken a toll. Few families have gone through more sacrifices than this one. Perhaps the last five months have proven too much. Let’s hope, with all our hearts, not so.
So here is the bottom line. No matter what you opinion is regarding Pete and his activities, do wish him and his family all the best in whatever is next for them. They all are the best this Earth has to offer.
Good Luck, Mates