Separate comments on my last post (by prairiecowboy and s__diddy) pointed out to me a connection I hadn’t noticed before. 


  • Environmentalist organizations like Greenpeace engage in (mostly) non-violent direct action to accomplish their aims.  That means they actively disrupt and hinder activities they believe to be harmful to the environment, whether or not those activities are legal.  For example, they place their boats in between the whaler’s harpoon and the whale.


  • Abortion protest groups engage in (mostly) non-violent direct action to accomplish their aims.  That means they disrupt and hinder activities they believe to be immoral, whether or not those activities are legal.  For example, they place themselves in between a woman and the door of a family planning clinic.


Both Greenpeace and abortion protestors (can’t think of a group name just now) are widely reviled, allegedly for their (identical) tactics. 


This is my thesis: For most people, it is not really the tactics but the cause they object to. 


A green-minded pro-choicer might be fine with Greenpeace and their ilk, but despise the in-your-face anti-choicers. 


A committed abortion opponent might think harassing women is fine, but harassing whalers is over the top. 


Does anybody hate them all equally, besides my husband?  (He won’t eat it, he hates everything.)






20 thoughts on “

  1. Well, that’s certainly an interesting connection that I’d not noticed before, either. I don’t hate any protestors, but I do sometimes feel very sad about the way that we as people sometimes treat each other when we disagree. Lisa

  2. It is a very interesting thought, although I think that mostly each side is reviled for the few bad apples on each side. The kind of people who spike trees with the intention of killing loggers. The kind who send pipebombs to planned parenthood clinics. Everyone can just be laughed off.Or I don’t know… that’s just me.

  3. I had this terrible image of your husband refusing to eat a cannibal’s buffet of pro-lifers and Greenpeacers. He’s the Bizarro Hannibal Lector that only eats the kind, mild people.    I’m wary of politcal absolutists, the ends resolve the means devotees of often wrong never in doubtism. I dislike as much for their methods as for their ability to polarize debate into glacial inertia.  

  4. It’s funny you bring this up because the first draft of my greenpeace comment included some lines about abortion.  In my mind the Greenpeace-minded folks who chain themselves to trees to prevent logging are just as wrong-headed as the anti-abortionists who block access to abortion clinics.  And as a previous commenter has pointed out, there are worse apples on both sides. On the other hand, I would have no problem with anti-abortionists camping out in front of a clinic with signs – even graphic signs.  Just as I would have no problem with environmental activists protesting whaling activities at the launch of a Japanese “research” vessel. 
    I think where I draw the line is direct verbal harassment.  I can’t think that it’s right to yell stuff at women entering abortion clinics any more that it’s right to berate a Polynesian sailor for bottom trawling.  That sort of thing is just plain rude.  But anything short of that is fine with me.
    RYC:  Not really.  Most Protestants are content with a generic idea of a “community of saints” where a wide variety of beliefs are accepted.  And aside from Islam and Christianity, few other world religions claim any sort of exclusivity.  (Maybe Daoists?  Those folks are pretty persistent.)

  5. I’m a bit late on the topic, but here’s my two cents: I think you have something there… I have no problem with Greenpeace’s tactics (for the most part- some of the more radical moves make me a bit nervous), but I am disgusted with the actions of the anti-abortion activists. I know that makes me a hypocrite but I don’t care. I just really have a hard time with people who will harass a woman who has made one of the toughest decisions of her life when they would not have to deal with the outcome of that decision. After all, they aren’t going to care for the baby nor give the woman money to support the child after birth. (See how I justify that?) I think that whether we support certain actions or not has more to do with whether we agree with the reasons behind the actions, not necessarily the actions themselves.

  6. Some days I hate everyone does that count? It’s too early for me right now, I can’t think about your deep post and connections made. RYC: That’s what expunge said and then he got all practical on me, please don’t get practical.

  7. Very interesting parallel, T.R.  I think you’ve actually managed to heighten my empathy for the cause of the GreenPeacers.  I’ve never had a hard time understanding what would make someone put themselves between an abortion clinic and a pregnant woman (in part b/c my Mom actually did it several times, when I was in highschool).  Mom always said that the behavior wouldn’t seem “extreme” if someone was about to kill their 2 yr old. . .but then I also understand that you can’t TEACH that way of thinking.  You either think all human life is sacred, or you don’t.  That’s why pro-life people are perceived as uncompromising or polarizing.

  8. It’s a good thought, certainly.  I’d say the difference, if there is a difference, lies in the idea that having an abortion (or any medical procedure) is a difficult enough decision without facing a line of yelling picketers taking your picture too.  The only personal stake the whalers have in the death of the whales is their profit, or at worst their jobs.

  9. Standing outside of an abortion clinic screaming obcenities at the women trying to get inside, murdering the doctors who try to help these women, and blowing up the clinics are not my idea of a non-violent group.
    I’ve never understood how these groups justify killing in order to protest…killing!

  10. All of the drama associated with these tactics is really trying. But Greenpeace rarely does that sort of thing anymore and some of the things attributed to them turned out to be people posing as them to discredit them. I have never had people from Greenpeace make hysterical comments on my site or to my face and that can’t be said for the make abortion illegal types. So I’ll go with Greenpeace being the better group if this is a vote. PETA was very helpful to me for a research project on chickens so I like them too.

  11. Having been named in the indictment, I suppose I need to show up in court. You have, as always, provided a thought-provoking viewpoint. Many electrons have been inconvenienced over the extreme actions of either group, when the majority of their adherents don’t engage in the named behaviours.  Your thesi are probably on target, my position remains that human life exists on a different plane than various assorted environmental concerns.

  12. I hate them all.  I hate everyone.  Except Daoists. 
    RYC:  We really consider ourselves more of a “jello-salad” religion than a fruitcake one.  But people define jello salad differently, so what are you going to do?

  13. Huh. I still think women should get a choice and, well, whales should get a choice too (I assume their choice is to live, with natural selection driving them and all). So one group tries to take away choice and the other one… makes sure the whale gets its choice? I don’t know. Seinfeld never used a pro-choice rally to kill off a character, so maybe I like Greenpeace more because it’s funnier.I agree what whales shouldn’t be getting abortions.

  14. I hate them all equally. I’m on the fence about abortion and I’m definitely pro-whale but I still despise the threatening and intimidating tactics (even if non-violent) used to interfere with legal activities.

  15. The ends doesn’t justify the means… Communicate your position without intimidation, interference, and fear and you might make longer-lasting impressions. I don’t like either organization you mentioned because of their means, although philosophically I’m more inclined towards one and not the other. I’m still in the “Live my life as I think it should be lived and let that serve as an example” mode.

  16. One gets in the way of a ship that is out to make money.  The other gets in the way of an emotionally vulnerable human about to undergo an already-unpleasant-enough procedure. 

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