Animal Planet Comes Home to Roost

“Don’t bring any more humans into being,” begins Paul Watson’s Ten Commandments. 

“Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture,” concludes James Lee’s 11-point tirade against a cable television empire. 

James Lee, a bomb-toting environmental activist holding three men hostage at the Discovery Channel headquarters, was shot dead by police in Silver Spring, Md., on Wednesday.

Paul Watson’s show “Whale Wars” airs on a Labor Day marathon on Discovery’s Animal Planet. Check your local listings. 

The Discovery Channel profits from broadcasting crazies endangering the lives of people in their workplace. Ramming vessels on the high seas, throwing butyric acid and methyl cellulose powder onto ship decks, and attempting to disable boat propellers are among the dangerous stunts celebrated on Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars.”

The reality program just concluded its third season and celebrates Watson and his seafaring followers’ schemes—sometimes clumsy and comical, sometimes reckless and scary—to harass Japanese whaling ships hunting near Antarctica. 

Animal Planet President Marjorie Kaplan calls this “intense and vital television.” Isn’t that just what James Lee was after? 

Among so much that he got wrong, Lee at least knew enough about cable television not to show up to ESPN, Spike, or the E! Channel. Had Mr. Lee shown up at the Discovery Channel armed with a program pitch rather than a loaded gun, he might have landed a slot in primetime. Instead, he is dead. 

The Discovery Channel’s reaction to those who intrude on their workplace quietude is far less restrained than the reaction of the Japanese whalers whose lives are jeopardized by those on Discovery’s payroll. What, precisely, is the difference between the man who took Discovery Channel employees hostage and the man glorified on their Animal Planet reality show? 

Sure, the former wore sandwich boards and posted ALL-CAPS Internet manifestoes; the latter helped found Greenpeace and sat on the Sierra Club’s board until just a few years ago. There is a superficial distinction in social respectability. But a remarkable similarity exists between their misanthropic views, and, more significantly, their self-righteous actions. 

Paul Watson spikes trees, rams and sinks vessels, and touts an anti-human ideology on television. James Lee strapped bombs to himself and held three people at gunpoint in hopes of forcing the Discovery Channel to propagate more programming attacking the human race.  

Lee’s manifesto demanded that Discovery Health and The Learning Channel “stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants” on their programming and instead promote “programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility.”

Another demand by Lee focused on a game show that would reward planet-saving ideas with prizes. The environmental activist further demanded “shows that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race.”

Similarly, Watson boasts that he owes “no allegiance to humanity,” that “earthworms are far more valuable than people,” and that the “world will be a much nicer place without us.” 

Lee blasted Discovery for a program “glorifying the damned fishermen.” Watson labeled fishermen “the biggest bunch of sadistic bastards in the world.” Both have advocated quirky anti-immigration positions upsetting to others within their leftist milieu. Even the nomenclature employed is eerily familiar. Lee calls human babies “parasitic,” while Watson dubs people who reject his extremism “parasites” of the Earth. 

The most jarring common denominator is the pair’s embrace of an anthropomorphic view of animals endemic in small children weaned on cartoons. Whereas a novel about a gorilla telepathically warning mankind about our sins against Mother Nature inspired Lee, Watson lectures whalers, “It is a certainty that the whales will talk about you in the same vein as Jews now talk of Nazis.” 

Neither gorillas nor whales can talk. But if they could, they would probably say that Discovery’s reality-television star and the uninvited armed guest in their lobby speak the same language.