Calling Paul Watson

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Protester taking calls today on Fisheries Broadcast

He is the hub around which most of the seal hunt controversy revolves, generating headlines for his Sea Shepherd society, whilst calling people from this province down to the dirt and suggesting that the lives of seal hunters are worth less than that of seals.

And today (April 17), he will be a guest on a special call-in edition of the Fisheries Broadcast, which starts at 5:30 pm on CBC Radio. People who have been seething about Watson's description of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will have an opportunity to give a little bit back... though they can expect to be incensed by some of Watson's statements.

Speaking of incensed, news of Watson's appearance on the program generated considerable discussion on the talk shows yesterday, on CBC Radio's Cross Talk and even on VOCM's Backtalk. A lot of people are unhappy that our local CBC would give Watson such a platform, since the last thing he needs, they say, is more publicity.

That's not a surprising reaction for the public... but is it correct? I emailed the show's host, John Furlong, for his side of this piece. Here's what he said:

"I decided to have Paul Watson on, to field calls from listeners, to give listeners a chance to talk to him directly. I'm hoping it will be civilized! Every time Paul Watson is on the radio, people call me and suggest the next time I'm speaking with him "ask him this". Well, here's the chance for people to ask him themselves.

Lost in all the name-calling that goes on is what the seal hunt is all about. That applies to both sides in this debate. As distasteful as it is for some people, there are two sides to this issue. It's my responsibility to present both of them.

I had one note from a listener who said: " Why give Paul Watson all that free air-time. All he does is call us names. You're a traitor to the sealers, John."

Just examine that sentence... "All Paul Watson does... call us names... you're a traitor, John."

I'm hoping there can be some reasonable discussion of both sides of this white-hot debate. Reasonable discussion usually brings MORE understanding to an issue, not less."

Either way, it's going to be an intense, infuriating and possibly even satisfying bit of radio, starting at 5:30 pm NL time. I will definitely be tuning in.

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