Careless campaign

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Here’s a little cautionary tale about address lists, careless protesters and cut-and-paste outrage.

Over the past few days, The Telegram has received hundreds upon hundreds of seal hunt emails from animal rights activists, headlined “Stop the Seal Slaughter.”

That, in itself, is not unusual. Year after year, we steel ourselves for an onslaught of such emails, usually stage-managed by a series of animal rights organizations and their websites.

But this time, there’s a problem — the protesters actually want to get their message to an Australian businessman named Hatem Yavuz and the messages are supposed to go directly to Mr. Yavuz’s email address. Yavuz is described as the “largest seal slaughterer tycoon,” and material in the email campaign says “Mr. Yavuz laughs very proudly that women call him a ‘disgrace’ for what he does by killing baby seals to keep his multi-million-dollar empire going, but he does not care … he ‘loves what he does’ for a living.”

The emails all read like this:

“Dear Mr. Hatem Yavuz,

“i am disgusted to learn about your involvement in the massacre of helpless Cape fur seals in Namibia. The fur industry is a sick, bloody industry that should disappear forever. It does not belong in a modern, civilized society. The butchering of defenseless Cape fur seals, including tens of thousands of nursing pups, is a heinous atrocity.

“There is no excuse for this. I hope that you will cease operations of this kind — with or without a buyout.

“As an experienced entrepreneur, you have infinite options for profiting from ethical businesses. Please, turn over a new leaf today.”

What’s interesting about them is that the emails are word-for-word identical, right down to the lower case “i” in the first sentence, suggesting their concerned authors don’t even read what they’re signing. Not only that, the emails are clearly being sent to a mailing list that was put together to send emails protesting the Canadian seal hunt, even though the hunt that’s being protested — at least in this campaign — is taking place in Namibia, some 10,000 kilometres away from here.

Now, you might not doubt that those who send the legions of emails have at least some passing concern about hunting seals for fur, both here and in Namibia.

But what you can doubt is just how much real knowledge they have about sealing and the seal-processing industry.

And that engenders a more difficult question: how much weight should we give to such campaigns, given that they take so little effort and thought?

And what kind of weight should politicians give them, even when they are properly directed?

In the end, it’s a campaign that highlights not how much people care about the issue, but how little effort they put into publicly establishing their opposition to it.

Geographic location: Namibia

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Recent comments

  • Vicky
    July 18, 2012 - 09:03

    It saddens me that us who care about the well being of animals are labelled 'parasites' and 'ignorant'. The reasons for the seal cull are that there is an over-population of seals and they are decimating the fish population. Firstly, due to climate change, their habitats are changing, and their population is in decline. Secondly, the reason that the fish populations are low is due to over-fishing by human beings. The seal hunt is cruel and barbaric and should be stopped. Who are we to take matters into our own hands and decide that 91,000 seals should die? We dont have the right.

  • Political Watcher
    July 11, 2012 - 06:27

    Just by using the term "baby seals" demonstrates just how ignorant the seal protestors really are. They are lonely people who cling to anyoe who gives them an audience. I bet that if they had a good feed of seal flipper pie and gravy they would sin a diferent tune. Oh, by the way; how many seal protestors wear leather belts, boots and jackets?

  • Brenda Armour
    July 10, 2012 - 17:50

    This petition came from a private individual and not IFAW, PETA , Humane Society or Seals of Nam. A goggle shows the phase in and I could only see a reference to the Telegram in a 2011 petition for the Canadian seal hunt. I believe this was a system error. The Telegram knows these are public websites for any individual to create a petition for any cause and this was not created by an animal rights group but a caring individual . A Petition letter is set up and in some websites cannot be modified. My world is not going to fall apart because of the use of "i" instead of "I". My personal choice of protest includes letter writing, peaceful protests, twitter and Facebook. Oh there are a few in the Atlantic who work hard to end the seal hunt and do so as volunteers. Sealers know who we are.

  • You should reevaluate what you are saying Kat and Kelly
    July 10, 2012 - 13:37

    Kat and Kelly you anti-seal hunt protesters should really evaluate what you are protesting. You must already be aware that the World's fish species have been decimated by the covetous foreign fishing fleets which roam the Oceans. Here in the North West Atlantic the fish bio mass around the once prolific fish nursery on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland is traded off to support Agriculture and Manufactured goods that have provided high paying jobs for Central Canada, while the Seals have been allowed to balloon to more than 9 Million in count. You also must know that Seals have voracious appetites and they consume a big percentage of the the 5 per cent biomass of fish that remains. The Seals are no different than the other over-abundant animals of the World, they have to be culled to keep nature in balance.

    • Kat Gold
      July 10, 2012 - 16:21

      Umm - I think you're contradicting your own point. But in the interest of not confusing the issue - here is the latest data on why seal "culling" is completely unnecessary. Again, all thanks to the greed and idiocy of man, sigh. :-(

  • Gil Theriault
    July 10, 2012 - 13:28

    Nothing knew. The animalists have been using that tactics for decades now. A few protesters make politicians believe they are legions of them. Truth is, there's a handful of manipulator out there who makes money out of that controversy and are followed by too many manipulated people. Anyone in his right mind who analyses the situation (too many seal, fish stocks in decline, hunt well regulated) would approved that activity that provide necessary goods for small coastal communities.

  • Kat Gold
    July 10, 2012 - 11:19

    I am a staunch seal protester and am disappointed in your "take" on this. Really? We have 60,000 plus people ALL OVER THE WORLD (minimum) who are coming together to do something about this atrocity and all you can do is spell check them? That's what you consider hard-hitting editorial journalism? Seriously? FYI - here's a real news piece that got it right - maybe you should follow their example instead of feigning creativity just to get some words on the page:

    • Eli
      July 10, 2012 - 15:04

      60,000. And every friggin' one a paracite. Trouble is they're all too friggfin' ignorant to realize it. It brings in money & that's all they're after.

    • Tony Hann
      July 10, 2012 - 21:31

      Kat how about being a staunch supporter of your community. How about volunteering time to help the homeless, those who live under repressive regimes. Oh and btw 60 000 people world wide represents .006 per cent of the world population. So in the big scheme of things your numbers mean nothing. Go get a job and stop bothering hard working people. Here's a better idea mind your own you guys have any idea of the cultural and economic damage your doing to areas that can least afford it?? If it were up to me I'd label you terrorists...because juding from your actions thats exactly what you are. Educate yourself before making comments on things you klnow nothing about.

    • carogers
      July 12, 2012 - 12:50

      I am a staunch seal supporter and am disappointed in your "take" on the commentary. Do you also protest the atrocity of cows, pigs, and chickens served up in every resturant out there? What about monkey, I ate monkey brains in Africa. So go grow a garden and leave us alone.

  • Kelly Morehead
    July 10, 2012 - 10:46

    I have been fighting against the seal hunts for years and I totally agree with your point of view on this letter. Targeting Hatem Yavuz is not going to get anyone anywhere.

  • Kelly Morehead
    July 10, 2012 - 10:31

    I have been fighting against the seal hunts for years and I totally agree with your point of view on this letter. Targeting Hatem Yavuz is not going to get anyone anywhere.