I have a checkered history with Greenpeace activists, as does my wife. I have surprised signature-collectors by calling them out on their crazy shut-down-the-Navy-sonars position. My wife has done the same, taking them to task for their opinions on nuclear power. And, of course, they have done some ridiculous acts of literal tree-hugging. But still, at the end of the day, I figured they served a useful purpose. In an age of human-caused global warming, somebody needs to keep the Overton Window from shifting too far against environmental protection, right?
Well, yesterday I get an email about Shell’s Arctic Ready campaign. So I looked at the site. Pretty obviously a parody. I mean, dude, it starts with “For hundreds of years, explorers have battled the Arctic. Today, we’re finally winning.” That is funny! And then there is the viral video, which is not only silly, but poorly acted. I am told people were fooled anyway, but Greenpeace came clean.
Abi Sutherland is upset with this. “Greenpeace lied to us. This wasn’t a nod-and-a-wink parody; this was a dedicated effort to deceive. They played the public for patsies and herded them like sheep. That kind of contempt for the people whose support (financial and otherwise) they need is inexcusable … Now, I know that our common discourse is already thoroughly befouled. But that does not mean it’s OK to add yet another dose of rainbow-shining toxic sludge to the mix, not even in the cause of righteousness. Indeed, especially not in the cause of righteousness.”
I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t agree, despite the fact that I hang out with oilmen. A parody is a parody, and this one was less-than-subtle. It was totally “nod-and-a-wink”! And Greenpeace didn’t let it go on for long. And there are lots of reasons to be skeptical about Arctic drilling.
So, no, I am not a fan of Greenpeace. But I also don’t think this parody did anything wrong. Am I being too generous?