According to the first amendment, it is okay for people to protest something if they disagree with it. But it is not okay for those same people to try to halt their opponent’s first amendment rights by preventing the person they disagree with from also protesting. Most dolphin activists are no stranger to this kind of censorship. Many online videos, posts, or
mention of marine parks by captivity supporters come with a tagline notifying any would-be commenters that opposing arguments will be repressed: “No anti-captivity comments allowed!!!” Such statements have often led me to wonder why captivity supporters feel the need to repress opposing information. After all, if you have to resort to deleting your opponents’ arguments rather than actually rebutting them, you have already lost the debate.
With the upcoming release of David Kirby’s publication entitled: “Death at SeaWorld,” it’s no surprise to see captivity supporters using their closed-minded tactics in attempt to prevent anything and anyone from expressing disapproval of their beloved theme park. “Death at SeaWorld” has gotten a lot of media attention even though the release date is months away. That hasn’t deterred SeaWorld supporters from launching a petition in attempt to censor the information that the book contains. The petition urges media outlets to refrain from selling or promoting the book. The creator of the petition claims that “Death at SeaWorld” should not be bought because author David Kirby will make money off of a text that “mentions incidents between killer whales and trainers, including Dawn’s death.”
David Kirby has said that “the book is not about Dawn Brancheau” (although Dawn will be respectfully mentioned in one of the last chapters.) However, making money by selling a book that mentions a death is nothing new. Thousands of books mention deaths, tragedies and the like, and have been sold around the world. This hasn’t ever been deemed wrong, and no author that mentions a death in their work for informative purposes have ever been condemned of “exploitation.” Especially not when they are simply reporting on actual events. Of course this means that the “exploitation” argument from the makers of this petition haven’t got a leg to stand on (and apparently do not know what exploitation is.)
The overview of the petition contains a very long-winded rant about the SeaWorld vs. OSHA court case. Ironically enough the author of the petition that is supposed to be justifying their attempted censorship, also describes the book in very fair and informative terms. They say the book: discusses controversy, describes court cases and mentions eyewitness reports. But at the end of the description, is the statement: “This book should not be sold or promoted in any way.” Why? This cannot be justified in the simple mentioning of Dawn’s death. I think it goes deeper than that…
How can SeaWorld supporters attack a book that nobody has even read before? How could they react so strongly as to launch a petition against a book based solely on its title and what is said to be on its pages? My first thought: the book is controversial. It is going to address controversy and possibly expose some of the issues of keeping orcas captive. The book is threatening to SeaWorld fans. This might be what has led them to do something as extreme as attempt to censor this author.
Is the petition going to do anything? No, of course not. My guess is that most of the signers are other young SeaWorld fans – not bookstore owners or media outlets that the petition is targeting. The book will still be published and captivity supporters who refuse to acknowledge the controversy surrounding the industry are just going to have to keep their ears covered and their eyes closed.
To see what David Kirby has to say about the petition, click here.