Paul Watson, Sierra Club board member and “captain” of the violent Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), recently sat down with The Oregonian and waxed philosophical on everything from his explosively controversial plans for the Sierra Club to an upcoming movie documenting his ship-sinking exploits. When asked about his plans to take over the Sierra Club’s board of directors this spring, Watson responds that he’s “not leading anything, and there’s no takeover.” But as the Center for Consumer Freedom first reported, Watson was singing a different tune at the Animal Rights 2003 conference.

Watson was caught on tape saying:


One of the reasons that I’m on the, um, the Sierra Club board of directors right now is to try and change it … we’re only three directors away from controlling that board. We control one-third of it right now. And, uh, once we get three more directors elected, the Sierra Club will not, no longer be pro-hunting and pro-trapping and we can use the resources of the $95-million-a-year budget to address some of these issues … So, you know, a few hundred, or a few thousand people from the animal rights movement joining the Sierra Club — and making it a point to vote — will change the entire agenda of that organization.

Paul Watson makes for strange bedfellows. Even the Sierra Club is using the Center for Consumer Freedom’s research against the Sea Shepherd pirate. Last month Watson’s takeover rhetoric was mailed to 500,000 Sierra Club members in an effort to slow his momentum.

As the Center for Consumer Freedom told The Oregonian, Watson has also mentored some of the nastiest animal-rights militants of our day. Animal-rights fire-bomber Rodney Coronado once served Watson as a Sea Shepherd crewmember. A few years ago in the pages of the radical Earth First! Journal, Watson heaped praise on Coronado for his “commando raid” — which Watson himself helped facilitate — that sunk a number of Icelandic fishing boats. Not much has changed. Watson now says Coronado simply “felt he was doing what he needed to do” when he committed a multimillion-dollar arson of a Michigan State University research lab.

Watson’s parting advice to animal-rights extremists: “Don’t get caught.”

And now Hollywood is planning to immortalize this radical vigilante on the big screen. Watson already enjoys solid support from Hollywood activists like Martin Sheen (who refers to Watson as a “personal hero”), Pierce Brosnan, William Shatner and Richard Dean Anderson. Add Sean Penn to the list, as he will reportedly play Sea Shepherd founder Watson in an upcoming feature film.

Making a hero of someone like Watson is a dangerous proposition that could inspire more budding radicals to follow in his violent footsteps. Watson clearly understands the powerful effect such a film can have. “Society might frown upon what you do, but when they make a motion picture about you then, hey, it’s OK,” he explains. “It even worked for Bonnie and Clyde.”