I would like to respectfully request an apology in writing in Seattle Weekly for slanderous and libelous remarks made by Geov Parrish in his 11/19 Impolitics column titled "Blowholes and Blowhards."
Mr. Parrish accused me of being a moron and a racist. I would like to request some documentation, sources, or references that back up his allegations. My record of working with Native-rights issues is second only to my record of working on conservation issues.
Does Mr. Parrish have evidence that I am "oblivious to the rights of self-determination—as well as to a history of genocide, ongoing racism and poverty on the reservation, and at times their own bigotry . . ." (?).
I don't believe that he can produce a single shred of evidence that any of his accusations are true, and as such his accusations are a slander and a libel. On the contrary, I have three decades of writing and activism under my belt specifically dealing with Native American self-determination. I was a medic for the American Indian movement during the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. I am a warrior brother to the Lakota Oglala nation. I led the occupation of the Santa Maria in 1991 on behalf of the Gitk'san We'suet'tewn nation of British Columbia. I stood with the Kaiyapo in Amazonia to oppose a major dam project in 1989. I taught a class on Native American history at Vincennes College in Paris. Does this sound like a person who is oblivious of Native American history?
Mr. Parrish attributed a quote to me that is fiction, extracted from a story in The Seattle Times. I don't recall an inquiry from him to verify if I said what he accuses me of saying.
In the caption under the photograph, Mr. Parrish displayed blatant bigotry in referring to the occupants as having a "self-righteous white ass." One of the occupants of that kayak is Lisa Distefano, who is of halfNative American descent.
Did Mr. Parrish know that the captain of the Sea Shepherd, Mat Lawson, is a full-blooded Ojibway Indian? Did Mr. Parrish know that six of our crew are Native American? Did Mr. Parrish know that many Native Americans, including Makahs, are members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society? No, he did not, because Mr. Parrish did not bother to contact us before spewing his venom.
Does Mr. Parrish have any evidence that I am a moron? I am an instructor in ecology at UCLA and at the Pasadena Center for Design. I have authored five books and I write a column for Ocean Realm magazine. A responsible journalist would back up such absurd allegations with facts. I am also a sea captain. What qualifies as "moron" by Mr. Parrish's definition? Do you have facts available to back up Mr. Parrish in his statements? If not, I believe I am owed an apology.
Is this what journalism has been degraded to in Seattle Weekly? It seems that your interpretation of journalism is to have a writer with a personal bias be given free rein to distort the truth and to slander reputations for no other reason than that it suits his fancy to do so. I guess checking facts would have gotten in the way of a good diatribe.
So, do I get my apology, or do you provide me with evidence of these allegations?
Captain Paul Watson
Founder and president
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Geov Parrish replies: Lynda Mapes of The Seattle Times absolutely stands by the quote Mr. Watson disputes, and further says he has never asked the Times for a retraction.
Mr. Watson has repeatedly chosen to ally himself with the widespread anti-Indian sentiment in this state in order to advance his own political agenda. As the Makahs noted before their face-to-face meeting last month, material from the Sea Shepherds, including the Web sites associated with their efforts, had crossed the line from anti-whaling to anti-Indian.
Mr. Watson, no matter what his Wounded Knee bona fides (and honestly, what kind of Wounded Knee vet would call in the FBI to back him up in a res dispute, as he did against the Makahs?) is not qualified to determine what is or isn't appropriate to Makah cultural traditions. He is not qualified as a white person to decide unilaterally when treaties signed by sovereign governments—ones signed at gunpoint to give whites every possible advantage, no less—are archaic and invalid. Throw in the fact that a white person is giving comfort and strength to the movement to end all treaty rights in Washington, and the term "racist" seems amply supported by the facts. (I won't go into the basis for invoking the term "moron," but it's there in the article and the letter for all to see.) There are plenty of ways to oppose the horrors of whaling without going down these roads.
Lastly, the photo and caption weren't mine; I was as offended by them as Mr. Watson was, and extend my apologies to the women in the photo.
Nina Shapiro's feature "The Birth Cult" (11/26) is distressing for many reasons. First of all, this angry opinion piece was given front-page status by the Weekly. Responsible journalism requires at least an attempt to provide some balance. The author should have given the people and organizations she names and criticizes a chance to respond. Otherwise, the article should have been cast as an editorial.
Second, Ms. Shapiro misrepresents the underlying theme of the book Pregnancy, Childbirth & the Newborn, which I co-authored with Ann Keppler and Janet Whalley, and which she used as an example of the distressing "It's not enough to have a baby, you have to have it the right way" philosophy. On page 3 of the book, we state, "There is no universal agreement on the best, safest, and most satisfying way to give birth. . . . You and your partner should investigate the choices available and see what kind of care seems appropriate to you." Our contention is that parents cannot make good decisions for themselves and their baby if they are uninformed. Our intent with the book was to provide accurate, unbiased information.
Third, dismissing doulas as "birth junkies" is unfair, and Ms. Shapiro misses the important point that, as shown in 11 scientific trials in six different countries, notable benefits in both obstetric and psychological outcomes occur when women have doulas helping them through labor. Doulas remain with a woman or couple continuously, providing emotional support and physical comfort. When these basic human needs of the laboring woman are met, labors are shorter, women request less pain medication, and cesarean rates are lower. There is less postpartum depression, breast-feeding goes more smoothly, and women feel greater satisfaction with their birth experiences.
Lastly, I am sad for Ms. Shapiro, who, at this late date in her pregnancy, has not been able to find resources that she finds helpful. I wish she had known that the Childbirth Education Association, whose classes she feels are tedious and too long, does offer "crash courses" lasting only seven hours, which provide only an overview of what to expect and a brief exposure to self-help comfort measures. These classes are more appropriate for people with Ms. Shapiro's outlook.
I hope that Ms. Shapiro's self-described fear of childbirth will be lessened by her actual experience. She may discover that she really has benefited from her yoga classes, her childbirth classes, and the reading she has done. And she may discover that her hospital may have a respectful and caring staff who will do all they can to ease her fears and help her have her baby the "wrong way."
Penny simkin, PT
C-section? So sorry.
I could not agree more with Nina Shapiro's article "The Birth Cult" (11/26). A few comments, however.
One: I needed to have a C-section. Every person I tell this to touches me gently on the arms, looks into my eyes, and says, "I'm so sorry." Sorry about what? No one ever says it's great that the baby and I are both healthy—and alive!
Two: What to Expect When You're Expecting advocates far more radical dietary restrictions for pregnancy, women and nursing mothers than Ms. Shapiro depicts. Besides banning caffeine and alcohol, which is fairly common these days, it forbids all white flour and refined sugar. It suggests that once a week you can "treat" yourself to fat-free yogurt or a non-whole-wheat bagel. Yippee! (You really have to have been pregnant to understand how funny this is.)
Three: The article would have carried more weight had it been completed after Ms. Shapiro had gone through labor and delivery, but then she wouldn't have had the time!
One positive by-product of the "birth cult": Seattle is a pro-breast-feeding city. You can find a private spot just about anywhere in this city to breast-feed your baby, as opposed to Florida, where it's illegal. But thong bikinis aren't. Go figure.
Back in the fold
I've just started reading Seattle Weekly again after several years' hiatus. Where did Nina Shapiro come from? The three articles I've read by her ("The Birth Cult" 11/26; the piece on Christmas, "Merry Hanukkah," 11/26 gift guide; and the piece on juvenile court, "Uncorking Crime" 12/3) were terrific: insightful, well-written, and brilliantly conceived (since I agree with her point of view). Keep up the good work and maybe you'll pull back more ol' time Weekly readers like me.
We welcome succinct letters commenting on articles in Seattle Weekly. Letters may be edited for length. Please include name and daytime telephone number for verification. Write to Letters Editor, Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to email@example.com.