Whale Of A Tale May Put Biologist In Jail.

Nancy Black. The name doesn’t seem threatening, does it? Ms. Black is a licensed tour operator in California who takes willing tourists out off of the coast of Monterey to watch whales. Ms. Black is also a marine biologist, so watching whales daily while getting paid for it has to be a dream job.

Or at least it was.

One day Ms. Black was in a research boat with some assistants when a a group of killer whales attacked a pod of grey whales. In the attack, a grey whale calf was bitten in half with its remains floating to the surface. Ms. Black took the opportunity to thread some rope through the remains of the grey whale and attach a small camera to the ropes. When the killer whales returned for the uneaten portion of the calf, the camera recorded the event.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

However, Ms. Black is now facing jail for her actions. She has been charged under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. The act prohibits people from people harassing and bothering whales, seals and dolphins as well as outlawing people from feeding the sea creatures. The reason behind the “no feeding” prohibition is that you don’t want wild animals to become dependent on getting food from people. You want wild animals to live in the wild.

Yet because the killer whale ate the camera, Black was charged with violating the Act.

(Here’s a bit of a tip for the idiot law enforcement people who even thought to seek a grand jury indictment for this: CAMERAS ARE NOT FOOD!)

Just when you think the idiocy would end there comes the charge against Black that she “tampered with evidence.” The law enforcement people asked her for the footage of the event and she gave them the edited version of the encounter with the whales. Apparently Black edits all of her raw footage, whether it be on a tourist boat or on a research boat. She sells the footage to people to enable her to keep doing what she does – study whales. Yet because she did not turn over the raw footage, the Feds charged her with tampering with evidence. You see, in the eyes of the law enforcement people, editing your own raw footage is a crime.

For these actions – tying a camera to a dead piece of blubber and editing her own footage, Ms. Black is now facing the possibility of twenty years in jail.

This is the type of case that infuriates people. First, it is hard to believe that Ms. Black had any intent to break the law or do harm to the whales. At worst this is an innocent mistake on her part – a mistake where no one and no whales were harmed. If the intent of the law is to protect whales and other sea life, Ms. Black was within that law.

But let’s assume she was technically breaking the law. It seems that law is a matter of interpretation:

She says she was using the protocols she had learned from the federal agencies that are now investigating her to observe a natural feeding that was already in progress.

In other words, Black was doing exactly what she was told was legal by the same law enforcement people that arrested her.

Black’s case is wrong on so many levels it is impossible to list them all. But the case also illustrates the complexity of federal laws and the fact that no one can follow them because the agencies charged with enforcing them aren’t consistent with the information on the laws.

The morons that brought this case against Black should lose their jobs. It is that simple. Their idea of fairness and justice is so far out of the norm it cannot be comprehended. On the other hand, twelve people – normal citizens – voted to indict Black. The old adage of “a prosecutor can get an indictment on a bologna sandwich” is very true, but have we become a nation where not one person looked at the prosecutor and said “you are an idiot?” Not one? Twelve American citizens were happy to blindly follow the prosecutor in this case?

God help us all.

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