Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Politics

Whaler baffled by the internet, dismisses an on-line petition with million signatures

  • Kristján Loftsson The owner of Hvalur hf and the most vocal propnent of whaling in Iceland is not impressed with a on-line petition against his export of whale meat to Japan. Photo/Stefán Karlsson.

More than a million people have signed a petition to stop the shipment of Icelandic whale meat to Japan. The petition, which is hosted by the international activist network Avaaz, asks the island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis to withdraw their flag from the cargo vessel Winter Bay, which is carrying the 1,700 tonne whale meat shipment.

A joke
This support has failed to impress Kristján Loftsson, the owner of whaling firm Hvalur hf and the most vocal proponent of whaling in Iceland. In an interview with the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, Kristján dismissed the petition as a "joke":

"If you look at this web-page, which we did the other day, when we were monitoring this, there was one new name every 1.3 seconds. And then the clock just ticked, and one was from South-Africa and another from Canada, yet another from the US and then one from Holland and from here and there. So, this is just a joke and I‘m really surprised you pay any attention to nonsense like this. You should look more closely into this."

The internet: A series of tubes?
The cryptic analysis caused considerable amusement in Icelandic social media, since Kristján did not explain how the large number of signatories, the speed at which they were added to the petition or their varied national origin discredited the petition. Some wondered whether it was the internet itself which was baffling Kristján, and wondered whether Kristján Loftsson was channeling the former US Senator Ted Stevens, who became an instant internet meme in 2006, when he described the internet as "a series of tubes". Others saw in him a modern day Ahab, confused by modern technology.

Kolbeinn Óttarsson Proppé wrote in the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that while Kristján‘s lack of understanding of how the internet worked was almost endearing it also echoed a theme which is all too familiar in Icelandic discourse: Too many Icelanders could not stand foreigners having anything but positive opinions of Iceland and Icelandic culture.

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