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post #149 of Old 08-01-2013
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Re: Mutiny at Dawn - Transpac Race 2013

A few points as we collaborate together to make sense of the experience RD has shared with the forum;

1. Filing with the California Department of Labor seems ethically required - that's how we protect other workers from employer abuse. To not do so is like leaving a bottle lying on a public staircase - even though you don't know who will fall or how bad they'll be injured, you know you've got to pick up the bottle. Another benefit of filing with the DOL would be that, after initial filing, the DOL pursues the case and eats the time and energy of the scary people, without much additional impetus from you. In other words, it has the beauty of a washing machine or setting a sail and won't require much of your life to keep it going. Any passage-making captain who would blackball you as crew for continuing to guarantee the safety of your fellow sailors (as you did in the original "mutiny") would be pledging an absurd allegiance to a ruling-class-solidarity over safety and decency and you'd be better off not on their boats.

2. Several posters have published personal attacks on RD and blamed him for the experience he and the others had to survive. Although the crudeness of these attacks seem initially surprising I think we're all familiar with the urge to blame victims. If it's the victims fault it's no one else's problem, I'm not endangered because I won't make the mistake the victim did, I'm absolved of solidarity in the face of injustice, and so forth. I'd like to imagine that the most unsympathetic people (like Ellidyr in the Black Cauldron) actually have the largest hearts and thus have the most fear of opening them - like how the most angrily homophobic men sometimes have surprising blood-flows in research studies?

3. Congrats to RD on not throwing the two bosses overboard. You would have regretted it later, probably, and thus you should feel proud that you handled the situation well enough that everyone could walk away. Congrats also on keeping the faith with your fellow crew - sometimes in crazy situations unless you're strong and lucky everyone turns on everyone as each small "betrayal" feels threatening. Sounds like you two did great in not turning on each other and in sailing the boat to a safe port. I'm curious how you managed to work out the moments when the two of you felt at cross-purposes - you describe the first one, when he thought exiting the race and you told him to do what he thought was right.

4. In terms of Bligh, I remember reading in his journal that several sailors tried the hide-in-the-woods trick and despite help from very friendly Tahitians it didn't work. From the reading I've done it seems that one factor in the decision to mutiny had to do with Bligh's mixed role as both the person who oversees provision-dispensing and the person allowed to profit by substituting cheap provisions for customary ones. I've also read a hypothesis that perhaps Bligh's violence, which didn't particularly exceed other captains', had a different "tone" because he himself wasn't an aristocrat but desperately wanted to be accepted as one. People hate wanna-bes. Finally, I'll point out that his other major appointment, Governor of (what's now called) Australia, also ended in a successful revolution.

Thanks again for sharing the story so we can all learn from it, RD.
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