Archive for ‘Civil Disobedience’

6 October, 2011

I’m showing solidarity with supplies for #occupy – for earth, animals and people

I have been outspoken in my reluctance to support my local #Occupy, however, I can’t let my lack of confidence in the organisers get in the way of showing my support.

This could be an important movement to bring attention to how animals and the planet are being abused and mistreated in the name of capitalism, not just people. (Tiger Tiger Burning Bright is one of the very few writers or blogs that makes the connection between all three liberation movements)

I spend a long weekend assembling supplies, an assortment of things that I traded, bartered, begged, cajoled, asked nicely, collected, was gifted, or in other ways found (except the vegan chocolates, I bought them, and will be very disappointed if they dont make it to the occupation) – and gathered a collection of items that could be useful to Occupiers.

It took nearly 4 and 1/2 hours of driving – one way – to get to my local capital city, with a small truck (ute) with supplies.

I have yet to hear back any response from anyone connected with #Occupy since I dropped off the supplies, so I am just going to go ahead and will be assuming they were appreciated and will be put to good use.

But the 9 hours of driving is worth it, knowing that I have done my part, and don’t have to give them another thought.

There were five twenty-somethings in Vendetta-style Anonymous Guy Fawkes t-shirts (you do know that Warner Bros and Time Warner are making money when you buy Guy Fawkes branded merchandise, right) and Anarchy shirts, who helped me unload, so a big shout of thanks to them.

This is what I delivered:

    • TARPS x16 and PLASTIC SHEETING x40

heres a tip for you city folks – the difference between tarps and plastic sheeting: tarps cost more than plastic sheeting, because it has eyelets which are used to tie tarps down, they also fray fast, so dont use tarps for sitting on, use plastic sheeting, also avoid umbrellas, they can poke someones eye out, if it gets wet, use the plastic sheeting as a poncho or instead of an umbrella, I know tarps are like gold, but they are also more expensive than plastic

    • LANYARDS – a whole bunch

places that do printing for promotions sometimes have orders that get canceled or spelling mistakes, these they cannot sell, so visit a bunch of places, you might get tshirts, caps, pens, etc, I got these because they were printed with “MY HAPPY PLACE” a cafe that went out of business apparently

    • YELLOW GARBAGE BAGS – lots and lots

yellow because it stands out, you dont want people putting rubbish in a bag someone is using to waterproof their clothes

    • ONE SECOND HAND FLASH DRIVE

I say second hand, because that is where I have just decided to keep my collection of workers songs, rebellion songs, protest songs, union songs, human rights songs, anti war songs, protest chants, PDFs on what to do if arrested, ideas for direct action, Gene Sharps 198 methods of non violent direct action, Saul Alinskys 13 rules for radicals, outdoor cooking for large groups, camping recipes, posters, etc – I am such a technological novice I just dont know how to delete them – I am not pirating music at all, definitely not

    • TWO COMPUTER BATTERIES
    • TWO EACH SIM CARDS

FOR telstra, optus, virgin (but NO vodaphone, these are active but not loaded with money)
suggestion to occupiers, get a new sim, take everything off that you dont want everyone to see, in case your phone gets lost, stolen or taken into evidence

    • ONE SECOND HAND FLASH DRIVE

those flashdrive size things you stick in the side of a computer, for mobile internet, active but not loaded

    • BLANKETS

6 cotton blankets (wool is cruel) and a whole bunch of other blankets that may have a logo on them that happens to be the same as a certain airline

    • SLIDE LOCK / SNAP LOCK PLASTIC BAGs

1 box of sandwich size plastic bags

    • BOTTLED WATER

individual 750ml bottles (lots) and large 20 litre containers (some)people can refill their individual bottles, really, youre not going to die if you drink from a plastic bottle more than once

    • in a CLEAR PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINER:

– LEDA VEGAN TIM TAMS – 2 packets
– SWEET WILLIAM VEGAN CHOC SPREAD (VEGAN “NUTELLA”) – 1 jar
– LEDA VEGAN SNACK BARS – 2 boxes (apple, mixed fruit)
– GLUTEN FREE snack bars – 2 boxes (apple, apricot)
– LONG LIFE SOY MILK – 2 x 1L containers
– COFFEE, TEA BAGS, SUGAR

    • in a clear PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINER (first aid items):

– single use eye washes
– roller bandages
– large gauze sticking plasters
– small gauze sticking plasters
– 1 box of latex gloves
– 1 box of non latex nitrile gloves
– 1 roll of adhesive tape
(there are NO medications, anti biotics, sterile swabs, ointments, blades or scalples)

    • ART SUPPLIES in a clear PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINER:

– white cardboard sheets
– multi-colour marker pens
– regular poster paint
– neon paint
– polyester non-metal glitter (the kind that wont cut your eyes if you get a piece in stuck in your eye)
– a 30cm ruler
(there are NO paint bushes or glue (if people want them, they can supply their own, these are not easy to find vegan) or scissors)

    • MOIST HANDWIPES
    • PAPER TOWELS (4 ROLLS)
    • ALUMINIUM TAPE

they kind they use on planes; Im not sure what it is used for, someone gave me a roll of it

    • STORAGE (“REFUGEE”) BAGS

those big blue and red bags, the kind you get from a $2 shop; I call them storage bags, but Ive heard them described to me as refugee bags

    • ONE BOX OF COMPUTER PRINTER PAPER

and

    • ONE GENERATOR

a little bit old, but it works

Good Luck to everyone involved.

For more information, any of these links –

@occupySYDNEY

They seem unable to make up their mind, it seems like every second day there is a notification they are switching blogs, so I’ll include both blogs, and if they’ve switched, then hopefully one of them works.

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2 October, 2011

198 Methods of Nonviolent Action from Gene Sharp

protestors outside a KFC restaurant in Royal O...

Image via Wikipedia

This list was taken from Sharp’s work The Methods of Nonviolent Action, and describes instances where each of these methods achieved the goals that protesters set out to achieve.

This list was originally written in 1973, and could not have forseen the advances in technology that led to Facebook-revolutions and Twitter-revolutions, television, mobile phones with cameras and internet, and satellites.

The fact this list is almost 40 years old does not invalid it, History is greatest teacher, and if something has worked in the past, it could work again.

Protesters should always use as many methods and tactics as needed to accomplish their goals, not just stop at one.

If you believe in something, it is worth fighting for.

Get creative, when one thing doesn’t work, use another, and another.

Sharp’s 198 Methods are a starting point, not a complete list.

Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak… Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.
César Chávez

(from Gene Sharp, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, Boston 1973)
via Peace Magazine

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION

FORMAL STATEMENTS

1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public declarations
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions

COMMUNICATIONS WITH A WIDER AUDIENCE

7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

GROUP REPRESENTATIONS

13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections

SYMBOLIC PUBLIC ACTS

18. Displays of flags and symbolic colours
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures

PRESSURES ON INDIVIDUALS

31. “Haunting” officials
32. Taunting officials
33. Fraternization
34. Vigils

Nonviolence is fine as long as it works.
Malcolm X

DRAMA AND MUSIC

35. Humourous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music
37. Singing

PROCESSIONS

38. Marches
39. Parades
40. Religious processions
41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades

HONOURING THE DEAD

43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places

Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
Mohandas Gandhi

PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES

47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
50. Teach-ins

WITHDRAWAL AND RENUNCIATION

51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honours
54. Turning one’s back

THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION
OSTRACISM OF PERSONS

55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott
57. Lysistratic nonaction
58. Excommunication
59. Interdict

NONCOOPERATION WITH SOCIAL EVENTS, CUSTOMS, AND INSTITUTIONS

60. Suspension of social and sports activities
61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
64. Withdrawal from social institutions

WITHDRAWAL FROM THE SOCIAL SYSTEM

65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation
67. “Flight” of workers
68. Sanctuary
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration (hijrat)

That’s all nonviolence is – organized love.
Joan Baez

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS
ACTION BY CONSUMERS

71. Consumers’ boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers’ boycott
77. International consumers’ boycott

ACTION BY WORKERS AND PRODUCERS

78. Workers’ boycott
79. Producers’ boycott

ACTION BY MIDDLEMEN

80. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott

ACTION BY OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT

81. Traders’ boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
83. Lockout
84. Refusal of industrial assistance
85. Merchants’ “general strike”

ACTION BY HOLDERS OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES

86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91. Refusal of a government’s money

ACTION BY GOVERNMENTS

92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International sellers’ embargo
95. International buyers’ embargo
96. International trade embargo

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOOPERATION: THE STRIKE h4. SYMBOLIC STRIKES

97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

AGRICULTURAL STRIKES

99. Peasant strike
100. Farm workers’ strike

STRIKES BY SPECIAL GROUPS

101. Refusal of impressed labour
102. Prisoners’ strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike

ORDINARY INDUSTRIAL STRIKES

105. Establishment strike
106. Industry strike
107. Sympathy strike

RESTRICTED STRIKES

108. Detailed strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting “sick” (sick-in)
113. Strike by resignation
114. Limited strike
115. Selective strike

MULTI-INDUSTRY STRIKES

116. Generalised strike
117. General strike

COMBINATION OF STRIKES AND ECONOMIC CLOSURES

118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown

THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION
REJECTION OF AUTHORITY

120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

CITIZENS’ NONCOOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT

123. Boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government departments, agencies, and other bodies
127. Withdrawal from governmental educational institutions
128. Boycott of government-supported institutions
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

CITIZENS’ ALTERNATIVES TO OBEDIENCE

133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
138. Sitdown
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws

ACTION BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL

142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation
146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
148. Mutiny

DOMESTIC GOVERNMENTAL ACTION

149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units

INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTAL ACTION

151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. Severance of diplomatic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organisations
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organisations

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION

PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTION

158. Self-exposure to the elements
159. The fast
– 1. Fast of moral pressure
– 2. Hunger strike
– 3. Satyagrahic fast
160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment

PHYSICAL INTERVENTION

162. Sit-in
163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation

SOCIAL INTERVENTION

174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
176. Stall-in
177. Speak-in
178. Guerrilla theatre
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system

ECONOMIC INTERVENTION

181. Reverse strike
182. Stay-in strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of blockades
185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
186. Preclusive purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
188. Dumping
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions

POLITICAL INTERVENTION

193. Overloading of administrative systems
194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws
197. Work-on without collaboration
198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

27 September, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet: a vegan perspective

To those who are fighting for justice, for anyone or any living being – I’ll stand with you.

And to those who think that I, have no right to comment on their fight and that vegans are irrelevant….

“Capitalism? Slavery? Genocide? Sitcoms? Guns? War? Pollution? Addiction? NAFTA? Thigh-Master? This is your fucking white-history, my “friend.”
So why don’t we start making a history worth being proud of and start fighting the real fucking enemy: the white male capitalist supremacist.”
–Propagandhi–

Once upon a time, in an anti-capitalist forum, far far away….
There was a recent discussion on an anti-capitalist forum, sparked by a digitally-altered picture of a burning Wall Street©$ office building with posters giving their opinions.

Some said burning the rich was the ultimate expression of anti-capitalism.

A couple of anti-capitalist vegans commented but these vegans were quickly, shunted off to one side, mocked as a niche issue, for the dilettantes and PeTA-wannabes and eating-disorder girls, meanwhile leave the heavy political issues to hard-core men-folk, Praise Marx and all that.

Capitalism:

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim:

The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”
Bertrand Russell
(philosopher)

A lot of insults and name-calling ensued. Until…. gradually the vegans began making their opinions known on the subject.

The opinion of these vegans was this:

Not only is Veganism as expression of anti-capitalist ideas, it is perhaps the most effective of all anti-capitalist direct actions.

It is a complete rejection of the exploitation and ownership of all living beings, not just the human ones.
So, why hold Capitalism responsible?
The capitalist business ethic is based on one of exploitation – the earth, animals and humans. How much you can dig up, chop down, saturate with poison, slaughter – it’s all good, as long as you are making a profit.

How much pollution you create is irrelevant, fill those oceans and lakes with plastic, chemicals, oil, toxin – but make a profit.

Chop down all the trees and plow the fields – but make a profit.

Want to frack prime food-producing land and contaminate the drinking water of communities? sure go ahead – but make a profit.

Blow the tops of mountains, and dig huge strip mines? why not – but make a profit.

Want to build a private toll-road where a childrens playground / rainforest / Indigenous community is – sure, says governments – not only will we give you the land, but will you pay you taxpayers money if you don’t make enough profit!

Your life has NO VALUE other than that of a consumer – don’t believe me? Ask Ford

In 1977 the Ford car, the PINTO, had a design flaw which meant gas/petrol tanks were more likely to explode if hit in collisions. The cost of repairing this flaw was $11. Ford made the decision that it would be cheaper to let people die and fight off any lawsuits than correct the problem.

Capitalism does not care about feeding the starving, healing the sick, educating the children, providing care to the elderly, ensuring a safe working environment for the working classes, providing a safe, clean, non-deadly environment for communities – NO, the only goal of capitalism is to make money.

And if I was an owner, banker, investor, shareholder, I would be annoyed if the company did anything other make money, by any means necessary, regardless of social cost.

Capitalism has made all living things on the planet, and the planet itself fair game. Animals are property, the air is property, the water that falls from the sky is property (Bolivia has privatised the rain, the water that falls on your own property does not belong to you).

Monsanto is gaining an increasing share in the seed market. You don’t own the food you grow on your property. Want to save some seeds to plant future gardens? Nope, that is a crime.

Capitalism even own the genes in your body – Myriad Genetics owns your genes and mine.

(Who did they buy my genes from? How did anyone think they had the rights to sell your genes? What are they doing with the ownership of our genes?)

Think that is absurd, that a private company that you’ve probably never heard of owns your body parts?

Just ask a cow or a chicken.

Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Ok, capitalism is evil, but that’s got nothing to do with VEGANS, has it?
Once you start talking about crashing the system, bringing down the banksters and gangsters of Wall Street, breaking the chains slave-wages or no wages while mega-corporations take their tax payer bail outs and take their factories offshore, the anti-capitalists are all for it.

They may even shout slogans like tax the rich, burn the rich or f-ck the system.

Yah, I’m down for that (say the VEGANS)
– how about we end the enslavement of 10s of millions of living beings who are sold like cattle, made to work non-stop producing more and more, without decent working conditions, for no pay, and when they are no longer useful, murdered.

Hell Yes! (say the rebels)

Then let’s all GO VEGAN!

. . .

Say what?

And, it is at this point that the Leninist-Trotsky-Marxists chime in – Now, you’re taking it too far, don’t you care about the exploitation of people? go hug a tree and weave some baskets in your hemp clothing, while us real anti-capitalists overthrow the system

Audi automobile with the license plate

Image via Wikipedia

Then they consume animal products…… contributing $Money to the exact same system they claim to want to over throw.

The vegans get side-lined, their issues are deemed irrelevant, when really, vegans should be seen as an ally of those fighting for justice, fairness and equal rights.

As can often happen, when fighting to achieve social change, those who fight off the dominate group, then turn around and apply that dominance against others – feminists who ignored issues of race (see the writings of Audre Lorde or bell hooks – Feminist Class Struggle, or anti-war movements resulted in men doing the thinking and women making the coffee and cakes (see the writings of Robin Morgan), or marriage equality activists who are dreadful racists (a certain Australian celebrity supports gays marriage but also supports racism).

Examples of this can be seen among anti-capitalist, who themselves enslave animals or pay others do so on their behalf. Hopefully this attitude is dying out.

To me, begin vegan is about ending the commodification of animals. It is about the end of a process which has seen the reproductive systems of cows and chickens morphed into a factory farm, where the more cruel you are the higher your profits.  It is about ending the enslavement, ownership, and exploitation of those who are just a little bit different from us.

This extract from a Mother Jones article shows how the business model of factory farming impacts on more than just the lives and deaths of animals.

How the Meat Industry Turned Abuse into a Business Model

Abuse of animals is routine. Entire ecosystems get trashed, as is the case of the Chesapeake Bay—once one of the globe’s most productive fisheries, brought to near-ruin by runoff from a stunning concentration of factory chicken farms. Family farmers are literally turned into serfs as they scale up to meet the industry’s demands. And we all face the menace of the antibiotic-resistant pathogens now brewing up on animal factory farms, which now consume 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States (both to make livestock grow faster and keep them alive in cramped, filthy conditions).

Meanwhile, the industry can be expected to vigorously fight any attempt to curtail its abusive practices. Market power extends to the political sphere—the meat lobby is one of those powerful D.C. players that—like oil and banking—has the cash to maintain friendships on both sides of the political aisle.

And to think, some people say vegans don’t care about people!

If you consume any animal products, you have in effect, paid someone to kill on your behalf.

An animal is not a thing to be owned, murdered, enslaved, and yet, every day, millions and millions of animals are murdered and enslaved….. also by those who claim to be anti-capitalist.

They want to tear down the corporations that enslave people, yet own other beings, and at no point see a disconnect between the two. In fact, when this disconnect is pointed out to them, they deny it even more emphatically.

Some people speak lovely, angry words of revolution, of overthrowing the system, ending capitalism, no more ownership, but shove animal products into that same mouth, without a pause to consider their inconsistency, between what they say and what they do.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How non-conformists are these anti-globalism activists, as they blog using their Apple ipads™®©$, drinking Starbucks™®©$ Mocha Frappuccino™®©$, wearing their Nike™®©$ and Adidas™®©$, and eating their McDonalds BigMac™®©$

If you think that you’re an anti-capitalist rebel, but eat animal products, you are enslaving animals. Yeh, way to be a rebel.

You think you are rejecting over-consumption while you consume the carcasses of a once-living, breathing animal whose entire life has been abject slavery and misery.

To those occupying Wall Street, I support you.

The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character building values of the privation of the poor.
John Kenneth Galbraith 

So what does the Occupation of Wall Street hope to achieve

Although the website https://occupywallst.org has issued a list of demands – a constitution  if you will, many of these demands are state issues or federal issues that probably won’t be achieved by the occupation.

However, if it provides an outlet for the anger people are feeling about the inequities in a society where 1% of the population own more wealth than the other 99%. Then who does it hurt.

The fact that this occupation has received very little coverage from mainstream media, is an example of what these protesters are up against. The media themselves being a corporation who benefit from an apathetic population whose only function is consumption.

And who knows, this might be an outlet needed to avoid London style riots.

Or, it might just raise awareness that people are not alone, they do have the power, and it might be start of a larger movement.

If you have something you would like to add, or if you disagree, leave a comment or find me on twitter @redglitterx

13 August, 2011

And by that time there was no-one left to speak up

In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . .
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral,
the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Desmond Tutu

In the End, we will remember
not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. …
As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true.
Elie Wiesel

Law and justice are not always the same.
Gloria Steinem

13 August, 2011

Bidder70: I’m not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me.

Bidder70, Tim DeChristopher, is an environmental activist who stood up against a powerful oil industry and went to prison for it.

We cannot let this stand. When Tim disrupted the auction, he did so in the fine tradition of non-violent civil disobedience that changed so many unjust laws in this country’s past. 
– Dr. James Hansen, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Robert Redford, Terry Tempest Williams
Peaceful Uprising

This was DeChristopher’s written statement to the court – JULY 26, 2011

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the pre-sentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to “get to know me.” He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye. I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time. I’m not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.

Mr. Huber has leveled a lot of character attacks at me, many of which are contrary to Mr. Manross’s report. While reading Mr Huber’s critiques of my character and my integrity, as well as his assumptions about my motivations, I was reminded that Mr Huber and I have never had a conversation. Over the two and half years of this prosecution, he has never asked my any of the questions that he makes assumptions about in the government’s report. Apparently, Mr. Huber has never considered it his job to get to know me, and yet he is quite willing to disregard the opinions of the one person who does see that as his job.

There are alternating characterizations that Mr Huber would like you to believe about me. In one paragraph, the government claims I “played out the parts of accuser, jury, and judge as he determined the fate of the oil and gas lease auction and its intended participants that day.” In the very next paragraph, they claim “ It was not the defendant’s crimes that effected such a change.” Mr Huber would lead you to believe that I’m either a dangerous criminal who holds the oil and gas industry in the palm of my hand, or I’m just an incompetent child who didn’t affect the outcome of anything. As evidenced by the continued back and forth of contradictory arguments in the government’s memorandum, they’re not quite sure which of those extreme caricatures I am, but they are certain that I am nothing in between. Rather than the job of getting to know me, it seems Mr Huber prefers the job of fitting me into whatever extreme characterization is most politically expedient at the moment.

In nearly every paragraph, the government’s memorandum uses the words lie, lied, lying, liar. It makes me want to thank whatever clerk edited out the words “pants on fire.” Their report doesn’t mention the fact that at the auction in question, the first person who asked me what I was doing there was Agent Dan Love. And I told him very clearly that I was there to stand in the way of an illegitimate auction that threatened my future. I proceeded to answer all of his questions openly and honestly, and have done so to this day when speaking about that auction in any forum, including this courtroom. The entire basis for the false statements charge that I was convicted of was the fact that I wrote my real name and address on a form that included the words “bona fide bidder.” When I sat there on the witness stand, Mr Romney asked me if I ever had any intention of being a bona fide bidder. I responded by asking Mr Romney to clarify what “bona fide bidder” meant in this context. Mr Romney then withdrew the question and moved on to the next subject. That, right there, is the entire basis for the government’s repeated attacks on my integrity. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff, your honor.

Mr Huber also makes grand assumptions about my level of respect for the rule of law. The government claims a long prison sentence is necessary to counteract the political statements I’ve made and promote a respect for the law. The only evidence provided for my lack of respect for the law is political statements that I’ve made in public forums. Again, the government doesn’t mention my actions in regard to the drastic restrictions that were put upon my defense in this courtroom. My political disagreements with the court about the proper role of a jury in the legal system are probably well known. I’ve given several public speeches and interviews about how the jury system was established and how it has evolved to its current state. Outside of this courtroom, I’ve made my views clear that I agree with the founding fathers that juries should be the conscience of the community and a defense against legislative tyranny. I even went so far as to organize a book study group that read about the history of jury nullification. Some of the participants in that book group later began passing out leaflets to the public about jury rights, as is their right. Mr Huber was apparently so outraged by this that he made the slanderous accusations that I tried to taint the jury. He didn’t specify the extra number of months that I should spend in prison for the heinous activity of holding a book group at the Unitarian Church and quoting Thomas Jefferson in public, but he says you should have “little tolerance for this behavior.”

But here is the important point that Mr Huber would rather ignore. Despite my strong disagreements with the court about the Constitutional basis for the limits on my defense, while I was in this courtroom I respected the authority of the court. Whether I agreed with them or not, I did abide by the restrictions that you put on me and my legal team. I never attempted to “taint” the jury, as Mr Huber claimed, by sharing any of the relevant facts about the auction in question that the court had decided were off limits. I didn’t burst out and tell the jury that I successfully raised the down payment and offered it to the BLM. I didn’t let the jury know that the auction was later reversed because it was illegitimate in the first place. To this day I still think I should have had the right to do so, but disagreement with the law should not be confused with disrespect for the law.

My public statements about jury nullification were not the only political statements that Mr Huber thinks I should be punished for. As the government’s memorandum points out, I have also made public statements about the value of civil disobedience in bringing the rule of law closer to our shared sense of justice. In fact, I have openly and explicitly called for nonviolent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal coal mining in my home state of West Virginia. Mountaintop removal is itself an illegal activity, which has always been in violation of the Clean Water Act, and it is an illegal activity that kills people. A West Virginia state investigation found that Massey Energy had been cited with 62,923 violations of the law in the ten years preceding the disaster that killed 29 people last year. The investigation also revealed that Massey paid for almost none of those violations because the company provided millions of dollars’ worth of campaign contributions that elected most of the appeals court judges in the state. When I was growing up in West Virginia, my mother was one of many who pursued every legal avenue for making the coal industry follow the law. She commented at hearings, wrote petitions and filed lawsuits, and many have continued to do ever since, to no avail. I actually have great respect for the rule of law, because I see what happens when it doesn’t exist, as is the case with the fossil fuel industry. Those crimes committed by Massey Energy led not only to the deaths of their own workers, but to the deaths of countless local residents, such as Joshua McCormick, who died of kidney cancer at age 22 because he was unlucky enough to live downstream from a coal mine. When a corrupted government is no longer willing to uphold the rule of law, I advocate that citizens step up to that responsibility.

This is really the heart of what this case is about. The rule of law is dependent upon a government that is willing to abide by the law. Disrespect for the rule of law begins when the government believes itself and its corporate sponsors to be above the law.

Mr Huber claims that the seriousness of my offense was that I “obstructed lawful government proceedings.” But the auction in question was not a lawful proceeding. I know you’ve heard another case about some of the irregularities for which the auction was overturned. But that case did not involve the BLM’s blatant violation of Secretarial Order 3226, which was a law that went into effect in 2001 that requires the BLM to weigh the impacts on climate change for all its major decisions, particularly resource development. A federal judge in Montana ruled last year that the BLM was in constant violation of this law throughout the Bush administration. In all the proceedings and debates about this auction, no apologist for the government or the BLM has ever even tried to claim that the BLM followed this law. In both the December 2008 auction and the creation of the Resource Management Plan on which this auction was based, the BLM did not even attempt to follow this law.

And this law is not a trivial regulation about crossing t’s or dotting i’s to make some government accountant’s job easier. This law was put into effect to mitigate the impacts of catastrophic climate change and defend a livable future on this planet. This law was about protecting the survival of young generations. That’s kind of a big deal. It’s a very big deal to me. If the government is going to refuse to step up to that responsibility to defend a livable future, I believe that creates a moral imperative for me and other citizens. My future, and the future of everyone I care about, is being traded for short term profits. I take that very personally. Until our leaders take seriously their responsibility to pass on a healthy and just world to the next generation, I will continue this fight.

The government has made the claim that there were legal alternatives to standing in the way of this auction. Particularly, I could have filed a written protest against certain parcels. The government does not mention, however, that two months prior to this auction, in October 2008, a Congressional report was released that looked into those protests. The report, by the House committee on public lands, stated that it had become common practice for the BLM to take volunteers from the oil and gas industry to process those permits. The oil industry was paying people specifically to volunteer for the industry that was supposed to be regulating it, and it was to those industry staff that I would have been appealing. Moreover, this auction was just three months after the New York Times reported on a major scandal involving Department of the Interior regulators who were taking bribes of sex and drugs from the oil companies that they were supposed to be regulating. In 2008, this was the condition of the rule of law, for which Mr Huber says I lacked respect. Just as the legal avenues which people in West Virginia have been pursuing for 30 years, the legal avenues in this case were constructed precisely to protect the corporations who control the government.

The reality is not that I lack respect for the law; it’s that I have greater respect for justice. Where there is a conflict between the law and the higher moral code that we all share, my loyalty is to that higher moral code. I know Mr Huber disagrees with me on this. He wrote that “The rule of law is the bedrock of our civilized society, not acts of ‘civil disobedience’ committed in the name of the cause of the day.” That’s an especially ironic statement when he is representing the United States of America; a place where the rule of law was created through acts of civil disobedience. Since those bedrock acts of civil disobedience by our founding fathers, the rule of law in this country has continued to grow closer to our shared higher moral code through the civil disobedience that drew attention to legalized injustice. The authority of the government exists to the degree that the rule of law reflects the higher moral code of the citizens, and throughout American history, it has been civil disobedience that has bound them together.

This philosophical difference is serious enough that Mr Huber thinks I should be imprisoned to discourage the spread of this idea. Much of the government’s memorandum focuses on the political statements that I’ve made in public. But it hasn’t always been this way. When Mr Huber was arguing that my defense should be limited, he addressed my views this way: “The public square is the proper stage for the defendant’s message, not criminal proceedings in federal court.” But now that the jury is gone, Mr. Huber wants to take my message from the public square and make it a central part of these federal court proceedings. I have no problem with that. I’m just as willing to have those views on display as I’ve ever been.

The government’s memorandum states, “As opposed to preventing this particular defendant from committing further crimes, the sentence should be crafted ‘to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct’ by others.” Their concern is not the danger that I present, but the danger presented by my ideas and words that might lead others to action. Perhaps Mr Huber is right to be concerned. He represents the United States Government. His job is to protect those currently in power, and by extension, their corporate sponsors. After months of no action after the auction, the way I found out about my indictment was: the day before it happened, Pat Shea got a call from an Associated Press reporter who said, “I just wanted to let you know that tomorrow Tim is going to be indicted, and this is what the charges are going to be.” That reporter had gotten that information two weeks earlier from an oil industry lobbyist. Our request for disclosure of what role that lobbyist played in the US Attorney’s office was denied, but we know that she apparently holds sway and that the government feels the need to protect the industry’s interests.

The things that I’ve been publicly saying may indeed be threatening to that power structure. There have been several references to the speech I gave after the conviction, but I’ve only ever seen half of one sentence of that speech quoted. In the government’s report, they actually had to add their own words to that one sentence to make it sound more threatening. But the speech was about empowerment. It was about recognizing our interconnectedness rather than viewing ourselves as isolated individuals. The message of the speech was that when people stand together, they no longer have to be exploited by powerful corporations. Alienation is perhaps the most effective tool of control in America, and every reminder of our real connectedness weakens that tool.

But the sentencing guidelines don’t mention the need to protect corporations or politicians from ideas that threaten their control. The guidelines say “protect the public.” The question is whether the public is helped or harmed by my actions. The easiest way to answer that question is with the direct impacts of my action. As the oil executive stated in his testimony, the parcels I didn’t bid on averaged $12 per acre, but the ones I did bid on averaged $125. Those are the prices paid for public property to the public trust. The industry admits very openly that they were getting those parcels for an order of magnitude less than what they were worth. Not only did those oil companies drive up the prices to $125 during the bidding, they were then given an opportunity to withdraw their bids once my actions were explained. They kept the parcels, presumably because they knew they were still a good deal at $125. The oil companies knew they were getting a steal from the American people, and now they’re crying because they had to pay a little closer to what those parcels were actually worth. The government claims I should be held accountable for the steal the oil companies didn’t get. The government’s report demands $600,000 worth of financial impacts for the amount which the oil industry wasn’t able to steal from the public.

That extra revenue for the public became almost irrelevant, though, once most of those parcels were revoked by Secretary Salazar. Most of the parcels I won were later deemed inappropriate for drilling. In other words, the highest and best value to the public for those particular lands was not for oil and gas drilling. Had the auction gone off without a hitch, it would have been a loss for the public. The fact that the auction was delayed, extra attention was brought to the process, and the parcels were ultimately revoked was a good thing for the public.

More generally, the question of whether civil disobedience is good for the public is a matter of perspective. Civil disobedience is inherently an attempt at change. Those in power, whom Mr Huber represents, are those for whom the status quo is working, so they always see civil disobedience as a bad thing. The decision you are making today, your honor, is what segment of the public you are meant to protect. Mr Huber clearly has cast his lot with that segment who wishes to preserve the status quo. But the majority of the public is exploited by the status quo far more than they are benefited by it. The young are the most obvious group who is exploited and condemned to an ugly future by letting the fossil fuel industry call the shots. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific research, some of which you received as part of our proffer on the necessity defense, that reveals the catastrophic consequences which the young will have to deal with over the coming decades.

But just as real is the exploitation of the communities where fossil fuels are extracted. As a native of West Virginia, I have seen from a young age that the exploitation of fossil fuels has always gone hand in hand with the exploitation of local people. In West Virginia, we’ve been extracting coal longer than anyone else. And after 150 years of making other people rich, West Virginia is almost dead last among the states in per capita income, education rates and life expectancy. And it’s not an anomaly. The areas with the richest fossil fuel resources, whether coal in West Virginia and Kentucky, or oil in Louisiana and Mississippi, are the areas with the lowest standards of living. In part, this is a necessity of the industry. The only way to convince someone to blow up their backyard or poison their water is to make sure they are so desperate that they have no other option. But it is also the nature of the economic model. Since fossil fuels are a limited resources, whoever controls access to that resource in the beginning gets to set all the terms. They set the terms for their workers, for the local communities, and apparently even for the regulatory agencies. A renewable energy economy is a threat to that model. Since no one can control access to the sun or the wind, the wealth is more likely to flow to whoever does the work of harnessing that energy, and therefore to create a more distributed economic system, which leads to a more distributed political system. It threatens the profits of the handful of corporations for whom the current system works, but our question is which segment of the public are you tasked with protecting. I am here today because I have chosen to protect the people locked out of the system over the profits of the corporations running the system. I say this not because I want your mercy, but because I want you to join me.

After this difference of political philosophies, the rest of the sentencing debate has been based on the financial loss from my actions. The government has suggested a variety of numbers loosely associated with my actions, but as of yet has yet to establish any causality between my actions and any of those figures. The most commonly discussed figure is perhaps the most easily debunked. This is the figure of roughly $140,000, which is the amount the BLM originally spent to hold the December 2008 auction. By definition, this number is the amount of money the BLM spent before I ever got involved. The relevant question is what the BLM spent because of my actions, but apparently that question has yet to be asked. The only logic that relates the $140,000 figure to my actions is if I caused the entire auction to be null and void and the BLM had to start from scratch to redo the entire auction. But that of course is not the case. First is the prosecution’s on-again-off-again argument that I didn’t have any impact on the auction being overturned. More importantly, the BLM never did redo the auction because it was decided that many of those parcels should never have been auctioned in the first place. Rather than this arbitrary figure of $140,000, it would have been easy to ask the BLM how much money they spent or will spend on redoing the auction. But the government never asked this question, probably because they knew they wouldn’t like the answer.

The other number suggested in the government’s memorandum is the $166,000 that was the total price of the three parcels I won which were not invalidated. Strangely, the government wants me to pay for these parcels, but has never offered to actually give them to me. When I offered the BLM the money a couple weeks after the auction, they refused to take it. Aside from that history, this figure is still not a valid financial loss from my actions. When we wrote there was no loss from my actions, we actually meant that rather literally. Those three parcels were not evaporated or blasted into space because of my actions, not was the oil underneath them sucked dry by my bid card. They’re still there, and in fact the BLM has already issued public notice of their intent to re-auction those parcels in February of 2012.

The final figure suggested as a financial loss is the $600,000 that the oil company wasn’t able to steal from the public. That completely unsubstantiated number is supposedly the extra amount the BLM received because of my actions. This is when things get tricky. The government’s report takes that $600,000 positive for the BLM and adds it to that roughly $300,000 negative for the BLM, and comes up with a $900,000 negative. With math like that, it’s obvious that Mr Huber works for the federal government.

After most of those figures were disputed in the presentence report, the government claimed in their most recent objection that I should be punished according to the intended financial impact that I intended to cause. The government tries to assume my intentions and then claims, “This is consistent with the testimony that Mr. DeChristopher provided at trial, admitting that his intention was to cause financial harm to others with whom he disagreed.” Now I didn’t get to say a whole lot at the trial, so it was pretty easy to look back through the transcripts. The statement claimed by the government never happened. There was nothing even close enough to make their statement a paraphrase or artistic license. This statement in the government’s objection is a complete fiction. Mr Huber’s inability to judge my intent is revealed in this case by the degree to which he underestimates my ambition. The truth is that my intention, then as now, was to expose, embarrass and hold accountable the oil industry to the extent that it cuts into the $100 billion in annual profits that it makes through exploitation. I actually intended for my actions to play a role in the wide variety of actions that steer the country toward a clean energy economy where those $100 billion in oil profits are completely eliminated. When I read Mr Huber’s new logic, I was terrified to consider that my slightly unrealistic intention to have a $100 billion impact will fetch me several consecutive life sentences. Luckily this reasoning is as unrealistic as it is silly.

A more serious look at my intentions is found in Mr Huber’s attempt to find contradictions in my statements. Mr Huber points out that in public I acted proud of my actions and treated it like a success, while in our sentencing memorandum we claimed that my actions led to “no loss.” On the one hand I think it was a success, and yet I claim it there was no loss. Success, but no loss. Mr Huber presents these ideas as mutually contradictory and obvious proof that I was either dishonest or backing down from my convictions. But for success to be contradictory to no loss, there has to be another assumption. One has to assume that my intent was to cause a loss. But the only loss that I intended to cause was the loss of secrecy by which the government gave away public property for private profit. As I actually stated in the trial, my intent was to shine a light on a corrupt process and get the government to take a second look at how this auction was conducted. The success of that intent is not dependent on any loss. I knew that if I was completely off base, and the government took that second look and decided that nothing was wrong with that auction, the cost of my action would be another day’s salary for the auctioneer and some minor costs of re-auctioning the parcels. But if I was right about the irregularities of the auction, I knew that allowing the auction to proceed would mean the permanent loss of lands better suited for other purposes and the permanent loss of a safe climate. The intent was to prevent loss, but again that is a matter of perspective.

Mr Huber wants you to weigh the loss for the corporations that expected to get public property for pennies on the dollar, but I believe the important factor is the loss to the public which I helped prevent. Again, we come back to this philosophical difference. From any perspective, this is a case about the right of citizens to challenge the government. The US Attorney’s office makes clear that their interest is not only to punish me for doing so, but to discourage others from challenging the government, even when the government is acting inappropriately. Their memorandum states, “To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior.” The certainty of this statement not only ignores the history of political prisoners, it ignores the severity of the present situation. Those who are inspired to follow my actions are those who understand that we are on a path toward catastrophic consequences of climate change. They know their future, and the future of their loved ones, is on the line. And they know we are running out of time to turn things around. The closer we get to that point where it’s too late, the less people have to lose by fighting back. The power of the Justice Department is based on its ability to take things away from people. The more that people feel that they have nothing to lose, the more that power begins to shrivel. The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today. And neither will I. I will continue to confront the system that threatens our future. Given the destruction of our democratic institutions that once gave citizens access to power, my future will likely involve civil disobedience. Nothing that happens here today will change that. I don’t mean that in any sort of disrespectful way at all, but you don’t have that authority. You have authority over my life, but not my principles. Those are mine alone.

I’m not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me. If you side with Mr Huber and believe that your role is to discourage citizens from holding their government accountable, then you should follow his recommendations and lock me away. I certainly don’t want that. I have no desire to go to prison, and any assertion that I want to be even a temporary martyr is false. I want you to join me in standing up for the right and responsibility of citizens to challenge their government. I want you to join me in valuing this country’s rich history of nonviolent civil disobedience. If you share those values but think my tactics are mistaken, you have the power to redirect them. You can sentence me to a wide range of community service efforts that would point my commitment to a healthy and just world down a different path. You can have me work with troubled teens, as I spent most of my career doing. You can have me help disadvantaged communities or even just pull weeds for the BLM. You can steer that commitment if you agree with it, but you can’t kill it. This is not going away. At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on.

source: Peaceful Uprising


For more background on who Tim DeChristopher is and what he did that got the USA government so upset:
many articles at Peaceful Uprising.Org

Bidder70.Org

The Post-Human Condition

6 April, 2011

A Civilian’s Guide To Direct Action

“We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”
Martin Luther King Jr




A Civilian’s Guide To Direct Action by CrimethInc
What it is, What it’s good for, How it works

For Animal Rights Activists, sometimes the rate of progress using just education seems like it is going too slow, and so activists might decide it is time to take Direct Action.

direct action . . . is intended to inspire and thus motivate others by demonstrating the power people have to accomplish goals themselves

If an activist does want to do an Action, this document sets out ideas from “Choose a project and devise a plan” and “Establish and prioritize the goals of the action” thought to building a coalition, what to do before, during and after an Action, up to “Consider the way the action will affect others” and “Quit while you’re ahead”.

for this full article, FREE… and many more free to download, or buy printed versions CrimethIinc

visit — read — think — download — print — distribute — be inspired



What is direct action?
Direct action is going outside usual means to achieve a goal. It has been used by movements as diverse as anti-slavery groups during the US civil war, Gandhi fight for independence of India, Suffragettes struggle for the vote, the US Boston Tea Party (the original Tea Party) and the UK’s Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.

It is not inherently violent, it depends on how the participants decide to take action.

Direct action could be violent, depending on your definition of violence. The use of threats, graffiti, petty vandalism, or larger actions such as those from groups like ELF (Earth Liberation Front) and ALF (Animal Liberation Front) or Sea Sherperd.

30 March, 2011

César Chávez: the non-violent revolutionary


Sí, se puede

I don’t think any one event, or any one day, or any one action,
or any one confrontation wins or loses a battle. You keep that
in mind and be practical about it. It’s foolish then to try and
gamble everything on one roll of the dice—which is what violence
really gets down to.

I think the practical person has a better chance of dealing with
nonviolence than people who tend to be dreamers or who are
impractical. We’re not nonviolent because we want to save our
souls. We’re nonviolent because we want to get some social
justice for the workers.

If all you’re interested in is going around being nonviolent and so
concerned about saving yourself, at some point the whole thing
breaks down—you say to yourself,

‘Well, let them be violent, as long as I’m nonviolent.’

Or you begin to think it’s okay to lose the battle as long as you
remain nonviolent, the idea is that you have to win and be
nonviolent. That’s extremely important! You’ve got to be
nonviolent—and you’ve got to win with nonviolence! What do
the poor care about strange philosophies of nonviolence if it
doesn’t mean bread for them?

~ Cesar Chavez

 

We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them — exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food.
César Chávez

César Chávez a farm worker in California, who became a community organiser, labour leader and civil rights activist, and inspiration in non-violent campaigning for change.

Chávez, and Dolores Huerta, established the National Farm Workers Association, which became the United Farm Workers (UFW), and in the process showed what non-violent, compassionate, passionate activism can achieve.

In fighting for the rights of farm workers, the UFW was fighting for work place rights on behalf of a group of workers who had / have working conditions that very few other work places would find acceptable. As the recent death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez due to heat stroke shows.
However, a family member says that Chávez was vegan. Camila Chavez, his niece, said: Cesar was a vegan. He didn’t eat any animal products. He was a vegan because he believed in animal rights but also for his health

Building on those who went before, Mexican Revolutionary – Emiliano Zapata, Martin Luther King, and Indian revolutionaries Nehru and Gandhi, he used as many tools as he could to gain rights for farm labourers.

 

There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence.
César Chávez

31 March, César Chávez’s birthday, is a state holiday in California, in honour of his community service.

And in the way that Chávez was inspired by those who went before him, maybe he can inspire a new generation of animal rights activists, inspired by his slogan “Yes, you can” (Sí, se puede).

Perhaps, vegans could adopt that day also, for a day of Animal Rights activism, non-violent acts of Revolution and community vegan activism?

I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.
César Chávez

This video examines the legacy of Chávez, his fight for justice, human rights, work place safety, and even environmental protections with his attention to the use of pesticides in food production. Among those paying tribute are Robert Kennedy and Martin Sheen.

Yes, you can.
20 February, 2011

The New Enemy: The Militant Vegan (say what?)

from the Militant Vegan collection

What is this Militant Vegan that has suddenly emerged on the blogs and social networks? This is my response to an article that has gotten a lot of attention recently. From Veggie Girl: An open letter to militant vegans.

Personally, I’m a Vegan-vegan, and anything else, is divisive. Designed to separate us, put us in a little box and slap a label on it.

And I will happily walk the vegan path with anyone who wants to stand beside me, regardless of what label they choose to put on themselves.

 

However…. For vegans out there who regularly participate in online forums, debates and social network sites, you may have noticed there is a new enemy out there… the mysterious, illusive and dastardly “Militant Vegan“.

This phrase “militant vegan” seems to have cropped up a lot recently, it seems to be an insult to active vegans.

I say Illusive, because I’ve yet to see one.

I do not know where it originated, this concept that vegans who refuse to love-on meat producers is someone “too militant” and gives “vegans a bad name”.

In this blog piece – the concept of militant vegan is examined….

An open letter to militant vegans
by Veggie Girl

… it doesn’t really tell me much about what a militant vegan looks like but if this writer represents the opposite of militant, then an “UNmilitant vegan” (like her) is a lot like a new-welfarist, pseudo-vegan collaborator with the animal-death industries.

Apparently, according to Veggie Girl, vegans are the new Westboro Baptist Church (for more information on who and what Westboro Church is Luna Coyote87 Presents: “Reason You Suck Post”: Westboro Baptist Church). That hateful, anti gay church that pickets funerals with the slogan “god hates fags”.

As Veggie Girl says: if you’re a militant vegan

you’re just an animal-loving version of Fred Phelps. And nobody likes that guy except his fellow church members

.

Whoa!

Seriously, a homophobic, hatefill, angry cult is just like being vegan? Are you kidding me??

I know a lot of vegans, and I have never yet met one who I would consider “militant” – I don’t even know what that means…

Because if you are not doing all you can to fight for the lives of animals, then what are you doing? Wasting time!

No seriously, WTF does “militant” mean? Someone doing everything in their power to end the slaughter, slavery, cruelty and exploitation of animals.

And if that is what Militant is, why are you proud that you’re not. I don’t find it particularly admirable that you admit that you are a lazy, ungrateful, apathetic, passive Inactivist. I don’t understand why someone would brag about that.

Meanwhile, if there is a strident, screeching, hateful, harridan example of militant – it would be this Veggie Girl.

Who knew that “consciously raised and slaughtered meat and eggs” – as Veggie Girl points out – is now acceptable to vegans.

How is it helpful to attack someone like Rachel Kesley, the chef at WaterCourse Foods, who was a vegan for three years but decided to add consciously raised-and-slaughtered meat and eggs back into her diet

.

Never heard of Rachel -the meat eater – Kesley until now, certainly never heard anyone “attack” her.

But let’s get away from the hyperbolic violent rhetoric for a minute – by “attack” does Veggie Girl mean that someone found Rachel and physically hurt her? Or in Veggie Girl’s world does attack equal “they used mean words”.

Come on, Veggie Girl – turn down the violent language just a notch, and then your attack on Militant Vegans may, perhaps, possibly have a bit more credibility…. and a lot less irony and hypocrisy.

Militant is a meaningless word in the context of fighting for justice and rights, and is used to discredit that person or group which someone disagrees with. One step away from extremist, emotive but useless.

Because in the parallel bizarro world that Veggie Girl lives in, eating “humanely slaughtered meat and eggs” is peaceful veganism, but pointing out humane is a myth is somehow militant.

Your poor dear, how do you get through your day, it seems like just about every vegan out there that you meet is militant and out to get you.

Because as this blog piece seems to think, you can have non-cruelty milk, cruelty free eggs, compassionately slaughtered meat and if you are really really nice, to the animal abusing death industry, and say pretty please with a cherry on top, you may just…

inspire them to adopt humane practices

Fail!

It seems that in the opinion of this Veggie Girl – humane slaughtered meat, and compassionate meat eaters who fight for welfare reform is what “vegan” is… and anything else is “militant”.

Hey, Veggie Girl, wanna see what “humanely slaughtered” meat looks like:
guess what – it looks exactly like inhumanely slaughtered meat.

Is this simply “dog whistling”*… “militant” is this the new phrase designed to attack “direct action” vegans? Because Francione has the market cornered on veganism as the new peace movement. … Is that what this is? Will anyone who has a different approach to the Minions of Gary Francione now be branded “Militant”?

Personally I have no problem with Gary Francione, at least when he talks about Veganism, he does prevaricate about what vegan means to him.

Is this some inference to ALF – balaclavas and camouflage?

In a similar way to the use of “new welfarism” and its design to silence Direct Action vegans, is militant meant to have anyone who speaks out on behalf of veganism quaking in their non-leather boots at a label?

My first impression, was this concept was the work of The Professor and His Minions, being all anti-violence, anti-ALF… but this “It’s all about Me-Me-Me Veganism” is more reminiscent of Tasha, the formerly Voracious Vegan.

As Rachelle, commented on Veggie Girls piece : You probably don’t mean militant. You probably just mean someone pointing it out to you and you don’t like it.

But let’s get real for a minute – why do we do this, why do we hyphenate vegan… ethical vegan, direct action vegan, mda vegan, abolitionist vegan, liberation vegan, and now militant vegan?

To quote Veggie Girl – Get off your high horse

Edited to addAn Open Letter From A “Militant” Vegan
Veganism is absolutely essential to the animal rights movement as veganism IS justice for animals. Yes, we are passionate, but not aggressive. Yes, we are relentless, but not lazy. Yes, we are unwavering…. Yes, we are vocal, as justice has never been won by silence.

*Dog Whistling= an Australian phrase, used in politics, involving coded words, that send one benign message to the general public, but another message to the target audience. Particularly around issues of race, for example “illegal refugees”.

Edited to add: thank you everyone who took the time to explain what “militant” means, I wanted to look at why there seems to be an increasing use of the phrase “militant vegan” by other vegans as a way to divide the AR movement.

When a vegan tells you to “shut up, youre too militant”, I’m asking, why they feel the need to do this, where as recently, the phrase used was “shut up, youre new welfarist”.

I am never going to shut up, rights are not given to the patient, the quiet, the meek – rights are fought for, its hard work, loud noisy agitation

Feedback welcome

21 November, 2010

Injustice is always injustice

Today, I am going to take a little detour from Animal Rights Activism, and talk about Westboro Baptist Church, and the creative use of non-violent civil disobedience used by some to protect the rights of those targeted by WBC.

Oppression of others is what injustice looks like.

And it does not matter whether it is specism, sexism, agism, classism, racism, these are based on someone making judgments based on what group someone belongs to and deciding their membership of that group makes them “less than”.

Once a group has been decided they are “less than” everyone else, it is easy to remove their rights, because somehow they deserve them.

Injustice is always injustice.

Westboro Baptist Church display no christian values that Jesus would recognise. They spread hate, pure and simple hate.

For a great background on Westboro : this post Luna Coyote87 Presents: “Reason You Suck Post”: Westboro Baptist Church, describes some of the hatred they disseminate.

They picket and protest against the funerals of a whole range of people, that is hard to keep track of just who it is they hate every day.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Elie Wiesel

But the fight-back has begun. Oklahoma vs. Westboro Baptist Church
Recently in Oklahoma, the Westboro minivan arrived to picket the funeral of f Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey, the people of McAlester, OK decided they had had enough.

The Westboro protestors they faced off with a massive crowd of jeering and taunting counter-protesters, estimated by the police chief, to be about 1000 people, who only drowned out the Westboro Travelling Road Show of Hatred with jeers and tauts, but also with raucous chants of “USA, USA” (Westboro protesters come up flat)

When they returned to their van, they found there tyres had been slashed – and no one in town would repair them.

Bravo, McAlester.

While, USAmericans will say, they are entitled to their rights of free speech and protest. The families of these deceased military men and women, who die protecting that right, are entitled to bury their loved one in peace.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Bishop Desmond Tutu

When members of the Gary Francione’s flock talk about “direct action” the example they use 99 times out of 100 is burning down a building. They say that civil disobedience is neither vegan or animal rights.

However, as these examples from Oklahoma show, civil action can be creative and doesn’t always involve arson.

None are free, until all are free.




(I would imagine living with that kind of hatred against almost everyone day-in and day-out must have some kind of physical effect on the health of these people, carrying around that much anger against the world I would think is really unhealthy.)

from the Liberation archives

1 October, 2010

31 days of Animal Rights Activism

You are either an activist or an inactivist.
~ The Cove (2009) Documentary about Japan’s secret slaughter of dolphins

In solidarity with Russian protesters and in honour of Strategy 31 activists, I will be participating in the local version – Activism 31.

This just means, every day for the month of October, I will joining others in my area participating in actions that supports their causes. Not every action will be my causes, but I will join with others to support them, for social justice and human rights, not just animal rights, and in return they have committed to support me.

By supporting each other, we can be stronger, grow our network, weave the web of activism amongst local communities, we can all get stronger.

Strategy 31 is a growing movement in Russia, and now spreading to other world cities – London, New York, Toronto and Tel Aviv. It is a series of protests to support the Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly.

The protesters have attracted many Russians who have never before dared speak out against their government, showing a bravery of defiance of their government that some activists in western countries are yet to emulate.

One act of civil disobedience among protesters is to write “31” on the palm of their hand while attending protests, in defiance of the government crackdown on support of Strategy 31.

Beginning on 31 July 2009, and held on the 31st of every month with 31 days, protesters have gather in Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow and is supported by a number of human rights organisations.

Every one of the Stategy-31 actions since it commenced has been refused permission by the authorities on the grounds that other activities were planned to take place… These “counter-actions” included the “Choose Health, Be Like Us!” festival (July 31, 2009), a youth sports festival (August 31, 2009), the “Division” military-sports festivity (October 31, 2009), an action of the pro-Kremlin “Young Russia” movement (December 31, 2009), and the “Winter Amusements” festivity (January 31, 2010). Each of the Strategy-31 actions was dispersed by regular and riot police and accompanied by large-scale detentions of participants and passers-by.
… The strategy 31 action on 31 May 2010… was dispersed with “exceptional cruelty”, with over 100 arrests.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategy-31

This “exceptional cruelty” included hitting an 82 year old woman, Lyudmila Alexeeva on the head shouting “Still alive, you old bitch?” at the 31 March protests.

So, If anyone has any actions they want participants for, if its local I will hold a sign and hand out leaflets, if it on the other side of the world, I will sign your petition and email politicians.


For more about Strategy 31: What is Strategy 31? by Maryana Torocheshnikova