5 Oct 2008, 9:17am
Politics and politicians Saving Forests
by admin

Civil Disrespect

It is difficult to see what the most effective response is to the diminution of our rights and destruction of our livelihoods and landscapes by a corrupt and overweening government. The gut reaction is anger, disgust, and frustration, especially when the harm inflicted by radical anti-conservation, anti-stewardship groups, a fawning judiciary, and a sold-out Congress is so direct.

I suggest that we need a better strategy than hunkering in our bunkers and howling at the moon.

As a point of discussion, I offer the concept of “civil disrespect.” By “disrespect” I mean a withholding of esteem, an active appointing of blame, condemnation, and censure, with informed criticism. By “civil” I mean courteous, polite, nonviolent, and without threats of retaliatory harm.

At this early stage civil disrespect is only a concept, and not fully formed. It might not be a good idea. Or it might.

I invite your critique and elaboration of the concept of civil disrespect. What are the parameters, and how might civil disrespect be applied so as to effect positive change? Or do you have a better idea?

5 Oct 2008, 6:11pm
by John M.

Mike, I am not sure I understand your proposal, but I am in favor of some type of action that pulls our peers, colleagues and friends together to do something effective against the intellectual anti people brigades.

We fool ourselves when we believe compromise and reason will win the day. I want it to be that way, but when the anti groups, the Sierra Club as an example, can push something like 100 million dollars, into political campaigns to eliminate public use of the public lands for the economic well being of communities, then I would suggest, the first thing needed is to attempt to wake the masses to the fact that, not only their rights are being taken away, but also their land.

5 Oct 2008, 7:50pm
by Mike

Thank you, John. I agree. Something is needed to unite people who seek to restore a healthy, human connection with our environment.

Compromise and reason have been ineffective. The loudest, most uncompromising and unreasonable voices have been successful and done too much irreparable harm. And the situation worsens daily.

Something must be done. The tools of choice for those who seek destruction and malevolent social control are civil disobedience, pseudo-science, fear-mongering, extortion, bribery, and subterfuge. Those of us who seek wise stewardship reject those devices. We do not wish to fight fire with fire by adopting the amoral and repugnant techniques of enemy.

But what choices do we have? Rational discourse is not available. While we may engage in that among ourselves, the larger society is not listening or participating. Education is always the goal, but it is difficult to educate when the institutions of learning, research, and teaching have been corroded and corrupted.

And by and large, our society has become uncivil. Rudeness is rampant. Post modern irony has given way to post-post-modern shock and revulsion. Horror seems to be the main theme on TV and in the Media today. We have become a numb culture, jaded and desensitized.

The natural reaction to all that is to shout louder, become more horrific, to give free rein to anger and displeasure. I feel that pull, and I conclude from my scanning of the Internet that many others do too. The end of the rope has been reached. Institutional mal-behaviors cannot be tolerated any longer.

What I suggest is a return to civility but without acquiescence or silence. How do we merge civility with intolerance? That is my question. Is there a kind and genteel way of saying that’s it, the jig is up, the overt destruction has to stop?

5 Oct 2008, 8:42pm
by Bob Z.

John M. has the key to civil discourse. It is the part where the Sierra Club has $100 million. Another key is that they don’t have to use any of it to pay Environmental lawyers — we taxpayers cover those bills.

Mike, you have been to Oregon State University. How much research money is available there to study the role of people in forests. Oh, yeah . . . nothing.

We had Congress and the President develop and support the Healthy Forest Initiative, and the judicial branch shoot it down. Courtesy of taxpayer-funded lawyers.

It has become common knowledge that the entire anti-human “green” movement is a function of liberal Democrats. You’ve documented several instances in which Global Warming, The Nature Conservancy, Algore, and others have benefited by this cozy arrangement. $Billions of taxpayer resources go into its maintenance.

We all know of several organizations and institutions — this website included — that could benefit mightily with funding: and that would promote the civilest of discourses on these important topics if funding were only available. But it isn’t.

The best friend Weyerhaeuser ever had was the tree hugger and his little buddy, the spotted owl. The craftiest move they ever made was painting themselves as “the enemy.” With enemies like that, who needs friends?

The real question is: who will fund civil disrespect? Personal freedom and our forests hang in the balance, but people buy calendars from the Sierra Club and believe Wilderness laws and lawyers “protect” the environment. You can’t fight beliefs with facts or good manners. It takes money.

5 Oct 2008, 9:40pm
by Mike

Money we ain’t got, so…

Let me offer an imaginary example of civil disrespect, to help flesh out the concept.

Bob, you and I attended a politician’s “open house” a while back. If you recall, some crazies dipped their hands in purple paint and jumped up disruptively, shouting “You have blood on your hands” at the politician. Their little demonstration was uncouth, ill-timed, and absurdly pathetic. The purple paint was especially ridiculous; why not use red paint? At any rate, they were ushered out and the meeting resumed. Whatever their message was, it flopped.

Imagine a different kind of demonstration at the same meeting. A group of reserved, well-dressed, polite, and patient people attend and wait until the question-and-answer period. When it arrives they politely raise their hands. When called upon one by one they all express the same sentiment, “I am sorry sir, but you are completely in error about the forestry issue.”

It would not require much more than that. No long-winded explanations, no histrionics, no aggression, no theatrics. Just a never ending line up of polite people who say, “I’m sorry, you are wrong.”

The politician is isolated and made to feel stupid in public. He may seek explanations and attempt to engage further dialog. But that is neither the time nor the place. He can be invited to attend such a session which could be more informative, if he requests that, but otherwise all the feedback he gets is, “You are wrong.” If media types attend, they could be given the same message: “The Honorable So-and-So is just flat-out wrong, ill-informed, ignorant, and doing the public a disservice behind it.”

Polite, civil, sincere, but ultimately disrespectful. Orchestrated. And with a potentially informative session planned, just in case the politician slips into the trap and requests it.

That’s just one imaginary example. Many such opportunities arise. All it takes is a little planning and a concerted effort. It may require multiple applications but eventually the target politician, dean, administrator, or whomever will be politely coerced into altering his point of view. Or at least, that’s the goal of the strategy.

We don’t need to educate and change everybody’s minds. Just change the minds of key people, and the herd will follow.

Maybe. I am not sure it will work. Just thinking out loud.

6 Oct 2008, 6:25am
by backcut

We have to tap into theatrics, taking a page from their own book. Maybe bring in a big bag of ash, from one of the many catastrophic fires, and show the public what is left of their trees. Maybe a burned animal carcass?? Some new stream sediment? Huge wet piles of smoldering biomass burning for weeks as a protest? Put up signs on very visible dead trees that say “Another Tree Killed by the Sierra Club!”

Bring it home for these people to show them the future being planned for them without their input.

6 Oct 2008, 7:12am
by pril

Will it count if i pointedly and politely reject the modern common wisdom about environmental and forest land policy in my classes as I work my way through my AAS in Environmental Studies - Natural Resource Management degree? (I switched. Any schmo can get an arts degree). I do hereby solemnly swear not to write any papers containing any references to Mother Nature, or “unspoiled wilderness” or any other sentimental, emotion-manipulating crap.

6 Oct 2008, 7:13am
by pril

Oops. I forgot. That will probably guarantee me an F if my teachers are into indoctrination rather than critical thinking and exploring new ways of thinking about the planet.

6 Oct 2008, 8:11am
by bear bait

Perhaps the time has come for a third party of moderates. Goldwater’s “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” has been blown out of context, by both side of the spectrum.

We do have a history of Progressive Party politics in this county when excesses provide ample yeast to ferment protests to the status quo.

I am not going to support Democrats who created the financial crisis with social engineering and environmental engineering regulations of daily life that have had negative impacts on our ability to survive as a world power. Speaker Pelosi can deny Democrat involvement, but she can’t distance herself from the Black Caucus and the Community Reinvestment Act or the gutting of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that controlled banking, bankers, and financial speculation on the part of banks.

The most ardent supporters of the left have made their fortunes as monopolies, as unregulated businesses, in entertainment and fantasy sold to a gullible populace. Add to that the trusts and foundations that drive the liberal agenda from the tax haven that lets successive generation prosper while avoiding taxation of handed down wealth.

The Republican side is dominated by free market types who disdain regulation, and prove once or twice a century that their exuberance exceeds their ability to control themselves, and we get a spate of corrupted politicians, bad financial news, and national business slow down of depression quality and quantity.

And when it comes to the political debate, the sides are so far apart that compromise is just that: piss poor legislation, pork, and abdication of control and common sense.

Into that void should, and I hope, will come a hard charging third party to control enough votes that it is they who hold the real power. Neither side with a majority without the third party aboard. And not Bernie Sanders Socialists who are there because the left is not left enough. Or John Birchers on the other side. A real, moderate middle of the road party to keep this insane yawing of the ship of state on a straighter course.

6 Oct 2008, 8:23am
by Bob Z.


It will cost money to organize, transport, and feed these civil disobedients. And their time is expensive, too.

One of the great things the anti-human Enviros did during their hey-dey was to schedule (and then disrupt) meeting during working hours, when other people (including the Press) were at work.

One of the reasons the evening meeting failed to focus on the sophomoric protest was because it was in the evening, and a lot of disapproving working people were present and didn’t want their time wasted.

6 Oct 2008, 8:43am
by Mike

Bob, BC — civil disobedience means acting uncivilized, whereas civil disrespect means the opposite. Perhaps the similarities in the two phrases confused you. That’s my fault, sorry. I chose the word “civil” deliberately for a reason; I wish to rescue it from the anarchists.

I don’t want to disrupt meetings like the theatrical purple-hand people. I just wish to point out politely to the person in power that he/she is dead wrong and hurting us all because of it.

Pril — your teachers wouldn’t dare give you an F no matter what you say or write. Don’t grant them imaginary powers that they lack in real life. Speak and write the truth. They can learn from you.

6 Oct 2008, 9:56am
by backcut

Being a veteran of “forum wars”, that response will earn you a mere handwave from the preservationists while not allowing you to speak. We will look like we are the childish extremists without any proof to back us up. They will use their tired old rhetoric which is still widely believed by the general public. Even the most openminded and progressive-thinking public is convinced that fire is good and no “forest raper” will convince them otherwise. It makes them feel good that they are so advanced that they can embrace “life-giving re-born forests” and oppose the clearcutting tree murderers.

They just whisper “troll” to each other, point their fingers and apply their “don’t feed the trolls” defense, while more acreage burns.

6 Oct 2008, 10:35am
by Greg B


I like your idea of civil disrespect and your example is a good one. I was at that meeting and I thought the demonstration was pitiful. The greater impact was achieved by those who stood up and expressed a logical, well thought out comment.

I know its a lot of work and there is no pay, but perhaps W.I.S.E. can be a rallying place, providing information about public meetings where people could go to express their views (our views) of natural resource management. Put it right on the Home page, a list of meetings, times and dates. Link to the announcement.

And to help, perhaps W.I.S.E could provide and organize good talking points, short bullets easy to remember and expand upon. Not everyone has the clarity of thinking on these issues as you and some of people who make comments on this site. Everyone can contribute to the list. The talking points list would be available on the list of meetings (I am assuming there will be different specifics for each meeting, but some basic points to make at every meeting). It would be a running, organized list. Folks can read your articles and the comments for more information, but the running list of talking points would be a good place for review.

It would add to your moderator duties, but I can think of no one better able to handle it. If we could somehow obtain an email list we could mass distribute the information to, even better.

Pril - Keep the faith. I know its difficult. I work in some of these circles and I try to educate these folks myself. I am trying the civil disrespect approach myself. I find that usually, after a short rant filled with liberal and socialistic ideas, they can’t argue with the science. Truth always wins, eventually.

6 Oct 2008, 12:21pm
by Forrest Grump

Civil disrespect requires a large thesaurus. Like, how many ways can one call bull$4!+ without actually saying it?

It also requires organization…coordinated messaging in which crusty individualists must change mental gears to beat upon an agreed central point, after time-consuming squabbling over what such central point of discussion shall be.

By the way, Dominick is going to be in town tomorrow night. What he’s shilling, Idaknow?

6 Oct 2008, 2:28pm
by Bob Z.

Dominick is shilling DellaSala, same as always.

Were you expecting something else?





Note the number of viewers over the past year.

14 Oct 2008, 10:18am
by YPmule

I may have civil disobedience and civil disrespect confused, but here is an example that worked. Last summer we were ordered by the Governor of Idaho to evacuate our village (a fire 25 miles away) - but we didn’t. We as a volunteer fire department were also told we had to protect the homes as the FS would not come onto private property. We disobeyed the order to leave and stayed to fight spot fires as the main fire (and back fires) approached. We feel that if we had not stayed the FS would have allowed our village to burn. The media called us “holdouts” and never explained why we stayed. We were respectful, but we did not comply.

Another example is when the Fed’s wanted to close our winter access road (South Fork of the Salmon River). The road was gated off, and “someone” pulled the gate down - more than once. They installed a camera, and “someone” put a “Wilderness, Land of No Use” bumper sticker over the camera. Eventually we found a law firm to represent us in court and the road stayed open (although all the side roads have been obliterated and the area is on the road-less inventory now.)

The FS doesn’t like to have public meetings back here, as folks here don’t agree with their policies - so they hold meetings elsewhere and put the burden of travel on us so we won’t attend. As my smarter half just said “we are beyond civil disrespect at this point, we are disobedient.”

14 Oct 2008, 11:38am
by Bob Z.


As pointed out in an earlier post, disobedients can be civilly disrespectful, too.

It sure is weird how acts of common sense and basic land management need can be construed as disobedience in today’s USFS world. One of these days they’ll be calling your village a collective if they have their way with you.

Good luck! (I really like the “Wilderness, Land of No Use” slogan — I used to refer to Wilderness as “lands having no value,” but it never caught on.)



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