To Spike or Not to Spike (Debate between Paul Watson and Gene Lawhorn)

In Defense of Tree-Spiking: By Captain Paul Watson - Earth First! Journal, Mabon (September 22), 1990

To spike or not to spike? That is the question this summer—what with Redwood Summer denouncing the tactic and Earth First!ers seemingly at one another’s throats over the issue.

The whole goddamn issue needs to be debated in the pages of the [Earth First!] Journal. The last edition seemed to gloss over the announcement by the compromisers of Northern California Earth First! as if it was a decision of little significance. In fact it was a decision of great significance, one that threatens the foundation of Earth First! strategy.

But first, some background. I have never gone public on this before but I am now. I was the person who first thought up the tactic of tree-spiking and as such I fell obligated to defend this child of my imagination.

[Web Editor's Note: This is entirely false. Tree Spiking dates back to the latter half of the 19th Century, well before Paul Watson was born. Watson was either ignorant or lying, but given his extremely dogmatic screed here, either possibility is likely.]

As a child I witnessed my father break a chainsaw on a horseshoe that had been nailed to a tree a century before and became over time internal armor protecting the heart of the elderly and noble being. I was delighted.

In the mid-sixties I spiked some trees to protect them from developers in my neighborhood. It was not successful. The trees were cut down, but with the small satisfaction of two broken saw chains.

Then in 1982, the Grouse Mountain Ski Resort in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada announced that they were selling the timber rights to the south slope of Grouse Mountain. The decision meant that loggers would bald-face the mountain overlooking the city of Vancouver.

The public was outraged. Despite efforts by the North Vancouver City Council, petitions from school children, and appeals from prominent citizens, the resort would not relent.

I organized a small cadre of concerned eco-activists and we formed the North Vancouver Garden and Arbor Club. We started out early on a Sunday morning, each armed with a hammer and backpack filled with metal spikes. The six of us spiked some 2,000 trees, and pulled out every survey stake we could find. We posted warning signs starting that the entire condemned lot had been randomly spiked. We then drove into Vancouver and dropped off press releases to the media.

The next day, the shit hit the fan. The Vancouver Sun and the Vancouver Province both ran front page stories. We followed up with interviews on TV stations wearing masks—all of us identified as spokesperson Wally Cedarleaf.

Within a day, the sawmills stated flatly that they would not buy logs from the spiked lot. The deal was off. Grouse Mountain Resort people were furious. We were denounced as terrorists and criminals by those we thought were our allies—The North Vancouver City Council, Greenpeace and assorted other eco-bureaucrats. We didn’t give a damn—the trees were saved. Grouse Mountain would remain intact. The tactic worked.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigated the case and their sleuthing led them to our doorsteps where we were questioned but not charged. The logging interests quickly realized that any publicity over such a simple tactic would do them more harm than any benefit they would derive from prosecuting us. Not only was it a tactic that worked, it was [a] tactic we could get away [with].

Prior to the spiking I had consulted an arborist. I asked him how to spike a tree without harming the tree. I then made inquiries of the logging industry while pretending to be an insurance investigator. I asked if chainsaws had safety mechanisms that would prevent the chain from breaking and striking the operator. I was assured that such an accident could not happen, for all the chainsaws used had chain guards to prevent a broken chain from whip-ping back into the face of the logger. I was also told that the sawmills required safety shields between the mill saws and the operators.

I also asked, “Is it possible for a logger or a sawmill worker to be injured if the saw should strike a metallic object imbedded in a log?” The answer from three different industry spokespeople was a definite “no.” The companies I questioned were MacMillan Bloedel, Crown Zellerbach, and Weld-wood Lumber.

Therefore I concluded that it was a perfect tactic. It would not hurt the tree. It would not hurt the logger. It was simple. Materials were easy to obtain. It was not illegal. It could not even be defined as damaging property, since trees—being living sentient creatures—are not human properties. Recognition of trees as property is anthropocentric.

A few months after the spiking of Grouse Mountain, I ran into Mike Roselle in a Greenpeace hang-out in San Francisco. Another Garden Club member and I told Mike about the tactic. He was thrilled with the idea and, because of Mike, many others became involved.

Thus it was with both pride and satisfaction that I relished the reports of tree-spiking from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Reports came from the Bahamas and Sweden of spiking operations that saved forests.

Native Indians spiked trees on Meares Island in British Columbia. Tree-spiking was becoming epidemic. For the first time, the logging industry found themselves on the defensive.

The industry reacted with propaganda about the dangers of tree-spiking to humans, conveniently forgetting that only a few-years ago, they had informed me that an injury was impossible. Industry money was used to lobby politicians into passing laws to make tree-spiking illegal. The industry began to spend large sums on security and investigation. But the forests are vast and detection is difficult and after years of effort, all the new laws and money have not paid off with a conviction of a single tree-spiker.

Tree-spiking also keeps the issues of old-growth and clearcutting in the news. It is controversial and as such generates discussion in the media and amongst the public. With the tactic of tree-spiking, forest defenders could keep the industry and their lackey workers on the defensive.

Tree-spiking as a tactic has been continually stimulated by the imaginations of many eco-defenders. The addition of ceramic spikes, augers, and twist nails have all benefited the original tactic and thus the trees.

When the industry threatened to log spiked trees to spite the spikers, I suggested that ecologists escalate by spiking cut logs on the floating booms and in the yards. Tit for tat. Escalate if you like, you bastards, and we’ll go for the heart of your operations—your machinery. Thus we found that tree-spiking could be both defensive and offensive.

In a biocentric context, tree-spiking is simply a form of preventive medicine. It is the inoculation of a tree against the disease of logging.

But in our society, money talks and industry money was successful in swaying anthropocentric opinions against tree-spiking. There was a weak link in our movement. Those anthropocentric, socialistic types—whose hearts bleed for the antiquated rights of the workers—were won over. Concerned that the logger was a “victim” these so-called defenders of the forest proceeded to weaken our one totally effective tactic by denouncing it.

I attended the Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon, in the spring of 1990. Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney said there was unanimous consensus at the tree-spiking workshop that the tactic should be retired. There was not. Many Earth First!ers were in opposition. Judi Bari even told me at the conference that she considered me the enemy.

It was tragic that Judi and Darryl were hurt in the bombing of their car. We will probably never know what really happened. But it is more tragic if the bombing continues to give martyr status to two people who have seriously compromised the established principles of Earth First!

Redwood Summer is not an Earth First! type of action. Civil disobedience is costly to its participants both financially and physically. It is a tactic that springs from deep Judeo-Christian ethics of self-sacrifice and self-inflicted persecution. It was not practiced by North American native peoples. The establishment loves CD. The authorities are trained to deal with it. There are no surprises.

[Web Editor's Note: This is extremely misleading. In fact, Redwood Summer was the first of many highly successful sustained Earth First! campaigns, though in this particular case, Redwood Summer was also jointly organized by the IWW and Seeds of Peace. Watson's notion that the "establishment" (meaning, the employing class) "loves civil disobedience" is pure bunk. The law enforcement tactics leading up to and during Redwood Summer were extremely heavy handed, and it is evident that the Oakland Police and the FBI were involved in the bombing of Bari and Cherney, which is hardly the reaction of an establishment that "loves CD".]

Redwood Summer would have us believe that the loggers are not our enemy. Judi Bari considers them her allies while accusing me of being her enemy. The reality of her views are plain. She is acting from an anthropocentric ethical foundation and I am coming from a biocentric base.

The hands of the individual who has destroyed a tree are the hands of a person who has murdered a sacred citizen of this planet. Livelihood, material well-being, these are not sufficient justification for this crime against nature. Loggers are pathetic foot-soldiers to the corporate generals of the logging industry. Certainly they are being exploited by the companies, but they have made the decision to be exploited. The trees have not.

Yes I realize that humans have long used and believe themselves dependent upon the cutting of trees. I also realize, however, that with a vastly reduced population, wood can be made available without killing trees: dead wood, weather preserved wood, living planks cut from living trees (a practice of Northwest Indians which provided them with planks without depriving the world of a tree); cotton and papyrus for paper. There are alternatives, the most important being disciplined conservation. Yes, this is extreme, but so is massive clearcutting to provide cheap logs for Japanese mills or bags of redwood charcoal for California cook-outs. I would occasionally even condone the cutting of a live tree if it was diseased and if done with proper respect and used for a noble purpose. Unfortunately, 99% of all trees killed are of good health and used for ignoble purposes.

A few years ago, a Santa Cruz reporter told me she did not believe that all the redwoods in California were worth the life of a single human. What incredible arrogance! This opinion is the extreme of anthropocentric Judeo-Christian thinking. I am of the extreme opposite view. To me, all the humans in California are not worth the extinction of the mighty ancient forest dwellers we call the redwoods.

The debate really comes down to this: Is Earth First! a movement of anthropocentrics or a movement of biocentrics or is it a little of both? Can the anthropocentric mindset work harmoniously or even work at all with the biocentric mindset? There is certainly a vast chasm between the two modes of thinking. Perhaps we need two Earth First! groups—one for anthropocentrics and the other for biocentrics.

As for myself, I do not believe in loggers, I believe in trees. I do not believe in fishermen, I believe in fish. I do not believe in miners, I believe in the rocks beneath my feet. I do not believe in pie in the sky spirituality, I believe in rainbows, rivers, mountains, and moss. I do not believe in environmentalists, I believe in the environment. I am a proud traitor to my species in alliance with my mother the Earth in opposition to those who would destroy her, those parasites who believe the Earth is here to serve human interests.

The Earth abides. We overly glorified primates are a stupid species. We have chosen not to be interdependent and have bestowed deity upon ourselves to justify our separateness from the living Earth. We will pass and in our passing the rocks will scream joyously for the liberation of the Earth. Or we will survive as equal citizens who have finally realized that the path to bliss lies in surrendering to nature, not dominating her.

If we are removed from the Earth, the loggers will slowly fade from the consciousness of the Earth like unpleasant and distant memories. If we survive, the loggers will also fade from the consciousness of humanity as perverse and embarrassing aspects of our once primitive selves. Either way, the logger is a rot, a disease and an aberration against nature, and I among others will not weep a single tear at his demise. To sum up, tree-spiking works. It does not hurt trees. It does not injure people. It is simple and cheap.

The logging barons have little defense against it. They moan and groan and gnash their teeth but they can do little—except of course to employ the old tactic of divide and conquer. They can manipulate members of our movement to spread division and hatred amongst the movement through the anthropocentric Judeo-Christian morals. In this way they can spread their rot amongst us and destroy us.

Whatever political stance the Earth First! rank and file take, tree-spiking will continue. It continues in northern California—more covertly because it is plain that advocates may now fall victim to former brothers and sisters. But continue it shall, despite criticism, despite the laws of society, despite the so-called “rights” of the loggers and their ilk.

Tree-spiking is an idea and an idea is impossible to kill. It will continue and I will continue to advocate it until I die. No compromise, not now or ever.

Why Earth First! Should Renounce Tree-Spiking - Earth First! Journal, Mabon (September 22), 1990

I have been working in the wood products industry for five years. In that time I have worked veneer mills, sawmills, and plywood mills. I have become an environmental activist while standing on the picket line fighting wage and benefit cuts. During the strike against Roseburg Forest Products (the world’s largest privately owned wood products manufacturer) which lasted from January 9th to May 15th of 1989, I noticed that all the cars and trucks that crossed our picket line were flying the timber industry’s yellow support ribbon. The yellow ribbon is supposed to represent solidarity with the timber workers, timber management, and a steady supply of Federal (old-growth) timber. To many of us the yellow ribbon represents greed, ecological destruction, negative polarization, and scabbing. Once I became aware of these things I began to study environmental issues. I studied Fish and Wildlife’s Spotted Owl reports and I studied and still study how the ancient forest ecosystem works. I realized that not only was the Spotted Owl endangered, but in fact the whole Pacific Northwest ancient forest ecosystem was in jeopardy. These studies led to studies of global environmental problems.

Becoming aware of global environmental problems and of the ecological importance of the Pacific Northwest ancient forest helped me under-stand why Earth First! activists participate in direct action tactics such as tree sitting or chaining them-selves to bulldozers, or ecotage such as sabotaging heavy equipment and tree spiking. But even though I understand the why-fors, all the where-ases (or tactics) cannot be justified! This is especially so with the tactic of tree spiking.

Shortly after I returned to work from the strike (where we suffered wage and benefit cuts amounting to over $1,400 a year), I was operating a log splitter on the deck of the debarker. Not far behind me was a circular saw which was out of view from where I was standing. The saw operator sits behind a half inch of Plexiglas in an air conditioned booth. The saw at that time hit a spike and all around the mental fragments from the saw and the spike flew like shrapnel from a bomb. Not one piece hit the Plexiglas, and luckily none hit me. But it was a frightening experience and made me realize how dangerous tree spiking is to mill workers. In the first veneer mill I worked in, the two saw operators had no protection other than their hard hats and safety glasses. We tried to get management to place Plexiglas panels in front of the saws but they refused. There are hundreds of these small non-union mills throughout the Pacific Northwest where safety is nonexistent. Any action an Earth First! activist does that endangers the lives of other human beings cannot be justified!

Tree spiking not only endangers mill-workers and loggers, but also discredits all environmentalists. Some timber bosses will run a spiked log through a mill so they can point the finger at an environmental activist and, say, “see, they not only want to kill you too.” The timber industry doesn’t give a damn about the safety of their employees. I had to call OSHA in a few months ago just to get the bastards to meet with our safety committee. OSHA fined them over $12,000 for safety violations. Only then were we able to get some very unsafe things fixed, because we hit them in their pocketbook.

The timber industry loves the fact that some Earth First! activists advocate tree-spiking. It gives them a great propaganda tool. Take for example the false press releases sent to the news media by the industry after California Earth First! activists renounced tree spiking. These releases stated that Earth First! would continue tree spiking. Someone even forged Judi Bari’s and Darryl Cherney’s signatures on them. Also note that the death threats against Judi and Darryl started shortly after the spiking renunciation. It scared the hell out of the timber industry and its ass-kissing supporters to see Earth First! (and) IWW activists building alliances with loggers and mill workers. That’s why they tried to assassinate Judi and Darryl. The last thing corporations want is their employees demanding an accountability as to how the environment is being treated by the employers.

Workers, whether they be oil, chemical, and atomic workers, pulp and paper workers, or wood workers, must join forces environmental activists to demand not only an accountability as to wages, benefits, and health and safety, but also to demand environmental accountability. Environmental activists must be work to help create other options for workers so they’ll feel secure in demanding that accountability.

In Oregon, labor and environmental activists have joined forces to form a group called Labor-Environmentalist Solidarity Network (LESN—pronounced lesson) to help bridge the gap that separates workers and environmentalists, and to support with direct nonviolent action the causes of each. In our group are Earth First! activists, steel workers, carpenters, state workers, and many other workers, and environmentalists from many organizations.

Earth First! activists in Oregon and California have done the right thing in renouncing the use of tree spiking, and also in building alliances with wood workers, Indian activists, Black activists, and Feminists. After all, the environment, indigenous peoples, minorities, women, and workers the whole world over (especially in Third World nations) are being exploited by the system that places money and power over the well being of the planet. We all have a common interest in clean water, air, and healthy forests.

To help bridge the gap that separates workers and environmental activists, and to help make the work place safe for mill workers and loggers, I urge all Earth First! activist to renounce the tactic of tree spiking. The work place for wood workers is dangerous enough without the added dangers of spiked trees, and the workers are not the enemies of environmental activists, but can be and will be their most valuable allies in the future. Renouncing tree spiking is not a compromise, but a move forward. Bear in mind that if a movement cannot progress and make positive changes, it will die! Also bear in mind that as much as the timber industry likes tree spiking, a nation-wide Earth First! renunciation of spiking would be the ultimate form of ecotage propaganda.

Response to Gene Lawhorn - By California Formanista - Earth First! Journal, Yule (December 21), 1990

Gene Lawhorn’s article, “Why Earth First! Should Renounce Tree Spiking”, contained only two arguments against spiking. Each argument fails both anthropocentric and biocentric analysis. First, Lawhorn argues that spiking may injure loggers. On a humanistic level, this argument must fall, as all jobs have risks and loggers can stop logging if they do not accept the risk posed by spiking. Of course, there have been no or few injuries from spiking, so the risk of injury is low.

In a biocentric context, arguments against spiking based on injury to humans can never be persuasive. Since overpopulation ensures that enough humans exist to continue the species, there is little biocentric value in individual human life. Forest habitat, however, is threatened and necessary. Thus, protection of the forest habitat clearly out-weighs the risk of injury to a few loggers.

Lawhorn’s second argument is that tree spiking is used in propaganda against Earth First! and is therefore divisive. He urges the rejection of spiking to “help bridge the gap that separates workers and environmental activists.”

On a humanistic level, however, I suspect that many people are drawn to Earth First! because of the media coverage of spiking and other acts of ecotage. Spiking also clearly identifies those individuals with biocentric concerns and motivations, and until recently, acted as a litmus test in determining sup-port for biocentric philosophy.

Spiking’s effectiveness in protecting the forest habitat may also be weighed against the detriment of having “a gap that separates workers and environ-mental activists.” Since in this context “workers” means dwindling numbers of loggers, there seems to be little tactical advantage to any such alliance.

In a biocentric context, divisiveness must be measured against the protection of the forest habitat. Since there is little intrinsic value in human cohesiveness, the only value must be as a means to the end of habitat protection. If Lawhorn means public relations are necessary to save habitat, it will be far too late for most habitat by the time human reverse course.

Spiking, on the other hand, delivers immediate protection to the forest habitat. Such protection should outweigh the alleged need for cohesiveness and public relations.

[Web Editor's Note: This is in fact, not true, and as Judi Bari demonstrates in "The Secret History of Tree Spiking, Parts 1 & 2", the tactic doesn't even work!]

The tree spiking issue clearly identifies anthropocentric motivations. Since Earth First! is (or was) dedicated to biocentrism, wilderness conservation and biodiversity, Gene Lawhorn and his ilk should join the Sierra Club.

(Excerpt from) the Man Without a Bioregion; Forest Grump: By Mike Roselle - Earth First! Journal, Yule (December 21), 1994

Remember tree spiking? As I write this, I am looking up at the three-pound hammer that Spicer used to nail the Post Office Timber Sale in the Salmon-Selway’s green forests. Everyone knew these magnificent trees had to be spiked high and low. Why? Because it would save them? No! Because it was necessary to send a message to those butchers in green uniforms, those cowards with forestry degrees. Examine the posterior of the chief butcher himself, Jack Ward Thomas, and you’ll find the lingering labial impression of Dave Foreman, who abandoned Spicer and all monkeywrenchers when he copped a plea and deserted his friends. Spicer, who alone stood up for what he did and what he knew was right. Dave dismissed Spicer’s selfless act as bad judgment. Read my book, he says, and next time, don’t get caught.

Yeah, right. As the New Year comes in, I am saddened to find Confessions marked down from $20 to $2. Who says the public can’t recognize the truth? Spicer was right to spike the Post Office Timber Sale. If he had stayed home, ABC News would not have flown out to Cove/Mallard to take the struggle national.

And more spiking is needed to convey the urgency of the situation! Very little action is happening. Too many armchair eco-warriors walking around town in camo. Go out and get them suckers, fill ‘em full of steel, and I promise you this: you might get caught; you might do some time; your friends might abandon you. But you will never have to spike the same tree twice.

We are not afraid of Newt Gingrich or the wise use movement. We will not suck up to anyone. We will not miss the Democrats or the Sierra Club. As George Bush said once, “Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

Gene Lawhorn Responds to Mike Roselle: By Gene Lawhorn - Earth First! Journal, Brigid (February 2), 1995

Well now ... after reading Mike Roselle’s “Forest Grump” piece in the Yule ‘94 Journal, I’ve found that I agree with about three-fourths of what Roselle says about the big ten, the Montana rape, pillage, and plunder bill, the democrats, Dave Foreman and his Confessions of an Egocentrists, (Eco-Warrior my ass!).

But I strongly disagree with Roselle on the issue of tree spiking. Now if I remember correctly, and by the goddess I damn well know I do, Mike Roselle signed on the tree spiking renunciation press release drafted in California in April of 1990. So what happened to Mike Roselle? Has he been bitten by the Bill Clinton flip-flop virus?

Roselle acknowledges that spiking trees will not prevent them from being cut, but he says it will send a message. Few actions or tactics get as much attention as tree spiking. The problem is all of the attention is negative. Tree spiking is a failed tactic that causes more divisions and polarization than any other tactic utilized by environmental activists.

A spiked tree in Northern California almost killed George Alexander in 1987, and in the Fall of 1989 I myself had a close call when a circular saw hit a spike on a barker deck in a Roseburg mill. The teeth from that saw flew off like shrapnel from a bomb. Some pieces flew through the corrugated metal wall, some bounced off the wall and hit near my feet. Mill and woods work is dangerous as it is. Environmental activists should not add to these problems with their activities. It is no fun when pieces of metal are flying at you like bullets. I’ve been there!

Roselle says, “What we want is nothing short of a revolution ... and everything, every assumption, every institution needs to be challenged. Now!” Mike is so goddamn right here! We do want a revolution, but a revolution is built from a real movement using real tactics that really work! That revolution will in our wildest dreams never be built unless alliances are made with the broad spectrum of working people, and I don’t mean sold out labor bureaucrats.

More spiking is not what is needed to convey the urgency of the situation. Spiking trees plays into the hands of the unwise abusers, the timber industry, and the Newt Gingrichs more than it is useful in stopping destruction of forest, or for sending messages of rage and frustration. In fact, the timber industry loves it when environmental activist spike trees, it’s a public relations coup for them.

For Roselle to give Spicer credit for Cove/Mallard becoming a national issue is pure bull-shit! There were a lot of people working real hard on Cove/Mallard who never once spiked any trees. In fact, with tensions as thick as they are in Cove/ Mal-lard spiking does the greatest harm possible.

Roselle, Watson, and Foreman can glorify and romanticize tree spiking all they want, but facts are facts! Tree spiking is a failed tactic. To think otherwise is to engage in denial. Reviving it will not stop forest destruction and loss of wildlife habitat. So be a macho man, pound yourself on the chest like Tarzan and yell the primal scream. Then grab a three­ pound hammer and a spike and drive some steel into them “suckers” and I’ll promise you this; the greedy fucks in the timber industry will cut them down any way, and if you do get caught (the goddess forbid) the good ol’ boys—Roselle, Watson, Manes, Wolkie, and Foreman will not do your time for you. Yeah, one of them may write an article glorifying your exploits, some comfort!

One last point, this is a class issue. Think about it!

Captain Paul Watson responds to Gene Lawhorn - Earth First! Journal, Eostar (March 21) 1995

Gene, Gene, Gene, wake up boy. Tree spiking is not a failed tactic, if anything it is proliferating and it is costing the termite people plenty.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I am in fact responding to your epistle in the last EF! Journal where you stated and I quote “... if you do get caught the good ol’boys—Roselle, Watson, Manes, Wolkie, and Foreman—will not do your time for you. Yeah, one of them may write an article glorifying your exploits, some comfort!”

What is your problem, Gene, that you need to stoop to taking shots at people who are fighting effectively for the Earth?

Anyway, just a point of clarification. No, none of us will do time for the actions of other activists. We have all done time for our own actions and thus we have little patience for whiners who are afraid to risk the consequences for their own actions.

If you can’t stand the heat, Gene, you and your friends should stay the hell out of the kitchen where the big boys and girls are engaged in standing up to the enemy.

And don’t count on us to write glorifying accounts of your exploits if you should get caught. We have more important things to be concerned with then to glamorize the exploits of those whose strategy is so inept that they find themselves in trouble they did not anticipate and then resort to crying, “woe is me.”

Gene, I’m facing a trial on three counts of felony mischief in New Foundland. Two of the counts carry a maximum of a life sentence each and the third carries a maximum of ten years. I don’t expect you or anybody else to take the fall for my actions. Roselle has served his sentences with great nobility. Foreman made sacrifices to lower the sentences served by individuals whose strategy was so inept they allowed a Federal Agent to set them up. Wolkie paid his dues and I can’t think of a better example of a misanthropic sage than Manes. So lay off kid, you haven’t got the foggiest notion of who the people are that you are intent upon trashing.

The last sentence of your letter was and I quote again, “ ... this is a class issue. Think about it!”

I have thought about it. It’s bullshit, Gene. The working class is in cahoots with the middle and upper class to screw the planet. We, the human species, and our uncontrolled escalating numbers are the problem Gene. It’s not a class thing. It’s a species thing.

If you don’t like tree-spiking then don’t do it. I don’t like whining about other people’s tactics and I don’t do it. I just get pissed when I hear this holier-than-thou sanctimonious anthropocentric sensitive new age guy crapola. Get a life Gene and stop criticizing others who have one.

Gene Lawhorn Responds to Captain Paul Watson - Earth First! Journal, Beltane (May 1) 1995

Thanks much for the charming letter from the good Captain Paul Watson. I’ve never had the pleasure of having such a personal letter directed to me in the pages of the EF! Journal or any other paper for that matter. I’ve got a whole file full of letters to the editor from Roseburg, Oregon’s The News Review in which supporters of the timber industry vilify me in many ways. None of those letters can hold a candle to Watson’s letter.

Every article, every letter I’ve written to the EF! Journal for the past two years that had anything that could be construed as a personal attack got edited out by Journal staff who threatened not to print it otherwise. My article on the Oregon Trail was butchered beyond recognition. Seems there is a double standard at the Journal where some of us are concerned. Judi Bari tells me that all the embarrassing quotes from Mike Roselle concerning the renunciation of tree spiking were edited out by Journal staff in consideration of Roselle. Yet Watson and Roselle were allowed unedited, lengthy articles to answer Judi’s well-written and researched articles.

Despite all the rhetoric about EF! being a non-organization without leaders, there is a definite hierarchy involved. Truth is, there really is a good ol’ boy network. Just ask any woman in EF! If you disagree with the good ol’ boys, they proceed to call you a “whiner,” or an “anthropocentric,”(Oh, that hits below the belt) or “kid” and “boy.” While a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the good ol’ boys in the union would call me a “communist,” “a tree hugger,” “a pagan atheist” and once I was actually called a “goddamned Earth First!er.”

Ya see folks there can be no disagreement with good ol’ boys. Now I do believe we can agree to disagree. One of my very best friends is a woman who believes in tree spiking. She is also a union activist in one of this nation’s most conservative unions. Oh but let’s not forget that as a worker, she’s in cahoots with the bosses to destroy the planet, so, with the good ol’ boys, her opinion may not count for much.

Now as for Watson’s letter, I see in the context of his letter a deep desire to have someone pat him on the back. So I just heard through the grapevine that Paul has come up with a great plan for economic diversification for the seal furriers. Whereby he has them brush seals to obtain seal hair. Hey, I’m personally touched Paul. I didn’t think you cared about us workers because of the cahoots thing. So here, pat, pat, pat on your big ol’ back. Yes Paul, it’s thinking like that that will save the planet.

Paul says he doesn’t whine about other people’s tactics, but I do recall an article a couple of years ago about banner hanging. Remember that Paul? Sure sounded like you were whining to me, and angry too. Did someone hang a banner on your ship Paul? Yo, lighten’ up dude!

About Foreman, Paul’s living in denial. Foreman sold out the Arizona 5. Anybody can be set up and infiltrated. It does not mean your strategy was inept. It usually means you’re effective. Let’s be frank and truthful. Mark Davis is a much bigger and better man than Foreman will ever hope to be.

Paul, you’d do well to read about the Molly Maguires; look for a book by Anthony Bimba. In fact, I recommend you read Labor’s Untold Story by Richard B. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais. You really need a historical perspective to understand the relationship between capital and labor. There is a big difference between cahoots and exploitation! In fact, next time I get an extra copy, I’ll send you one.

We can take the arguments into infinity and still get nowhere. I’d like to close my argument with a short parable that Larry Wilson of the Highlander Center once told me.

Once upon a time, there was an old man, a child, and a donkey walking down a back country dirt road. They met a group of people who, upon meeting the group, shook their heads in dismay saying, “What a shame. That old man is walking when he could ‘wisely use’ that donkey by riding it.” Hearing this, the old man got on the donkey.

Later, another group of people came along saying,” Look at that—child abuse! That old man riding that donkey and making that poor child walk.” So the old man got off the donkey and put the child on.

Still later, another group comes along and says, “Shame, shame! That young healthy child riding that donkey and making that poor old man walk.” So the old man gets on the donkey with the child and they both ride.

As their journey progressed they met another group of people who screamed, “My God! That’s animal abuse! Look at both of them riding that poor little donkey.” So the old man and the boy got off the donkey, and the old man picks up the donkey and puts it on his shoulders. Soon, they came to a narrow foot bridge with a 1,000 foot chasm below. When they got close to halfway across, the donkey got frightened and jumped off the old man’s shoulders.

Splat! The donkey died!

The moral of the story is, if you try to please everybody you’re bound to lose your ass!