By PAUL K. HAEDER & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ee if you think the following statement is worthy of gunshots to the head: "I don't want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment."
Revolutionary words, spoken by Dorothy Mae Stang, an American-born nun murdered by resource plunderers in Brazil two years ago as she carried on the activism of another forest advocate -- Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper who formed a union to preserve the forests of the Amazon. Mendes was slaughtered in 1988 by ranchers who wanted to bulldoze more rainforest for grass to raise their cattle destined for the U.S. and Europe.
Consider the revolutionary zeal in his words: "At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees. Then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity."
Sticks and stones may hurt us, but words can get you killed in this Brave New World.
Fast forward to the present, to here in the Pacific Northwest, where one young man is being locked up for 51 months over his fight for animal rights. Activist Jonathan Paul was moved to an Arizona prison for burning down the Cavel West Slaughterhouse in Redmond, Ore.
Of course, he's a hero to some, and he's one in a long line of focused, passionate individuals who got tired of torture, mayhem and blatant destruction of the creator's creations at the hands of corporations.
Today, acts of disobedience via the bullhorn, sit-ins or vandalism become FBI cases worthy of a terror investigation.
The slaughterhouse was owned by a Belgian company that killed more than 500 horses a week, shipping the rendered flesh to markets in places like Mexico and Canada. Many citizens of Redmond hated the stench, protested the sewer-plugging bloody rivers and covered their ears when waves of equine screams emanated from the plant.
The animal death chambers have not been rebuilt since they were torched in 1981, and the company's Illinois horse-murdering facility has been shut down.
Paul could have gotten 14 years under expanded Orwellian powers created by the Patriot Act, the law gleefully endorsed by Republican and Democrat lawmakers rallying around the red, white and blue -- and the belief that property is more sacred than life.
These new legal tools of the Green Inquisition treat individuals who burn up logging equipment in protest as terrorists, against all common legal definitions of the word "terrorist."
Who would have imagined treating the Jonathan Pauls of the world as the domestic equivalent of Osama bin Laden? Another Oregonian, Tre Arrow, is in jail in Vancouver, B.C., fighting extradition to the U.S., where he faces up to 70 years in the federal pen for torching $280,000 worth of tree-cutting equipment.
The FBI and Justice Department, at the urging of lawmakers who are shills for mega corporations, want even more expanded Gestapo powers by treating individuals or small groups who chain or handcuff themselves in orderly fashion to a fence -- say, guarding a future logging tract or encircling an animal torture facility used by furriers -- as domestic terrorists.
That's right -- 20 years in prison for protesting a company's blatant disregard for the public's health and safety.
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's fun teaching in this day and age, showing young people a little bit of the ballsy environmental anarchy of the past. I get to begin examples with: "When I was your age, I..." Well, yes, I worked against sprawl-lovers -- developers and construction outfits who saw the dynamic Sonoran Desert around Phoenix and Tucson as their bulldozing orgasm.
Some of us chopped down billboards announcing future home sites in fragile stretches of desert, home to hundreds of cacti and shrubs and dozens of insect, reptilian and mammalian species. Others put sugar and water in diesel fuel tanks.
Acts of vandalism, to be sure. Not terrorism.
The students get a kick out of my recalling antics in Quintana Roo and Belize reporting on news stories of protesters -- such crime-prone groups as neighborhood councils, city planners, economic development specialists and coral reef and marine ecosystem scientists -- fighting against cruise ship lines tearing up reefs with anchors and mucking up the ecosystem with human waste, spent batteries, photo processing fluid and infinite plastic crap.
Part of the green lesson that eventually moves students to consider Jonathan Paul's act as more profound than criminal includes studying the media's role in the Green Witch Hunt: the mainstream and alternative press have been complicit in disavowing much of the serious work of biologists and climate experts. Name their area of expertise -- wetlands, birds, insects, fisheries, predators, amphibians, rangeland management -- and no matter what, the collective press parades idiot after idiot trying to refute the realities of over-building, over-polluting and over-consuming.
These students today seem ready to understand great women like Rachel Carson, who went up against the chemical industry in the 1960s, or Lois Gibbs, the woman in the late 1970s who prompted the Love Canal investigation.
They're ready to shred the shroud muffling intelligence that the Bush administration has placed upon them and begin to sweep away the detritus of this era of anti-science and anti-intellectualism.
Paul Haeder is an SFCC instructor of composition and literature and member of a sustainability team at the college. "Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge" is his hour-long KYRS radio show, which airs twice a month, Wednesdays at 3 pm.