Gagged and Slapped

Being a naturalist is inherently political. Just look at the opposition.

Have you ever heard of Agenda 21, a UN sustainable development document from 1992? I didn’t remember it, but I learn from Thomas Milan Konda’s Conspiracies of Conspiracies: How Delusions Have Overrun America that the hidden hand/secret government/new world order crowd is convinced these non-binding recommendations are yet another blueprint for the plot to take over the nation and the world. They—the “they” of conspiracies almost always boils down to the Illuminati and/or the Jews—are coming for your private property and “sovereignty.” Across the country, the Agenda 21 bogeyman has been marshaled to fight sustainable development projects. 26 American states have seen legislation introduced that would ban such reasonable and necessary efforts.

Conspiracism, so fundamental now to the power of the Republican Party, runs through the denialism of climate science and vaccination, of course, but it’s also huge in the anti-environmental movement in general. You can see this in “sovereign citizen” vigilantes who argue that only county sheriffs have authority; that federal lands are unconstitutional (remember the terrorist occupation of Malheur NWR?); that wolves should be hunted down by helicopter; that drill-baby-drill should be the rule of the day.

Meanwhile, are you familiar with “ag-gag” laws? A little hard to reconcile with the crew that hates “regulations,” but these are state attempts to stifle whistleblowers in industrial agriculture. Animal rights groups are the most obvious target, but these laws are also about controlling our knowledge about food safety and the treatment of farm workers, still one of the most exploited and abused workforces. Many of these proposed laws have been defeated, and some of the enacted ones have been declared unconstitutional, but ag-whistleblowing is still criminalized in five states.

How about SLAPP suits? These are strategic lawsuits against public participation used by corporations against members of the public, particularly environmental campaigners. The idea is drown the target in legal bills, intimidate other would-be critics and organizers, and cow the media. Take the case of biologist Colin Purrington, who reviewed a device marketed as a mosquito trap and said it didn’t work. Purrington also alerted the EPA and FTC over the scam. He is being sued for defamation by the company. Two years and $90,000 in legal charges later, the case still hasn’t gone to trial. By the way, toxic sugar bait traps like the one he reviewed don’t work.

(Nice example here of the libertarian fantasy of the free citizen in a fair contest… against multiple corporate lawyers in a state where oligarchs make the laws.)

2 Responses to “Gagged and Slapped”

  1. 1 Charles McAlexander March 13, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Me now capitalism, is there any other kind, has always been at the root of our environmental travesties. For us to act responsibly and sustainably would require a considerable amount of the money the “haves” consider their just deserts and personal property. I’m all form it. Eat the rich!

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