“The true measure of how free a society is how its dissidents are treated, not those who refrain from meaningful anti-government activism and dissent.” — Glenn Greenwald, “With Liberty and Justice for Some”
Pay attention to a vitally important election that is hiding in plain sight.
Monday, April 8, 2013, at 7 p.m., all citizens are invited to attend the Wisconsin Conservation Congress election.
In every county, you can vote against running dogs on wolves altogether. You can vote against expanding the newly initiated hunting and trapping in state parks from two months to seven. You can vote against killing coyotes through the nine-day deer kill. Most importantly, you can elect two delegates of five for each county to represent you in governing our 7.5 million acres of public lands and our wildlife.
This election helps determine the quality of life for all citizens — it affects air, water, soil, mining, energy use, climate change and destruction of species. This election and vote is our only official citizen representation to the Legislature, Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board. It is paraded out before the Legislature, annually, as the public’s will.
I contacted the Government Accountability Office to find out why such an important election is not more transparent than it is. The Conservation Congress is “only advisory,” so it is not subject to Wisconsin election laws. It operates in a gray area, with great power and little oversight. No wonder candidates are announced on the floor of the event that night and never debate issues publicly. On average some 5,000 avid hunters, trappers and hounders attend statewide every year — and they elect themselves back into power. The election shoots under most progressives’ noses, stinking of death, unrecognized.
Hidden in plain sight.
When I walked into the Conservation Congress election for the first time in 1997 and realized that nature herself is under the control of a minority whose goal is primarily to maximize killing wildlife, it was a rude awakening. At that time, the few nonhunters attending this public election and voting were seriously intimidated by men who kill wildlife regularly. Men made their arms into long guns and targeted us with pretend trigger-pulls. Dozens of people attended Natural Resource Board meetings to demand that something be done about this intimidation, and the response was, “Our boys were just having fun.”
Wednesday night, I returned home from staffing a table for Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic at the “True Wolf” movie to open a letter from Tim Lawhern, DNR Division of Law Enforcement. The letter addressed my “disruptive and threatening behavior” at the Natural Resources Board meeting Feb. 26. There I had displayed a barbed wire-wrapped pole commonly used by hunters who run down wildlife with packs of dogs. Since the multiple packs of dogs can be replaced with fresh dogs, foxes, coyotes, wolves, or any animals who cannot make it to a tree are run to exhaustion. If they hide in a culvert or den, this barbed pole is thrust into their flesh and twisted to extract them and throw them to the dogs.
No doubt it is an embarrassment to the Natural Resources Board to have this exposed with an example of the barbed pole displayed. The pole and the idea of using it on flesh is indeed disturbing. But it was the wielding of a metaphor that upset the board. As an English major, I understand metaphor, defined as “the application of a phrase it does not literally denote … suggesting comparison to that concept.” I, too, was “having a little fun,” ending my testimony with: “Maybe I should try this on you (indicating the board) to get you out of that deep hole you have dug for yourselves.” Were the board members literally in a hole? Of course not. It was a comparison — not a literal intention. If board members felt mere imagery so keenly, should they be promoting dog-fighting and barbed wire poles on real flesh?
The DNR letter contends that I may continue to attend NRB meetings, and provide written testimony, “but may not orally testify at these meetings … or distribute information, not carry in props, signs or display items.”
In other words, they intend to muzzle me. And, interestingly, since I was not arrested as a threat, on this trumped up first “offense,” there are no laws cited as broken. Even more telling, there is no timeframe given for this arbitrary “sentence.” Lifetime?
In “With Liberty and Justice for Some,” Glenn Greenwald aptly depicts my situation in relation to the DNR and Natural Resources Board: “In essence, the bargain offered by the state is as follows: If you meaningfully challenge what we’re doing, then we will subject you to harsh recriminations.” He continues: “Rights exist to protect dissidents and those who challenge orthodoxies, not those who acquiesce to those orthodoxies or support state power.”
My First Amendment rights are denied arbitrarily.
Greenwald says, “The genius is that those who accept (passive compliance), are easily convinced that repression does not exist.”
Election posters and flyers for download are available at www.wiwildlifeethic.org.
Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.wiwildlifeethic.org