From: Jim Beers [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005 12:26 PM
To: Jim Beers
Subject: A Talk on Myths
INVASIVE SPECIES, ENDANGERED SPECIES, & PREDATORS
MYTHS AS PRINCIPLES*
* (Rationales lacking any logic or common sense used to justify action or inaction.)
A Presentation by Jim Beers
The 6th Annual Freedom 21 National Conference
15 July 2005
Throughout recorded history myths have been generated and utilized by those seeking to either seize or maintain power over others. Stars were once believed to foretell the future, so those who could "interpret" them were powerful advisors or feared rulers. Magicians used their skills to convince others to fear them and submit to their sponsors. Superstitious tales about the "power" of mistletoe or a volcano or of remote gods enabled rulers and their cronies to maintain their power or undermine other rulers. Whether it was the self-serving interpretation of a dream or the promise of turning lead into gold or the simple lie by Nero's bureaucrats that the Christians had burned Rome, the myths of old have much in common with the propaganda of today.
The past century witnessed what can best be described as Scientific Socialism. Lenin and Himmler used the patina of "scientific studies" to justify oppressive and bloody abuses by governments. From China and North Korea and Cambodia to Dachau and the Siberian Gulags, socialist myths generated by government and their cooperators have been employed to excuse the indefensible. Whether it was Goebbels publicizing "racial" myths and fables about the importance of pre-Roman plant and animal communities or Lenin defining "dictatorship" as a "scientific term", the result was public acceptance of government rationales justifying all manner of oppression. Vicious agendas were justified by "studies" that explained the necessity for absolute government control of - Land, Religion, Ethnic Groups, Weapons, Children, Farms, Plants and Animals, Homes, Business, Schools, Media, Workers, Families, and even Life and Death. What we call "propaganda" was really only a stream of lies that, while defying reason, were repeated
everywhere by those in power and denied by individuals at great personal peril. The largest of such societies crumbled from within, another was destroyed by total warfare. Several remnants of these Scientific Socialist societies struggle today to either create an illusion of freedom over dictatorship or to maintain their disproved governmental systems based on a steady flow of propaganda and absolute governmental force.
I would like to speak today about the role that myths have played in the United States during the past 40 years. The myths I am speaking of are nothing more than falsehoods devoid of any factual or traditional basis. Their purpose is to sow doubt and justify radical changes. Unlike the earlier reference by Dr. Singer about the scientific "debate" about global warming, these myths feed a war of emotions and hidden agendas. It is my contention that current issues like Kelo v. New London, Agenda 21, UN absorption of our sovereignty, unprecedented Federal growth, and the trend to transfer increasing amounts of State Constitutional authority to the Federal government have been and are being significantly enabled by the precedents from environmental and animal "rights" legislative and bureaucratic activity during this period.
The Endangered Species Act has provided a model for using UN Conventions to subvert our Constitution by circumventing the Constitutional Amendment process and public debate. It has generated a whole new concept of how, for instance, "taking" isn't really taking and how government can therefore take property with no limits (Kelo anyone?). The Marine Mammal Protection Act demonstrated how, no matter what the words of the law are regarding the return of management authority to State governments, the Federal government and favored non-government organization "partners" are immune from the standards others are held to, and such laws can then be used to implement all manner of unrelated societal changes. The Animal Welfare Act and the Wilderness Act displayed the feasibility of the concept that non-existent illusions (Wilderness value and animal "rights") can be used to cancel property rights, State rights, human rights, and practically every facet of traditional human activities. Recent Invasive Species legislative proposals build on and expand such models to accelerate the trends to supreme Federal authority, UN power-sharing, and government control of society by bureaucracy.
Cumulatively these precedents are like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill. They steadily accumulate power and mass. Our current concerns with Kelo or the UN or expanding oppressive government are due, in large measure, to these precedents. The continued expansion of these laws or even the possibility of allowing them to remain as they are is not an option if we are to ever rein in the threats to our nation that concern us today on so many fronts. Even the most casual reading of history reminds us that Kelo, takings without compensation, and destruction of rural livelihoods have much in common with the taxation and representation issues that so incensed our founding forefathers.
Let us consider the part that myths play in maintaining and expanding the environmental and animal rights agendas in public life. Like ancient astrologers and magicians, a bevy of bureaucrats and professors and ideologues and teachers and media personnel prop up these programs with a steady stream of mythical tales that serve as the accepted principles and rationale on which these harmful programs are based.
There are many examples of commonly repeated myths that we see almost daily:
"Drilling for more oil won't affect the oil supply or our dependence on Mid-East oil."
"Extra highway lanes won't relieve traffic congestion."
"Domestic timber harvest doesn't increase the lumber supply or decrease prices."
"Managed grazing or logging 'destroys' the environment."
"Southern Utah coal should be off-limits" and "western hydroelectric dams should be destroyed."
"Bureaucrats are driven by the best interests of the public."
"More Federal laws are needed."
"Government should assist 'guardians' of old, disabled, and very young dependents to take their lives, while government should make animal 'owners' into animal 'guardians' and prohibit any use or abuse of animal
"Government should force doctors and hospitals to euthanize certain humans while government should prohibit veterinarians from clipping any dog's ears or tails, or de-clawing any cats."
Such myths defy logic but are repeated in the media, taught in the schools, and used routinely by government employees.
Then there are more specific (to environmental and animal rights agendas) myths that prop up the laws I deal with every day:
"Wilderness has 'intrinsic' value absent any human benefit."
"Only scientists can tell when an 'ecosystem' is 'in balance'."
"Science, through scientists, 'dictates' what species should exist where."
"Buffalo, wolves, and deer were hunted to extinction."
"Hunting leads to violent behavior and wife abuse."
"No one 'needs' fur."
"Trapping should be outlawed"
"A free society doesn't mean freedom to reject what you dislike, it means freedom to destroy what you dislike and those that do it."
"No one 'needs' a gun."
"People can't 'own' animals."
"Animals have innate rights."
"Caged tigers that attack and kill should be examined for 'motives'."
"Wherever a native animal or plant exists is 'their habitat' (i.e. they 'own' it)."
"Human populations must be controlled to make room for wildlife."
"Human beings are merely another animal species."
"Where people live and work should be determined by government."
"Africans and rural poor populations worldwide should be controlled to maintain wildlife."
"There is a pet population explosion."
"Deer and geese can be sterilized and transplanted to control the damage they cause."
"Elimination of all use of and ownership of animals is a legitimate government pursuit."
"Fishing and hunting, like trapping, are on the way out."
"Wilderness is not a fire hazard."
"Wilderness maintains biodiversity."
"Closing roads on or access to all public land from Forests and Refuges to Parks is a good thing."
"Unused forests and animals 'protected' by government employees are more valuable than pastures that grow livestock, or fields that grow every sort of food, or communities that grow families and children and taxes and our
The foregoing are examples of falsehoods or myths that have provided a broad justification in the press and in the schools and in the halls of government for the passage and establishment of the Acts that have created the precedents we are so concerned with today.
More recently, expansion of government authority in the environmental and animal rights arena has been largely attributable to more specialized myths driving three parallel agendas.
First are the myths underpinning the continued expansion of the reach and authority of the Endangered Species Act. These myths have increased central government authority over States, property, and human activities to a degree unimagined only two decades ago.
Second, about 15 years ago, a campaign by government bureaucrats and assorted radicals to expand the range of and protection afforded to deadly and harmful Predators was initiated. These myths were concocted to clear rural lands; eliminate saltwater fisheries and recreation like camping, swimming, and horseback riding; and destroy rural communities and plant and animal uses such as hunting, trapping, pet ownership and ranching. Initiatives such as wolf introductions, limits on the hunting and trapping of bears and cougars, hunting area closures, rejection of any management of predators from cougars and wolves to sharks, and the denial of any responsibility by government for human deaths or injuries or property losses of livestock or pets killed by introduced or unmanaged Predators are still underway.
Third, about 10 years ago, a national drive to manufacture an incredible central government mandate to eradicate Invasive Species and/or restore Native Ecosystems (the same thing) was begun. Professors-of-the-evening are having a field day cranking out myths to justify unchecked central government growth, nearly total Federal authority to buy land and control land use, Federal control of practically all human interactions involving any plant or animal, and the almost complete replacement of State authority by Federal agencies over the use and management of natural resources throughout the Nation. One need look no further than the disgraceful Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act or the Invasive Species language in the current Federal Transportation Bill, or the regulations of Federal land management agencies, or the campaign to eradicate mute swans or even numerous Federal grant provisions to see the scope of the drive for Federal authority in this area. This Invasive Species mandate would cost more, accomplish less, and destroy more US freedom than any of these previous mandates. Invasive Species authority is intended to accomplish chimerical goals that mask deadly hidden agendas. By the way, chimerical means "unreal, imaginary" and it comes from the word chimera that means "a mythological fire-breathing monster, commonly represented with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail". How apropos is that?
Each of these three drives is supported by specific myths that, like Himmler's racial "studies" or Lenin's property propaganda, are intended to justify that which is unjustifiable. Here are just a few of the outright fabrications or myths that support these three agendas:
"Thousands of species become extinct every year."
"There are 5,800 small Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (per Endangered species ornithologists) in southern forests living among noisy, giant Ivory-billed Woodpeckers that have somehow remained hidden while being declared extinct for 60 years."
"It is not a 'taking' of your property when the Federal government tells you that you cannot build on or log or graze or develop or use your property declared 'Critical Habitat' by the Federal government."
"Wolves 'hover' on the brink of extinction.'"
"Spotted owls, Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, and lynx 'need' virgin forests."
"Lynx are vulnerable to vehicles (and therefore roads) and wolverines were once abundant."
"Alligators were really 'endangered' at one time."
"Bald eagles and alligators were 'saved' by the Endangered Species Act."
"More habitat is the answer to any wildlife problem."
"Endangered wildlife needs government owned 'corridors' connecting closed government lands."
"Federal authorities should seize control of animals in one State that are abundant throughout their range in other States (i.e. California bighorn sheep)."
"Overabundant and unmanaged cougars in California that have caused the Endangered status of bighorn sheep in the California Sierra Nevada mountains are of no matter; rather the fact that male bighorn sheep MAY mingle with domestic sheep is cause for lawsuits and great alarm in order to prohibit the grazing of all domestic sheep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California."
"Wolves don't depress big game populations."
"Wolves don't attack people."
"Ranchers don't 'belong' on public land."
"Wolves mate for life."
"Wolves will behave similarly and attack the same victims when deer and elk are gone."
"Wolves are not vectors for livestock and big game animal diseases."
"Government will still be able to selectively 'control problem wolves' when there are twice as many, five times as many, ten times as many wolves."
"Wolves are now a part of the ecosystem in northwestern Wyoming,"
"Baiting bears is 'unsporting'."
"Using dogs to find or kill cougars or bears is 'unfair'."
"Trapping bears or cougars is 'cruel'."
"Joggers, bicyclists, children, hikers, campers, old people, fishermen...that are attacked by or killed by... a bear or cougar or wolf are at fault because they were in the 'predator's' habitat or they didn't behave properly or they somehow caused the attack, or the animal was sick, or the animal had been recently mistreated."
"Coyotes don't attack children."
"Only crowded, young coyotes attack or kill pets or livestock."
"Coyotes don't kill dogs."
"Pets don't 'belong' in a predator's habitat."
"Mountain lions only."
"Hunting predators is ineffective, cruel, and should be prohibited."
"Guard dogs and repellants prevent the loss of livestock."
"The loss of livestock and pets to predators is exaggerated."
"Managing predators to cap their numbers and only allow them in certain areas is wrong and only government employees should be allowed to capture or transplant problem animals."
"The disappearance of elk and deer is due to hunting and overgrazing."
"It is the responsibility of you and your family and your pet to avoid any contact with wolves introduced by the Federal government or bears or cougars that State governments no longer manage. Otherwise you are liable
to fines and imprisonment unless you can prove conclusively that you had no choice but to harm the predator in order to save a human life."
"Shark attacks are rare."
"Shark control to reduce densities and affect distribution is a waste of time."
"Closing a Texas beach and not bothering the many large sharks in two feet of water 5 to 10 feet from the beach will not endanger future bathers."
"Sharks, like many other fishes have been over-harvested and are in trouble."
"Killing sharks for their fins has caused them to all but disappear in many areas."
"Sharks, like wolves, are important to the ecosystem and should not be controlled."
"Sharks, like all other predators, don't control their prey species' numbers or distribution."
"Predators are entitled to all the fish and game and livestock they want."
"We should all stay out of all predator's habitat."
"They (the victims) should have rolled up in a ball."
"They (the victims) should have avoided looking in their eyes."
"They (the victims) didn't 'belong there'."
"People shouldn't be allowed to build homes there."
"Guns are not necessary in predator habitat."
INVASIVE SPECIES -
"Only native species 'belong' here."
"Non-native species don't belong anywhere."
"Invasive doesn't 'really' mean non-native."
"Only a 'native' ecosystem is 'balanced'."
"Native species aren't 'really' 'harmful'."
"Native species means those here before the arrival of the Asians (i.e. 'Native Americans')."
"Native Species means those here before the arrival of the Europeans."
"Native species means those here before the Constitution was signed."
"Native species means those 'here' before Lewis and Clark."
"Native species mean those here before 'we' became a State."
"Native plants and animals are best suited to America in the 21st century."
"No one 'needs' exotic landscape species."
"We don't 'need' to raise all those crops or that kind of plant or those animals."
"No one 'needs' to eat meat."
"Agriculture, like animal husbandry, should be more controlled and limited."
"Agriculture destroys ecosystems."
"Government can control or eradicate any plant or animal."
"Hydrilla will 'destroy' the Potomac River."
"Highly destructive overpopulations of Native cormorants should not be reduced while destructive Non-native (purportedly) mute swans should be reduced or eradicated and Federal protection for them withdrawn."
"Brown trout and rainbow trout don't 'belong' here."
"Coho salmon and brown trout don't 'belong' in the Great Lakes."
"Pheasants and chukars and partridge should be eradicated because they are Invasive."
I do not have the time to debunk each and every one of these myths at this time but be assured that none of them can withstand exposure to cold, hard facts or the simple logic of common sense. These are all examples of myths masquerading as principles on which the corrupt philosophies we are facing are based. Media reporting, legislative proposals, court rulings, grant awards, school curriculums, and political appeals all make constant use of these "principles" both openly and in private.
Ancient myths and myths from the last century largely disappeared when war or social chaos destroyed them. We no longer worship mistletoe, or accuse Christians of being arsonists, or agree that a Parliament in London where we are not represented should write our laws and collect our taxes, or think of dictatorship as a "scientific term". When echoes of these debunked myths are resurrected by modern propagandists, they are quickly vulnerable to historical recollections and are swiftly rejected.
The very real challenge we are facing is how to put these current myths to rest peaceably. Can reason, common sense, and tradition (the sum of past experience) triumph over determined bureaucrats, politicians, professors, teachers, and media ideologues? You are not a Luddite if you determine for yourself which facts are valid and how common sense suggests they should be implemented in our society. No matter what "experts" say, their claims are merely advice to be incorporated into, not determine, what paths we pursue. Final decisions about how we will provide for our future or how we will nurture species or how we will raise our children should be our own. When we allow a privileged clique to make these decisions for us we accept the status of Soviet farm workers or Christians under Nero.
These myths must be put to rest if these out-of-control environmental/animal rights laws are ever to be reined in. If these laws are not reined in, Kelo and Kyoto and the emerging UN Small Arms Control (Treaty?) are but dress rehearsals for what these precedents will produce in the years ahead.
As long as these myths maintain any credibility, they will be utilized as principles on which to base passage of new laws, expansion of existing laws, and court decisions that destroy our freedoms and liberty. They must be replaced, not with "sound science" but with scientific facts tempered with common sense. Even "sound science" alone can be used to conceal hidden agendas as spotted owls and wolves and kudzu have proven. Common sense approaches to maintaining species diversity in a strong and free society must be developed to replace this use of myths.
Seventy-two years ago, the English philosopher G. K. Chesterton observed, "A society is in decay when common sense has become uncommon." Let us hope that the disappearance of common sense and the emergence of myths so evident in the environmental and animal rights campaigns of recent times are confined to these areas. If the substitution of myths for common sense is very widespread, Chesterton's observation may well prove prophetic.
EPILOGUE. My wife was reading this presentation just before I left for this conference. She remarked that it was all well and good that I mention these things but why haven't I said what to do about them.
Speaker after speaker has remarked about what we all need to do. Write letters, help elect supportive politicians, know what they are teaching our kids, oppose UN authority, get involved and a whole host of things we must do to preserve liberty. They are all right and I don't need to repeat them.
The difference regarding myths is that you can never get rid of them completely. There are still Americans and Russians saying communism was good and property should be under government control. There are still stereotypes about ethnic groups and there are still arguments made about killing certain groups of people to attain high-sounding government goals. These myths come from bureaucrats, the elites, and organizations pushing hidden agendas and they are readily repeated by the media and teachers on a daily basis.
The examples of the defeat of Nazism and the collapse of the Soviet Union show us that neither total subjugation nor massive societal breakdown eradicates all the myths on which these discredited systems were largely based. Like the shredded remnants of those myths, the peaceable shrinking of these myths to the humorous level of "little green men from Mars" is a realistic goal we can expect to achieve if we are willing to work at it.
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