December 31, 2012

On Rising

by Eric Rosenbloom, copyright 2012

No man shall lend an eye
Ere dairy maid knead dough
And dug at morn is sucked
For tits to fingers tell
Where air bore scents of bread
Of love and masters dread

“Money supersedes or warps values in the US”

“Citizens of the wealthiest country in history cluck and squabble at the prospect of jobs like chickens come feed time, hat in hand, servile as serfs, mumbling specious self-reassuring nonsense as the changes happen like weather.”

“C.P.T.L.”, comment, “Vermont resort pulls in big foreign investments”, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2012

human rights, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

December 29, 2012

Gun deaths in U.S. since Newtown

Data from
Tabulated at
Original page:

human rights


“Wau Holland, the founder of Chaos Computer Club, said something funny: "You know, filtering should be handled in the end user, and in the end device of the end user." ... In the end device of the end user, that's this thing you have between your ears. That's where you should filter and it shouldn't be done by the government on behalf of the people. If tyhe people don't want to see things, well, they don't have to, and you do have the requirement these days to filter a lot of things anyhow.”

—And Müller-Maguhn, Cypherpunks, by Assange, Appelbaum, Müller-Maguhn, and Zimmermann (2012, OR Books)

human rights, anarchism

Veganism & the Environment: By the Numbers

  • 1 calorie from animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel as one calorie of plant protein.
  • The diets of meat eaters create 7× the greenhouse emissions as the diets of vegans.
Carbon Dioxide (CO₂)
  • If one person exchanges a "regular" car for a hybrid, they'll reduce CO₂ emissions by 1 ton per year.
  • If one person exchanges eating meat for a vegan diet, they'll reduce CO₂ emissions by 1.5 tons per year.
  • If every American dropped one serving of chicken per week from their diet, it would save the same amount of CO₂ emissions as taking 500,000 cars of the road.
Methane (CH₄)
  • Methane is 20× more powerful at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere than CO₂.
  • Chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows are collectively the largest producer of methane in the U.S.
Nitrous Oxide (N₂O)
  • Nitrous oxide is 300× more powerful at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere than CO₂.
  • The meat, egg, and dairy industries produce 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Nearly half of all water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.
  • It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat vs. 25 gallons to produce 1 pound of wheat.
  • You'd save more water by not eating 1 pound of meat than you would by not showering for 6 months.
  • A meat-eating diet requires 4,000 gallons per day vs. a vegan diet which requires 300 gallons of water per day.
  • Animals raised for food create 89,000 pounds of excrement per second, none of which benefits from the waste-treatment facilities for human excrement. This creates massive amounts of groundwater pollution.
  • Chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 American states.
  • Raising animals for food uses 30% of the earth's land mass, or 17 million square miles. That's about the same size as Asia! The moon (at 14.6 million square miles) has less area than that.
  • More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals.
  • The equivalent of 7 football fields of land are bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals.
  • Livestock grazing is the number one cause of plant species becoming threatened or going
  • extinct in the U.S.
  • Animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn; however, they only produce a comparatively small amount of meat, dairy products, or eggs in return.
  • It requires 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat.
  • It requires 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish.
Source (with references):

environment, environmentalism, vegetarianism, veganism

December 27, 2012

Unnecessary Death on the Farm

Death and the Oxen

To the Editor, Valley News (Lebanon, N.H. & White River Junction, Vt.):

In offering his perspective on killing as part of animal farming (“Death Is Always on the Farm Schedule,” Dec. 23), Chuck Wooster retold the story of Green Mountain College and their oxen Bill and Lou.

Wooster neglected to mention the actual issue in the matter — namely, at least two sanctuaries offered to take Bill and Lou to live out the rest of their lives in peaceful retirement with veterinary care that was not compromised by considerations of future edibility.

The issue became Green Mountain College’s adamant refusal to let Bill and Lou, whom they claimed to love, thus retire to a sanctuary.

There was no necessity driving that decision — neither economic, medical, nor dietary. Given a choice between life and death, the college chose needless death.

Eric Rosenbloom

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism, Vermont

The internet and economics

“We have the impression with the copyright wars that the legislator tries to make the whole of society change to adapt to a framework that is defined by Hollywood, say, "Ok, what you're doing with your new cultural practice is just morally wrong, so if you don't want to stop it then we'll design legal tools to make you stop doing what you think is good." This is not the way to make good policy. A good policy looks at the world and adapts to it in order to correct what is wrong and to enable what is good.”

—Jérémie Zimmermann, Cypherpunks, by Assange, Appelbaum, Müller-Maguhn, and Zimmermann (2012, OR Books)

human rights, anarchism

December 26, 2012

The militarization of cyberspace

“[T]here is now a militarization of cyberspace, in the sense of a military occupation. When you communicate over the internet, when you communicate using mobile phones, which are now meshed to the internet, your communications are being intercepted by military intelligence organizations. It’s like having a tank in your bedroom. It’s a soldier between you and your wife as you’re SMSing. We are all living under martial law as far as our communications are concerned, we just can’t see the tanks — but they are there. To that degree, the internet, which was supposed to be a civilian space, has become a militarized space. But the internet is our space, because we all use it to communicate with each other and with the members of our family. The communications at the inner core of our private lives now move over the internet. So in fact our private lives have entered into a militarized zone. It is like having a soldier under the bed. This is a militarization of civilian life.”

—Julian Assange, Cypherpunks, by Assange, Appelbaum, Müller-Maguhn, and Zimmermann (2012, OR Books)

human rights, anarchism

December 24, 2012

“We need new, draconian gun access restrictions.”

What My Grandfather Would Do

By Ann Aikens, “Upper Valley Girl”, Vermont Standard (Woodstock), Dec. 20, 2012

When my mother's father died, she was a teacher in Wausau, Wis., a gorgeous young twenty-something that resembled Ingrid Bergman. She was close to her father, a big Irish motorcycle cop with a big laugh. While the details of the story she told me in high school are now hazy, and it is much too early as I write this to call her to confirm, I recall her being in a hospital room with him while her mother was walking briskly on the sidewalk outside. Her father was making terrible sounds, dying, and my mother was hoping against hope that her tiny, tough Swede of a mother would get inside quickly because it seemed he was hanging on for her arrival. I don't remember if my grandmother made it. In my mind it was snowing. I do know for sure that at his funeral it snowed, and this made my mother happy because my grandfather loved snow.

My guess is there will be a lot of arguments, in coming weeks, surrounding the notion, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," when it is plainly obvious that it is people with guns that kill people. Many more people a lot faster with greater certainty than if the killer didn't have a gun. This is why I have been for gun control since my youth. Then, I didn't live in an area where people hunted for meat. I have since shot guns myself at targets in the woods and at indoor ranges.

I don't know the answer, but I do know this: if I was hunting and a magical wood sprite promised, "If you give up your gun right now, there will never be another mass murder in the U.S.," I would trade it in for another "sport" in a heartbeat. I can't think of a single thing I wouldn't give up for that. Some argue that the bad guys will always have guns. That may be true, as it is in New York City where it's extremely difficult even for even a sane business owner in a high-crime neighborhood to legally procure a handgun, much less an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine designed to kill many as quickly as possible. But regarding the black market gun argument, I doubt the mentally ill who fire upon schools or movie theaters would find much access to guns in a gunless America. Nor do I believe that all angry psychotics can be cured or neutralized by "early detection."

Guns are illegal in other countries, yet their citizens seem to live perfectly satisfying lives without them. They find other things to do there. Their murder rate is a fraction of ours, which is astonishing and shameful. At the very least, and I do mean the very least, immediate renewal of, the horrifyingly, inexplicably expired assault weapon ban is beyond discussion. We need new, draconian gun access restrictions. We've proven that, as a nation, we cannot be trusted with guns.

Here in rural America, I will make enemies by advocating for gun control. That's fine with me. I am unafraid to take a stand, take abuse, defend my position, get into a barn burner over it. But maybe I will carry as my silent weapon a photo of my friend's youngest child, Daniel, who will now remain forever and ever seven years old, with his wide, brown, little-boy eyes and unruly auburn hair and his two front teeth missing. If someone questions my stance on gun control, I will aim at them this photo. I couldn't care less what they say after that. But I suspect they won't say much. To me, anyway.

Without getting up, I open the blinds to look outside my window as I do after staring at the computer for hours, and think of my grandfather the motorcycle cop. He carried a gun. But he adored his children. And I wonder, if he'd seen what happened in Connecticut this week, to Daniel and the others, if he would give up his right to carry a gun if it would end these senseless massacres. I ask him this, the grandfather I never knew, as I peer up into the dark of winter's morning. In a cold December strangely devoid of the white stuff, it begins to snow.

human rights, Vermont

December 21, 2012

An ethical blind spot of the locavores

John Sanbonmatsu writes:

Kill Bill. And Lou, too.

That's what officials at Green Mountain College, in Poultney, Vt., decided to do to the two affectionate oxen on the college's working farm after one of the animals, Lou, sustained a minor leg injury over the summer. The college, whose reputation rests on its sustainable-agriculture program, announced that both oxen would be "processed" into hamburgers for the student cafeteria.

The case of Bill and Lou adds a new wrinkle to America's debate about the ethics of eating meat. For the first time, the public has been asked to consider whether the lives of farm animals matter, and not merely their quality of life. The story of the two oxen shows us why they do.

For decades, animal advocates struggled to bring public awareness to the horrific conditions on so-called "factory farms," where billions of sensitive animals languish in squalor and misery. While 99 percent of all meat consumed in the U.S. still comes from factory farms, consumers are increasingly uneasy with "farming" that treats animals viciously and is an ecological catastrophe.

Stepping into this growing breach between our stomachs and our moral sensibilities come the locavore and sustainability food movements. Such Bestsellers as Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" have reassured consumers that they can have their meat and their consciences, too, by choosing "humane" animal products "grown" on organic local farms. The crisis of animal agriculture, it is argued, can be solved through "organic beef," backyard chicken coops and do-it-yourself slaughter.

In reality, studies suggest that raising and killing billions of animals for human consumption is ecological bad news no matter how it's done, whether on small family farms or in concentrated animal-feeding operations (CAFOs). Cows grazed on pasture, for example, produce more carbon emissions per capita than grain-fed animals in intensive confinement.

Confronted with such inconvenient facts, however, locavores maintain that we have but two choices -- to eat animals "locally" or to eat them industrially. As Green Mountain's provost, William Throop, was quoted as saying in an Oct. 29 New York Times article about the situation, the college must choose "either to eat the animals that we know have been cared for and lived good lives or serve the bodies of nameless animals we do not know."

But the omnivore's dilemma is a false one. We could simply choose not to eat meat at all. Why then do locavores pretend that we only have two choices?

Perhaps because they have no good arguments to justify the violence required to run even a small-scale, organic animal farm -- the use of whips, nose-rings, barbed wire, castration, brandings with hot irons, decapitation by ax or knife. The absence of good reasons for their views may explain why locavores eschew moral philosophy for poetical reveries on the "cycle of life." As Green Mountain's provost put it, "Bill and Lou are not pets but part of an intimate biotic community" based on "relationships of care and respect."

However, there is something Orwellian about depicting animals like Bill and Lou as members of an "intimate community" of "care and respect," while moving with great institutional dispatch to shoot them in the head, cut their throats, bleed them to death, and serve them as burgers. Lip-service to "care" aside, the lives of Bill and Lou have been viewed with such low regard by Green Mountain that when a local animal sanctuary offered to take the oxen so that they might live out the rest of their lives in peace, the college flatly refused, explaining that, were the oxen permitted to live, they "would continue to consume resources at a significant rate, and as a sustainable farm" the college couldn't let that happen.

Merely to let Bill and Lou exist, in other words, would be to violate the college's virtuous circle of sustainability. As "living tools" -- Aristotle's definition of a slave -- Bill and Lou have had no value beyond their perceived usefulness. Once their ecological outputs exceeded their inputs, they became as dispensable as rusty farm implements. And so they must die.

Left unexplored in this chilling logic is why the human animals living and working on Green Mountain's campus, each responsible for a far greater carbon footprint than Bill and Lou combined, do not deserve similarly ruthless treatment. The average American generates 20 tons of carbon dioxide a year, far more even than the average dairy cow. Are we therefore "unworthy" of life? Or do we not recognize something vital about consciousness, all consciousness, that lends it a value beyond reduction to abstract efficiency ratios?

Year after year, Bill and Lou, lovely, gentle, intelligent, feeling beings, were coerced by their human overseers to labor for the college. They ploughed its rain-laden fields and pulled its heavy equipment, in inclement weather and in all seasons. The college then decided to "repay" this debt by cutting their throats and dismembering them, so that in this way they might be exploited one last time, in death too.

It is this grotesque and unfeeling utilitarian logic that accounts for the public outcry against Green Mountain's treatment of the oxen. It offends our sense of justice when "even" farm animals are treated with such ingratitude and casual brutality.

Alas, protests and petitions could not save Lou. In November, Green Mountain announced that it had "euthanized" Lou and buried his body in secret, claiming that his injury was causing him "discomfort." Bill has been granted a temporary stay of execution. The college won't say what it plans to do with him.

If there is a moral to this story, it is that the locavores have failed to dissolve the troubling ethical questions at the heart of animal agriculture, organic or not. Locavore critics assure us that it is morally acceptable to raise and kill other animals for food, provided that the latter have had a "good enough" life before being sent to slaughter. But they have not told us why.

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism, Vermont

December 15, 2012

From the Autobiography of Malcolm X

I told him, “What you are telling me is that it isn’t the American white man who is a racist, but it’s the American political, economic, and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man.” He agreed.

“Conservatism” in America’s politics means “Let’s keep the niggers in their place.” And “liberalism” means “Let’s keep the knee-grows in their place — but tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.” With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose which one to be eaten by, the “liberal” fox or the “conservative” wolf — because both of them would eat him. I didn’t go for Goldwater any more than for Johnson — except that in a wolf’s den, I’d always know exactly where I stood; I’d watch the dangerous wolf closer than I would the smooth, sly fox. The wolf’s very growling would keep me alert and fighting him to survive, whereas I might be lulled and fooled by the tricky fox.

Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race here in North America is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!

It’s their guilt that upsets them, not me.

As far as I am concerned, Mississippi is anywhere south of the Canadian border.

“Tell your brother for me to remember us in the alley,” Malcolm X said. “Tell him that he and all of the other moderate Negroes who are getting somewhere need to always remember that it was us extremists who made it possible.”

human rights

December 13, 2012

Self-sabotage at Green Mountain College

The people of Green Mountain College think it has been wrong for the public to protest their decision to kill their oxen instead of letting them retire at a sanctuary, because the people of GMC are against factory farms so the public should join them in protesting factory farms instead.

Some of them think that protesting GMC's decision to kill their beloved and hard-worked (if that's not too cognitively dissonant) oxen is serving the interests of industrial agriculture by attacking one group's efforts to challenge that hegemony.

Sorry, GMC folks, but that doesn't make any sense.

First, the people you are admonishing already protest factory farms. They care about animal welfare, and that is why they are protesting GMC's efforts regarding their oxen.

Second, killing two oxen after 11 years has nothing to do with moving away from factory farming. And the public outcry against the desire to kill them is not against your efforts to be independent from industrial ag.

The issue is not you or various elements of the public. It's Bill and Lou, and most people think Bill (Lou having already been dispatched) deserves a peaceful retirement. The more you try to rationalize the decision to kill them, the more unhinged and unlikeable you appear to be. And that, not the public's protest, is what reflects badly on, and thus most threatens, the mission we share.

Update, Dec. 22:  The most reactionary students at Green Mountain College continue to amuse with their self-righteous victimization narrative. After the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, they suggested that compared to that crime they ought to be absolved of murdering Lou and allowed to murder Bill. Now they have likened those trying to save Bill and Lou's lives to Fred Phelps and family’s Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, which blames all unnatural death on the tolerance of gays and travels around the country to disrupt funerals to celebrate those deaths as God's righteous punishment. The WBC, basically, hates everyone except themselves, which does not seem very different from what we've seen out of GMC.

But it gets more confused. The WBC post was a tongue-in-cheek letter of gratitude to the Phelps family for raising awareness of issues of intolerance and facilitating support drives. In their enthusiasm to embrace this new model of empowered victimization, the GMC students forget that elsewhere they and their professors (falsely) accuse animal rights and welfare activists of using GMC's intransigence (standing by their "values", as Fred Phelps would agree) for their own publicity. That is, they are now embracing a codependent tactic for which they had earlier attempted to condemn "ARAs". How must be logic twisted and mirror fogged to evade the truth!

Green Mountain College

Update, Dec. 24:  Another example brought to our attention of getting everything backwards (even their own defensive positions) is from GMC student Emily McCoy. On Dec. 14, she shared on Facebook a photo of President Obama wiping away a tear for the victims of Newtown, Conn., with the caption, "Pretends to cry about school shooting — while bombing innocent men, women, and children in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine." The first commenter (Jon) expressed disgust, which McCoy and others fended off, rightly noting the commander-in-chief's hypocrisy. But then she added, ‘Jon's reaction reminded me a lot of ARAs [animal rights activists] being all "everyone feels sorry for the billions of animals in CAFOs [concentrated animal feed operations], but you have a chance to spare the lives of THESE TWO OXEN. COMPASSION!"’

Her thinking almost defies analysis. Which it would have to, because it is animal rights and welfare activists who point out that killing Bill and Lou (and all the other animals on GMC's play-farm, since they insist on making that the issue) is the same result as on factory farms. She must see that, since she can see that we need to decry all of the deaths wrought in our name in other countries along with domestically. That is, killing in one's own backyard and killing in a distant place are both wrong. Killing in CAFOs is wrong, and so is killing in the "happy" farm. Of course, it's not the killing that bothers McCoy, and in that she is aligned with the President, who weeps for irrational carnage but has little problem with it when it is suitably rationalized. And so she believes that compassion means killing Bill and Lou, simply because they are not at a CAFO.

Just as McCoy challenges the President's compassion, we question hers.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

December 11, 2012

Green Mountain College, Carnism, and the Embrace of Death

The echo chamber's not going to work if you allow dissenting opinions!
(Green Mountain College student Emily McCoy, who blocks Facebook users who engage her in public fora, on a GMC page that blocks dissenting opinions)

The people of Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont, remain defensive about the public outcry over their decision to kill for meat two oxen that they had worked for 10 years. A brief history: Lou was injured in the Spring such that he could no longer work; over the summer the GMC farm staff decided it was time to kill both him and his brother Bill and eat them (or, more likely, get some human-grade meat in exchange for their value as dog food). Some students and/or alumni, when classes resumed in the fall, were shocked by that decision and alerted Green Mountain Animal Defenders in Burlington, which led to an offer of veterinary care and sanctuary from VINE Sanctuary in Springfield. People’s shock at the decision to kill Bill and Lou was then compounded by GMC’s refusal of the offer to let them live out their lives in peaceful retirement. But the school became only more entrenched, lashing out at those asking for compassion and mercy as “extremists” and “abolitionists” “terrorizing” slaughterhouses and the college. Then they “euthanized” Lou (†Nov. 11, 2012), who had been seen happily grazing with Bill the day before his pre-dawn “sacrifice”, and perversely made themselves out to be the victim because he had to be composted instead of eaten. Two faculty members in particular, Steven Fesmire and Philip Ackerman-Leist, the latter a beef farmer himself, have been interviewing and writing all over the place to present this simple call for compassion toward two loved and hardworking oxen as a concerted and militant effort to end food choice and all animal agriculture.

It would be funny if it did not mean that Lou was killed and Bill remains in danger.

[[[[[ ]]]]]

The first reason given for killing Bill and Lou, and then for refusing sanctuary, was economic. In a cold calculus of utility, these aging oxen were deemed to be no longer paying for their upkeep, and a sanctuary would only perpetuate the “waste” of resources. This is the thinking of psychopaths. Bill and Lou are not machines to be junked for parts or materials, but living creatures as deserving and desiring to live as those calling for their deaths.

The defense developed, along with the paranoid exaggeration of “the enemy”, to a more complex idea of “sustainability”. At the basis of that “sustainability” ethic is the self-serving “happy meat” paradigm, by which human carnivores think they are being conscientious and environmentally mature by convincing themselves that their taste for meat is “love” for the animal itself and its place in nature (or rather the nature of agriculture that includes them), particularly when it is applied locally (eg, in the name of food sovereignty).

Let us look at that ethic, which has come to be called “carnism”.

To rationalize their inability or unwillingness to live without meat or dairy, they have constructed a system that is environmentally conscientious only within the terms of a perceived necessity for consumption of animals. There is no room in that vision for the rejection of animal agriculture. Ethical veganism is heretical, not just because it considers the interests, even rights, of the animals themselves (assuming that like all creatures they want to live full lives according to their own interests and social needs) apart from their usefulness to humans, but mostly because it recognizes that consuming animals is a choice, not a necessity.

With all ethical issues, each of us comes to a balance or accommodation that we are comfortable with, constantly weighing myriad factors of society, personality, culture, economy, etc. And that balance changes (or ought to) throughout our lives. Ethics isn’t about that balance, but about the choices we make when we are able to.

It is indeed good that some of those who won’t give up meat are trying to make that choice less cruel to the animals and less harmful to the environment. That is a step forward and does not obviate further steps. But the “carnist” trend of recent years has been to assert that it is actually better in every way (morally, environmentally, nutritionally) to continue to consume animals in this “balanced” way, which, first, is offensive to those whose decision not to is also shaped by efforts to be less cruel and harmful, and, second, only suggests that it most certainly is not.

It is obvious that loving animals can not include killing them unnecessarily just because we want to eat them. Animals are not things (”I love my teddy bear”). They are not meals (”I love squash soup”). Love, applied to any animal, is the same love we mean when we apply it to the human animal. That is a simple truth. The complex arguments to prove that animal agriculture is natural or necessary or beneficial serve to obscure that truth. They serve as a firewall between salving one’s conscience by treating animals marginally better and having to consequently recognize animals as having their own rights. They serve as an artificial boundary between granting animals a right to “welfare” and granting them the actual rights implied by concern for their welfare.

It is the same dynamic that has been seen in every battle for rights. Of course, the first principle of carnism is that animals aren’t people (not even noncivilized people, however sentient and social). Evolution of conscience is a slow process, and most vegans recognize that frustrating fact. Most of the time, they are biting their tongues about the world’s casual cruelty and disrespect. What vegans can not abide is carnists challenging or claiming superiority to veganism on any ground. It is frightening to see the lengths people go to rationalize needless killing. As they take their arguments farther and farther but go nowhere, stuck in their self-imposed carnism, their urge becomes to silence, if not destroy, those who remind them of that shortcoming. The vegan “no” is taken as an existential threat. Again, this is a fact of human history, which vegans must suffer through like anyone who has ever taken an ethical stand against entrenched cultural assumptions.

If carnists were truly comfortable about their choice, then they would not feel so threatened by the very existence of vegans. After all, everyone eats what vegans eat. Vegans just cut out the animal bits. And that small reduction of violence by our diet can only be for the good — of the planet, all animals, and humanity.

[[[[[ ]]]]]

As to Green Mountain College, they were given a choice: kill Bill and Lou or let them live out their lives at a sanctuary. While claiming to assert their rights and responsibilities, they revealed their sustainability ethic as one that embraces death, not love.

[See also:  Omnivores? ]

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism, Vermont, ecoanarchism

December 6, 2012

Fluoridation of water: an idea whose time is passed

To the Editor, Valley News (Lebanon, N.H. & White River Junction, Vt.):

The editorial of Dec. 2 suggests that Bradford commissioners took a step backward in deciding not to continue fluoridation of the town water supply. The Centers for Disease Control is cited, recognizing "water fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century."

Bradford, however, has taken a step forward, into the 21st century. Fluoride has long been established as an essential ingredient in toothpaste and other mouth care products. Vermont, where a large proportion of the population use water from their own wells, provides regular fluoride treatment to schoolchildren. And health risks from systemic ingestion of fluoride are increasingly acknowledged, for example, by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). That's why we are warned against swallowing toothpaste and fluoride rinses. Last year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency drastically lowered their recommended levels for water fluoridation. Most European countries do not fluoridate their water.

The AAFP also notes that dental health in communities that don't fluoridate their water improved over the past decades along with those that do. Adding fluoride to the water is a crude approach to dental health compared to improved dental care.

Finally, the editorial attitude that the concerned minority "can opt out by buying bottled water" is arrogant and backwards. The burden should be to "opt in" to systemic fluoride dosing. In fact, fluoridated salt is fairly popular in Europe, just as iodized salt is common here.

Eric Rosenbloom

Update:  In a letter in support of the Valley News editorial, a Hanover pediatrician, Steven Chapman, claims to "see children every week from Bradford who will be hurt by the removal of fluoride from the water". But that is precisely the question: will they, particularly as dental care continues to expand and improve? Or if so, is it enough to warrant the crude dosing of systemic fluoride via the water system instead of more targeted topical delivery (such as fluoride washes in the schools)? Does water fluoridation only serve to take attention away from the real problem, which the writer recognizes, that at least one-third of Americans do not have medical insurance that includes dental care?

The writer also notes that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. So is arsenic. And he gives examples of everyday products that are fortified with minerals and vitamins to enhance public health. They are, of course, products that you can choose or choose not to buy, like fluoridated toothpaste. And they are additives that are not potentially harmful if too much is ingested, unlike fluoride.

Finally, he cites the "evidence" that every $1 invested in fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs. That oft-repeated figure comes from one paper from Spring 2001 ("An economic evaluation of community water fluoridation"; Susan Griffin, Karl Jones, and Scott Tomar; Journal of Public Health Dentistry 61(2):78-86), which is not an analysis of historical costs but an estimate of future costs based on caries and fluoridation data from the 1970s and 1980s. But it is precisely the decline of caries since then, because of widespread toothpaste fluoridation and improved dental care, that calls into question the continued effectiveness of systemic fluoridation via the water supply. Even so, the authors recognize that estimating caries incidence in nonfluoridated versus fluoridated communities is difficult, as is identifying costs of both fluoridation and caries, further underscoring Chapman's irresponsible use of the word "evidence".

But this source for the claim of $38 dental cost savings for $1 of fluoridation doesn't even state that. It presents three scenarios in four community sizes, with resulting annual per-person savings ranging from 85 cents to $33.71. The $38 claim seems to be derived from the estimates for a community of >20,000 people of base-case net savings of $18.62 per person plus the cost of fluoridation of 50 cents per person: i.e., 50 cents invested in fluoridation might result in $19.12 in savings, or $1 saves $38. This ignores the full range of estimates, however, particularly for smaller communities. By the authors' estimates, a community of <5,000 people (like Bradford) would likely save only $6, but possibly as little as $1.25, for every $1 of fluoridation.

But again, those are broad estimates only, and they are based on decades-old data.

human rights, Vermont

November 30, 2012


To resolve the federal deficit:
Reverse what caused it, mainly, regressive tax cuts for the rich and the worldwide war machine.
To provide health insurance to all:
Expand Medicare to everyone, as was originally intended.
[Also see:  Tax the Rich! End the Wars!]

November 25, 2012

For Lou, from Miriam

Miriam Jones of VINE Sanctuary writes:

[Factory “farmers”] are honest enough to own their desires, and so they don’t have to create elaborate mental mazes to contain them. They want a paycheck – they want to grill something out in their backyards and it ain’t tofu – and they don’t give a shit about the environment or global climate change or sustainability.

They want what they want, and they’re honest about it. ...

While some of us recognize this destructive phenomenon for what it is, and seek to correct it, happy meat “farmers” deny they’re human supremacists. They like to say they honor and respect all of life while they trample upon it. Because they can’t bear to give up those tasty little morsels of flesh in their mouths – or because they can’t bear to find another job – these “farmers” talk a good talk about holding to a level of environmentalism that exceeds everyone else’s. They claim to love life on the one hand while they bring it to an end on the other. They profess that there exists such a thing as humane murder.

In short, they’re liars. They lie to themselves and they lie to everyone else. ...

Factory “farmers” tend to be more honest about their motivations for doing the things they do than happy meat “farmers,” even though they all do the same thing: use and murder animals.

Because they are lying to themselves, these small producers need to include you in that same lie. They need you to believe that you’re doing something good. You are righteous, you are smart, you are helping the environment. You are better than those (poor, unethical, working class) people who eat factory farmed flesh. You are actively helping the planet by eating flesh, eggs and milk from small-scale animal “production.”

They tell you these things and they need you to believe them. But they are lies.

Click here to read the complete essay.
Click here to read “For Lou, from pattrice”

Lou, who never knew how it feels to be free
Lou, who never knew how it feels to be free

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

November 14, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Poultney

Continuing evidence of Green Mountain College's paranoiac lashing out, Steven Wise writes:

Thank you to the thousands who made your position known, loud and clear, that the Green Mountain College’s plan to slaughter and eat their old friends, Bill and Lou was morally unacceptable.

You may have believed no one was listening. Oh, they were. Closely. Those who would slaughter and eat their friends are capable of anything. And so Green Mountain College President Paul J. Fonteyn (a cross between Machiavelli’s Prince and a Keystone Kop) sent an ugly email in which he tried to get one of you in trouble with your boss.

Into my mailbox it pinged, dated November 1, 2012. Alas, thin-skinned President Fonteyn zipped it to a business 900 miles and four states away from the brave emailer.

From: Paul Fonteyn []
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2012 11:03 AM
Subject: Employee of your company


I am writing to you because I believe the individual sending these emails to Green Mountain College is an employee of your company. I have two questions: If she is, do these uncivil and hostile emails reflect well on your company? Would you embrace this level of activity by an agent if this was occurring in Cincinnati? Please note every email has been sent during the workday hours.

Please note that the Governor of VT and the Secretary of Agriculture have publically supported the position of the college that [DELETED] is so against.

Paul J. Fonteyn
I immediately warned President Fonteyn he should consult a lawyer before he sent emails to the employers of his critics. On Sunday, he finally took my advice. Well, part of it. He consulted a lawyer, who promptly warned me not to communicate with President Fonteyn again.

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont, ecoanarchism

November 13, 2012

Request for Common Cause from Philip Ackerman-Leist, Director of Green Mountain College’s Farm & Food Project

“The challenge we are now facing is not one of a philosophical perspective that we find inappropriate but rather of an extreme activist agenda that is divisive and destructive. The end goal is the abolition of livestock agriculture, whereas our college is invested in the transformation of livestock agriculture.”

In fact, the letter below is a desperate plea for the
preservation of “livestock” agriculture without the scrutiny of “outsiders”. It expresses an apparent persecution complex driving him to seek support for his Lord of the Flies project from the entire state (remember the “Take Back Vermont” movement to “preserve” marriage?). But the pleas to retire the working oxen Bill and Lou had nothing to do with the college’s animal farming. It is perfectly normal practice to retire working animals. One offer of sanctuary was from a rancher, another from a dairy farm. Many other animal farmers expressed disgust. Green Mountain College’s refusal to act in a normal (let alone humane) manner, to ignore all offers and insist that “processing” the oxen into dog food was essential to the college’s chest-thumping sense of “sustainability”, was the only reason for worldwide outrage from vegans and carnivores alike.

Ackerman-Leist’s delusional paranoia (“under the cover of darkness and with complex security plans in place, we had to euthanize Lou and bury him in an undisclosed location”) speaks more to unresolved issues of his own conscience (as a beef farmer himself, looking forward to a lucrative contract with the college, as orchestrated by himself?) than to reality.


November 11, 2012

Dear Colleague in Food and Agriculture,

I am writing to request both your attention to and support in an issue that impacts farms of all sizes, the ability of livestock-based businesses and educational farms to function without the threat of harassment or harm from outside special interests, and the possibility for communities to determine the future of their regional food systems.

As you may have heard or read, the Green Mountain College community followed a decade-long tradition of discussing the fate of livestock on the college’s Cerridwen Farm before deciding to send our two longstanding oxen to slaughter. Bill and Lou have been central elements of the college farm since their arrival ten years ago, but Lou injured his leg this past summer and is no longer able to work or even to walk any significant distance without experiencing obvious pain. Therefore, in an open community forum this fall, about eighty students decided to send the much admired pair to slaughter and processing, with the meat to be used in the college dining hall, as we have done with sheep, poultry, swine, and cattle in the past.

However, an extremist animal rights organization, VINE (Veganism is the Next Evolution) Sanctuary, turned our community-based decision into an international advocacy and fundraising effort. VINE recently set up its new sanctuary and education/advocacy center in Springfield, Vermont in order to take on everything from backyard poultry to small-scale livestock production to the iconic Vermont dairy industry. They allow for no distinction between any form of livestock agriculture. As a case in point, one of the founders of VINE states the following:

“Another issue we face is that Vermont is a big ‘happy meat’ place. The happy meat people are convinced the animals are treated well. It is just a myth, and regardless, any farmed animal on a factory farm or a ‘happy meat’ farm, can’t get away from ending up dead.”

Another VINE blog makes the point even more explicit:

“Despite the blather about respecting the bedrock of one of Vermont’s primary industries, and despite the inane lies pitched in almost hysterical fashion by ‘happy meat and milk’ farmers, cows are nothing more than potential money-making machines to people. That’s what they’re there for, after all.”

The Green Mountain College oxen case seemed to have been the perfect target for VINE’s efforts, quickly supported by Farm Sanctuary and PETA. Why focus on our college farm and not a “factory farm” or some other farm with questionable livestock management practices? Perhaps we find ourselves in this situation because the college has long been transparent about our community-based discussions regarding the fate of the livestock on our college farm—it is a vital part of our educational program here. It could also be that we have been targeted because we are not only teaching and advocating for sustainable livestock farming, but some of our graduates are seeding the local landscape with these kinds of farms.

Unfortunately, this issue is not just about the fate of Bill and Lou or the intense local and international pressures faced by a small but diverse college community that opted for transparency, truth, and accountability in its own food system. If the extremist elements in this activist agenda succeed in forcing our college to choose a course not of our own making in this issue, then they will have the power and the confidence to do it again—perhaps next time to a smaller and less resourceful community or farm or even to a bigger institution or initiative. Such an outcome would be inconvenient to some and perhaps tragic to others. And it flies directly in the face of Vermont’s innovative efforts to develop community-based food systems, envisioned on a grand and courageous scale through our nationally-acclaimed Farm to Plate Initiative, a strategic ten-year plan to build the vision of interlinked local and sustainable food systems that can build thriving communities even in the most rural reaches of our state.

Imagine the pressures our college has faced in recent weeks and consider how other communities placed under such pressure might fare:

  • Numerous petition drives, with tens of thousands of signees from all over the world—people who know nothing of Bill and Lou’s conditions, much less the accountability and transparency we have built into our college food system
  • Action alerts that have generated email assaults (at least one staff person received almost 1000 emails in a single day) and switchboard and voicemail overloads of our campus phone system
  • One cyber-attack generated 3.9 million emails filtered in a period of several days—all from a single domain
  • Harassment and threats of physical violence to students, faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Constant surveillance of our college farm by stealthy intrusions, video cameras, and Facebook reports of our daily activities
  • Driving a livestock trailer to the edge of campus and barging into our administrative offices demanding that Bill and Lou be turned over
  • Dishonest and highly abusive postings on the college’s social media sites, requiring around-the-clock monitoring and editing
  • Attempts at widespread defamation of character of faculty, staff, and administrators through letters, emails, websites, and social media channels
  • Threats of continued negative publicity campaigns unless we turned Bill and Lou over to VINE Sanctuary
  • Online discussion of whether to give Bill and Lou medications that would render their meat unsafe and inedible
  • Slaughterhouses throughout Vermont and New York were threatened with protests, harassment, and potential violence if they agreed to work with the college, ultimately eliminating virtually all such possibilities for us, including our scheduled date at a local Animal Welfare Approved facility
Throughout it all, we have attempted to avoid a polarization among parties. After all, our student body is comprised of approximately 70% meat-eaters and 30% vegetarians and vegans. One of my colleagues in helping our students to think critically about these livestock decisions is Dr. Steven Fesmire, a philosopher and a vegetarian. For ten years, he and I have tried to model open and civil discourse about dietary choices and related animal issues through forums, joint classes, and guest lectures. We are unaccustomed to diatribe replacing dialogue, and our students tend to be open to a diversity of ideas and respectful of differences in opinion. Our community finds it odd that certain extremists have opted to try and make us out as villains when one of our stated goals is to become the first college or university in the United States with a major food service provider to eliminate all animal products that are not humanely raised and slaughtered.

Our college honors different dietary choices and encourages a diversity of philosophical perspectives related to agriculture and animal ethics. Were that not the case, we would not have a higher than average population of students who are vegetarians and vegans. We teach animal rights perspectives in our classes, as we believe that these philosophical ideas can help to illuminate the path toward more humane and sustainable livestock agriculture. The challenge we are now facing is not one of a philosophical perspective that we find inappropriate but rather of an extreme activist agenda that is divisive and destructive. The end goal is the abolition of livestock agriculture, whereas our college is invested in the transformation of livestock agriculture.

What happens next in this situation may have ramifications far beyond our campus community. If VINE, Farm Sanctuary, and PETA succeed in harassing and threatening not only us but also our regional livestock businesses to the point at which we succumb to their abolitionist desires, then they will march forward with their activist agenda and wreak havoc not only on the rebuilding of community-based food systems but also on the longstanding efforts in our region to create increasingly humane and ecologically appropriate livestock production and processing.

It is time for more organizations and individuals to come forward to denounce the intrusive and unethical bullying orchestrated by these organizations. Their tactics do not promote discourse, diversity, or democracy. Ultimately, they impede animal welfare reform by putting backyard poultry on the same level as a poorly managed “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation” (CAFO). You may or may not agree with our community’s decisions regarding Bill and Lou. We recognize that people can come to different conclusions in what is the best alternative for each of these animals, and these discussions can be civil and frank. Regardless of your opinion in this particular matter, it is important to recognize that the extreme bullying tactics employed by these groups need to be countered with the courage, reason, and civility of people and organizations that believe in the transformation of livestock agriculture, not its abolition.

During the early morning hours of November 11th, under the cover of darkness and with complex security plans in place, we had to euthanize Lou and bury him in an undisclosed location, as outlined in a statement to our community by President Paul Fonteyn. It was a difficult and complex decision. President Fonteyn offered these words regarding Bill: “Bill will not be sent to a sanctuary but will stay on Cerridwen Farm and will be cared for in a manner that follows sustainable, humane livestock practices, as is the case with all of our animals. We take responsibility for our animals on the farm--it is an obligation we will not ask others to bear.”

Please make your voice heard on this issue, whether it be through letters to the editor, calls and emails to your elected officials, or by appropriate direct action through your organization. Green Mountain College has decided to stand up against the bullying directed at us while also standing up for farmers, businesses, educational farms, local food systems, and burgeoning farm-to-institution programs—in Vermont and elsewhere in the country. It is our ardent hope that reason and civility will prevail and perhaps save some other farm or organization from the onslaught that our college has opted to engage, oppose, and defeat.

Philip Ackerman-Leist
Director of the GMC Farm & Food Project
Director of the Masters in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS)
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont, ecoanarchism

November 11, 2012

Lou was reportedly killed this morning

According to an e-mail reportedly sent today by Green Mountain College President Paul Fonteyn,* the ox named Lou was killed early this morning.

We love you, Lou! That’s why we had to kill you! (Alison Putnam, Meiko Lunetta, Paul Fonteyn, Bill Throop, Green Mountain College

Let us hope that Lou's partner, Bill, can be saved from such cowardly and self-serving "love".

*From that message: "Bill will not be sent to a sanctuary but will stay on [GMC's on-campus] Cerridwen Farm and will be cared for in a manner that follows sustainable, humane livestock practices, as is the case with all of our animals." In other words, as soon as they get a chance, they will sell him for dog food.

The message:
From: President Paul J. Fonteyn
To: GMC Community
Date: November 11, 2012
RE: Oxen Update

Green Mountain College and our senior team of oxen have been much in the news lately: their lives as working animals on the GMC farm, our recent community decision to slaughter them, and the national and international attention that has come our way as a result of our collaborative and rational decision.

As reported in my October 31 email to the community, our original timetable was disrupted by outside organizations seeking to appropriate the images of the oxen for their extremist agendas, including the abolition of animal agriculture. Without shame, these groups harassed and threatened local slaughterhouses, making it impossible for them to accept our animals, and therefore for us to carry out our decision expeditiously. Despite our attempts to use the most humane and local options available, one of the only Animal Welfare Approved [sic] slaughterhouses in the area was forced to cancel our appointment as a result of these hostile threats. Some individuals associated with these efforts have even discussed giving drugs to our animals, which would render the meat unacceptable for human consumption.

In the meantime, Lou's overall physical condition continued to deteriorate. Medication made him more comfortable, but even walking from pasture to pasture has now become an arduous and painful process. Close consultations with several veterinarians over the course of the summer and fall have consistently indicated that Lou's condition would not improve and that his quality of life would only continue to diminish--as has held true. The arrival of cold temperatures and icy conditions are certain to increase his suffering, and we have concurred with our veterinarians' judgment that it not humane for him to suffer further. Therefore, I authorized euthanization, which took place this morning.

Bill will not be sent to a sanctuary but will stay on Cerridwen Farm and will be cared for in a manner that follows sustainable, humane livestock practices, as is the case with all of our animals. We take responsibility for our animals on the farm--it is an obligation we will not ask others to bear.

I know at times the attention has been harsh and unfair, but it has also provided a platform to present some of the best aspects of Green Mountain College: our intellectual courage to squarely examine moral dilemmas, our values of sustainability, and our commitment to discourse over doctrine. I am proud of how GMC students have engaged with colleagues and with people outside our community in mature, thoughtful, and civil ways. Outside scrutiny can be an unwelcome distraction--I urge you not to allow online discussions, which can become volatile and unconstructive, to interfere with your wider educational endeavors at GMC. I consider your safety and your educational progress my top priorities. If you believe you are a victim of any abusive behavior, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Student Affairs.
[Top photo of Lou with students Alison Putnam and Meiko Lunetta by Caleb Kenna for the Boston Globe. Bottom photos of President Paul Fonteyn (left) and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs (also Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies) Bill Throop (right) from Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vt.]

Emily McCoy with Bill at Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont
“Part of being honest about your place in an ecosystem is accounting for the full cost of food production, which is what we're trying to do here.” Emily McCoy (GMC student, pictured here, Oct. 30, 2012, apparently satisfied that she has explained to Bill that he is too expensive and no longer useful alive; photo from Facebook)

Sanctuary for Lou and Bill | Compassion is sustainable
[ Signs meant for demonstration on day before Lou was killed ]
Bill and Lou want to live | Sanctuary not slaughter

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont, ecoanarchism

November 9, 2012


Demonstrations at the corner of Main and Depot, Poultney, Vermont
Friday (Nov. 9) 1pm and Sat (Nov. 10) 12pm

Everyone knows about our beloved Bill and Lou by now, but they don’t all see the boys as special and deserving of sanctuary after all their years of hard work — and people want to eat them [actually they would probably be used for dog food, the college receiving more edible meat in return]. We are going to change that! Invite non-students too and be there Friday and Saturday.

Only 3 main points — EASY:
— It’s the right thing to do!
— Save Bill and Lou from slaughter
— Give Bill and Lou to sanctuary.

Facebook event page.

Read Bill and Lou’s story here.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont, ecoanarchism

November 4, 2012

Endorsements 2012

President (and attached VP):  Write in Jill Stein (Green Party). Stein solidly represents the social and ecological principles of the world's Green Parties.

U.S. Senator:  Pete Diamondstone (Liberty Union), especially now that he supports secession.

Representative to Congress:  Jane Newton (Liberty Union). She's completely wrong about industrial wind, but so right about (and for) everything else.

Governor:  Dave Eagle (Liberty Union)

Lieutenant Governor:  Ben Mitchell (Liberty Union)

State Treasurer:  Jessica Diamondstone (Liberty Union)

Secretary of State:  Mary Alice Herbert (Liberty Union)

Auditor of Accounts:  Jerry Levy (Liberty Union)

Attorney General:  Rosemarie Jackowski (Liberty Union)


November 3, 2012

Why aren't Green and Socialist Parties on Vermont Presidential ballot?

While the Republicans curtail democracy for voters, the Democrats curtail it for candidates.

The statewide ballot in Vermont includes 5 candidates for President: Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Peta Lindsay of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, and Mitt Romney of the Republican Party. Notably missing are Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party.

It turns out that in 2009, Vermont changed its ballot access rules for third parties (but not for the Dem/Rep duopoly), requiring petitions and candidate selection 3 months earlier than the duopolist parties. Rocky Anderson's campaign successfully sued to have more time to gather signatures, but Vermont's Dem/Rep/Prog Secretary of State Jim Condos stated that although the court ruled against the new rules, the court decision only applied to the Justice Party. Condos said that each party would have to sue on its own behalf. And so the Green Party is not on the ballot. And although Liberty Union, the long-established Vermont affiliate of the Socialist Party, filed their nomination of Stewart Alexander in August along with the rest of their slate, Condos rejected their inclusion on the ballot for President. Again, he said they would have to sue to get on the ballot.

(And if all that weren't enough to keep you off the ballot, some (most? all?) states require filing as a write-in candidate to be counted as such.)

I might as well also mention here the fraudulent games of Vermont's Progressive Party, which often runs a candidate in the party primary only to prevent a candidate running against the Democrats. Most recently, party chair Martha Abbott put her name on the primary ballot because she did not want a Progressive candidate to run against Democrat Peter Shumlin. As promised, after she eked out a win against a write-in campaign, she withdrew, so there is no Progressive candidate for governor on the ballot despite the clear wish of many Progressive voters.

Some people might think it's nice that our choices are thus already made for us, but you can't call this democracy.

Also see: "Basic Steps of Election Reform"


November 1, 2012

Green Mountain College president is a mite paranoid

[Scroll down for updates to this post.]

From: President Paul J. Fonteyn
To: GMC Campus Community
Date: October 31, 2012
Re: Update on Bill and Lou

As you know, Green Mountain College has become the focus of widespread attention regarding our decision to slaughter our ten-year old team of oxen. I stand by the decision our community arrived at through a process that insured that all members had the opportunity to express their opinions.

I also compliment faculty, staff and students who, whether they personally agreed with the final decision or not, have demonstrated extraordinary civility in their interactions with each other, and with external individuals and organizations. Some of these external groups are attempting to use Bill and Lou as mascots for their own animal rights agendas. I am appalled by the abusive nature of some of the communications you have been receiving--if you are concerned about personal threats please notify the Office of Student Affairs.

Initially we decided to slaughter the oxen by the end of this month. However, we will not be able to meet this timetable because regional slaughterhouses have been inundated with hostile and threatening emails and phone calls from extremist groups bent on interfering with the processing. These businesses are mostly small, family-operated Vermont enterprises that provide local meat for local consumers. This is a busy time of year for them, and many have expressed fears that their operations might be shut down by protesters if they accept the oxen.

We have decided to continue to care for the oxen until a date with a reputable slaughterhouse can be obtained. In the meantime, Lou and Bill will not be sent to a sanctuary but will continue to stay with us in familiar surroundings. Eventually the animals will be processed as planned.

Green Mountain College has many allies who support the kind of sustainable agriculture in Vermont which GMC represents. Below is a statement made by Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Chuck Ross.

As always, I'm available for discussion with any member of the GMC community who has questions or concerns.
Statements from the faculty have echoed the president's claim that the entire GMC community participated in making the decision to slaughter the oxen Bill and Lou, and that although Lou was injured months ago, the decision to kill him and his partner Bill, too, instead of retire them, was not made until students returned in the Fall. In fact, an Oct. 12 statement from the college says, "This was a decision many months in the making, with members of our community carefully weighing alternatives." It seems that the decision was already made, apparently by farm manager Kenneth Mulder and provost Bill Throop primarily, and that the only community-wide discussion was about that already made decision:
Ethics of Sending Draft Animals to Slaughter Discussion

When: Thursday, October 04, 2012
Time: 1 - 2:30 p.m.
Where: East Room

At the end of this month, Bill and Lou, the long-standing team of oxen for Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm will leave the farm to be processed for meat.

Bill and Lou have worked as draft animals on the farm for over ten years. They have provided the motive power for a research and education program in draft animal farming that includes hay harvesting, vegetable production, animal driving and training, and electricity production. Last summer, Bill and Lou were featured in several workshops at the New England Organic Farmers’ Association summer conference.

This past year, Lou sustained a recurring injury to his left rear hock that has made it difficult for him to work. After attempting several remedies and giving him a prolonged rest without any improvement, it was the professional opinion of the farm staff and consulting veterinarians that he was no longer fit to work. Farm staff searched for a replacement animal to pair with Bill, but single oxen are difficult to find and it is uncertain that Bill would accept a new teammate in any case. After much deliberation, it was decided to purchase a new team and retire Bill and Lou.

“This has been a difficult decision all around,” stated farm manager Kenneth Mulder. “It is the traditional understanding with working cattle that when they reach the end of their working careers they are still productive as meat animals. But that does not make it easy.”

Bill and Lou cost approximately $300 per month to keep and will provide enough hamburger and beef to the college dining hall to last for a couple months. It is the general feeling of the farm crew and the farm management that the most ecologically and financially sustainable decision was to send them for processing.

On October 4th from 1 to 2:30 in the East Room, there will be an open class session on the ethics of sending draft animals to slaughter. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.
Update, Nov. 11:  The fact that the decision was already made was stated by student Alison Putnam in the Boston Globe: "Putnam is a member of the farm crew, consisting of students and staff, which she said made the initial decision. The administration supported the farm crew’s decision, Putnam said."

The president is paranoid (and perhaps psychopathic) in making Green Mountain College the victim, when the criticism from "outside" is about GMC's needless cruelty to its working animals — hardly the work of "extremist groups", who are "threatening" the "processing" only with publicity. It should be noted that it was GMC alumni who, when they were told of their college's plans for Bill and Lou, called animal rights groups, particularly Green Mountain Animal Defenders, who then sought a sanctuary to offer retirement. VINE Sanctuary, the only one in Vermont, was one of those that responded.

As for the "ethics of sending draft animals to slaughter discussion", that is not an exercise in ethics at all, but rather in excuse making for a decision already made.

Update, Nov. 12:  Fonteyn further illustrates his ever more evidently psychopathic paranoia in his Nov. 11 announcement that Lou had been killed early that morning:
As reported in my October 31 email to the community, our original timetable was disrupted by outside organizations seeking to appropriate the images of the oxen for their extremist agendas, including the abolition of animal agriculture. Without shame, these groups harassed and threatened local slaughterhouses, making it impossible for them to accept our animals, and therefore for us to carry out our decision expeditiously. Despite our attempts to use the most humane and local options available, one of the only Animal Welfare Approved slaughterhouses in the area was forced to cancel our appointment as a result of these hostile threats. Some individuals associated with these efforts have even discussed giving drugs to our animals, which would render the meat unacceptable for human consumption.

... Bill will not be sent to a sanctuary but will stay on Cerridwen Farm and will be cared for in a manner that follows sustainable, humane livestock practices, as is the case with all of our animals. We take responsibility for our animals on the farm--it is an obligation we will not ask others to bear.

I know at times the attention has been harsh and unfair, but it has also provided a platform to present some of the best aspects of Green Mountain College: our intellectual courage to squarely examine moral dilemmas, our values of sustainability, and our commitment to discourse over doctrine. I am proud of how GMC students have engaged with colleagues and with people outside our community in mature, thoughtful, and civil ways. ... [emphases added]
1. It was GMC alumni, not "outsiders", who raised the alarm. In any case, a college is not an ivory tower. GMC's focus, sustainability, is not normally considered in terms of "us-versus-them" survivalism, but indeed is concerned the larger community.

2. It is not extremist, but normal practice, to retire rather than slaughter work animals.

3. The only "harassment" of slaughterhouses was in the number of calls from around the world asking them to not accept these oxen. The only threats were of bad publicity. Although many of those concerned are vegan and indeed would like to see the end of animal agriculture, many are not. Moreover, vegans are not delusional that animal agriculture is going to end any time soon and therefore advocated only for Bill and Lou, not, e.g., to abolish GMC's home-grown beef project. Yet it is not "extremist" to seek the abolition of animal agriculture. Along the interest that GMC purports to pursue, the U.N. has warned that animal agriculture is a major contributor of greenhouse gases and a misappropriation of resources. It is neither sustainable nor humane.

4. The response to GMC's determination to slaughter Bill and Lou despite offers of sanctuary has been deservedly harsh and not unfair. Despite Fonteyn's closing words, he and other administrators and faculty have been exposed as intellectually lazy cowards, committed not to honest discourse but indeed to self-serving — inflexible and therefore inhumane — doctrine.

5. Many of the students have proved to be infantile, idiotic, and insulting, so Fonteyn's pride is clearly only in their firm backing of him. Because he, too, is clearly infantile, idiotic, and insulting. His language is the lashing out of an abuser found out.

Update, Jan. 16, 2013:  Apparently still hoping to kill Bill, "farm" director Philip Ackerman-Leist, assistant "farm" manager Baylee Rose Drown, and student Meiko Lunetta pled before the Vt. House Committee on Agriculture on Tuesday for "protection" from the outrage provoked by their needless (and heedless) cruelty in refusing offers of sanctuary for their hardworked and beloved oxen to instead sell them for dog food.

As comments below the story indicate, the logic is: a) GMC is trying to get away from factory farming; and b) Bill and Lou are/were not on a factory farm; so c) it is/was necessary to kill Bill and Lou. The corollary is that anyone with a different conclusion from (c) is therefore against (a). And because (a) is inarguably good, anyone asking for compassion toward Bill and Lou is inarguably bad. It's madness, really.

human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont

October 26, 2012

Lou and Bill and the desire to eat them

Alison Putnam and Meiko Lunetta tend to Lou, who with partner Bill has become a symbol at Green Mountain College, but they are to be sent to a slaughterhouse.
Photo by Caleb Kenna for the Boston Globe
Alison Putnam and Meiko Lunetta tend to Lou,
who with partner Bill has become a symbol at Green Mountain College,
but they are to be sent to a slaughterhouse.

All they need do now is dress the animals in garlands and fine fabrics and dance and sing around them as they're led to slaughter — sacrifices on the altar of environmental sustainability.

The “moral complexity”, as Green Mountain College Provost Bill Throop called it, clearly means only a web of rationalizations based on the false premise that the students must eat meat. The “complexity” arises to create a fog of distraction from the fundamental fallacy behind their choice. Like Michael Pollan, the students and staff at this college are now traveling over great lengths of ethical deliberation only to arrive right where they started: Kill the beast; We must eat.

We have not seen an exercise of moral decision making. We see only self-serving rationalizations of unnecessary violence.

Lou and Bill

Update:  See the articles by Marc Bekoff:

Update (5 Nov):  "Grass Power at GMC"
Training sessions are usually done by Christopher Bergen who has also lead [sic] general driving and experiential lessons in dealing with the oxen. [Ben] Dube closed out with a few tips. “To be a good teamster, you need to be sensitive and attentive, but also not afraid to express authority and dominance. I think that most people who start out on Bill and Lou have more trouble with the latter. Sometimes you have to be a little mean with them, which isn’t easy to do with such sweet animals. I don’t like it, but over time, you learn that they don’t really resent it or mind it much.” [emphasis added] In being around Bill and Lou I have seen that this is definitely the case, and understanding how to work with them is a good learning experience.
animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont

October 25, 2012

Is it “hair on fire” or “pants on fire,” Mr Shumlin?

Write In Annette Smith For Vermont Governor

Smith Calls Out Shumlin and Brock for Hypocrisy on Climate Change and Energy

Working out of her homestead-office in Danby, Independent candidate for Vermont Governor Annette Smith's carbon footprint and renewable energy lifestyle sets an example that others, especially Governor Shumlin, and Randy Brock, could learn from.

“Referring to climate change, Governor Shumlin says ‘our hair is on fire’ and Vermont must do everything possible to stop climate change. Then he burns thousands of gallons of fossil fuel flying to Florida to look for EB5 money for his friends, and flies to California for a fundraiser, and flies again to California for ‘negotiations’ over computer systems with a firm that just happens to have also donated to his campaign,” said Annette. “Shumlin’s supposed desire to fight climate change didn’t stop him from spending four full months traveling out of state in the past year.”

Annette offers a different approach to energy issues, leading by example and empowering local communities. She spends her days advocating for those concerned about their health, their environment and their future; she has been using photovoltaics for her home more than 20 years. She uses solar hot water, drives a car that gets 40mpg, and grows a big garden at her homestead. Annette understands from experience that it is indeed possible to implement “Vermont scale” renewable energy to reduce dependence on expensive and polluting fossil fuels.

“Mr. Brock seems to think that Vermont can have a prosperous future while still endorsing dependence on imported fossil and nuclear fuels to run our economy, but we all know we need to scale back,” said Annette. “And our Governor has made investments in several fossil fuel companies, even as he advocates for the industrialization of our ridge-lines to fight climate change.”

“This hypocrisy and manipulation cannot stand. The best thing that Vermont can do about climate change and peak oil is lead by example and become more self-reliant in ways that actually benefit Vermonters. Vermont’s impact on global greenhouse gas emissions is a drop in the bucket. But we can and must lead by example using realistic, Vermont-scale solutions – not with hypocritical corporate-scale projects that send money and power out of Vermont. We must reframe this discussion, for the health, well-being and energy security of future generations in Vermont,” Annette added. “Shumlin is doing exactly the opposite of leading the way, and is selling out to large corporate interests while thousands of Vermonters struggle with high energy costs. He is a poster-child for excessive personal energy consumption. His advocacy for false solutions like residential smart meters and consolidation of Vermont’s energy infrastructure under foreign-owned mega-corporations make it clear that Shumlin is not a true leader on climate or energy issues.”

Annette believes that the millionaire candidates Shumlin and Brock could also learn something from the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to Vermont. The Dalai Lama responded to a question about what humanity's ethical response to climate change should be, by noting that western society consumes too much and we should be more content and live more simply. Annette lives this perspective in her daily life and recognizes that Vermont’s fossil fuel consumption for heating, hot water and transportation should be the priorities, not our electricity grid which can today be supplied with existing in-state and regional hydro-power.

Annette emphasizes that the first step towards reducing Vermont’s fossil fuel cost and emissions is to reduce consumption: “Turn the lights off. Turn the thermostat down. Button up the house. Convert fossil fueled hot water and heating to solar, wood-fired or heat pumps powered by photovoltaics,” she said. “The key to all of these real solutions is empowering Vermonters with affordable financing to make this transition at the household and community level, instead of subsidizing corporate false-solutions that trick consumers into sending their money out of the state.”


Vermont must aggressively promote energy conservation and reverse the trend of increasing monopoly power over our energy supply. We must support local control over our energy resources instead of subsidizing out-of-state monopolies. Forcing residential wireless smart meters and the corporate industrialization of our pristine ridgelines is not a solution to either climate change or energy security. Distributed solar electric and hot water, sustainable biomass heating fuels, ecologically designed micro-hydro, and the sensible reclamation of our existing hydro-power should be our priorities.

Visit for more information about how you can get involved in her independent WRITE IN campaign for Vermont governor. Print ads and Palm Cards can be downloaded from her website for volunteer supporters to use.


Save Bill and Lou!

12:00–3:00 pm
Poultney, Vermont

Corner of College and Main Street in front of Brennan Circle on sidewalk

Dress comfortably and warm.

Signs: Bring your own favorite or signs will be available

Contact: Jennifer Wolf: jennifer.wolf78/,

This protest is for Bill and Lou, 2 oxen who have worked for 10 years at Green Mountain College, which now wants to kill and eat them. VINE sanctuary [blog] in Springfield, Vermont has offered to take Bill and Lou, but the college insists that eating them is the best thing to do.

Whatever your motivation is, ALL are welcome who support Bill and Lou not being sent to slaughter!

The whole world is watching!

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Facebook event:

List of petitions:

Media links:

James McWilliams:

animal rights, vegetarianism