Monday, November 28, 2011

Yes, it makes a sound, and we hear it

The documentary, "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" is not just a compelling tale of environmental activists frustrated by traditional methods to thwart (usually unsuccessfully) the destruction of the living planet, but also an exposé of the ratcheted up government response to what was really just property damage. (See: "Eco-terrorism.")

There are two kinds of brutality shown in the film. The first, short clips of oil spills, smokestacks, logging, slaughterhouses and mountain top removal mining. The second, law enforcement's excessive force against protestors, including direct application of pepper spray in the eyes of non-violent resisters, billy-club beatings, etc. Both of these are hard to watch.

A third kind of violence was depicted: that of black block protestors smashing store windows at the "Battle in Seattle," of unoccupied buildings burning, and similar actions. Even a sensitive viewer can watch these without visceral empathy, compassion, or despair. And for us, that's the difference. One thing causes economic pain; the other true, physical suffering. The slaughter of a whale, or a wolf, or a mountain is considered a legitimate transaction; an attempt to harm a corporation's bottom line is a federal crime. It's a fucked up world.

And speaking of suffering, Daniel McGowan is [one of many environmental activists] still in prison. He is the tree that they tried to chop down; let us be the forest that continues to resist.

1 comment:

Phil Carter said...

The most stunning part of this doc for me was close to the beginning when the government prosecutor describes this case as the largest domestic investigation is U.S. history. This case--not Oklahoma City, not multiple abortion doctors murdered in cold blood--was considered worthy of the FBI's time, a string of property damage incidents that didn't harm, much less kill, anyone.