I am a living artifact from Fahrenheit 451
moved out of the cities for this principal reason: my father was dying. Once, when discussing my mother with my father, which I did rarely because he was damned scary, he said, “Your mother is my responsibility. When I die, she will go mad and then it will be yours.”
I knew if I worked in Toronto, London or New York, where I could find work relatively easily, I’d be getting a call from neighbors saying “your mother was wandering around the complex in her nightgown in the middle of the night”. And by then, it would be too late to stabilize her. I knew I could prevent it. I was good at it, I’d spent my childhood stepping in front of a gathering storm and diverting it, mostly as a kid, by falling ill. As soon as I could I left, and moved thousands of miles away, increasing the distance between us with every move, questioning myself in South Africa, the Middle East, Paris, Madrid, could I live here, could I work here? It was feverish, I knew some day, it would be over.
I did have skills. I had a numerate graduate degree taken in order to discipline a racketing mind and I had been vigorously and rigorously trained in reporting and news writing at Time Inc. What could I write, though, out here in the sticks? There were no big stories, no famous people moving the culture forward, not even silly celebrities to mock. Fish and Trees, I’d say to myself, that is your future.
I was a bit panicked, let’s put it that way.
And deep in my panic, I found friends. Good friends, who liked me, praised me, wanted to ‘help’ me. Eager to tell me about how involvement in the environmental movement would rock my world. So I said, tell me about it. Three years later I considered myself fully educated. I’d talked to hundreds of people, read all the scary literature, gone to frightening lectures, and with only a little distance, believed it all might be possible. We were in the Sixth Great Extinction. We only had Ten Years Left.
And then, being properly trained, I started to ask questions. And the moment I did, all my lovely new friends turned on me. My utility to them was that I was writing for the Globe and Mail and Harper’s. Not me. I was disposable.
I pushed. I started to talk to foresters, miners, government officials, think tank people, mayors of small towns, farmers. I grew used to people driving into my driveway and getting out of their cars brandishing books and regulations, who would then walk me though through those regulations, showing me how they were being ruined. Their small town? Ruined. Their farms? Ruined.
Not one of the country people I talked to, and I spoke to ten thousand, had anything but a restorative attitude to their resource, farm, mine or forest. Not. One. But I’d sit in a small town mayor’s office deep into Washington state, she walking me through the latest requirement from Fish and Wildlife, saying. “How can I do this?” She’d say. “I have to do this, but if I do, people will starve.”
Just as an aside, has any reporter methodically read the legislation of any act, the following on regulation, and then the rules that attach to that regulation? Has any reporter buried herself into the internal documents of an Agency or Ministry of the government and read their various policy statement, process and rules orders? Then read the senior regulation to that specific act, the regional and then the provincial regulation? And then, traced the source of that regulation, those rules?
No one reads regulation except the people who have to conform to it in order to feed themselves. After the first hundred thousand words you want to kill yourself.
It turned out I was living in a major node, the Big Cell of a thousand thousand cells, of the environmental movement. A node so powerful they had shut down the biggest industrial forest in the world, along with mining, town development, ski hills, the wild fishery and were now focused on fish farms. So I visited all these places and talked to the men and women who made our food, energy, fiber, mined the minerals we need. I went up into the bush to talk to natives who ran the fish farms. Each of whom were struggling mightily to conform and could not, the regulations were written to be pitiless. Some of them were starving and homeless, tents, trailer camps and welfare, more about to be. No one cared. The homeless in the streets? Guess where a lot of them come from.
And every time I’d write about it, all hell would break loose. Within a day, letters were being written to the local newspapers, two a week at first, then five letters a week. Then regional letters. I was called names. Whispering campaigns were started. I tried to hire a researcher. A likely candidate called me to refuse saying she was told not to, for her own social success on the island.
Teens, activated by their furious parents would wheel down my road in the middle of the night, heavy metal blaring from their CD players. Anonymous letters arrived, saying old boyfriends said I was a bitch or a liar or something preposterous. My phone became a nightmare, ringing at all hours. When I published the Harper’s piece about the island my editor told me that not in their 158 year history had letters been so vicious and hate-filled.
I picked up stalkers. Five to be precise. There is nothing more tempting to a sick mind that a pretty little face with unpopular political opinions, hunted in the press, her picture in the national newspaper once a week, who lives at the end of a dirt road. Alone.
A man drove across the country in a van, they said, to give me a piece of his mind. Twice. Twice. Someone released from a mental hospital took a bus out. Twice. The van guy would drive down my driveway at midnight, headlights glaring, then reverse top speed. I built a fence and closed the gate at night.
Death threats, thousands. One particular stalker was both rich and extra crazy. He would park outside my house in his car all day and smoke. His death threats contained sentences like “you (expletives deleted) bitch. I’ve hired men to come kill (expletives deleted) you in the middle of the night. They will arrive in a boat and disappear.” After about a thousand of these, the RCMP got involved, Crown Counsel got involved. He spent many nights in jail. Those who arrested him were sued. RCMP officers were moved off the island, and the Crown Counsel reassigned. A new Crown Counsel was specially appointed. The letters in the press continued, letters to my employers, letters to anyone who had anything to do with my life.
I was so destabilized, I was fired.
And after I was fired, I would lie on my bed in a fetal position with the whole world hating me, spending my nights assaulted with death threats. I didn’t change my phone number because everyone I knew, knew it, I reasoned as a reporter, this was how people found me, and it was important. That was so so so stupid, but I was stubborn.
I started to pray. I’d taught myself a form of Buddhist meditation and was adept enough to get to samadhi or absorption, which was the place from which all my ideas came. But it didn’t help in trouble. I began with Psalm 91, which I said so many times I can recite it, and finally I began a daily prayer practice that basically saved my ass.
It wasn’t until much later I realized I had been targeted. I was interrupting an agenda which had “more money than you can dream of behind it” as one analyst told me. I knew how they had done it. When I was 22, I dated my philosophy teacher, who was a Marxist who taught me everything about Leninism, the thinking behind it, the methodology of the Revolution. He was very black, an Indian from the untouchable caste, his parents indentured laborers in Trinidad. The Anglican church had found him and sent him to Oxford. Seeing the world through his eyes was invaluable, so was his showing me how deeply buried groups of activists were. And how much they hated. How furious and angry and malignant they were.
I was experiencing a time-worn campaign to shut down a voice that conflicted with an over-arching agenda. And in the scheme of things, I was nothing. But in fact, I was almost the only one, everyone else had been chased out. I was an easy kill, required few resources. It was personal, it was vicious beyond belief, and it had nothing to do with truth. If I had continued my work in newspapers, they would have attacked my mother and my brothers, two of the three of whom were fragile.
As of now, this has happened to hundreds of thousands of people in every sector of the economy. The chronicles of the cancelled are many and varied, and they all start with the furies, unbalanced, easily triggered and marshalled to hunt down and kill an enemy. These programs, pogroms, are meticulously planned, they analyze you, find your weakness, and attack it. In my case, it was my solitude, my income, my need to look after my family that made me an easy sacrifice.
I was such an innocent. I thought with my hard-won skills, my ability to reason, to number crunch, to apply economic theory and legit charting, and report, the truth would be valuable, useful.
Every single member of the cancelled has had their faith in the culture badly shaken. They all thought, as I did, that we were in this together, we needed the truth in order to make good decisions, decisions that would promote the good of all.
Not now. Not anymore.
The truth I found behind the fields and forests of the natural world is animating people on the streets in Europe today, the Dutch, French and German farmers. It animated the revolution in Sri Lanka.
Because what I and hundreds of others had found was censored, the destructive agenda has advanced to the point where their backs are against the wall. They don’t have a choice. They have to win. And they are in the millions.
Same with Trump’s people. They aren’t mindless fans or acolytes or sub-human fools. Their backs are against the wall. They have no choice but to fight.
But because I and the many like me, who know what happened, were shut down, disallowed from writing about it, cancelled and vilified, no one understands why this is happening in any depth. City people mock and hate rural people. My photographer colleague/best friend in New York: “racists as far as the eye can see”. My old aristocratic bf London: “Pencil neck turkey farmers”. No city person can take on board that they have allowed legislation and regulation which is destroying the rural economy because they have been brainwashed by the hysteria in the environmental movement. This destruction is not the only reason but it is the fundamental reason for our massive debts and deficits. The base of the economy has been destroyed. We have lost two decades of real growth.
And we did it via censorship.
There is a truism about revolutions in China. All of a sudden, across this great and massive country with its five thousand year culture, people put down their tools and start marching towards the capital, hundreds of millions all at once.
We are almost there. But this time it will be worldwide.
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