Note on Removal of Post about Wolves

All, I had seen the post after I got home from work, and meditated on it as I drove to choir practice. I couldn’t shake the bad feeling that it gave me, as if our space were somehow polluted by the graphic depiction of violence and the words of a disturbed
person. I hesitated because I respect Matthew and the perspective he represents.

The photo is of a ritual cleansing practice, smudging with sage.

25 thoughts on “Note on Removal of Post about Wolves”

  1. So for those of us that wish to read said article because others pointed us here–I guess we’re S.O.L.?

    Glad I was introduced to your blog in this way, ugh.

    • Maybe not. Maybe Matthew will resurrect the post elsewhere, and link back here to these comments to avail any who are curious to its gruesome contents—not Matthew’s post, but the photo and the text of one of the many such things the “bubbas” of the hook-and-bullet crowd share among themselves on their ‘behind the veil’ blogs and chat rooms. Disclosure: I am a hunter too, but I believe that hunters need to talk openly about what is OK and what is not both as to their pursuit and to their banter about their pursuit. Remember Leopold’s rendition of his killing of wolves? Here a snip:

      In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.

      We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

      I don’t know whether posts like Matthews recent one are appropriate here at NCFP or not. The wolves issue is a hot button item in the west right now and the Forest Service is right smack in the middle of it.

      I am working up a little post right now on some policy/perspective from the Society of American Foresters (SAF) that seems to be to be pretty close to the line re: pornography. Not my post, but rather the SAF source reference. But there are no pictures of dying wolves, caught in traps, then dispatched by trappers. BTW, if my recollection of the post is correct, what the hell is sporting about any of it. Even for those who think it OK to hunt predators, why is it OK to trap them first? On reflection, the two issues, hunting and trapping, are separate, and the source reference for Matthews post was a trappers source.

      Incidentally, I’m sure that some of my posts here and elsewhere are viewed by some in SAF as pornography too. How do we sort it all out? What is OK? What is ‘over the line’?

      Endnote: Matthew did identify one of the “bubbas” in question as a Forest Service employee, although not by name. I think that was unnecessary. But maybe not. It goes to a question that continues to haunt me: What’s fair in love and war (politics)?

  2. Good. I was surprised to see such a post here. But the total paranoia here in idaho about this issue ‘forced” me to comment on this tasteless photo,

  3. Sage doesn’t work so well on the internet Sharon. Nor do your curiously frequent references to your extracurricular faith activities.

    Sage certainly can’t mask the scent of censorship. Nor will its smoke screen the pervasive, and far more insidious sickness of reducing a species to dollar values, and left to the whimsy of a Forest Supervisor to decide whether her budget can afford the viability of a species, or get committed to a deficit timber sale. Or whether that personal favorite of hers — a new interpretive center to help prop up a flagging agency image in the local letters to the editor– gets funded.

    Decisions, decisions.

    An equivalency on a personal level is the decision of whether to sell the wolf hide for quick cash, or invest in a wall mount of the tortured creature to be placed in just the right spot on the wall above the pool table. There is little difference here Sharon.

    Except the not-so-small matter of the scale of the horror, penned from behind the Supervisor’s desk at the end of the fiscal year.

    The image was gut wrenching, the words too familiar and confirming of what I and others know occurs routinely beside the logging roads on our national forests. The high schooler stories here are of the same mentality, having been taught by their parents “management” means shooting wolves on sight and to regard porcupines as vermin because they threaten to reduce the maximum volume per acre of clearcut units. Porcupines have flourished here with close to a million acres of clear cuts to work with in what remains of our coastal temperate rainforest.

    So the kids routinely swerve to hit them on the road or amuse themselves by setting them afire. This is rural American reality Sharon. Sage doesn’t work for this.

    Yes, there exists out there in rural America, an aspect of an agency culture which is the spawn of a wider national culture. They reinforce each other and get perpetuated by notions that money somehow equals life, and if there is no dollar value arbitrarily ascribed to life — then that life is “worthless.”

    Having family in the newspaper business, surely you can grok the relationship of disappeared graphic realities of the imagery of war in our mainstream media to the consequences which allow a populace, to be either insulated or inured, from the horrors we fund as taxpayers to send American soldiers to far away places doing the same thing as was done to the wolf, and worse — only to other humans — whether in Abu Ghraib, or the Congo, or Columbia, or even the District of Columbia.

    Occasionally images are needed, so that whatever vestigial remnant of humanity might remain within us behind the facades and delusions of decency might then be startled to reawaken to the horror of what we have spawned in our children, and our neighbors and our caucuses and choir practices — aided and abetted by being allowed to quietly foment and fester through censorship in the press.

  4. In Mary Stewart’s Arthurian tale “The Crystal Cave”, Merlin states that “when you are looking for what I am looking for, you have to look in strange places. Men can never look at the sun, except downwards, at his reflection in things of earth. If he is reflected in a dirty puddle, he is still the sun. There is nowhere I will not look, to find him.” As disturbing as the article was, it was still enlightening in that it gave us a glimpse into the irrational minds of those on both sides of this very controversial issue. This seemed to be a case of some truth “reflected in a dirty puddle”…

    Also I wish you had been specific as to who you referred to as a “disturbed person”. I was pretty sure you weren’t targeting Koehler, but wasn’t sure if you meant Gibson, “pinching”, or the anonymous individual who left the death threat…

    • Mike, sorry, I thought it was clear; I meant the individual death who left the death threat.

      David- I know there is horror and evil in the world. I don’t think that anyone doubts that. This blog is about our relatively puny and humble efforts at making the world a better place, bit by bit, starting with our area of expertise, public lands policy.

      I reference my activities because I am being honest about who I am. If I had gone to the bar, or to book club, or piano practice, or to a casino, I would have referenced that. I also think it’s important because while I have a lot to say about the topics brought up this week and next, I won’t have much time to post or comment.

  5. Wow, I actually can’t believe a very short post I put up linking to the entire article on the Earth Island Institute’s blog was removed here. I really wish that Sharon would have at least contacted me prior to removing my post, as I just now found out this morning.

    For those who want to read the actual article, it can be found here:

    The Great Falls Tribune also ran this article this morning:

    Photos of live, trapped wolf prompt threats to Missoula-based group|topnews|text|Frontpage

    In my mind, that sage should be burned for this wolf that suffered so greatly. Thanks.

  6. Like Sharon I too found the post especially disturbing. I refused to check back during the day – in part because I needed some of the anger to subside and ask myself just what I could do to confront and rectify such an issue – and it is a relevant FS planning issue. I also wondered how long the post would remain and was not surprised to find it removed this morning.

    However stressful (and I like Sharon’s word polluted), we simply have to squarely confront such events because there are real, underlying public issues. Simply, we must better to understand the root cause and genesis of this event. Mr. Beebe is correct, the schism between rural and urban America has been escalating for 20-30 years. That schism is getting riper for exploitation and will only exacerbate the conflict for both urban and rural residents and certainly put the FS in a no-win position – not unlike police dealing with domestic violence.

    I also agree with Mr. Iverson on the issue of trapping. The science of predator control is valid but why is inhumane killing any part of public policy when humane alternatives exist. I urge the FS to put an end to this program and/or the vendors. Please be responsible stewards to all of us – clearly implementation of this policy is way over the line.

    Lastly, we should not sanitize tough issues or what appears as egregious wrong doing. The only way I know to overcome ugliness is to let enough show through. That is the best vehicle to educate, motivate and demonstrate it does not have to intimidate us collectively. So, I guess the alternative of Mr. Koehler’s follow-up post — linking to the original article — is at best, a second best for the site. An excellent web site in all other aspects.

    • I am fine with Matthew bringing it up. I am fine with Matthew linking to it. I just don’t want to see the images as I scroll through this blog, and the language is unacceptable. I have a feeling that this (wolf hunts and processes) might be a State issue, as my understanding is that the state/federal nexus about wildlife is very complicated.

      At the risk of further offending David, one thing I have done for the past five years or so is be on basically a self-managed team that makes decisions about music at services each Sunday. Week in and week out, year in and year out. People also have strong emotions about church music (e.g. the use of Latin, contemporary, etc.) and individuals in the group that picks (including me) have strong preferences as well. But at the end of the day, someone has to make the call about what’s on the list for Sunday, sometime before Sunday. Similarly, someone had to make the call about this and I did.

      And for those who didn’t find the smudging sufficient, the wealth of the internet provided this “blessing for a blog” from Temple Beth Elohim here.

  7. I am not sure that we should protect ourselves from disturbing aspects of the world we live in. Maybe there is value in confronting those things which make us uncomfortable.

    Remember when American soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camps and they forced “blameless” local citizens to view the conditions in the camps _before_ they were cleaned up?

    I am not saying these are the same; just pointing out the perils of censorship.

    • Tree, thinking about your post got me started exploring the internet about “using the Holocaust as metaphor.” Since my family included German Jews (note my last name), I feel deeply about this. There is a book, “Holocaust Images and Picturing Catastrophe: The Cultural Politics of Seeing” by Angi Buettner, from which I could not copy the paragraph but it’s on page 112 of this book, the middle paragraph, that specifically talks about the difficulty in drawing analogies between genocide and animals. See also pages 117 and 118 about PETA’s use of the Holocaust.

      On page 112 in the middle paragraph, there is a quote from Brecht’s poem “To Those Who Follow in Our Wake”, which may be relevant to this discussion. The whole poem is here translated by Scott Horton. He says that it dates probably from 1939.

      Truly, I live in dark times!

      An artless word is foolish. A smooth forehead

      Points to insensitivity. He who laughs

      Has not yet received

      The terrible news.

      What times are these, in which

      A conversation about trees is almost a crime

      For in doing so we maintain our silence about so much wrongdoing!

      • I should have expected people to misinterpret the analogy even after I tried to make clear in my first post how I was intending to use it. To be clear, my analogy was NOT that killing wolves is like killing people, but that there are historical examples where people thought it worthwhile for the community to see things likely to make them uncomfortable. Just to avoid this confusion, maybe I should have used a different analogy, like Upton Sinclair’s book about the meat packing industry.

        If the purpose of removing the post was to avoid an uncomfortable discussion that might include emotion as well as science and reason, I don’t think it succeeded. It also reveals a pessimistic view of this blog’s readership.

        • I put using imagery like that in the same category as PETA, which most people consider to be too provocative and vicious. Same for people who continue to label foresters as “tree murderers”, and even worse, violent, sexual things, which I will not mention here. (Of course, you know what that term is, without asking)

  8. Making people link to something rather than showing the images is not “censorship.”

    I am leaving the choice to the people on the blog about what they see. We are an association of grown-ups of different sensibilities and this seems to be a compromise that includes the values of hospitality plus those of expression.

  9. Sharon, you are claiming:
    “Making people link to something rather than showing the images is not ‘censorship.'”

    Censorship defined:

    censorship |ˈsensərˌSHip|
    the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts:

    First, you invited Matthew to post articles.
    Second, you unilaterally took down the post employing zero consultation with Matthew.
    Third, you explained why, and what you censored (the image)

    Sorry, that’s censorship defined.

    Whether you offer after-the-fact opportunities (which of course are available with a google search anyway) does not erase the First, Second, and Third points as realities.

    You have censored, then claimed that you didn’t, and then chose to mitigate those acts with an act qualified by the condescending phrase, “We are an association of grown-ups…” This implies anyone who disagrees with you is acting childish.

    I find this offensive.

    Earlier, you wrote,”I am fine with Matthew bringing it up. I am fine with Matthew linking to it.”

    If so, then, it would seem, a conference with Matthew would have been appropriate, rather than the monocratic approach wielded after you “meditated on it as (you) drove to choir practice.”

    (Exactly how do you meditate while you drive?)

    • I beg to differ from the standpoint of “suppressing”. Suppressing would be not allowing links.

      I “zero consulted” Matthew because I was at work and then busy all evening.
      I meant by the “grown-ups” not to infer that anyone was childish. I meant to say that it is up to each of us to choose which images we see. This method (allowing the links) allows all the members of this community that choice.

      For those concerned with my safety, I should perhaps have used the term “mull it over during a conversations with a Higher Power (Gaia to you, Larry ;)).” I was afraid that some might find the HP term offensive so used the more generic “meditate.”

      If you are interested in the details.. here is a post on praying while driving. Of course there is the emergency kind of praying a la the Carrie Underwood songhere , but that’s a different kettle of icons.

      • I fully support your right to say anything about your religion on your blog, Sharon. You should never have to apologize for your faith, despite what readers might say. It is unfair to attack someone’s choice of faith, especially if you don’t follow it. It is downright rude, IMHO. It is more about you behavior, and Sharon has certainly been impeccable in her actions, on her own blog (although she teases me, from time to time). Those who don’t like it should maybe go somewhere else?? There ARE standards of good taste, tolerance and respect. Those of us who LIKE to see blood and gore, can certainly follow a link to another website with less ethics and less style. I do believe in a “higher power” but, that one doesn’t require worship and exclusivity.

        • And, I didn’t mean to imply that I liked blood and gore. I consider the wold issue to be a local thing, and I see both sides of the issue, not supporting either.

      • suppress |səˈpres|
        verb [ with obj. ]
        forcibly put an end to
        • prevent the development, action, or expression of (a feeling, impulse, idea, etc.); restrain
        • prevent the dissemination of (information)

        • There are NUMEROUS liberal websites that exclude anti-liberal content, David. One example is the Democratic Underground site, where this was just one practice they used to exclude dissent..

          “Be a hero! Join the Malicious Intruder Removal Team today!”

          That means anyone opposing their agenda is labeled as a malicious intruder.

          At the same time, the Grist website excludes talk about forests, as that isn’t part of their program, and they are ill-equipped to defend their established rotting platform regarding forest management. I was threatened with removal from both sites.

          QUITE blatant!

    • I’m sorry….I can’t stay silent…….

      After seeing Matt’s original post I commented immediately and asked Sharon to remove it. Not sure if what I wrote had any influence but the jist was this:

      [NCFP] Purpose:
      We intend to provide a forum where different academic communities (social, physical and biological disciplines, law, policy), agency employees and retirees, students and the general public can come together to share perspectives on FORST PLANNING AND OTHER RELATED TOPICS (emphasis added).

      My comments to Sharon were that NCFP is a place to come to read and participate in some intellectually challenging, thought provoking and for the most part civil and/or respectful “discussion” (about Forest Planning/Policy).

      Regardless of your beliefs on wolf management, it is an incendiary and devisive topic that does not lend itself to civil, respectful or rational discussion. No judgement implied, but a look at any of the comments on the linked blogs will prove that. Far too much emotion on an extremely volatile subject. My concern and plea to Sharon was that by leaving Matt’s original post on here, we’d be headed down that same road here. There are readers/contributors/commenters here that are both for and against wolf management.

      I was shocked (well, maybe not) to see the first comments (and continued for that matter…I mean really..Nazi’s, concentration camps-really? come on!!) to Matt’s original post violated both the comment policy:

      NCFP Comment Policy:
      This is a moderated blog. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other with respect. We will not post comments that contain vulgar or abusive language; personal attacks of any kind; or offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly “off topic” or that promote services or products.

      Some people use aliases on this blog; no comments “outing” them will be allowed.

      and also the:

      Recommended Comment Considerations
      When commenting, please consider the three doors that charitable speech must pass through. The gatekeeper at the door asks, “Is it true?” The second gatekeeper asks, “Is it helpful?” The third gatekeeper asks, “Is it kind?”

      I think removing the post was wise. It was not censorship, just off topic. It was respectful of the broader audience here on NCFP. I doubt any of the routine participators are ignorant about wolf management…..I mean really…..I’m always impressed at just how much “in-the-know” most of you are. And you retired folks….GO FISHING! ENJOY! RELAX!!! (Actually I admire your passion….good on ya!)

      There are plenty of other avenues or venues where folks can go to weigh in on wolf management. This site doesn’t need to be one of those. Discussion/debate about wolf management on this site would confound the already difficult FOREST POLICY and PLANNING discussions. Whereas I’ve seen folks conceeding points back and forth over policy and planning, the wolf thing is just too much of a hot topic and slippery slope to deal with here. no need to wear your heart on your sleeve HERE.

  10. In Response to JZ whose (deleted?) post precipitated Sharon’s decision to censor has led JZ to apologize for not being able to stay silent (??) even though having been the first commenter :


    Wolf as a species, and wolf “management” (and other predator-control policies) are inextricably linked to forest policy planning — especially National Forest policy and planning.
    Matthew’s original post was an ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE post for this blog as it relates intimately to the NCFP purposes you cite. (Further, the fact that the grinning perpetrator was a USFS employee is also emblematic of an oft-cited “agency culture” at the center of forest policy and planning.)

    Predator control policy figures heavily as a way to (ahem) “mitigate”(sic) two salient consequences of forest policy “management”(sic) (which is disproportionately linked to old growth timber “harvest”(sic)):

    1) the consequences of unsustainable rates of extraction of old growth which result in anthropogenic competition for prey species (moose, elk, deer) and,

    2) the consequences of unsustainable rates of extraction of old growth which result in forcing wolves to switch from natural prey species to domestic species in your neck of the woods.

    In my neck of the woods, on the Tongass National Forest, the Tonka Timber Sale DEIS attempted to employ the underhanded tactic of calculating road densities by adding elevational area wholly inappropriate to the road density impacts on a subspecies of wolf (ligoni) in this recently deglaciated archipelago, already known for its propensity for endemism.

    This corruption of science within the NEPA process on the Tongass puts the wolf in the crosshairs of forest policy penned behind the comfy desk of the SO, which under the devolution promulgated by the New Planning Rule will effectively if not whimsically relegate a species into a mere budget item of an SO. This outrageous turn in the Planning Rule follows closely on the heels of similar agency deception and corruption of science. That is — the SO having recently been caught (by local citizens which brought the issue to the courts) signing-off on a corrupted deer model to mask (mitigate?) the effects of prior and present UNSUSTAINABLE levels of old growth timber extraction here, with consequences to wolves now being considered for ESA listing and consequences to deer which have shown dramatic downturns in population, and consequences to humans in terms of their continued access to subsistence uses of deer.

    JZ, if you aren’t satisfied with references to the mentality of a grinning USFS employee posing triumphantly in front of a tortured wolf being emblematic of the mentality of similar twisted grins emanating from guards at Nazi concentration camps, I invite you to entertain those of my own, connecting such examples as grinning American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. I have received a lot of feedback on this comment which agree with the appropriateness of the connections I employed. Try not to get too sidetracked on ethnic origins of surnames.

    Now that I have demonstrated these connections as appropriate to the purpose statement of NCFP and refuted your false argument in favor of censorship and suppression, I at least feel that the purposes of this blog have been served — even in the face of dissembling and false arguments used to justify censorship and suppression.

    • David says

      …corruption of science within the NEPA process on the Tongass puts the wolf in the crosshairs of forest policy … the SO having recently been caught (by local citizens which brought the issue to the courts) signing-off on a corrupted deer model to mask (mitigate?) the effects of prior and present UNSUSTAINABLE levels of old growth timber extraction here, with consequences to wolves now being considered for ESA listing …

      Yes, “Corruption of science” is a germane topic for NCFP.. So is fraud/deception in ecological or other modeling used in NEPA/NFMA process. But what Matthew posted? I’m not convinced that it was germane for NCFP. Yes, there is an element of “culture,” in play, but that was (at most) only tangentially related to FS work. At least that’s the way I see it. I too was disgusted by the photo and associated banter, e.g. “make a good wallhanger”, but I can not find myself agreeing with you on this one, David. At minimum we all have to think hard about what we post, and why we post. I am not blaming Matthew for putting the post up, I might have done the same thing in the “heat of the moment”, with emotions running high. And I’m pretty sure that the FS employee is now regretting what he did in posing in front of the trapped wolf, and writing what he did on the trappers site. On the other hand, I think that the news coverage of the whole affair was OK too, as well as posting the affair on Footloose, Montana.

      Finally, I do think that we have to continue to explore the boundaries of what is OK for our NCFP blog. And I’m glad the you weigh-in frequently on that aspect of our endeavor. Right now, however, I think that particular post crossed the line. Somehow I suspect I’ll be the next one to cross the line. How else do we even begin to decide what is OK, and what is not? So it goes.

      That said, I’m glad we are discussing “lines” here.


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