Letters to the Editor

Kudos on environmental justice, and a jeer for the War on Drugs

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:00 am


Corporate silence

Thank you for Sandra Svoboda's amazing coverage of the EPA's national Environmental Justice Conference in Detroit ("Justice for All," Aug. 17). Rarely has this issue been covered in such depth and with so much sensitivity to its nuances and significance. The value of your publication to our community was once again demonstrated.

Maybe I missed it, but there was no other serious media coverage of this important and very interesting event. The only thing that happened at this historic conference, according to most reports, was that Rep. John Conyers denied the existence of "clean coal" — he's on strong ground there, it's purely theoretical — which supposedly threatened West Virginia's economy. These reporters may be fools who don't understand that Conyers called for a just transition for coal miners to less harmful work, or they may be knaves who know how to get ahead in the corporations of their industry by misleading the public, or perhaps a bit of both. What this brings to mind is a crucial point about the role of U.S. corporate media in confusing, dividing and disempowering people.

If (a big "if") the U.S. EPA actually follows through on the law enforcement initiative against racial discrimination (which was discussed in more depth at this meeting than it has been anywhere else in several years); if the EPA now finally revisits the legal framework for evaluating and deciding allegations of illegal discrimination via disparate impacts of pollution on communities of color, like Detroit's besieged 48217 area and southwest side, and neighborhoods breathing incinerator emissions; if the EPA indeed rescinds its infamous 1998 "Select Steel" decision out of Flint, and substitutes a fair and meaningful test for using Title VI to protect people against environmental racism, there will suddenly be a whole lot more corporate media discussion, way beyond West Virginia and the coal corporations (trust me on this); if these important advances in federal government protection against race discrimination begin to take shape, there will be a whole lot more corporate media noise: Absurdly, President Obama will be denounced as a "green socialist." Environmental Justice the "Job Killer" will be dusted off in the neoliberal so-called "think" tanks, and broadcast around the world by TV, radio, Internet and hard copy. The whole corporate media echo chamber will thunder its lies, false public pedagogy and unprincipled corporate attack ads. Yet none of these bloviators could be present and tell the simple truth about what some of the most knowledgeable advocates, community members and government officials said regarding these crucial issues in August in Detroit.

As the late, great Gil-Scott Heron asked: "How blind, America?" Thanks again for giving us the straight story when it was happening. Community institutions serve community interests and truth. Corporations serve ... well, you know. —Tom Stephens, National Lawyers Guild, Detroit


In response to the Higher Ground column "Is this 'high-level crime'?" (Aug. 31), Fairuse posted:

John Sinclair writes: "the only violent crime associated with marijuana growing is limited to the brutal actions of the raiders themselves or the attacks by non-uniformed thugs trying to rip off a growing business — not the growers..."

Absolutely true, John.

Had this paramilitary raid not gone down, the neighbors would have been none the wiser and medi-cannabis patients and couch-bound stoners could've gone about their business — peaceful puffing.

Although I will point out that $15 million divided by 12,000 is $1,250 per plant — surprisingly accurate for the feds. It breaks down to about 4 ounces per plant (reasonable) and $312 an ounce pretty much retail, or $39 per 1/8. Certainly not wholesale pricing.

Cannabis use, medical or recreational, is not ever, ever, ever going away.

Remove the criminality and the "high level crime" goes away. No more gang wars over turf, no more cops or civilians getting shot, no more billions in uncollected tax dollars.

Cannabis is the No. 1 U.S. cash crop. Not going away. Ever. Period.

Errata: In "Justice for All" (Aug. 17), we incorrectly identified Kim Wasserman's employment. Wasserman is executive director at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. Also, in "A commons idea" (Aug. 31), we erred when we said Viola Liuzzo was a member at First Unitarian-Universalist Church. Liuzzo only attended services there.