Coufal's remarks on civility

Gail gailmm at
Tue Nov 2 22:18:49 EST 1999

It is not a matter of "rights", it is a matter of personal effectiveness. I
can tell you of a personal experience- an "enviro" ,as you put it, who was
rude and confrontational. He finally learned that when he began to talk to
people as humans and stopped treating them with labels like "bureaucrats" or
"timber beasts", a real dialogue opened up. As a result, the state I live in
has one of the most innovative, progressive, environmentally sensitive
management plans they've ever produced. And it was a product produced by
consensus. It never would have happened had Jamie continued to treat people
trying to do their jobs the best way they can with disrespect. For you to
equate trying to remove human beings from bondage with contemporary problems
of environmental stewardship demeans the former.

Joseph Zorzin wrote in message <3815B506.A982FB30 at>...
>I read with great interest the essay by SAF President James
>Coufal entitled "Civility" on the SAF web site at
>The call for civility is a noble effort, but we must keep in
>mind that it works best when the 2 sides of any debate are more
>or less equal in their political power. When they are not, the
>fact is that the stronger side will often attempt to bludgeon
>the weaker side with their wealth and power and access to the
>media and politicians.
>We all have a right as American citizens to play the game of
>politics, and history has shown us that it is seldom a nice
>polite game as we'd all like. Most progressive movements in this
>country didn't get anywhere by being polite. We didn't politely
>ask King George to take his thugs back to that tiny island off
>the coast of Europe; Abe Lincoln didn't politely ask the
>southerners to end slavery; the modern civil rights and enviro
>movements would have gained nothing by being purely "civil" and
>Civility is one of the tools of those in political struggles,
>but not the only one. That's just the facts of life about how
>politics really works. I commend Jim's call for civility, but
>let's just remember that one side of the environmental debates
>is always far more powerful than the other side; or perhaps Jim
>has some solution to equalize the contestants?
>Civility is nice, I like polite people. Believe it or not, I'm
>polite 99% of the time- but don't anyone dare argue that
>civility is ESSENTIAL in all political debates. The pro gun
>lobby loves to tell us that the first thing that new
>totalitarian governments have done is take away people's guns.
>The second thing they do is insist they nobody challenge the
>authorities, in any but the most polite, civil manner; or else.
>But this America, and we have a right to NOT act polite, if we
>so determine that other means are necessary. No less that
>Socrates told the young of his day in Athens to challenge
>authority and he didn't say to do it with great civility.
>Obviously the forestry "party line" didn't consider the Sierra
>Club's book "Clearcut" to be polite- I consider it wonderful. If
>that was impolite to the party line, we need more of that.
>It is never considered polite to point out the massive failures
>of the other side, no matter how you try to sweeten your
>language. A lot of very polite people have been ignored by those
>with the power and wealth- many have been murdered like Martin
>Luther King- who was on the polite side of the civil rights
>battle, with the Panthers taking the tougher line. Civility
>should be tried, and if it fails other techniques should be used
>to make a point.
>Until you can make incivility unconstitutional, it will continue
>as a free act of a free people. Better to deal with those acts
>of incivility than any attempt to force civility upon people who
>have been ignored for too long.
>Joe "Che" Zorzin
>The Politics of Forestry
>"Monstrous in its hold upon us, the bureaucratic mind
>is sustained by the self-perpetuating mechanics of government
>and the claptrap of its own rhetoric."
>"Kafka's Bureaucratic Nightmares" by Jack Matthews
>"We human beings don't look very much like a tree, we view
>the world very differently but down deep at the molecular
>heart of life we are virtually identical to trees."
>Carl Sagan
>North East Forest Reformation List
>Definition of "north east"- everything
>northeast of Baja, California

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