Abusive "coal-thugs" try to break up anti-mountaintop-removal festival

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71 Responses to “Abusive "coal-thugs" try to break up anti-mountaintop-removal festival”

  1. Ambiguity says:

    … and to make matters worse for those who earn a living in coal — “good guys” and “bad guys” alike — the fact is that coal will not remain economically viable for much longer anyway.

    The first calculation of the county’s coal reserves was made in the early years of the 20th century and predicted that the they would last about 4500 years. Recent, “official” estimates are now at about 250 years, but many who follow the situation closely believe that we’ve already hit peak production levels (or will in a matter of years), so it is very possible that no one’s children will earn a living this way. Coal may remain in the mountains, but it won’t make economic sense to remove it.

    Yet the coal-producing states are doing nothing to respond to this. Ultimately this may be “good for the ecology,” but it will cause much pain to the economies of the Appalachian states.

  2. aldasin says:

    Harlan County USA should be required viewing in middle school social studies.

  3. Ambiguity says:

    The mountaintop removal method of extracting coal (as opposed to conventional mining, which has been used for decades in the region) is actually more dangerous to workers and employs fewer people.

    What’s more, surface mining tends to be non-union, whereas underground mines are union. In general I’m not a fan of unionization — it’s a drastic measure that creates a lot of problems on its own, kind of like using a tourniquet to stop the bleeding of a cut — but if one were to make a strong argument for the necessity of unions, it would be in the coal fields.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cory,

    TreeHugger has this first-person account from another recent protest that you might find useful.

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/what-happens-after-coal-west-virginia-mountaintop-miners.php

    It attempts to look at what happens to these workers after coal.

  5. JoshuaTerrell says:

    They should have called the cops, just the same. Quietly and without fuss, but they should have called them. This sort of thing is symptom though.

    The EPA just needs to make mountaintop removal mining illegal. It’s that simple. Coal companies would go back to traditional shaft mining, more people would have jobs, and the mouth breathers will stop being angry.

    And FYI #25: Cutting someone off in traffic and vocally threatening to kill someone’s child are not even comparable. Besides, mouth breather is a descriptor applied to someone who is primitive or stupid, not to any specific race. You made it a race thing. Is it suddenly not okay to make fun of stupid people?

  6. Dan says:

    I can only imagine it will get much, much worse and very bloody as a perfect storm of the lack of jobs and the lack of education combine.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Takuan, are you from Vancouver or are you just threadjacking randomly now?

  8. Boba Fett Diop says:

    I remember the ways in the bygone days
    when we were all in our prime
    How us and John L. give the old man hell
    Way down in the Blue Diamond Mine

    When the whistle would blow and the rooster crow
    full two hours before daylight
    When a man’s done his best and he earned his good rest
    And made seventeen dollars at night

    In the mines, in the mines
    in the Blue Diamond Mines
    I worked my life away
    In the mines, in the mines
    In the Blue Diamond Mines
    Lord, fall on your knees and pray.

    You old black gold, you’ve taken my lung
    and your dust has darkened my home
    And now that we’re old, you’re turnin’ your back
    where else can an old miner go?

    Well it’s Algomer Block and it’s Big Leather Woods
    And now its Blue Diamond too
    Well, the pits are all closed and it’s,”get another job”
    what else can an old miner do?

    In the mines, in the mines
    in the Blue Diamond Mines
    I worked my life away
    In the mines, in the mines
    In the Blue Diamond Mines
    Lord, fall on your knees and pray.

    Well the Union is dead
    And they shake their heads
    And say mining has had it’s day
    But they’re strip mining off my mountain top
    and they pay me eight dollars a day

    You might get a little poke of welfare meal
    a little poke of welfare flour
    But I tell you right now you won’t qualify
    ’till you work for a quarter an hour.

    In the mines, in the mines
    in the Blue Diamond Mines
    I worked my life away
    In the mines, in the mines
    In the Blue Diamond Mines
    Lord, fall on your knees and pray.

  9. FreakCitySF says:

    I say host a job fair next time, get those thugs nice jobs (or a Xbox360) and they will forget about mountain top removal.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully an inclined comments reader or moderator might follow with info or link (if exists) on the results of these thugs’ actions.
    Hopefully at least police were contacted and the video was submitted as evidence.
    And even more hopefully, that Massey was contacted about their role in the event and their plans of employment for those specific employees.
    I hope some nice solution would appear, appeasing both sides, that limited removal or found other economic outlets for the ‘good’ employees, but as to the thugs (and if Massey is involved) throw them in jail.

  11. Anonymous says:

    We have those people here too in Belgium, they’re locals, haven’t got a job and are basically living off wellfare getting drunk before the TV, they get fat as a pig and then complain they can’t get a decent job….

  12. noen says:

    This thread makes me proud of BoingBoing.

  13. mdh says:

    This is the future of the human race:

    IMHO, it’s the past, present, AND future of the human race.

  14. Horned_one24 says:

    The peaceful route is over. It is time that we ALL must stand up for what is right by any means possible and fight fire with fire if that is what it takes. Take your emotions out of the equation. This kind of stupidity must NOT be protected because the poor people will lose they’re jobs.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for ignoring thugs, but why didn’t anyone call the police? Or are the cops in bed with the coal company?

  16. wolfiesma says:

    Is it suddenly not okay to make fun of stupid people?

    Was it ever okay? Are “stupid” people the “other” to the smart set? Just wondering…

  17. Anonymous says:

    I can understand why these ‘goons’ would feel threatened. Mining that mountain is the only way they can put food on their plates. These people aren’t exactly educated, so the only way that they can protest these foreign protesters is by being loud and confrontational. And drunk.

  18. mokey says:

    @23: Appalachian Terror Unit fuckin shreds. I was so happy when I first heard their name. And happier when I saw them play.

  19. Moriarty says:

    It’s also the past, present, and future of every living thing.

  20. kiddr01 says:

    Some fairly inexcusable behavior there from the big guy. Obviously drunk though.

    But I’m sure all they can see are a bunch of well-off hippies try to stop them feeding their family’s.

    As bad as that was, it’s quite a complicated situation.

    We’re too quick to judge scummers (for want of a better word). I doubt any of us would be much better if we were from their environment.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “bunch of well-off hippies try to stop them feeding their family’s.”

    Some direct action oriented eco-activists might be well off, but if you’ve ever spend time with such groups, you’ll probably find more genuinely impoverished homeless crusties than trustafarians.

    There are more jobs in wind than coal in the US right now. But…lets say you are a miner and you don’t want to move around nor be forced to retrain. That’s perfectly understandable. You should still oppose mountaintop removal

    Mountaintop removal takes less workers (about 40% less) to extract the same amount of coal as underground mining. There would be more jobs for miners without mountain top removal!

    MTR also basically destroys the homeland of miners and their families.

  22. Andrew W says:

    #10, I don’t really see how that’s an excuse. Nor do I understand why we have to preserve these jobs regardless of how destructive they are, or how outdated they are.

    I think that everyone has the right to employment, and that a society should work to make sure everyone is productive (yeah, I’m sounding like a Marxist), but this should be through retraining, not backward thinking protectionism.

  23. oasisob1 says:

    Um, pet bear @ 3:40?!

  24. GertFroebe says:

    OMG! I think their mothers are really proud of them. I would always advise people to give their children proper education that they do not end up like these cavemen.

  25. Anonymous says:

    What a lot of people (even the ones at the heart of the issue, the mine workers) don’t realize is that mountaintop removal mining destroys traditional mining jobs. The larger machinery used requires fewer workers than the less invasive underground methods, and the skills required are more construction oriented than mining. If the whole system is being turned on its head and a lot of miners are losing their jobs anyway, why support a method that obliterates where you have to live? Why not explore alternative possibilities? As a native West Virginian, the whole thing is both frustrating and disheartening, and there are no easy answers.

  26. kiddr01 says:

    andrew – i agree, hence my first statement. I just think we’d do well to walk a mile (or 10 yards) in their shoes… and try not to be such middle class nonces.

    Lots of people in the world are shafted while we’re all very comfy. imagine how it feels to live in a world of shit and seeing lots of happy family’s playing banjo’s and holding hands, protecting the land thats ‘been in the family for 200 years’… lucky for some eh.

    the result of which only impedes you from making a living from pretty much the only opportunity you have (and from their perspective will ever have).

    so while I’m sure i have problems with ruthless destruction of important environment & violent threatening behavior, i also don’t think it’s very upstanding to be pointing the finger and saying ‘shame on you’ without really trying to understand motivations

  27. Ambiguity says:

    And FYI #25: Cutting someone off in traffic and vocally threatening to kill someone’s child are not even comparable. Besides, mouth breather is a descriptor applied to someone who is primitive or stupid, not to any specific race. You made it a race thing. Is it suddenly not okay to make fun of stupid people?

    I did not make it a “racial” thing; I used an analogy. A subtle difference perhaps, but one that shouldn’t be too subtle for BB readers, IMO. Analogies are useful, but of course they shouldn’t be interpreted literally (i.e., of course cutting someone off in traffic isn’t the same as threatening someone’s child, and your comment seemss a bit directed towards a strawman).

    I don’t make fun of “stupid people.” I did when I was younger, but I finally figured out that it’s just mean-spirited and doesn’t really add anything of positive value to life in the long run, save for cheap laughs.

    But really, this particular sub-thread should probably be allowed to die. It’s a tangent that grew from a parenthetical comment which is not at all related to the important things in the discussion; if I could remove it from the original comment I would, but I can’t.

  28. belgium says:

    Um… call the police? At least one of the guys (the topless one) committed assault (under English law, I’m not 100% about US) the others could be prosecuted for affray, breach of peace, being drunk and disorderly. Various things that probably wouldn’t stick but at least would get them carted away / forced to leave.

  29. Ambiguity says:

    This is the future of the human race:

    IMHO, it’s the past, present, AND future of the human race.

    Sort of. People have always been in conflict over natural resources (although it more more a question of use than of ownership), and even in WV battles were fought by the indigenous over the use of the land as a hunting ground.

    On the other hand, having difficulty “putting food on the table,” is a relatively modern thing, at least when speaking of the history of the human race. Populations among hunter-gathering societies were fairly small (for obvious reasons), but there was always plenty of food to go around. Even today hunter-gatherer people in remote areas spend only about 4 hours a day on subsistence activities; the rest is “free time.”

    When Paul Le Jeune arrived in the new world in the early 1600′s, he scolded the indigenous for eating what they would catch in lavish feasts. They laughed at him, replying “tomorrow we shall make another feast with what we shall capture.” (quoted in Relation of What Occured in New France in the Year 1634).

    It is only we post-industrial people who have to work like crazy all the time. One common and widely held myth is that as technology advances people work less, but this is actually not the case. From the beginning of technology — the introduction of agriculture — people have been working more and more. Hell, I’d be willing to bet that almost everyone reading this blog works longer hours “feeding their families” than there parents did when they were your age. The average Fortune-500 employee works about 56 hours a week, and considering that the vast number of families are two-earner affairs, 100 hours a week would not be an uncommon work load for a typical family. I think few in their late 30′s or older could say their parents worked that long when they were little kids.

  30. Padraig says:

    It is an interesting situation.

    The company can claim their not involved but benefit from any intimidation created.

    That no-one was willing/interested in putting up physical resistance (that I could see) was a brave thing to do and worked well – THEN. Sometimes it just doesn’t. Good on them for taking their personal safety in their own hands.

    I agree that these unfriendlies are acting out of fear and their own concerns. I also agree that pulling the top of a mountain is a bizarre thing to do and should be banned.

    I also believe that any company that produces anything at all which begins to become unwanted has a responsibility to retrain it’s workers and cooperate with the government to do so. Not merely to take the money and run.

    The present ‘need to work’ is the result of the dominant capitalistic and individualistic philosophies. You are compelled to work earning money to live. Consequently the community, businesses and the elected agencies have a responsibility to provide assistance and support for people to be trained and employed.

  31. HPHovercraft says:

    On a more perplexing note, did anyone else notice the apparent Purple Nurple the big guy receives at 1:31-2? Maybe that’s why he was so cranky…

  32. Mojave says:

    Interesting video. I wonder how many of us are right this minute typing on machines that are powered by coal from this part of the world?

  33. mdh says:

    It is only mouthbreathing when poor people do it.

  34. Grahamers2002 says:

    Send the tape to the DA and have them prosecuted. While the first amendment protects most speech, it does not protect “I will slit your child’s throat” when said in any serious way such as was done here.

    @14 – Yes, in almost any US jurisdiction much of tehir behavior would constitute the common law crime of assault (putting someone in reasonable fear of imminent harmful contact). Also may be able to prosecuted for attempted extortion, extortion, and, if they have done this regularly, racketeering.

    @10 – My wife is from WVU and, sadly, for those mouth-breathers, thier mothers WOULD be proud.

  35. Ambiguity says:

    mod note: offensive language ROT13ed.

    Sorry about that. I guess I didn’t know what the rules/convention about that were here!

    But to lighten things up a bit and to provide a little comic relief, I was involved in the the selection of an enterprise software package recently. The software was an email management system, and given its use it would be storing personally identifiable information to disk, so I asked the vendor if they encrypted the files.

    “Yes. We use ROT13.”

  36. Ned613 says:

    “If the mountain top removal activists really want to end the practice, they need to get the workers on their side. Form allies with the union or get a job in the mines and salt from the inside.”

    No, they work to repeal of the 1990 Clean Air Act.

  37. WVproud says:

    I take great offense to the comments and characterizations you make about the people of WV. Im going to give you a bit of info about my family from WV. My father is a Regional Vice President of a VA based company (not coal related), he supported our family well enough (making $250,000/yr) that my mother did not have to work. I am the oldest of 3 children. I own a business in WV and my husband IS in fact a COAL MINER. Together we make approx. $160,000/yr. One of my siblings works for a marketing/advertising firm and is married to a police officer (together making approx. $140,000/yr). My youngest sibling is attending college to obtain her associates and will continue and obtain a double bachelors degree. I have 2 children, very well educated, who will also attend the colleges of their choice when the time comes. For 35 years I have had no idea that such “uneducated mouthbreathers” could do so well and live such beautiful lives.
    In response to the video, I do agree that the drunken men and women that crashed the event were out of line. Very out of line. You should, however, know that these miners are NOT following the orders of the company or companies that they work for. The miners are trained to handle any protests in a very calm manner, do not try to talk to the people protesting, to stop whatever equipment they are using if people block the roads so that no one is injured and wait for a supervisor and law enforcement to arrive. Not all miners are drunken, half-dressed, uneducated hillbillies.
    Here is where my problem with the posts on this topic begin. This “uneducated mouthbreather” is going to take an educated guess that you are in fact on a computer, hooked to power, which is generated 72% by coal. Now, how can you really say you are against coal if you have power in your homes? In my opinion that makes your argument invalid. However, IF you would like to remove yourself from the power grid, take cold showers, have no heat/air conditioning, cook on something other than wood fires (because you have to hug those trees too), and stop using any cleaning products that have chemicals in them from the biproducts of coal…THEN I will consider your argument valid. THEN AND ONLY THEN!
    So, what I will suggest you do now is turn off that computer, kick the main breaker in your house off, and WALK THE WALK. Until then, SHT TH HLL P.

    And btw…..trespassing on mining property IS also a criminal offense, not to mention dangerous, so I suggest you dont try that either. And stop the idiotic videos claiming that your anti-mining groups have shut down drag lines in WV….your idiots camped in the woods for weeks, knew when shifts changed, and also knew very well that the drag line they are claiming to have SHUT DOWN is actually shut down EVERY Monday for maintenance. Kind of convenient that they climbed it and “shut it down” when it was ummmm ALREADY SHUT DOWN for its Monday maintenance….

  38. Miss Jess says:

    Here’s the thing… it’s a hard road for both sides of the argument. Part of my heart goes out to those drunk rednecks, they truly DON’T have any other way to make a living based on their location and education level. My grandma’s family is from West Virginia coal country, and anyone who doesn’t “get out” stays and works coal. It’s just how it is. Many of her brothers worked coal for a long time and passed away from various work-related illnesses while still in their 50s… but they didn’t know anything different.

    Part of my heart ALSO goes out to the families who own land/family rights and friends who love the mountains – it sickens me to see mountains scalped and butchered, never to be the same again. West Virginia, and the whole of Appalachia, are blessed with amazing beauty, and it tears my heart up to drive through it knowing that it’s being methodically destroyed so I can turn on a light bulb.

    It’s a hard road.

  39. pAULbOWEN says:

    Run for your lives, it’s the Blubbery Hellbellies!!

  40. bwcbwc says:

    Hmm, wasn’t the president of Massey Energy the guy that donated a few million to the judge that then ruled in his favor in a corporate lawsuit? The one that the US Supreme Court just ruled on and said the judge should have recused himself?

    If he can buy the judge, he can surely buy the cops too.

  41. thechicgeek says:

    Threatening harm to a child!? That’s beyond bad taste, that’s downright criminal. At that point, it would have taken all my willpower not to get into a fight. There’s only so much abuse a man can take. But, maybe that’s just the Irish blood in my veins talking.

    Born and raised in Pennsylvania, right where the Appalachians ran right through our town, I can tell you with a degree of certainty that they are a gorgeous set of mountains. One only need hike the Appalachian Trail to realize that. So, seeing anyone defend the razing of our natural earth sickens me, and makes me weep for humanity. Oh, the almighty dollar! Will doom us all!

  42. wolfiesma says:

    I doubt the connection between the rageaholic party crashers in the video and the corporate heads of Massey. Very different animals. The biggest difference, of course, is that one has power and the other has none.

    The festival seemed like a nice thing, a good way to come together, build community, listen to music, and “bring awareness” to the cause. (See: Stuff White People Like) But, the real battle is being waged in Congress and in the courts. Who killed the bill banning MTR? Something tells me it wasn’t the pack of testosterone-poisoned beasts we see above. It was corporate lobbyists, and the lawmakers that did their bidding.

    Framing the debate in terms of class or education or even hormones just obfuscates the actual forces that are in play. It’s corporate, corporate, corporate all the way.

    Teddy Roosevelt protected lands by creating the National Park System. Nixon, of all people, gave us the Clean Water Act which to this day is the strongest piece of environmental legislation we have. Isn’t it high time for some new and improved environmental law??

    One more question: is it really a good idea that finite natural resources be managed by publicly traded companies under pressure to grow larger every three months? It doesn’t take a genius to see where that leads…

  43. Anonymous says:

    Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff did a video piece looking at the two sides to the coal debate.

    http://planetgreen.discovery.com/video/?playerId=1488687257&categoryId=18489670001&lineupId=28910394001

    looks at the environmental and economic implications taking the coal industry out of these areas would have.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I find it very hard to believe this is that contentious of an issue. I’m an Occam’s Razor king of guy, “Should we tear down this mountain to extract coal?”

    No.

    See. it is not a hard answer. I really don’t care that these people don’t realize they have other options. They lose the ability to have their side of the issue considered once they start acting like unrestrained neanderthals.

    I grew up in small town, in what I imagine were circumstances as bad or worse than a lot of these thugs, and I’ve not needed to resort to that kind of behavior. And having grown up around those kind of people, I am VERY comfortable calling them mouth-breathers.

    But the biggest problem is people like Don Blankenship (harangue him on twitter if you like – http://twitter.com/DonBlankenship). He is the CEO of Massey energy, and is renowned as a belligerent, aggressive, corrupt individual, and it would surprise me little if he had arranged for these people to show up at the gathering.

    Blankenship is one of the worst people I can think of, because I also believe that when the coal runs out in those hills, which it will, he will have no bones what-so-ever about leaving these people he has hornswaggled into believing his stained rhetoric completely high and dry.

  45. Joe MommaSan says:

    Part of my heart goes out to those drunk rednecks

    Mine doesn’t. Assholes like that are the reason I own a shotgun.

  46. Ambiguity says:

    OK. I live in West Virginia, and I have to say that the whole situation with mountain top removal makes me very sad and frustrated — on many levels.

    On one hand you have what the EPA once characterized as the “worst environmental disaster in the country” taking place in real time, and because it takes place in a state of “mouth breathers” (an offensive characterization #17, by the way) there is almost no visibility, outrage, or discourse in the larger public sphere. When Hilary Clinton was campaigning here in the primaries, West Virgina Public Radio asked her about it, and from her response it was clear that she knew little about it, if she had even heard of it at all.

    People get their kickers in a knot about what’s taking place in the South American Rain forests (which is good — they should), and ignore what is happening in their own back yards (which is bad).

    And we also have a bunch of almost sub-human state legislators that just don’t get it. I once heard one of our illustrious legislators in Charleston publicly states “those mountains aren’t doing anyone any good anyway. If you knock ‘em down you can plant crops and pasture animals.”

    And on the job front, keep in mind that coal actually employs very few people in WV, despite the fact that historically high quantities are now being removed. Every one of my father’s brothers spend time in the mines (and he was from a family of 13 children) — one of them even died there — and I don’t think I have a single cousin who is in the industry. Working in the mines is slightly akin to working at Wal*mart: you may eek out a living, but all of the revenue is sucked out of state and does nothing to strengthen the local economy. [And don't even get me started on Byrd and Rockefeller, who think that a diet of nothing but pork is somehow healthy, so nothing is every really done to make the economies truly healthy].

    You can walk through a small town like Welch and see that it once was a thriving place, and today it’s just a sad little bump in the road, with building after building boarded up and falling down. Imagine the worst, vacated neighborhood of Detroit placed in valley in the middle of nowhere and you’ll get a bit flavor.

    The best sustainable economic model that WV has, with its mountains and rivers and its proximity to the East-coast megalopolis is that of tourism… a chance that is being destroyed daily by such mining operations.

    The bottom line is that if you really look at all sides of the issue — including employment and economic development — mountain top removal is clearly a tragedy.

  47. Anonymous says:

    “You may have another way of living, but we don’t”.

    As always, it’s the woman who bring forth arguments.

    Men only pound their chest and grunt.

  48. Ryan says:

    The punk band Appalachian Terror Unit first turned my eye toward Massey Energy when they put out “Armaggeddon Won’t Be Brought By Gods…But By Men Who Think They Are,” and I’ve seen that this conflict is going to go on for a long time. Not excusing or apologizing for the thugs – but it’s an attack on their livelihood, and they are scared. The real villain in this case is Massey, who employs people to do this in the first place, creating a situation where this conflict can even exist.

    Even so, they’re still gutless thugs involved in an industry that needs to be stopped before it does irreversible damage.

    Based in Detroit, I’m watching this fear rise here, as our unemployment rises due to the foundering of the automotive industry. I wish there were an easy solution, because then everyone would have jobs that didn’t hurt anyone else’s lives, and the thugs in this video could be hanging out at the festival, sharing beers with their neighbors.

  49. Grahamers2002 says:

    @22 – I know calling someone who just threatened to slit a child’s throat a “mouthbreather” is offensive. I apologize to all mouthbreathers everywhere.

  50. RalphD says:

    If you are adrift in the ocean, and you are thirsty, if you have no other options, you will drink salt water to slake your thirst even if you know that it will eventually kill you.

    If you live in a coal-dominated economy and have a family to feed, you will work for Mr. Peabody (read, Coal Corporation). You remember John Denver’s song about Mr. Peabody whose coal train hauled Paradise away from Green County, KY

    It doesn’t matter that, as in the coal-counties of Kentucky, Mr. Peabody has you locked into a region plagued by poverty, mounting drug crime, poor health conditions, poor education, increasing dependence on coal severance money to pay for basic services in your community.

    It doesn’t matter that Mr. Peabody is increasingly using mining methods that are destructive to the environment in order to reduce the workforce and increase profits.

    You will operate the auger mining machine, blasts the tops off mountains, runs the monster machines, or construct toxic slurry pond. You will do it to feed your family.

    It doesn’t matter that Mr. Peabody is rich and getting richer. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Peabody is bribing politician to obtain favorable legislation.

    It doesn’t matter if the people down river or down wind complain that surface mining and coal-fired power plants are polluting the air, water and earth with toxic substances.

    It doesn’t matter that state and federal politicians have known for decades that coal communities are near the top of the list of wealth-producing communities, but (with rare exceptions) clustered near the bottom in terms of living conditions, health, education, children in poverty, crime. [Eastern Kentucky coal counties provide a prime example.] It doesn’t matter that Mr. Peabody claims the lion’s share of the wealth for himself and his stockholders.

    None of this matters when you need a job to feed your children TODAY.

    Don’t be too critical of the wage earning coal worker trapped in a dirty coal-economy. He can get understandably defensive when people talk about eliminating the only job he has to feed his family.

    Focus your anger on those mealy-mouthed politicians who pander to voters in coal communities, making promises to hoodwink voters and please Mr. Peabody.

    We should be demanding that elected state and federal officials establish commissions and task forces to plan for the diversification of coal-dominated economies.

    When alternatives energy sources put coal out of the energy business, where will that leave people in coal-dominated areas and their children?

    If you live in a coal-dominated Appalachian community, when the next politician comes through talking about what he’s going to do to protect the “coal industry” that has your community in an economic strangle-hold, ask him what he has done and will do to diversify the economy in your community. Ask him to explain how it is that coal-communities produce so much wealth and yet rank so low in quality of life measurements, as compared with other areas of your state. And ask yourself the same question.

  51. Anonymous says:

    re #70 (by “RalphD”) — Minor correction, the song “Paradise” you refer to was written by John Prine, not John Denver. The error doesn’t have any bearing on the validity of your argumen. I simply point it out because it’s an excellent song and people who haven’t heard it might enjoy it; knowing who wrote it makes it easier to find.

  52. Ambiguity says:

    @24. I don’t think you quite get what I was saying.

    People in WV are often stereotyped/called as “White Trash” and “Mouth Breathers,” you know, kind of like people of African descent are sometimes called “avttref.”

    If a person of African descent cuts you off in traffic and you yell “stupid avttre,” calling you out on it isn’t defending the thoughtless driver, it’s pointing out the use of a term which can be considered offensive.

    Your statement basically said “because this is West Virgina, their mothers must be mouth breathers too.”

    But hey, at least you didn’t say “White trash.”

    mod note: offensive language ROT13ed.

  53. ill lich says:

    This is the future of the human race: one group opposed to another group over ownership of natural resources, and over feeding their families.

  54. Ryan says:

    @47… Sweet that you got to see ATU! I have not had that chance, but own everything they’ve put out so far, and they do shred.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Coal country probably has the most violent history of any part of the USA, at least for white people (hard to compare any history to the Native wars or slavery).

    Watch Matewan and Harlan County USA, and read about the Battle for Blair Mountain.

    If the mountain top removal activists really want to end the practice, they need to get the workers on their side. Form allies with the union or get a job in the mines and salt from the inside.

  56. The Raven says:

    These are what union people call “goons”–company cops. They’re scary. The local police and prosecutors office are probably part of the problem, for those of you saying this should be actionable. Of course a threat of murder is against the law! And probably the mountain-top removal mining is against Federal environmental law as well, though this is disputed. But the law hasn’t acted for a very long time.

  57. Loraan says:

    @#27 (Anonymous):

    As always, it’s the woman who bring forth arguments. Men only pound their chest and grunt.

    Way to interject sexism into an otherwise intelligent conversation. Do you have anything material to contribute?

  58. zikzak says:

    The mountaintop removal method of extracting coal (as opposed to conventional mining, which has been used for decades in the region) is actually more dangerous to workers and employs fewer people.

    Ending mountaintop removal would be a significant benefit to coal miners and local appalachian economies in general. The only people who benefit from mountaintop removal are those who own/invest in the coal industry.

  59. infinitemptythoughts says:

    Fear, Fear, They are fearful, Thrashing about like a wounded animals. They came to get the love they were missing in there relationships.

    It is not about coal, mountain top removal or a cause it is about uncertainty and dark fear of their unknown future.

    One should always avoid mixing intolerance and alcohol, it makes a people do weird things.

    I loved how the party people kept their cool (didn’t take out the machetes …)and
    dealt with their fear with courage.

    mountain top removal for coal is not a good thing
    as you can see it can make people behave aggressively with out compassion toward others.

  60. Anonymous says:

    They say in Harlan County
    There are no neutrals there.
    You’ll either be a union man
    Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

  61. Takuan says:

    I do not speak with the nameless.

  62. Anonymous says:

    But..but..but clean coal is the cornerstone of America’s energy independence. Even Obama sez so…

  63. mokey says:

    I met a guy from WV, an older guy, who talked about mountaintop removal destroying his family’s generations-old graveyard. He was catching threatening warning shots from company thugs when he was just trying to go about his day. People were telling him to be quiet and go with it because it was too dangerous to say anything. I wish I could remember more specifics but this was in 03; he came to a forest defense gathering in Athens, OH and was weeping openly about seeing mountains destroyed.

    Mountaintop removal probably strikes a really intense nerve because mountains are an age old symbol of permanence, surely older than any religion. They are mountains, after all.

    Check out some aerial photos of towns dealing with MTR and coal slurry. It’s simply astounding.

  64. Anonymous says:

    What a disgusting display

  65. knodi says:

    I laughed/died a little inside when that trashy woman flipped off the cameraman (I assume man, since the fat guy said ‘put down your camera and come get some’), and called him a “pussy bitch”. Why not throw cnt in there, too, as long as you’re setting women’s lib back a couple of decades.

    Translate her into PG, and she’s saying “You’re such a weak woman, you shrewish selfish woman.” This being said by a mean little woman who crashed a peaceful party and then ran away when nobody would give her a show. I’m drowning in the irony.

  66. demidan says:

    Ah, the simple pleasures of man’s inhumanity to man Vs. the Economy.

    Poised as they are (the crux of the last centuries greed and this centuries need for environmental /economic progress) these people are stuck in the middle with no way out. With any amount of time spent watching TV news the talk of ending coal use in favour of “green” technologies has to scare the living hell out of both sides. How do you go about transitioning their collective lives? Yes education is a giant part of that but that would just be another item of change and change as we all know = Bad and scary. To my knowledge there have been a few examples of societal change on a large scale, and all of them violent. There has to be change for these people that does not include a modern Trail of Tears, or a Maoist revolution.

    The change of course should start with the children involved but you would have to placate the adults as well. Maybe with paid internships (with trades and Green industries in mind) the transformation from a coal mining economy could begin..?

  67. RightReverendRex says:

    This video has given me just one more item to prove my argument that oxygen should be rationed.

    When my father was laid off almost 30 years ago because the shoe manufacturing company he was a sales rep for was bought out, consolidated and streamlined manufacturing to Asia; he didn’t go crash a family’s birthday party screaming obscenities and threatening to kill people.

    I am all for civil protest- but being a drunk belligerent fucking idiot only proves the fact that you are wasting *my* oxygen.

  68. mokey says:

    Well I posted before I watched the video. Pretty sure the guy I mentioned was Larry Gibson. He invited everyone (100+ younger folks, mostly crusty punk looking, though from the mountains) to his house for a picnic on July 4. There weren’t many dry eyes in the house after he was done speaking. He certainly mentioned the coal thugs.

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