Back in April, an amusing controversy broke out in Humboldt County, California over ads taken out by Pacific Lumber specifically targeting convicted animal rights extremist Rodney Coronado.
Coronado lives in Humboldt County these days and has apparently been quite active in a local campaign designed to stop Pacific Lumber from harvesting trees from an old-growth forest it owns.
Pacific Lumber paid for television, radio and newspaper ads that pointed out Coronado’s conviction for firebombing a Michigan State University research lab. The ads rightly noted that Coronado had in the past participated in and advocated for, “damaging property, endangering lives and terrorizing innocent people.”
The ad also included quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. to contrast their version of nonviolence with what Coronado and his fellow extremists consider to be “nonviolence.”
At least one radio station, KHUM-FM, originally ran the advertisements but later dropped them arguing that they were too “inflammatory.” Of course setting a fire to a building is inflammatory. Simply telling people about a convicted arson is not.
An article on the ads in the North Coast Journal noted, in fact, that Coronado continues his past behavior,
Coronado, who has advocated property destruction against Pacific Lumber in the past, did not claim involvement in the apparent vandalizations of a front-end loader in the Freshwater area a few weeks ago. But he noted that the sabotage, if that’s what it was, occurred immediately after the resumption of helicopter logging. “If I was a resident in an area and I saw Pacific Lumber cutting down trees and taking them away with this helicopter, that would be a point where I might cross the line and say, ‘Screw this company.’”
Coronado seems to have had no problem finding like-minded people in the area. As a Pacific Lumber spokesman noted, the folks carrying out protests against Pacific Lumber were angered that the company tied them with Coronado, but on the other hand many of the protesters embrace Coronado. For example, here’s the North Coast Journal quoting one of these geniuses,
Lodgepole, a leader among the Greenwood Heights tree-sitters, said that Coronado is “a really passionate guy, and that can be twisted to seem like violent.” Lodgepole characterized the PALCO ads as “inaccurate” and “slanderous.”
“It’s total lies,” he said. “They’re holding a whole group of people responsible for one person’s action.”
Okay, lets see if we can follow the logic here. When Pacific Lumber says that Coronado is a convicted arsonist who advocates and participates in damaging property, etc., that is a total lie, except when its true in which case the evil company is “twisting” Coronado’s firebombing of a laboratory to make it “seem like violent.” And, on top of that, where would they ever get the idea that other people agree with Coronado’s views that burning down a building is a nonviolent act.
Coronado is apparently working with Earth First! now, among other things, and a press release apparently written by him went out under Earth First!’s imprimatur in April as well. The press release was pretty dull, except for an amusing final paragraph,
PL is also the target of a lawsuit by the Martin Luther King Jr. Society which is suing the company for the use of King’s image in their ad campaign which states, “Let their words speak for themselves.” The ads feature quotes from a lecture Coronado gave in Washington D.C. at American University in January discussing the legitimacy and use of illegal activities in history by social change movements. “This kind of attack on free speech should send chills to those who believe in our constitutional rights. Corporations like PL would love nothing more than to silence, through intimidation, outspoken critics who historically serve a vital role in effecting [sic] positive social and environmental changes in our society in a different time,” Coronado stated.
Which makes it all clear. Quoting someone accurately in an advertisement — an attack on free speech and intimidation. Firebombing a laboratory — nonviolent action.
Like I’ve said before, the more Coronado talks, the better I sleep at night.
Timber Company and Tree-Sitters: Can’t Beat ‘Em? Smear ‘Em! Press Release, Earth First!, April 23, 2003.
Eco-terrorism in Humboldt? PL ads spark controversy. Bob Dornan, North Coast Journal, April 24, 2003.