Journal entry from LLeigh:
Myths, a very dangerous thing.
Today I took time away from finalizing the Triple B report to speak to a reporter. The reporter, from a prominent news outlet, contacted me for a story on wild horses… or so I thought.
I answered questions from a reporter, maybe too abruptly, about my background. I answered in soundbites about my first roundups, first range exploration, first deep dives into the laws of public land. I began to talk about the litigation record and range documentation of our western landscape and wild horses and burros (that seemed to surprise him as he thought that work was done by others, a common error).
Annoyed, I asked why he called me.
He referenced the piece in the New Yorker and admitted he was looking for yet one more “profile piece.” Once upon a time I was a very patient person.
I told him I only agreed to that piece in New Yorker if they covered the work; an interview. I was never even called by the person that wrote the story (the only reason I agreed to the video). I even had to argue with them to get a hot link to the website and they would not put the organization name in the piece claiming that would make this a promotion piece, after they hot linked to a book sales page from someone that is still a novice on this issue and used me as a promotion piece for that book. That’s the kind of logic I get from the BLM almost every single day. The arrogant treatment of others as if one is stupid by the corrupt, a skill honed it seems through social media.
I have travelled a million road miles, written volumes of litigation and drafted in depth management plans. Because I don’t have a paid staff, a millionaire in my pocket or a litany of celebrities to call on so small minds simply make me an oddity of the American West?
However, the ever present advocate in me used the opportunity to analogize the wild horse and the mythos perpetuated about me; the minimization of how the wild horse lives, lies by profit driven uses, government run by memo or facebook message and not the law.
“The only way this conversation continues is if you comprehend that statement.”
People think a roundup photo is why I go out, it’s not. It might be why others go, but not why I go. The photos are illustrative tools; a record of the journey, place, experience. They can create a log if conversations fail and litigation is needed, someone adopts a wild horse and wants to know more, or a way to draw attention to deeper issues. They illustrate patterns and connect dots.
WHE does not take roundup pictures on one or two days of an operation, we cover the operation. We have the largest documentation base in the world on wild horse roundups and we did not, could not, have that with a random day or two. We do not send a hired crew, for the price of three days of a hired crew we can cover a range for a month. We are the only organization in history to litigate conduct issues and win, again and again. We filed a 5 year, up and down the court system, case that allows that daily observation (for what that actually allows in practice is still a fight). We have filed cases, or presented range documentation, that shut down unjustified removals. We did not just point out some flaws in paperwork we demonstrated flaws in practice. WHE struggle to keep the work going, the work. None of it was done “well funded.”
A reporter that knows what street I lived on at twelve years old but does not know my litigation record and thinks it was another organization because he found himself on an email list where he is bombarded almost daily? Lets just say at this point my tone of voice was not “soft.”
I took him with me (in conversation) to a single roundup; Triple B. I explained that each operation has a story, like a chapter in a book. My journey is ten years, tens of thousands of wild horses and a litany of myth that destroys valuable real world opportunities for progress.
I gave a simple example and made a simple request; write about this mare and her daughter that existed on a range with food and a family. Write about how they were a priority for a state that could have real emergencies this year but her tiny area was a priority buried in 361 pages of government speak that say nothing about her. Killing mountain lions and taking her family was task one for them (as we may have faced another government shutdown). Write about how during her capture the basics of a policy to protect her from injury were all but ignored. Write about how as a yearling she now stands in a pen of all adults. Write about how nobody really cares as they go on to the next moment of politics, all sides. Write about how she will likely never find a home. Write about how politics will use the areas ignored by this state as a reason to shoot tens of thousands of wild horses… and this little one might get a bullet in the head, for political prioritization of public lands. Write about the fact that her truth is ignored and she is buried in myth.
He began to ask questions. Slowly each answer I gave led to a one word question, “why?” After he did that a few times he began to laugh and say that he sounded like his three year old, “Why, why, why?”
Good, I did my job.
He asked for more information and I sent him a reading list with this preface, “If those that make a living by the written word fail to read and research they are simply one more part of a bigger problem in our country. A story about what I am has to include the truth of the wild horse, or don’t write it at all.”
Only time will tell if he writes anything actually worth reading, about wild horses and the real world they live in or if he just writes more click bait. This is an important story and holds a key to what is happening to our public land. I hope this goes deeper than a profile piece based on a myth.
Wild horses and the public land seizure movement: http://bit.ly/2yawn4x
Request for Triple B investigation: http://bit.ly/2EVGZLG
An oldie but goodie: Post truth and the media https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/01/25/post-truth-advocacy-and-the-hypocrisy-of-the-media-we-got-what-we-asked-for/
I also sent him a link to our “thank you” magazine to donors on Triple B. https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/03/01/triple-b-magazine/
Our write up on the New Yorker piece: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/01/10/the-wild-place-a-story-in-the-new-yorker/
You can take action here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/03/04/killing-wild-horses-dangerous-ground/
This is the story that matters; the young studs in these photos now in holding, the mares in these photos that now sit in holding. The myths, all of them, are why we are talking about killing them. If we do not dispel the myths they will face a bullet.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education