Rhetoric vs. reasonableness

  The exchange inspired by Bryce Andrews' "Living Precariously With Wolves and Cattle," has revealed a striking contrast in soul and substance on opposite sides of the divide over management of public rangelands in the American West (HCN, 8/20/07). Andrews' description of killing one wolf and participating, at least indirectly, in the killing of three others to protect the cattle on a ranch on which he worked is deeply personal and full of feeling and humanity. As I read his account I felt I was meeting a person who was reasonable, respectful, honest and sensitive - the kind of person you could get to know and work with to do just about anything, including keep the West as wild as possible in this age of cyberspace and ex-urbanism.

In contrast, the three letters critical of his essay in the last HCN read like they were taken straight from a script of political talking points. They bristle with confrontative rhetoric, cliched villainization, inflated outrage, and phony statistics, some of which make it clear the author has no idea what he is talking about.

The exchange reminded me of why I left the mainstream environmental movement to work directly with ranchers in collaborative groups. I'll take the results I can get working with people like Andrews over what political raging can achieve any day.

Dan Dagget
Santa Barbara, California