I’m always chagrined at the tactics used against individuals by certain organizations and people when they can’t make a reasonable argument against the findings and analysis of that individual, or when they can’t otherwise silence them. Such is the case of the latest attack on Jim Stiles from Jean Binyon (“Stiles again?,” Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2017 Moab Sun News). It’s always the same tactic – change the subject, create a smoke screen and attack the character and motives of the messenger. And of course, present it with a certain air of condescension.
The unpleasant subject Stiles keeps bringing up is the selling out of the environmental movement, particularly the organizations at the helm. Initially, the environmental movement seemed to have a desire to simply protect areas as wilderness. That movement is gone, sold out to moneyed industrialists and the new selfish, megalithic outdoor recreation industry. The subject is the never ending legal morass, and the utter dysfunction created on federal lands and in local communities by these groups in their zeal to shut down any other types of economic opportunities for those communities, other than recreation. The subject is how these groups sold this new “recreation/amenities economy” to the rural communities as the best way to live and prosper – shut any nasty development of any form down and turn on the new recreation/amenities economy spigot. The subject is the hypocrisy we see now in these same groups and their members trying to stop major components of the recreation industry they assured us would be great. The subject is at what point do these organizations keep taking money from such tainted sources, with no questions asked? One can try and ignore these issues, or change the subject, but the facts remain.
Throwing up smoke screens pointing to a minuscule handful of subsidized affordable homes being built, a music festival and farmers market, and a town of 500 (Castle Valley) being on renewable energy does not change the subject. Smoke screens suggesting mineral development is somehow incompatible with all these things is in direct contradiction to what we’ve seen at Dead Horse and the Big Flat area for the past 30 years, with exploding recreation visitation right alongside development of a small oil field. Smoke screens relative to things that haven’t occurred, and are unlikely to occur, doesn’t change the subject.
And finally, the personal attack. Fortunately, thanks to the impeccable writing and investigative abilities of Jim Stiles, we have one of the remaining bastions of what real investigative journalism looks like, or at least what it used to look like. One may not agree with his positions, but you can’t refute the facts he finds and presents or the inconvenient truths. If not for Stiles and his willingness to investigate and confront a messy situation, and at significant personal cost to himself, we might still have the last city manager and entourage at City Hall.
No, as far as I’m concerned, it’s Mrs. Binyon’s message and her hostile personal attacks that are getting old.
Keep up the good work, Jim Stiles; I personally don’t care where you live. Yours is one of the only remaining voices speaking truth. At some point, more and more rank-and-file members of these environmental groups, and the new “deliverers of light” who have taken up residence in our small communities will start seeing the hypocrisy oozing from their organizations. It’s what scares them the most about Stiles, I suspect.