Letter writer: Wild Abundance looks forward to apology

Graphic by Lori Deaton

We are sorry to announce to the vegan animal rights activists who spent so much time targeting Wild Abundance [“Vegan Activists Rally Against Local Permaculture School” Xpress online post, Nov. 23] that your attempts have had absolutely zero impact on how we view the ethical nature of our Humane Slaughtering and Butchering class. We believe in what we do, and we have no apologies for you.

Despite all the overzealous verbal abuse, threats to our safety and consistent harassment, the class took place this year and was really empowering and satisfying for everyone involved! Furthermore, as it is an annual class that we have done for several years now, we certainly plan to host it again next year.

This is not because we want to offend animal rights activists or get some sick enjoyment from killing farm animals. It is because we believe that sharing the knowledge and life-ways of our ancestors with interested folks, who want to learn the skills to partake in a deep and intimate experience with the web of life, is an empowering process and deserves to have a place in the world. That’s why at Wild Abundance, we share all these ancient and sacred skills in regard to animal and plant food systems, a variety of natural shelters, wildcrafting and herbalism, buckskin leather clothing and more!

I hope that the Let Live “Coalition” will offer us an official apology for the responsibility they bear in creating a mob mentality that they have no control over! We have been consistently phoned/emailed and called extremely offensive names. We have been compared to Nazis and serial killers. We were sent a sexually explicit picture and message in an email. We have had death threats to “slit our throats” and vague threats that “bad things might happen to us if we went through with the class.”

Our neighbors have been bothered, and our peaceful rural community has been concerned.  The local Baptist church near our home was very offended when protesters posted on the internet they were planning on meeting there, without having the courtesy to check in with the church first. We even had to talk down the sweet old-time locals from wanting to come to our house with shotguns to keep us safe from the potential vegan extremists. For real, people: This is all so petty and ridiculous! Like Trump rallying up the mob who he has no control over, you really need to claim responsibility and consider what happens when you run a sloppy attack campaign that stirs people up!

We are not opening a factory farm here, folks! We humanely slaughtered two sheep and made use of every part of the animal. People are going to eat meat, and sorry to say this, but get over it! I applaud those omnivores who want to take the full responsibility of meat eating into their own hands!

Please think about this: The very nature of your argument is so culturally narrow. Traditional and indigenous cultures all over the world consume animals. The idea that a group of largely middle-class, educated, young, white vegans can make a philosophically self-righteous claim that all omnivores are doing something immoral — come on! Next year, please leave us alone, and go focus your time on issues that matter like racist police brutality, factory farms, gentrification, climate change, etc.

Looking forward to an apology,

— Frank Salzano
Wild Abundance instructor
Weaverville

Editor’s note: A response from the Let Live Coalition appears in the letter, “Let Live Coalition Responds” in this issue.

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23 thoughts on “Letter writer: Wild Abundance looks forward to apology

  1. Dawn Moncrief

    I am disappointed that Mountain XPress editors chose to publish a drastically shortened and poorly edited version of my 900 word Letter to the Editor on behalf of Let Live Coalition, written in response to an email they sent us summarizing some of Frank Salzano’s claims here. The editors cut my letter by nearly half, excluding key points and despite allowing both Meredith Leigh and Lee Warren more than 900 words each for their respective Letters published here on this same issue, and despite my pointing out this discrepancy and asking for equal consideration. This choice demonstrates a serious bias that reflects poorly on the Mountain XPress. Below please find the entire text of my original letter composed on behalf of Let Live Coalition:

    “As a representative of the Let Live Coalition, I appreciate this opportunity to provide accurate details about the campaign and to clear up some misunderstandings. I’ll begin by addressing the issue getting the most attention, and state once again that we unequivocally oppose and condemn in the highest terms aggressive communication.

    From start to finish, our posts explicitly urged “respectful” and “polite” communications. Not only are we dedicated to peaceful protest activities on principle and as an extension of our commitment to nonviolence, but hostile communication from people claiming to be our supporters distracts from and undermines our message.

    Also, despite claims to the contrary, we ONLY listed the contact information publicly available on Wild Abundance’s and Meredith Leigh’s business websites. There was no indication on their sites that these were personal numbers, and we did not post the personal number that Wild Abundance owner Natalie Bogwalker sent to us after the campaign launched. We used this unposted personal number for direct communication with her on multiple occasions. We also did not list any addresses or ever go into their personal space.

    Early on, we attempted to have constructive dialogue hoping to scale back the campaign, but instead Natalie emailed this message: “By the way, enrollment for our humane slaughtering class has gone up (maybe thanks to you, honestly) and we will be taking the life of an additional sheep to make sure that all our students get enough hands on experience. We will now be humanely slaughtering at least 2 sheep.”

    The only reason to mention killing an additional sheep was to gloat and punish us. How is that honorable or ethical?

    Publicly, they vilify us as bullies, and frame themselves as victims and martyrs while continuously using Natalie’s infant to garner sympathy and outrage. But when communicating with us directly, Natalie sent us their address, offering
    to let us protest at Wild Abundance, and to have tea and vegan cookies. Since her boyfriend had just texted us taunting “we might kill 3,” we still don’t know their motivation, but either way these messages do not reflect concern about a “mob mentality.”

    Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, we confirmed to Natalie that we planned to hold a silent vigil in town and would not be near their property. We posted details online, informed the media, and even invited some of her supporters.

    Ironically, in personal emails to us, Natalie commended some of our partners’ campaigns against bear and lion hunting. But what does that work look like? Encouraging phone calls and emails to hunt organizers, online posts, petitions, literature, signs, and media. This is precisely what our campaign entailed — about two weeks’ worth of standard, peaceful activism — which Natalie applauds for the protection of bears and lions, but denounces for the protection of sheep. Or at least the sheep she plans to kill — an excellent example of social justice NIMBY-ism.

    While Natalie denies a profit motive, her classes bring in thousands of dollars. And in an interview about her move from veganism to butchery, Meredith stated, “I almost feel that it was a business decision to add meat.” These slaughter instructors frame slitting animals’ throats as an “ethical,” “humane,” and “sacred” way to “honor” them. They show photos of healthy, happy animals, but not the reality of “after.” We want people to understand the full reality.

    As Natalie explained on a recent news segment: the sheep are tethered outside as workshop participants pray around them and “wait for the moment that feels right” to take each animal’s life. She left out that these defenseless, gentle creatures are probably confused and scared, and that they will be pinned to the ground as the instructor demonstrates how to sever their throats so as to “humanely relieve them of their blood,” to use one of Meredith’s chilling euphemisms.

    This is the reality. If the victim were a dog, it would be a felony. Proponents claim this is ethical because they use all the body parts and because it’s not factory farming. Our message is that it is still not ethical. Breeding animals into existence in order to kill them for unnecessary reasons is not a natural “cycle of life.” For animals being killed against their will, this is not “conscious dying”— it is nonconsensual death.

    Finally, do-it-yourself slaughter is not some sublime, ethical blending of Temple Grandin and Mary Oliver that results in a serene, poetic “dance” of death. It normalizes violence against those who are less powerful and reinforces the unnecessary use and abuse of animals. And while it’s easy to succumb to statistical overload when considering that more than a million land-based animals are killed for food every hour in the U.S. alone, we believe that if people can sympathize with the suffering and helplessness of one sheep, and recognize that he or she doesn’t deserve to be “harvested” and “processed,” this will carry over to compassion for other animals as well.

    We also hope that Wild Abundance, and those who thrive on sensationalism and favoritism, will not continue to misdirect the attention of those who care about the wellbeing of animals. We encourage readers to visit our website (let-live.org) to learn more about our campaign, to better understand the ways in which small-scale slaughter perpetuates factory farm atrocities, and to explore our recommendations for sustainable alternatives that better serve people, animals, and the planet.”

    • Justin Van Kleeck

      Not a surprise considering every submission criticizing Wild Abundance was shared with them prior to publication, some without the author’s consent, so that every criticism could be immediately met with a response by those who were defending the murder of an innocent sheep–and perpetrating it no less. It’s a shameful instance of silent bias, and it disturbs me to no end to know that LLC’s response was so thoroughly gutted (pun intended) so as to forcibly pull punches.

      • dyfed

        If the Xpress did indeed give Wild Abundance the opportunity to respond, good for them!

        Community newspapers serve as a forum for the entire community. They owe no special soapbox to activists to carry out their campaigns without opposition or rebuttal.

        • Justin Van Kleeck

          You’re okay with a paper’s editorial board sharing LTEs prior to submission without consent? And heavily (not to mention poorly) redacting one response while giving full space to another?

          • dyfed

            I unreservedly approve of it, yes.

            a) A letter written to another person ceases to be your physical property. While you own the copyright on the words themselves, they can show it to anyone they want without restriction.

            b) Writing a letter to the editor expressly implies permission to publish it in a public forum, as well as to edit and redact it for space as necessary. Which it appears was badly necessary: more words doesn’t mean more persuasion. The petty character aspersions that the letter dwelled on while trying to drum up sympathy should have been cut as well.

            Good for the people at Wild Abundance that they did not require redaction. However, I am curious how you KNOW that Wild Abundance’s letter wasn’t redacted. Are you implying you saw the original letter before publication? In which case, it seems this practice was fair across the board, as Xpress provided both parties with point and counterpoint. Not so?

      • Tracy Rose

        Xpress endeavors to be fair to all, including letter writers voicing their views in the Opinion section.

        When we receive a letter to the editor that’s critical of a person or group, we typically reach out to those who are being criticized to ask for a response. Since Xpress publishes weekly, it seems fairer to solicit that response before publication so that there is the opportunity for the response to appear in the same issue as the original letter instead of a week or two after the print issue has published.

        This opportunity has been extended to letter writers on both sides of this particular issue, as well as to letter writers expressing their views on other local topics.

        In this situation, we received a letter to the editor from Wild Abundance, and sought out a response from the Let Live Coalition.

        It’s important to note that the print issue has space limitations that the website forum does not. So although it is true that the two letters Ms. Moncrief mentions above (from Ms. Leigh and Ms. Warren) both ran in the 900-word range on our website, Ms. Leigh’s print letter was much shorter, and Ms. Warren’s was online-only.

        In regard to the editing: When informed that the print letter needed to be shorter than what was submitted, the Let Live Coalition submitted different, shorter versions for print. However, those versions contained information that was not able to be verified on deadline and that also went beyond the scope of a response to the points raised in Wild Abundance’s letter. When informed that those parts would be edited out and replaced with ellipses (to indicate that the text was removed), the Let Live Coalition offered replacement text.

        When preparing the Let Live Coalition’s letter for the website, Xpress reached out to the group Monday to inform them that they could provide additional wording to the letter that appeared in print. Xpress received no response, and we notified them Wednesday morning of our plans to post the print letter. With still no response forthcoming, we posted the print letter on Wednesday evening.

        • Ashley

          As a Let Live Coalition member and someone who helped edit the longer version of our Letter, I would like to note that we were very clear that the 900 word version of our Letter was what we intended for our online Letter. You did not need further clarification from us about that. Any “additional wording” we would have wanted to add was already there in the the 900 word version which we repeatedly asked you to run online, asking numerous times for fairness in receiving the same amount of word space as you allowed Lee Warren and Meredith Leigh for their online versions. Regardless, you chose not to run our 900 word letter. And if you persist in saying that that was because it “went beyond the scope of a response to points raised in Wild Abundance’s letter,” kindly note that Meredith Leigh’s 900 word letter also went beyond the scope of a response to the points of Karen Davis’s letter, to which it was ostensibly published as a response. In reality, it wasn’t even originally written as a response to Karen Davis’s letter, it was written as a blog post which you simply reprinted, though you state in your Letter guidelines that you do not reprint previously published material. It also, at 920 words, meandered into many points beyond the scope of a direct response to Karen Davis’s letter, yet you chose to print it in full. The bias and favoritism on display here are unprofessional and disappointing.

    • John Penley

      This whole back and forth has brought much attention and discussion to Veganism and Meat eating. That is good. I, for one, think that we need to consider our food consumption. I also think that the meat counters at large supermarkets might have been a better target and suggest the Coalition make fliers and hand them out at Ingles and others.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Even better:

      Make the ethical choice: Just say NO to VegaNazism!

      • LeAnne Johnson

        Snowflake, you are always so clever. And such a powerhouse in fighting for social justice.

        • boatrocker

          Laughing- I’ll give my lil altright posting compatriot something- reading is fundamental, for everyone filling in Warrior in their minds instead of Worrier. For ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Social Justice Warrior’ being lifted straight from the Spencer playbook, at least changing it up a bit can generate a laugh.

          I wonder if for removing the ‘b’ from my name , would people would incorrectly assume I’m a vegan?

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          Thank You! What a sweet, delightful person! I constantly worry that someone will commit a microaggression, and I won’t be there to be offended and demand justice.

          For instance, I’m always worrying that someone will pass gas and I won’t be there to smell it and be offended. And vegans are absolutely the worst for this. Everyone knows that they’re just f.arting monsters. Google it. I used to date a vegan, and she passed gas constantly. And hers weren’t just microaggressions; they smelled so heinous they were crimes against humanity and nature! I was so naive back then. But it’s like they say: Love is b̶l̶i̶n̶d̶ ̶ anosmic! So now I’m not going to just sit back and let vegans oppress the helpless by turning them into a bunch of f.arting godzillas!

          • luther blissett

            get a goddamn life, you sad sad man.

          • The Real World

            Lighten up, Luther……that was quite hilarious and I almost threw-up my (vegetarian) lunch!

  2. John Penley

    This whole back and forth has brought much attention and discussion to Veganism and Meat eating. That is good. I, for one, think that we need to consider our food consumption. I also think that the meat counters at large supermarkets might have been a better target and suggest the Coalition make fliers and hand them out at Ingles and others.

  3. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    Jerry Seinfeld could have gotten a lot more mileage out of a Veganazi than a Soup Nazi.

    Elaine: I’d like a ham sandwich.
    Veganazi: No meat for you!
    Elaine: Oh OK. Cheese sandwich then.
    Veganazi: No cheese for you!
    Elaine: What? Well make it an egg sandwich.
    Veganazi: No egg for you!
    Elaine: Ah c’mon, I’m hungry. A bowl of cereal.
    Veganazi: No milk for you!

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Elaine: Alright! Then just give me a piece of leather to chew on.
      Veganazi: No leather for you!

      • boatrocker

        Whoa! Quoting the so called ‘Jewish owned media’ you see everywhere for your own purposes!
        What’s next, David Chappelle?
        Buying Heinz/Levi products? Using Einstein’s scientific discoveries as a source?
        You turn your back on your brainwashed altright cultist online ‘upbringing’ with statements like that.

        There’s always ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, if you want to get back to your core ‘tribal’ beliefs that those Nazis weren’t so bad after all, and everyone could share a laugh at the end of each episode.

  4. Deplorable Infidel

    Snowflake…now I will worry over your worries about others’ microaggressions… I’ve decided to preface any of mine with ‘this is not a ‘micro’ aggresssion’ , it’s full size! ;)

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Thank you for your empathy. I do hope you will join me in supporting POOTS (People Opposed to Outgassings That Stink) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Air). The issues coming from vegans are just deplorable! It is so unethical to pollute the air which we all breathe, because it gives so much to us and asks nothing in return. Yet microaggressions are committed against it every day!. Enough is enough!

    • boatrocker

      Funny how the only aggressions some commit are online in their ‘dark enlightenment’, yet when their token minority coworker is brought up
      “Oh, but they’re family” (addendum- I just wouldn’t want my daughter to date them).

      Take your message directly to others- in person, within arms’ reach for a true litmus test of whether they matter.
      I have not had a problem with that, strangely enough. Have you?

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