Here is where — slowly, slowly — I’ll be posting all of my published articles and essays, along with selected talks and other assorted texts. At first, I’ll be concentrating on posting articles from print-only or defunct web publications so, if you’re looking for something that might already be online elsewhere, check here for some links or just Google me. You can subscribe to this page to be notified whenever a new text is added. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog SuperWeed too!
Originally published in June/July 2007 issue of Satya Magazine.
It was a typical winter night at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary, meaning I was sitting on the couch brooding about big problems while dogs chewed carrot sticks on the carpet and catnip-fueled felines chased each other around the chaotic kitchen. Some new piece of wretched information—probably something about polar bears—had punched me in the stomach. “Why aren’t people doing more about global warming?” I muttered angrily. Elder dog Zami regarded me levelly until it hit me: I am people. Why aren’t I doing more about global warming?
Feeling a bit abashed, I decided to ask the question really rather than rhetorically: Why aren’t people doing more about global warming?
Since I am people, I asked myself first.
(Originally published in Satya Magazine, October 2005)
Let them eat words. That seemed to me to be the theme of the 2002 UN World Food Summit and parallel NGO Forum for Food Sovereignty. At the Summit, national delegations cut back-room deals to boost corporate agribusiness, all the while applauding themselves for recognizing food as a human right. At the Forum, activists spent so much time pontificating about the right to food that plans to take direct action against hunger fell by the wayside.
Sitting in a Roman auditorium as well-fed activists opined that what starving people need most is more rights, I felt more than a little mystified. It was as if these otherwise rational people believed that, in the words of food policy analyst Devinder Sharma, “the ‘right to food’ is a magical stick that makes the Supermen of the political hierarchy deliver food to the hungry.”
In fact, the “right to food” confers no such fantastic powers on its holders. That right is recognized by the constitutions of the majority of countries where people die daily of hunger and malnutrition. In 2001, India’s Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional right to food. Years later, children still starve as surplus food rots in government storehouses.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., men no longer have the right to beat their wives but battery remains the number one reason women seek emergency medical care. Worldwide, every person now has the legal right not to be enslaved, but more people are held in bondage than ever before.
Clearly, something’s wrong with “rights.”
(Originally published in Satya Magazine, February 2006)
Three women walked past the electrified fence and onto the Happy Hens Egg World compound, which confines 220,000 hens in rusty cages 60 miles west of Melbourne, Australia. As the women began documenting the deplorable conditions in the sheds, videotaping the sights and sounds of crowded birds in constant misery, they were set upon by seven male employees of the egg factory, demanding they leave. The women agreed to leave voluntarily but the men attacked them anyway, pushing and shoving them through the dim and dusty shed.
Patty Mark and Debra Tranter just after the assault
Hearing her comrade cry out in distress, one of the activists grabbed the wall of the shed and said that she would not leave without her friend. The youngest worker grabbed both her breasts and squeezed them hard, putting his mouth next to her ear and snarling, “that made you move, didn’t it?” She screamed and fell on the floor. The men grabbed her by the ankles and dragged her body along the length of the grimy walkway.
(Originally published in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Satya Magazine)
Glancing out the window, I see two elderly roosters drinking from a water bowl in the front yard. Fauna has lived with us since 2001, when he arrived in the midst of a colorful crew of roosters who had been evicted from a Pennsylvania farm. Soon after, he struck a love match with Flora, a former egg factory inmate who was one of a group of hens we called “the Anarchists” in honor of their knack for jumping over fences and redistributing wealth.
Flora and Fauna were a devoted couple until she died prematurely, her body weakened by her experiences at the factory farm. Like many aging widowers, Fauna grew socially isolated, spending more and more time indoors and less and less time doing the things he used to love to do.
Originally published in the Ann Arbor Agenda in April 1992.
Please note that all statistics are from that time.
In the late 1970s, while the epidemic known as “disco fever” swept through the U.S., an epidemic known as “junkie pneumonia” raged among injection drug users in New York City. Unlike disco fever, junkie pneumonia was not the subject of intense media scrutiny or public outcry. No movies were made. Few people were aware that large numbers of injection drug users were inexplicably dying of pneumonia. Those few who did notice these deaths did not feel compelled to investigate the public health puzzle they posed. Junkies die all the time. Nor did anyone bring this less danceable epidemic to the attention of the fevered populace. Bringing the epidemic to the attention of the public would not have made much difference. Undoubtedly, some people would have voiced the opinion that people who shoot drugs deserve to die while most would have shrugged and kept dancing. Investigating the epidemic as the potential public health menace it was, however, could have had a profound impact on hundreds of thousands of lives. Had anyone bothered to investigate the deaths of these drug users, they would have found that they had an immune system disorder that we now call AIDS.
By pattrice jones
Written on Christmas Day in 2002, this essay has been widely published and reprinted.
As the Christians gather to celebrate the birth of the founder of their religion, I find myself asking a question that I wish Christians would ask themselves: Who would Jesus kill?
Lately many Christians have been using the simple question, “What would Jesus do?” to help them make ethical judgments that are consistent with their religious beliefs. This holiday season, as Americans discuss the prospect of war over dinner tables groaning with factory farmed meat, the most apt variant of “What would Jesus do?” is: Who would Jesus kill?
Gloating and Gluttony Then and Now
by pattrice jones
Originally published 2004 on various IndyMedia sites.
Revises 2003 essay originally published by Press Action.
Thanksgiving, 2003 — Bush the executioner grins and pardons a turkey before flying to Iraq. He’s earned that self-satisfied smirk. All over his United States, citizens celebrate conquest over platters of flesh. Too full of turkey to think and too full of themselves to question, they let out their belts and watch TV. Tomorrow they go shopping!
November, 2004 – Homophobia hands GWB four more years. Seizing the day, he orders his Conquistadors to take Falluja. US troops blockade the city, announcing that any man under 45 who remains will be presumed hostile and that no man under 45 will be permitted to leave. Any man having the audacity to have been born in a city the Americans want to occupy is about to discover what the original inhabitants of the Americas learned long ago.
“Body parts are everywhere!” That’s what one US soldier had to say about the saddest city in Iraq, according to an AFP report. It’s also an apt description of the state of US dinner tables during the festival of gloating and gluttony known as Thanksgiving.
This year, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in the wake of the taking of Falluja. Waving “drumsticks” and fighting for “wishbones,” complacent Christians will gorge themselves without fear, safe from the threats of gay marriage and Iraqi self-determination. Stuffing themselves beyond satiation, they and their children will partake of the proud Puritanical tradition of ruthless, reckless expansion.
Colonization is nothing to crow about. When Columbus blundered into a hemisphere populated by 70-100 million people and countless unique species of flora and fauna, he set into motion a chain reaction of repression and rebellion that continues to this day.
by pattrice jones
First published 28 November 2006 by FreezerBox Magazine.
Throwing the homosexuals to the hounds sounds like a metaphor for the Republican Party’s electoral strategy of recent years, but it actually happened back in 1513 in what is now Panama. Then, governor Vasco Nunez de Balboa condemned 50 homosexual Indians to be torn apart by dogs.Seen by both Catholic Conquistadors and Protestant Pilgrims as a sign of godless animality, same-sex pleasure was ruthlessly suppressed throughout the process of the subjugation of the Americas. Today, the conquest of the senses continues, as billions of people and animals are forced to forgo all kinds of natural happiness so that a privileged few can enjoy the empty gluttony that has brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe.
When Columbus blundered into the Caribbean, sexual freedom — including full acceptance of homosexuality — was the norm in the region.
Trickle-Down Environmentalism versus Ecosystemic Empathy
A Meditation on the Occasion of the World Social Forum
28 & 29 January 2003
Porto Alegre, Brazil
“No, the waters and the mountains do not belong to the mens. But how do we tell that to Bush and Blair?”
I’m at the Fórum Social Mundial and have no answer for the Brazilian musician who earnestly poses that question after admiring the Alice Walker quotation on my t-shirt. How indeed, I wonder, when even the people who are talking back to Bush and Blair do not understand that basic fact.
These days, most progressive environmentalists endorse what might be called the ‘trickle-down’ theory of environmental justice. Just as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have asserted that the self-interested choices of rich people ultimately help all of the other economic classes, today’s global justice advocates assert that the self-interested choices of “the people” will ultimately help all of the other species on earth. Both theories amount to little more than wishful thinking.