To the editor:
Having been off in the remote wilds of the Alaskan Interior since early June, it came as a real shock to learn from my brother, Don Hassig of the terrible negativity, which certain newspapers and local government officials had interjected into Don's Green Party run for Congress in the new 21st Congressional District. With thousands of miles separating me from the family in northern New York, one likes to think of family members being safe and out of harm's way back home.
Amidst all the anger and frustration, I keep asking myself, "What can I
do to stand up against these abuses as a caring brother?" First, I want to say, "Honor to Donald Hassig." My brother's record of 20
years of dedicated environmental activism speaks for itself - standing strong in opposition to a county garbage incinerator; battling against an ill-conceived Chatham chip-board factory; bringing forth the science that led the way to a state-wide ban on trash burning;
promoting the clean-up of hazardous waste sites in the town of Lisbon, on the Grasse River, ALCOA and GM sites; and cancer prevention via public education regarding industrial pollutants contaminating animal-fat foods.
How can it be that in our so-called "free" country an activist is arrested for stalking because he sought to persuade St. Lawrence County Public Health Director Dr. Susan Hathaway to use the power of her office to inform the public of cancer risk associated with consuming animal-fat foods?
To any thinking person, Don's arrest was for one purpose - to stop him from putting pressure on government to deal with the issue of industrial pollutants and disease. It's an evil day for American agriculture when the interests of industrial farming run counter to the public health.
I ask myself, what can I do to defend my brother against this abusive
charge? How can I defend the honor of our family name? It's clear to me that county Administrator St. Hilaire, Health Director Hathaway and our county Legislature are intent upon keeping the public in the
dark on this whole matter of industrial pollutants in animal-fat foods.
Can it be that the local power of the dairy industry will succeed in suppressing strongly research-based scientific information, which proves the link between industrial pollutants and disease?
There's also the larger social question here: Have American civil liberties been eroded away to the point that an activist must face criminal charges, social disapproval and possible imprisonment in the course of exercising the right to speak freely on matters of the environment and public health? Have American morals decayed to the point that government officials feel free to lie about good people like my brother?
Let's hope that our country still has enough character to honor civil liberties and dedicated activism above the dollar interests of any
David W. Hassig
Lake Minchumina, Alaska