7 January

Joshua Rockwood: Many Thanks, We Are So Close. Bring It To An End.

by Jon Katz
To Show The World What I am Made Of..."
To Show The World What I am Made Of…”

“Joshua, small family farms are our future. Please stand strong.” – Verne DuGas, on Joshua Rockwood’s gofundme page.

If you wish to feel good this morning, to be reminded of how good people are when given the chance, if you wish to be reminded that their news is not our news, then go read some of the comments on Joshua Rockwood’s gofundmepage.

And then, if you are so inclined, help us bring his horses back to West Wind Acres Farm, and help a conscientious young farmer keep his farm and put his life back together. Yesterday alone, Joshua’s supporters raised $6,000 to help him negotiate a good end to his legal situation and to bring his three horses back to the farm.

It is so stirring to see those contributions, most of them small amounts, from ordinary, hard-working people, come pouring in.

“I was a shepherd for many years,” wrote Suzanne Tietjen,” I can see anyone with animals being caught in your position. Thank you for showing courage and not giving in.”

Joshua has shown great courage, he could have cut a deal long ago, he refused to admit to anything he had not done. He did this out of principle, but also to take a stand that would make it difficult for anyone to do this to any other farmer. But he needs help to get to the finish line.

He needs about $5,000 more over the next few days to work out a legal arrangement that will put this behind him, and permit him to return to his life as a farmer, to rebuild his damaged business. Last February, Joshua was arrested and charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty. He was accused of having an unheated barn, of having frozen water tanks (it was – 27), of failing to provide adequate shelter for his pigs. None of his animals died during the awful cold wave, none were starving or dehydrated, none suffered any illness or injury.

I saw them all, his animals were alert, healthy, well-fed and content. It was, I saw, an outrageous injustice. It was Orwellian.

“Orwellian” is an adjective that describes a situation, idea, or societal condition that the author George Orwell believed was destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It refers to a practice or attitude that includes a brutal practice of media manipulation, control by secret surveillance and fanatical propaganda,  it uses misinformation, denial of truth, overreach by authority, and the branding of people as “unpersons,” targets and victims who are forced to live apart from the moral community of people, and whose work and property can be taken from them at any time.

The legal definition of  animal abuse is willful and criminal neglect resulting in death or injury. it is not frozen tanks in a cold wave.  It is not the opinion of secret informers driving by in the dark to spy on their neighbors. This is not Stalinist Russia. Joshua Rockwood is an ethical farmer and animal lover, I would never support someone who abused animals, neither would you. He is innocent of these charges.

This week along, more than 100,000 cows starved or froze to death in the American Southwest, taken by awful storms and cold. No farmer in Texas was charged with animal cruelty, on top of their other troubles. Nothing happened on Joshua’s farm that did not happen to countless farms all over the Northeast, including mine. And not one of his animals were harmed. This happens all over the country, every winter. Water tanks freeze, livestock does not need heated barns, they are not even healthy.

Joshua’s many supporters have raised $66,000 so far to help pay for his enormous legal fees, to improve the infrastructure of his farm, to keep his farm and business going while he goes to hearing after hearing. He needs to get to $72,000 to conclude this case in a way  that I believe will give comfort and  joy to every farmer and true animal lover in America.

“Keep up the good fight,” urged Carol Grigg’s on Joshua’s gofundme page today, “a lot of people are standing with you. Hope you get your horses back soon.”

For all of us, this is money well spent, it could change the awful dynamic that has threatened the future of animals in our world, persecuted many innocent people,  and given far too much power to the animal rights movement, a movement that knows nothing about animals and cares nothing about the people who own, live and work with them.

We live in angry times, people are prone to rage and conspiracy theories about the government, I don’t share those views. I think the police are caught in yet another impossible situation for them, and are trying to do their best, even if wrong. I’m not into hating or rage.

We need perspective, now more than ever. The truth is, we are all responsible. We are all as much to blame as the people who took Joshua’s horses from him. We have surrendered our responsibility to speak for the animals we love and turned it over to feckless politicians and extremist ideologues who have taken a necessary movement and turned it into a coalition of hate groups. Check out the definition of a hate group for yourself, it fits the people who targeted Joshua Rockwood perfectly.

Secret informers – Joshua will never know who his accusers are or get to confront them, as murderers do  – drove by his farm, called the police, who raided his farm, arrested him on magical charges of cruelty and impounded three of his horses. He will  need to pay thousands of dollars to get them back even if he is cleared of all charges  – at least $9,000, and that will clear the way for him to negotiate an end to this injustice. That figure is far lower than it once was.

Joshua very much hates asking anyone else for money – he is sometimes too proud for his own good – but he has been very nearly ruined by this experience, between legal costs, damage to his business of selling healthy food to people, improvements he must make to prepare his farm for winter, keeping his family and farm intact.

He has used every penny he has received and then some, in order to survive. He won’t ask for more help, but I know he would put it to good use. It will make him whole and send a powerful message.

With your help, he can put this behind him and return to his life, to growing his business, to repairing the damage to his life. Joshua’s case is being watched by farmers and animal lovers all over the country, his victory will be our victory, it will give hope to every farmer or animal lover or carriage horse driver or pony ride operator who finds him or herself a target of a movement with no boundaries, ethics, or mandate. For perhaps the first time, farmers and animal lovers are using social media to reach out to one another and make a powerful statement – one that police and prosecutors everywhere will hear.

“I have heaters in my stock tanks also,” wrote Dena Lee on Joshua’s gofundme page this morning. “They do sometimes freeze in the bitter cold. Anyone who makes derogatory remarks about that is an idiot!..I’d rather see this type of farming any day over cramming animals into a sterile barn where they are unhappy their entire lives.”

Everything about this case felt wrong and smelled wrong to me from the beginning. It is wrong. You can help right it by supporting Joshua through the final days of his ordeal. I so look forward to knowing that we formed a community of conscientious and good people and brought him through it. What a happy day that will be, and we are close.

You can help here.

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