START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
1,283,012 people care about Politics

Child Porn Charge Against Activist an Attempt to Sidestep Discussion on Mountaintop Removal

Child Porn Charge Against Activist an Attempt to Sidestep Discussion on Mountaintop Removal

 

Written by Maurenn Nandini Mitra

In case you missed this outrageous bit of absurdity, noted anti-mountaintop removal mining activist Maria Gunnoe was investigated for child porn recently because she tried to show Congressmen a photo of a little girl sitting in a bathtub of polluted water.

Gunnoe, who was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2009 for her efforts to fight mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, was scheduled to testify to the House Committee on Natural Resources on the adverse impacts of the Spruce No. 1 coal mine, the largest proposed strip-mining operation in central Appalachia.

This was to be her fourth testimony before the committee. This time, in order to underscore her point, she decided to display a photograph of a five-year-old child sitting in a tub of brown, arsenic-laden water as an example of how runoff from mountaintop removal sites contaminates the local water supply.

The image, shot by award-winning photographer Katie Falkenberg, was part of a photo essay about the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining and had been taken with consent from the child’s parents. In the caption accompanying the photo Falkenberg wrote: “The coal company that mines the land around their home has never admitted to causing this problem, but they do supply the family with bottled water for drinking and cooking.” (Falkenberg has since removed the image from her website claiming that the child’s family “has declined media request to use” the photo. However copies are still a simple Google search away.)

Gunnoe, who says the committee member have avoided looking at her during past hearings, hoped the photograph would get committee members look her in the eye for a change. (Read the text of her testimony here.)

But on the day of the hearing, June 1, Representative Doug Lamborn – a Colorado Springs Republican and the subcommittee’s chairman – not only barred Gunnoe from showing the image, but he went as far as accusing her of being a child pornographer and had his staff call the cops on her. Coal, incidentally, is a billion-dollar industry in Lamborn’s home state.

After the censored hearing, Gunnoe was taken aside by Capitol Police and questioned for 45 minutes. The cops later said they had “discovered no criminal activity,” related to the photo, but that the case is still open to prosecution.

This is not the first time Gunnoe has faced harassment for her activism. She has received several death threats in the past, her daughter’s dog was shot dead, and pro-mining goons have plaster wanted posters with her photo in local stores.

But that doesn’t meant we should let pass this unscrupulous effort to intimidate Gunnoe, and to obfuscate the real issue – the environmental and health impact of a 2,278 acre mountaintop mining project that would bury 6.6 miles of streams. Studies have shown that people living by mountaintop removal cites are 50 percent more likely to die of cancer, have higher risk of kidney disease, and are more likely to have children with birth defects than other communities in the Appalachia region.

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the grassroots group Gunnoe works with, wants a public apology from Lamborn and his staff. It’s asking those outraged by what happened Gunnoe to turn on the pressure on Lamborn by submitting letters, documents, and information to the Congressional record of the June 1 hearing. This is a public record, and according to House rules, the public is free to submit comments and information on this particular hearing. until 5 p.m. Eastern Time this Friday, June 15.

The coalition has some good ideas for messages we can send, including “sending a bathtub photo of your own kids.” I don’t have any children of my own, but when I told my sister about Gunnoe’s ordeal last evening, she immediately told me I could post a bathtub photo of my two nieces instead.

Borrowing the coalition’s idea, here’s my message to Mr Lamborn and the Congressional subcommittee:

“Dear Sirs, If you think this photo of my beloved little nieces is also pornography you can tell the Capitol Police how to find my sister and me.”

This post was republished with permission from the Earth Island Journal.

 

Related Stories:

Big Coal Gets Desperate, Begs Customers to Complain to EPA

Top 5 American Treasures to Protect

Mountaintop Removal Mining is Ecological Suicide

 

Read more: , , , ,

Photo from iLoveMountains.org via flickr

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

160 comments

+ add your own
11:59AM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

ridiculous. But can we really be surprised that big money and authority are turning the tables like this??

2:02AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

You know, 12 years ago, when my son was only about 3-4 months old, I'd taken a picture of him in the sink taking a bath... I rag covered his private spot. I'd submitted that to a photo contest, and was denied because of "questionable content". I didn't think an innocent picture of a baby in a bath tub constituted questionable. So if a mother bathes a boy, is that questionable action?

I have to wonder if the people who are making such accusations as this are really pedophiles, and accusing us for child porn or questionable tidbits are pure projection on their parts. I really have to question the sanity of those who want to berate a woman for standing up for what's right.

9:30AM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

Big Brother is still screwing up peoples lives.

4:45PM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

It seems to me if Representative Doug Lamborn got sexually aroused by the image (yes, I checked it out on the internet) then perhaps he is the one that needs to be investigated. He's probably got a lot more to hide than just being owned by Big Coal. Most GOP/Tea Baggers do have something to hide which is why they're so good at pointing the finger elsewhere. I hope that Gunnoe can take the bastards to court for slander, mis-use of law enforcement and anything else. As for the "sex offender witch hunt" being out of control, I really don't agree with you "marc p." I do agree that if the photographer had been male, then there would have been more of an uproar. Considering that the vast majority of sex offenders, including pedophiles, are male then one shouldn't be surprised. What is out of control is the GOP/Tea Pottiers/Right Wing Nuts who make a mockery of the constitution and re-write bibles to make themselves god.

7:59AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Wow

12:04AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

How absolutely shocking and Twisted. They should be charged for that accusation, in fact they must be charged!

9:30PM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

More frivolous wasting of government resources in an attempt to break US government's back. Sad that they can find the time to investigate children in a bathtub, but no time to dig out facts about children being poisoned.

8:14PM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

WHAT A SHOCK!!!

7:04PM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

I want to apologize for my post appearing 13 times here. I have repeatedly contacted Care2 about the multiple post problem with no response or resolution. I see that the problem happens to others posting here as well. maybe we should petition them to fix it!

7:03PM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

I want to apologize for my post appearing 13 times here. I have repeatedly contacted Care2 about the multiple post problem with no response or resolution. I see that the problem happens to others posting here as well. maybe we should petition them to fix it!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

Climate change is real, no build up for the wet season yet and no sign of it, very worrying for all the…

I have signed with a hope of saving those fugitive cows...... God please save them.....

Such a happy ending - wonderful they found each other! Happiness to them both - thanks for reposting…

meet our writers

Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.