BOOK REVIEW: Two brave men and their crusades | Way of life

“The Fox Feats and SHARK Tales of Pollution Fighter James F. Phillips & Animal Rights Warrior Steven O. Hindi” by Pauline Marie Gambill is a powerful and inspiring book about two brave men: James F. Phillips (1930-2001), alias ” The Fox,” and Steven Hindi, founder of animal rights organization SHARK.

In November 1970, David Dominick, Commissioner of the Federal Water Quality Administration of the United States Department of the Interior, said this:

“An unknown crusader against pollution and polluters calls himself The Fox. He is waging a private battle to publicize and punish industries that pollute the air and waterways of his community.

“You have probably read about his exploits in the newspaper. Under cover of darkness, he clogged weirs with hay bales and clogged chimneys. More recently, he spilled a barrel of fluids into the reception room of the company that spilled it.

“The Robin Hood secret in us can sympathize with The Fox. But one can also wonder about the feelings of indignation and frustration that animate this mysterious individual. A citizen who takes it upon himself to harass polluters obviously has little faith that existing laws and programs will be used to clean up the country’s waters.

“The Fox, by his actions, challenges us all with the question: Do we, as individuals in a technological society, have the will to control and prevent the degradation of our environment?

The fact that over 50 years later this remains an important and relevant question is why Gambill decided to write about Phillips’ exploits as The Fox. During his lifetime and after his death, it was well known that Phillips was The Fox. Concerned citizens, including many police officers, supported and protected Phillips’ actions. Reporters were contacting Phillips for comment on The Fox’s activities.

Phillips created stickers that read “Armor Dial Kills Our Water” and “Armor Dial Pollutes Our Air”. Phillips supporters took to stores across America and stuck the stickers on Dial soap bars on the shelves. In a memo to Armor Dial executives signed by “the distressed animals of the Fox River Valley,” Phillips explained, “We have counted on you to help keep our environment clean for the past six years and you betrayed that faith. You killed our fish and sniffed our air. When asked what could be done, you did not answer in good faith. You repeatedly said that you would stop polluting our air. and dumping trash in our water, but you didn’t stop. We were done talking.

Phillips’ efforts resulted in a large-scale boycott of Armor Dial products, an Illinois lawsuit against Armor Dial for violating emissions standards, and eventual corrective action taken by the company.

In the same way, Phillips has also successfully pressured other companies to stop polluting our environment.

Steve Hindi was an avid fisherman and hunter who was transformed after witnessing a live pigeon shoot.

He has since dedicated his life to exposing the horrors of live bird shoots staged for the “entertainment” of attendees, rodeos, bullfights, circuses, canned hunts, cockfights, shark kills, puppy mills and other operations. large-scale animal husbandry, and other cruelties to animals.

At the Hegins Pigeon Hunt in Pennsylvania, Hindi challenged an event organizer to a “physical showdown…without time limits, rules, refereeing or any kind of protective gear.”

Hindi said he would pay $10,000 to the community park association if his opponent won the fight, but if Hindi won, the skeet shoot would be canceled and never held again. Hindi received no response.

For several years, Hindi and other dedicated SHARK investigators clashed with U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), who staged political fundraising skeet shoots.

SHARK investigator Mark Brumbaugh said: “I personally watched (Hindi) crawl through thick thorny bushes and get scratched and covered in blood in order to save injured pigeons still alive the next day. from a Jim Inhofe fundraiser in Oklahoma.”

Gambill concludes: “As a result of Hindi’s continued efforts, attention has been – and will continue to be – focused in a considerable way on the horrific cruelty inflicted on animals and exposing those who commit it.

“Countless animals have been spared cruelty and/or senseless death because of his work. He can continue to feel satisfaction about it. As he noted in 1998, when he was imprisoned for a short time after he interrupted a goose hunt in Woodstock, Illinois, and saw through the jail window a flock of geese flying – “It makes me feel good. I think maybe, just maybe, they are the ones still alive because we warned them.”

People can agree or disagree with the tactics used by Phillips and Hindi, but at least agree on this: they show us the true meaning of “walking right”, not just “talking right”. should”.

And, even if we don’t engage in colorful and risky endeavors like those of Phillips or Hindi, we can still find some spiritual fulfillment when we treat others, including vulnerable people and animals, as we would want to be treated. if we were the ones who depended on others to protect us; and when we support organizations and engage in activities that protect animals or vulnerable people and the planet we all share.

Canandaigua resident Joel Freedman contributes essays and book reviews to the Finger Lakes Time frequently.

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