To the editors:
The May 15 feature article on Tyner White is grossly inaccurate and is a serious disservice to the Green movement and the ecological movement in general. Surely it is clear to any sane reader that a person who believes the word "come" is an advertisement for cocaine and that the word "back" is an advertisement for tobacco is someone with some very serious problems. Add to this the spectacle of White's entire buildings and lots full of junk nobody else wants, and author Langer has made it perfectly clear to everyone that Tyner White is a very seriously disturbed person. To portray an obvious loony as a bona fide representative of the ecological movement was a serious and unwarranted insult to the movement. It was a step very much in the wrong direction in this era in which our entire planet faces a very real threat of extinction if drastic changes are not made very soon.
The fact that Langer identified me by the pseudonym "Tim" does not absolve him or the Reader from responsibility for the many untrue and damaging statements made in the article. This is especially so since everyone in this end of Jewtown immediately recognized "Tim" as myself, Mike Muench.
Langer himself repeatedly support's White's contention that the division in the Maxworks Co-operative was between smokers and nonsmokers. It was not.
Maureen Cole voted to expel Tyner. She is a nonsmoker. Mark Storer voted to let Tyner stay. Mark is a smoker. I voted to expel Tyner. I had not smoked tobacco for over nine months at the time of this vote. After Tyner's eviction, he and his two supporters who had left with him made repeated attempts to regain access to our building against our wishes. Under the emotional pressure of the situation I feared I might well lose my temper altogether and become violent towards these would-be trespassers if I did not calm down my rattled nerves by means of some nicotine. Tyner White is directly and personally responsible for my readdiction to nicotine.
What actually caused Tyner's eviction was that in late 1990 the fire department inspected our building and subsequently ordered us to clear our basement of all stored materials. At our next weekly business meeting I suggested that the real problem in the basement was the wretched excess of wood which Tyner had placed there, without any approval of the group. I felt that if the wood were removed, the inspectors probably would not object to the other items stored there. I moved that Tyner be required to remove all the wood from the basement. Everyone agreed, including Tyner himself. Tyner proceeded to stash still more and more wood into the basement. I brought it up again at a meeting and again everyone including Tyner agreed that Tyner had to remove the wood. Tyner brought in still more and more wood. Finally, on March 12, 1991, we felt we could no longer tolerate Tyner's repeated disregard for the democratic process of the co-op. We felt it was necessary to expel and evict him in order to retain our control of our building and prevent being closed down by the fire department.
Langer simply accepted Tyner's hokum without once checking with anyone from the majority grouping as to the accuracy of Tyner's statements. As Langer makes clear in his article, I was right there when he interviewed Tyner, yet Langer never said a word to me. Here I was, the other side of the story right there on the spot, yet Langer made no attempt to ask me even one single question. The result is one-sided irresponsible journalism at its very worst. Langer and the Reader are fully responsible for the many damaging and untrue statements made against myself and other members of the majority grouping of Maxworks Co-operative.
My biggest single complaint with the article is that Langer himself says in his own words that "a rift has occurred between those who are recycling products and those who favor more violent social upheaval." This is a very serious and also a very untrue allegation. It places myself and others of the co-op majority group at peril of harassment or attack from right-wing extremists or government agents such as the FBI or Red Squad.
But let me comment on the first half of this allegation first. All of us in the majority grouping are people who actively recycle. I am in a room lit by a recycled (scavenged) lamp lit with a recycled bulb which is lighting this letter written on recycled paper on a recycled typewriter on a recycled table. It will be mailed in a recycled envelope. What more do you need to know? On the other hand, this does not mean I feel any need to support Tyner's compulsion to cover as much of Jewtown as possible with his seemingly infinite collection of mostly useless junk.
The claim that I and we support political violence is a very serious charge indeed, and it most certainly was not adequately documented by Tyner's assertion that my present roommate (who was not even a member of the co-op when we evicted Tyner) once assisted an effort which included throwing blood at some people's feet during a demonstration. Unless Langer can come up with a whole lot better than this, he and the Reader owe myself and the rest of us a retraction and apology. It will not suffice for White or Langer to say that we used force or threat of force to thwart attempts by Tyner and his supporters to force their way back into the co-op. Do you have a right to keep Tyner White out of your home if you don't want him there? Fine. So do I.
I most definitely do not advocate political violence. I advocate transcending our obsolescent system of representational democracy, which we have inherited from a society which lacked even the bicycle and Morse telegraph, and which was written by men who were invading the continent from Europe while committing genocide against Native people and enslaving Africans. I advocate replacing their system with a direct participatory democracy using telephones, computers, and other contemporary technology. I also advocate replacing stockholding corporations with worker owned co-operatives and other democratic nonprofit forms of economic ownership. All of this is possible without any violence whatsoever.
Langer's article is ridden with so many falsehoods that I would have to go on at far too great a length to deal with all of them. I and we have been characterized as "paramilitary" "Stalinist" "guerrilla troops." Langer may be willing to take Tyner's crackpot rantings at face value, but I am not. These are seriously damaging false accusations, and a retraction and apology for all of them is in order. In order not to go on at too very great a length I will refrain from comment on most of the other inaccuracies in the article, which are at least less damaging than those I have mentioned, though this is not to excuse White, Langer, or the Reader for any of them.
One of these less damaging falsehoods, however, I do want to mention because I find it personally irritating. We did not celebrate Tyner's eviction with champagne. I would see nothing wrong with our having done so, but this story is entirely a figment of Tyner's very overblown sense of imagination. We were far too busy removing Tyner's tons of clutter from the building to waste time with any champagne party. I personally removed well over a ton of Tyner's debris from the building, including dead flashlight batteries, blown lightbulbs, boxes of nutshells, broken pieces of glass, and ripped brassieres which Tyner had lashed back together with pieces of wire removed from telephone cables. I would have enjoyed some champagne, but I didn't get any.
Langer's story is full of so many untruths that the only legitimate response at this point is a retraction of and apology for the entire article. At very least we are due a retraction of and apology for all remarks suggesting that the majority of Maxworks Co-operative consisted of people who favor political violence. These statements were highly damaging, insulting, and untrue. I cannot rest content to allow them to stand uncorrected. I hope Langer and the Reader will see fit to make the necessary corrections and amends.
Adam Langer replies:
I apologize to Mr. Muench and his compatriots for any distress or inconvenience my article may have caused. In saying that they "favor more violent social upheaval," I intended to portray them as advocates not of political violence, but of more drastic social reorganization than is normally associated with the recycling movement.