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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Resentment against environmentalists

Connor tells environmentalists to "get a life." He describes one environmentalist who snooped around his property looking for grounds for a lawsuit.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

As a true environmentalist, as you see yourself, as somebody who goes out in the creeks and knows the land, what kind of message would you have for those environmentalists who are complaining about the hog industry? What sort of lesson would you like to teach them?
Go get a life. That's exactly what I'd tell them. Go get a life.
What do you mean?
Just don't know what they're talking about. We've got a crowd in this county. A guy lives over on the end of this Murraytown Road. I had to go to court with him one time. He lives eight miles from that farm over there and he can smell him. They were over there trespassing on my farm one morning. I went over there to see whatߞthe girl that works for me said they're over there at your hog houses. I went over there. I said, 'You want to go look out them. I'll take you.' They said, 'No we're standing on the shoulder of the road' on Fifty-Three right as you look into my house. I said, 'I'll tell you about it.' 'No, we've seen everything we want to see.' Well I went on a trip to Germany and I came back three days later and my wife wasߞthey had lawyer. There was Claude Ward and his wife and Milton Lewis and his wife and another lady. The other lady was a lawyer for Blue Ridge Environmental Group, which I didn't know at the time. I didn't know her. Anyway, I pull out of my driveway and went to those hog houses and turned in and stopped. They were standing there. I go to Germany and I come back and my wife says, 'Your in a heap of trouble, man.' I said, 'What kind of trouble?' She said, 'That group was over there Sunday.' Said, 'They've got a warrant out for your arrest for assault with a deadly weapon. Said you tried to run over them when you pulled in the driveway.' This female lawyer is the one that filed the suit. I had to go to court with them wackos. I pulled out of my driveway and had to stop right here and let an eighteen wheeler go by and then I turned in to stop and talk. They told them that I came and turned out of that road running better than sixty miles and hour to try to run over them. The only thing is the kid in that old house I showed you the picture of there was sitting on the front porch. I had a witness that I pulled up there and stopped and then went in there to find out what they want. They just agitators. The guy told meߞwell a friend of theirs told me they'd had a falling out. This guy was talking about poisoning people's animals and he told me, the guy's name was Tom Mathis. He called me up when he found out I was having to go to court. He said, 'If you need it, I'll personally testify that I've been on your farm over twenty times at night in the last year with this guy trying to find something we could sue you for.' You think my blood didn't run hot. This fellow on the witness stand, my lawyer asked him, he said, 'Mr. Ward what were you doing on Jim Connors farm that Sunday morning?' 'Trying to find something we could sue him for.' Tom Mathis told me this lawyer, he said, 'We call her Dollar Debbie.' I said, 'Why youߞ.' Her name was Deborah Van Dyke. He said, 'The reason we call her Dollar Debbie is she works for a dollar retainer fee, and she gets her money for whatever she gets out of that lawsuit against you.' They were just combing the woods trying to find farmers that they could sue. That's crazy. That is crazy.
Just anti-farmer.
Anti-hog. See they got all brought together during this Thermal Chem plant when they were going to put this hazardous waste incinerator in the county. This little group all banned together and that kind of pulled them together. Well, after Thermal Chem, they didn't have anything to hold them together so they jumped on hogs. Well, when they beat that down bad enough, they're going to jump on turkeys and chickens and tobacco farmers because of the pesticides and herbicides and all the chemicals they use. They got to have something to do.