Acting Gov. Tomblin’s coal rally ‘A call to arms’?

January 19, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr.

That’s the screen shot I just took of the Friends of Coal Web site, promoting Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s “rally for coal” tomorrow afternoon at the West Virginia State Capitol.

Thanks to filmmaker and alert Coal Tattoo reader Mari-Lynn Evans for pointing this out.

I checked in with Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, and I’m guessing that by the time you click on it, that banner promoting the rally will be removed from their site.

I asked Bill if his group was encouraging its supporters to bring firearms to the rally tomorrow, and he said:

I think that’s a figure of speech. Everyone should be on their best behavior.

Maybe we’ll take a look at that and see if there’s a better choice of words. I don’t think there was any intention of malice, and there probably wasn’t that much thought put into it.

Updated: The phrase “Call to Arms” has now been changed to “Alert! Alert! Alert!” on the Friends of Coal Web site. Here’s  the updated version —


I spoke briefly with Jacqueline Proctor, spokeswoman for Acting Gov. Tomblin, and she told me that the “call to arms” was “an unfortunate use of words” but that the Friends of Coal site wasn’t the governor’s to control or comment about. Proctor said she did not know if the governor planned to speak to coal industry groups about the use of such rhetoric.

17 Responses to “Acting Gov. Tomblin’s coal rally ‘A call to arms’?”

  1. Matt Sherman says:

    Thanks BO & Mary-lynn Yes, the banner is definately a call to violence. This simply reveals, especially in the wake of the Tuscon tragedy, big business and big governments careless disregard for life and property.

  2. Steven Adams says:

    I wish they would be honest and call it a Rally for Mountaintop Removal. The rally is a result of the denial of last week’s Arch Coal permit, so it only makes sense.

  3. bo webb says:

    I can’t wrap my mind around the thought process that must go on in the mind of the creator of this banner and those that approve of it; especially after last weeks tragedy in Tuscon. I can’t help but think that we who live beneath the horror of mtr must be viewed by the people who promote mtr as vermin, sub-human.

  4. watcher says:

    It seems you’ve really ‘ jumped the shark ‘ on this one Ken.

  5. vnxq809 says:


    Some rather caustic comments here today – I thought your mandate was to play nice?


  6. Dana Cochran says:

    The response, “there probably wasn’t that much thought put into it,” is equally thoughtless.

  7. Chuck says:

    It seems those who see the violent interpretation of this phrase are only those who want to. The original intent for the phrase “A call to arms” was a call of service. When environmentalist talk about how mountain top removal “rapes” our country side nobody associates that phrase with the promotion of rape. Come on.

  8. watcher says:

    Ken , since the Friends of coal did the responsible thing and pulled the offending phrase , how bout you do the same?

  9. Danny says:

    Chuck – I’ve never, once, seen an environmental group use the word “rape” as a good thing. “A Call to Arms” is definitely a common phrase and one that – if not for what happened in Tucson – would probably not be garnering the attention it is. Given, though, what happened in Tucson and the level to which there are not only threats of violence, but real violence & real attempts at violence that are permeating our political debate, the “Call to Arms” language is interpreted as violent and unnecessary. I put out plenty of calls for people to get more involved and there’s a definite difference between a “Call to Arms” and a “Call to Action” or “Call to Rally” or “Call to Support Coal” or “Call to Support Mountaintop Removal”. What this shows is that using language that encourages violence is the coal industry’s default, since there “wasn’t much thought put into it”.

    I think the real story here is that if the words were not carefully chosen, why is Violent Language the default of the Coal Industry? Why wasn’t the original phrase a “Call to Action?” The real story here is the violence & intimidation that is commonly a part of the coal industry’s action & language (I can document this if necessary) that is getting amplified through this “Call to Arms”

  10. Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher says:

    Good for them for making the change. I think it best to avoid further inflammation and just take the association at its word, because God knows a violent event could not possibly benefit anyone. Anyone. Re: the rapes comment, the difference I think is fairly obvious. MTR opponents are asking that the action stop, not continue. It is fair metaphor, though one that makes me uncomfortable. A call to arms is asking for something to occur.

  11. Monty says:

    watcher – why should Ken pull the screen shot of what Friends of Coal put up on their website? It was news. I am glad, however, that they chose to take a more moderate choice with their wording. We can only hope that the participants of the pro-coal rally will choose to “be on their best behavior,” as Mr. Raney suggested.

  12. Vernon says:

    Ken reported what happened. If Ken were to delete it from his post, it would be much like the rewriting of news in the book 1984. “Responsibly” removing the phrase doesn’t completely undo the damage or excuse irresponsibly posting it in the first place.

  13. watcher says:

    Monty, because it’s the responsible thing to do, unless Mr Wards ‘intention’ is to keep it stirred up ,so to speak.

  14. Bob Kincaid says:

    To not point out this latest example of the Coal Industry’s ongoing reliance on eliminationist language would be the irresponsible thing.

    Every group opposing mountaintop removal is committed, both individually and institutionally, to the principles of non-violence.

    Here’s the real question: why can’t the WV Coal Ass’n commit to non-violence, as well, instead of telling its membership to “be on their best behavior”? That phrase is far too subject to individual interpretation.

    Was Ruth Taylor on her best behavior when she attacked Judy Bonds? Some might argue she was. Was the man who threatened to slit the throats of picknickers on Kayford Mountain on his best behavior? Some could argue he was.

    “Best behavior” is a far different thing from “committed to non-violence.” If the cause is right and just, there is no need for eliminationist language.

  15. Danny says:

    Watcher – the story is the “Call to Arms” language…so, seems to me that the picture which is the very evidence of that story is necessary to show. Obviously, this is a news story…not an action alert email message.

  16. bo webb says:

    A call to arms is very serious and dangerous. Not only will our lives be at risk tomorrow at the Capitol, but we will be targets for every wing nut the Coal Assc. can influence. I do not for one moment think this was done without thought. Bill Raney as Pres. of the Coal Assc. has a responsibility to reign in this rhetoric to incite. Their rally permit should be revoked.

    And no way should Mr. Ward remove the banner. Truth is truth. No doubt every worker, every supplier, every “friend of coal” was directed to the “Call to Arms”. It’s intent is clear, leave it there for the world to see.

  17. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Thanks for the suggestion, but no … I won’t take down this legitimate news item. But I have made the record complete now, by posting the new version.

    But I also think that we’ll move on … there’s been enough discussion of this now.