Editorial, July 14, 2002
On the occasion of the public announcement of the opening of FriendsofBigfoot.org, I would like to again state some of our purposes and goals, especially as it pertains to the issue of ethical research of our mysterious neighbors of the woodlands.
I am not a 'tree-hugger,' in fact, my personal political views may appear to some as uncomfortably conservative. I am, however, what is termed by many as 'no-kill.'
But let me back up for a moment and state emphatically: In the Friends of Bigfoot website, as well as in the Texas Wildman Project, no one involved speaks for anyone else. I speak for no one else, and they do not speak for me. We each have access to the forums and are completely capable of discussing our own views and opinions, ourselves. I would not want anyone to imagine that simply because I pulled this effort together, that my voice is any more important than anyone else's voice.
We may, in fact, differ widely on particular views on a wide range of subjects, and have even been involved in heated, but friendly, discussions at times.
But what brought us together, in addition to being good friends, is our agreement on the ethical treatment of our research subject.
My son, Cliff Jr., and I are the producers of the Friends of Bigfoot website. We also have a number of individuals, either independent or from different research groups, who contribute with their time and energies to make this a successful effort, and to them we are indebted.
Sharing the same domain name and server is a more local effort called the Texas Wildman Project. This small group of friends wanted a place to share our research, opinions, photos, audio, video, and more, specifically of our adventure here in Texas.
We do not have 'members,' per se. Rather, we simply have participants in the project. Most of us have affiliations and associations in already established research organizations. It is just a neutral (hopefully) outlet for us here in Texas.
The one thing we agree on, as I said, is this issue of 'to kill or not to kill.'
Why am I doing Friends of Bigfoot? I will attempt an answer, but remember I speak for no one but myself.
One of my earliest memories as a child involves a mentally disabled friend of mine. He had a large, furrowed brow, and hunched shoulders. I did not understand why others shunned him. He was different, but perhaps I was too young to understand the difference between different and "different." I cannot even remember his name, now.
One day, I came into the Sunday school class we attended, and he leaped up from his chair, yelling "Cliff! Cliff!" He ran to me and gave me a huge bear hug. This was the first time in my life that I ever tasted the embarrassment of being associated with anyone considered to be not a part of the "in-crowd."
I am ashamed to say that my friendship with this fellow faded away after this episode.
But that sting stayed with me, and it still does.
For some reason, perhaps an attempt to make up for what happened with my young friend, I have always found myself in league with the underdog. This compassionate quirk of mine has always gotten me into trouble.
In later years, I learned of the many atrocities committed against those of us who were different throughout history.
The American Indian is a prime example. We wanted what they had, and invented a convenient rationale for taking it. They weren't 'folks like us.' We invented names for them: "Savages." "Braves and squaws."
We took their land and slaughtered them by the millions, because they weren't 'folks like us.'
And then came slavery. Many rationalized the African to be somewhat different from the human beings they were, simply because of their appearance. "Bucks." "Darkies." You know the routine.
We denied their rights, murdering those who resisted. Tearing families apart. Beating, killing, enslaving, buying them and selling them.
Another very dark hour of history.
In more recent history, some decided that certain members of society were less-than-desirable, and so the pattern again reared its ugly head. These were Jews and Gypsies, and any nationality that got in the way of a fabled "Master Race." They weren't really people. They were 'part animal.' They were causing problems, and the best thing was to just extinguish them. Oh, and the mentally incompetent, and homosexuals, while we are at it.
In excess of ten million were extinguished.
The "Savages" weren't folks like us. The "Darkies" weren't folks like us. The Jews weren't folks like us. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Since the Seventies, we've added another group to the endless list. Seems that if you haven't yet passed through your mother's birth canal, you too, are subject to being extinguished. You're not really a person, just a mass of unformed flesh. Right.
My son Caleb was born eighteen years ago. He never was quite like 'one of us.' He did not develop mentally as the rest of us. He has mental retardation, and autism.
I have been a single father to him since he was eleven. His behavior at many times was uncontrollable and violent. Our entire world turned their backs. Family, Church, friends, even the government looked the other way. Imagine losing everything you have, including your job, friends and family, simply because you wish to raise your disabled son and make sure he knows that he is loved, instead of abandoning him, never seeing him again, and letting him live his days out in a human warehouse.
That was the choice I was given, and nothing else. It was actually no choice at all. I made the choice to love and take care of my son if it killed me, and it just about did.
I make no apologies for this statement: God himself took care of us, and worked miracles. It was a long, hard journey, but it was worth it. I only did what I had to do. He now lives in one of the best schools in our state that specializes in his special needs.
I needed years to recover from this experience, but I survived. I had raised Caleb at the edge of the woods here in Texas. A while after Caleb had moved and I was beginning to begin again, I started to sense a tugging at my heart. Something in the woods was drawing me there.
I kept putting it out of my mind, but it persisted.
Then one day, I heard Robert W. Morgan on the radio. I'd always halfway believed in Bigfoot, but this man was saying they not only were real, but were very close to us, and that they had souls.
That did it. I was a goner.
Someone who looks a lot like us, acts a lot like us, and possibly has a soul lives in the woods. Gee whiz!
I became a researcher. I had to find out, once and for all, exactly who we were talking about. If only to prove it to myself, and no one else.
The call of the forest kept growing, too.
Now that I was deeply involved in this endeavor to learn, I was horrified to hear a familiar mantra: "Apes." "Monsters." "Monkeys." "They aren't folks like us."
"We need to kill one to prove to the world they exist."
I am completely aware of how different they are from us, don't get me wrong. But I am also aware of the fact that none of us really knows enough about them to classify them, one way or another. And since one of the categories in which they may be possibly grouped is Human, every red light begins to flash, saying, "Stop! Wait! We must know what we are doing, before we do it!"
As someone recently said, "There are no Bigfoot experts."
We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past, even if there is only a small possibility of it.
Chief Tishuminko, Tishomingo of the Chickasaws, once asked, "Why do you want to hunt the Wildmen? My children, they are a tribe even as are we. They have families, hunt, fish, and procreate. Leave them alone and they will leave us alone."
I have yet to hear a first-hand account of any of these beings doing violence in an unprovoked manner. But even if that were true, it does not make them monsters. Look at any police blotter and read how some of us behave in a monstrous way, and you tell me: Do the actions of the few mean we are all murderers and rapists?
If anything, this would only be another reason to believe they may be more like us than we think.
I have only seen what I believe was the Wildman on two occasions. The first time, I saw a face looking at me from about twenty feet away. He or she seemed to smile, and his or her eyes were dancing and sparkling. The furthest thing from my mind was that I was beholding an ape, or any other animal. He or she was very tall, yes. And he or she had a very wild hairstyle. But an animal? No way.
The other sighting was of something very, very large - bigger than a cow - and dark. It traveled at extreme speed, possibly between 40 and 50 miles per hour, apparently moving on all fours, across a field.
I can easily imagine how someone could be able to say it was a beast or monster. But I've seen it both ways. And I've seen their habitats, and I believe I have even had a small amount of interaction with them.
My point is this: We do not know enough about who they are, what they are, or where they came from. But we do know enough to honestly tell ourselves that it would simply be wrong to slay one "for scientific purposes."
Most of those who wish to do this are not even scientists themselves, but claim to speak for science. If Science really wanted to learn more about them, there are a myriad of methods and ways to do so that have not even been attempted, much less exhausted, before doing anything like "bringing in a body."
So this is what Friends of Bigfoot is about, and that's what I am about. None of us are scientists, nor do we claim to be. My goal in this is to win hearts and minds to an ethic that says, "Wait. Let's think about this. Let us not repeat the mistakes of history. Let's find a better way, this time."
Thank you for listening.
Clifford Jones, Sr.