Ashley Judd responds to controversy

A controversial sign in response to actress Ashley Judd's remarks about mountaintop removal was put up at StoneCrest golf course in Floyd County and it has people talking.

The sign was up while dozens of miners and coal supporters played in a golf tournament at the course on a mine reclamation site.

As golfers arrived at StoneCrest Wednesday morning, a sign featuring a semi-nude Ashley Judd was one of the first things they saw.

The sign has a photo from a 2006 Marie Claire magazine of Ashley Judd topless with her arms crossed and hands covering her breasts and says, "Ashley Judd makes a living removing her top, why can't coal miners?"

"I think it is very provoking. The sign is an eye-catcher. It's an attention grabber." Says 93th District State Representative W. Keith Hall.

An anonymous donor paid for and made the sign in response to Judd's recent comments to the White House press club, calling mountaintop removal the "rape of Appalachia" and calling for the practice to be banned.

"Coming from a woman who makes movies most people wouldn't take their children too, I really don't think she has a lot to say about our industry or anything else that's worthwhile." Says David Gooch, the President of the Coal Operator's Association.

The sign is hanging at the same golf course Judd referenced regarding reclamation.

Judd made a statement during a speech in June saying "I'm not too keen on re-inforcing stereotypes about my people, but I don't know many hillbillies who golf."

"She's not an Eastern Kentuckian. A real Eastern Kentuckian never would have degraded the people here by saying hillbillies don't play golf." Says Gooch.

"StoneCrest is a great place. As far as mountaintop removal. You couldn't have a better reclamation." Says J.R. Vanhoose, who was golfing at StoneCrest and is a coal supporter.

We only found one person that thought the sign was a little over the top.

"They may have went a little too far in the poster that they did. I'm not about destroying people or defaming their reputations." Says Rep. Hall.

"She can say whatever she wants to about us hillbillies in Eastern Kentucky, so I don't know that we shouldn't say a few things about her." Says Perry County Clerk and coal supporter Haven King.

Friends of Coal representatives are inviting Judd to visit StoneCrest.

Here is Ashley Judd's written statement on the issue:

Here is Ashley Judd’s statement:

I am proud to be standing with so many Eastern Kentuckians everywhere who are working to build a better future. There's so much potential today, right now, for Eastern Kentucky to proudly and bravely lead the way to a new energy economy in this country, with more jobs and more justice for the people of the Appalachian Mountains.

It is time for a community abused and exploited by outsiders who have never had our best interests at heart to rise and lead our entire country into a renewable energy future. We can and do have the hope and the vision to bring real, diverse jobs, money, health, and generativity that benefits the broader common welfare. The cost of premature mortality related to coal mining in Eastern Kentucky was 3.1 to 6.2 billion, on average per year. Kentucky's annual net loss related to coal mining is 100 million. This must stop.

When I started speaking out about mountaintop removal, I expected to be attacked personally. I told my husband we should be prepared for it, because the coal companies are cunning, callous and greedy. They use people on the ground as their front, and pit us against one another. However, I know the derogatory and defamatory comments directed at me absolutely pale in comparison to what it is like for those who live every day in the war zone created by mountain top removal mining in our beloved communities and mountains. Thus, rest assured, I will continue to speak out about the many reasons I’m so proud to be from Eastern Kentucky for so many generations, and also about the things I think can be better. I stand with those whose jobs are lost by increased mechanization, and those who are a terrified to lose the coal jobs they do have, because coal does not allow for other local economies. I stand with those whose land has been stolen from them, whose homes' foundations are cracked and whose water runs orange and black. I stand with those who are sick from particulate dust and pervasive environmental toxicity related to MTR. I stand with those who grieve dead loves ones, killed on dangerous mining sites, by fly rock, by overloaded coal trucks, by social problems such as addiction related to the despair this mono economy wreaks. I stand with those who grieve the 800 mountains gone forever, the 2,500 miles of stream irreversibly contaminated. I stand with those who believe we do not have to choose between mountains and jobs, our past and our future. I even stand with those who oppose me. I believe we can work together.

I look forward to the chance to have a real conversation, a civil conversation, as we retire the cynical and superficial coal company-created argument that we must choose between people and mountains. That is simply false, fear based and fear mongering. The time has come for Appalachia to have a dynamic, diverse economic base that actually supports and perpetuates our inherent richness, rather than destroying and depressing it.

-Ashley Judd

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