Jan Jarrett--thirteen-years-and-ousted president of the green-washing faux environmental group PennFuture-- got one thing right when she insisted that
Pennsylvania’s mainstream environmental organizations are looking forward to working with the Wolf Administration to strengthen gas drilling oversight and improve regulations, work for cleaner air and water and begin to address Pennsylvania’s climate change challenges. (Jan Jarrett's Ad Hoc Blog: Fractivist foolishness)
If she's referring to her friends over at the Sierra Club, she couldn't be more on the dollar. As I have shown, the Sierra Club is so covetous of their image with the "have my frack cake and eat it too" governor that they not only refuse to raise a protest sign at Wolf's inauguration asking him nicely not to continue poisoning Pennsylvanians, they don't even want their members wearing Sierra Club hats and T-Shirts at the event--lest it offend the governor's delicate sensibilities and compromise their photo-ops with their new guy.
Groups that cling to the futile hope that Pennsylvania will ban drilling for natural gas are planning to throw a tantrum during Governor-elect Wolf’s inauguration. According to an organizing website, these groups are urging people to disrupt the ceremonies to the point of being arrested.
There are a couple of observations to make about this:
First, Jarrett obviously doesn't have a clue about the "groups" she's talking about. She doesn't identify the "organizing website" (any more than she identifies "mainstream environmental organizations"), and if--as is most likely--she means Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, or PA Food and Water Watch, or Clean Water Action, she's got nothing to worry about. These folks have no more stomach for the civil disobedience Jarrett refers to as "tantrum throwing" than do the Sierra Club members who stand foursquare behind a policy forbidding it--insuring a future of irrelevance for its mostly white, mostly affluent members.
Indeed, for however much Jarrett's having some angst over whether the inauguration will be the suave affair she hopes, as many of the folks she accuses of "tantrum throwing" voted for Wolf as did PennFuture people, and their 'I "heart" Wolf" "photo-op action is a far cry from "the point of being arrested."
|Photo Michael Badges-Canning|
Indeed, if holding up signs and smiling for a camera is enough to get arrested, all future hope for a democracy is dead dead dead.
But--second--this brings us to a crucial question:
What sort of wholesale abdication of respect for the first amendment does it take to label an exercise of the right to free expression--especially for the sake of calling attention to systemic injustice--"tantrum throwing"?
Answer: When it threatens to upset the apparently fragile relationship between a governor already compromised by dirty campaign donations and frack-gas-extaction-friendly environmental transition team appointments, and Big Greenies worried they'll be identified as "radicals."
According to Jarrett's logic, it's not only futile to demand a ban on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, if you do you're just throwing a tantrum--and if you do that during the governor's inauguration... well, shame shame.
That is precisely the safe and gutless reasoning that has gotten us:
Let's consider an analogy:
Groups that cling to the futile hope that Schmensylvania will ban the compulsory relocation of indigenous peoples on arid reservation sites are planning to throw a tantrum during Governor-elect Schmolf’s inauguration. According to an organizing website, these groups are urging people to disrupt the ceremonies to the point of being arrested.
So what makes fracking different?
Not much, I'd say.
Indeed, the absurd argument that we can have our cake--protect state forests and parks by reinstating a trampled moratorium, and eat it too--frack everything else-- is precisely what Governor Wolf's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) appointment--John Quigley--and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) appointment--PennFuture's Cindy Dunn are for.
But this reasoning is just as idiotic as is the argument for forceably relocating indigenous peoples:
So, if what Jarrett's calling a "tantrum" is resistance to activities whose manifest illogic both cannot survive any rational or moral scrunity and clearly causes real and enduring harm to those most vulnerable, then for all practical purposes, Jarrett is Schmarrett, Wolf is Schmolf--Quigley is Schmigley, and Dunn is Schnunn.
I'd argue, in fact, that until we see the very real avenues of comparison between the harms caused by fracking--and it's corrupted political infrastructure--and other forms of gross injustice--racism, antisemitism, classism, and the exploitation of indigenous peoples, we are never going to become an effective force for bringing an end to these harms, not to mention reclaiming the environmental justice owed to them.
To the reader who rightly points out that we have an ugly history in the United States of forcing people onto abandoned land--and then using a lame euphemism to describe it--"reservation" (as if it were a "special place" reserved just for them)--I say, absolutely. Perhaps it seems inappropriate to draw such comparisons.
But the point is not necessarily to compare amounts of harm.
The point is to indict the system that produces it--over and over--and call out its self-appointed talking heads--Jarrett--who'd try to shame us into silence when we demand an end to the harm.
The irony is that Jarrett really just gives voice to what many already believe--that actually exercising your civil rights is somehow unseemly, impolite, inappropriate.
Of course it is.
That's why we drafted a Bill of Rights to protect it.