Herd About It?
by Ana Grarian
Why don’t we know about the dangerous and illegal things that are going on around us? Why don’t we know about manure plumes in our waterways, noxious gasses in the air we breathe, what really causes immigration problems? Why don’t we know?
In part it’s because we don’t care. With cable TV and the Internet we don’t have to watch the news because it’s not the only thing on between 5 and 6 pm anymore. Besides, the news is now trying to entertain us more than inform us. So in part it’s because the “news” reports are full of fluff pieces on who Brittany speared, and the nonsensical Birther Movement. And – call me a conspiracy nut – partly it’s because the media is complicit in the corporate worlds desire to keep us un-informed or mis-informed.
And maybe there is another reason. A friend has been part of a decade long fight against a neighboring farm for pollution and disruption of local waterways. The case was dismissed because a government allowance gave the farm corporation a free pass to take several more years to come into compliance with regulations.
Out of the millions of dollars the farm corporation and it’s hedge fund investors spent to defend themselves, the judge ordered the plaintiff’s to pay back less than 30 thousand dollars.
The corporation was willing to offer a settlement. They would forgive the debt if the plaintiff’s agreed never to talk about the case, nor to say anything derogatory about the defendants – in perpetuity. The defendants have no such gag order.
How much is your right to free speech worth? My friend is not willing to give it up quite so cheaply. The terms would mean that no matter what might happen in the future, they would not be able to say anything against the defendents unless they took them to court again. Theoreticly the defendants could harrass them, run them off the road or shoot their dog, and they couldn’t say anything about it unless they were willing to go to court again, or they would have to pay the sttlement fee.
Is it any wonder that people are afraid to speak up and out against what goes on around them? The plaintiffs have already had to put up with killed livestock, dead rats in their mailboxes, the destruction of property and neighborhood shunning, not to mention the chronic affects of air pollution. Two of the plaintiffs are already dead.
I think my friend and the family are brave folks for being willing to go on and pay the price to keep their freedom to speak out. Maybe eventually – we’ll know.