Dear Facebook friends and fellow anti-fracking activists:
Today is a special day.
The folks at Energy in Depth (Marcellus) have made a decision for me. They have banned me from posting on their Facebook page. This is not because I have threatened anyone (this is something I have never done and would unequivocally never do). This is not because I have been mean to anyone. It’s not because I smell (I might very well smell–but you can’t tell from such a distance).
It’s because the propaganda drones at EID are cowardly. I was getting real and disturbing traction on their FB page. Folks were posting me to ask questions about fracking. Some folks were turning on EID. Some of their supporters were rethinking their pro-frackism.
EID cannot abide that. They’re a propaganda machine devoted to an entire campaign built on deception, exaggeration, fabrications, distortion, and omissions. I had become an unremitting stinging gadfly on their fracking billboard.
I want their motives to be plainly clear: such a strategy of control is dictatorial. In the truest, most uncluttered sense of that term, their refusal to brook ANY criticism, ANY unsupportive fact, ANY argument which did not conform to their profiteering worldview epitomizes not strength but fear–terror, even. EID is terrified of the possibility that people might really begin to review their decisions to lease their land in light of the facts about contaminated water, air, and soil, about gross social injustice meted out by the corporations, about obscene profits at the expense of the public health.
As Dory Hippauf rightly puts it, EID is a PR firm. Indeed, but they are more. EID is a hit squad devoted to stamping out opposition, and in that they are not merely a PR firm, their attack drones are fracking-soldiers–snipers–dispatched to cauterize the enemy. And the enemy is anyone who gets in the way of the land grab that IS the fracking boom.
Perhaps they think that by burying their collective head in the sand about one of their opponents, that she’ll be silenced. This is not only wrong–it’s asinine. Now EID just won’t know what I’m up to–but I, like so many of us in this movement–will keep working to gain the attention to the issues from rational folks. And the EID folks will discover that putting their head facing toward the sand is naught but a prescription for silicosis.
Energy in Depth effectively fancies itself as the National Rifle Association of fracking. They will stridently defend the rights of their “members” to destroy water, soil, and air in much the same way Wayne LaPierre defends the “right” to purchase assault weapons. EID is every bit as much a front for the fracking corporations as is the NRA a front for the gun manufacturers–the members of both profiteer from a “product” that endangers the lives and health of others. That the NRA’s is an assault rifle and EID’s is a chemical cocktail exploding under the ground makes little difference. Both involve explosions. Both threaten the welfare of anyone within their range. Both advertise for companies that make enormous profits at the expense of those endangered by their “product,” and both are manifestly opposed to unions and collective bargaining rights. Both are supported by the Koch Brothers, Freedom Works, and the far right wing of the Republican Party.
Both must be challenged and exposed.
So here is my New Year’s 2013 resolution: Fight Harder. Fight Smarter. Fight for the Good: Clean Water, Clean Air, Social and economic justice.
Our movement demands but six things from any of us: intelligence, objectivity, a moral compass, compassion, a sense of fairness, and courage.
Unlike our adversary who has but money, we have these six things in immense abundance.
Wendy Lynne Lee
Second, the Un-Banned
Very shortly thereafter, I was re-instated/un-banned–but the case is most curious, hence I am posting here what will be my last post on the EID FB page, and what is awaiting moderation on the EID-Marcellus website thread:
While I accept Mr. Shepstone’s claim that he does not know how I was banned from the EID Marcellus Facebook page, there remain at least two things left unresolved:
a) How I was banned in the first place
That Mr. Shepstone apparently exercises this little control over the managerial aspects of his staff’s actions is not reassuring. After all, it’s not merely arbitrary banning of folks EID doesn’t like that’s at issue. His staff can ban, and they can also, say, alter text, use poster information to spam, or worse. If Mr. Shepstone’s primary paid job here is to administer this site and its related FB adjunct, he’s not done a very good job. It bespeaks the level of competence we have come to expect from workers in the Marcellus–not well-safeguarded, and not well done.
b) Tom Shepstone does hypocrisy
Here he claims the following (in full):
“You did get banned somehow, Wendy, but it wasn’t me and apparently was unintentional by whoever did it. I simply don’t know how it happened. Regardless, I unbanned you immediately when I saw this comment. I wouldn’t want to deprive our readers of your tirades, which are always wildly entertaining, this one included. My apologies for temporary depriving you of the ability to yell at us. We do sometimes ban folks who try to turn the site into one of their own or cross some line or another but you’re not one of those, at least not yet. Even those folks often get unbanned after a period and I took the opportunity of doing a few of those when I corrected whatever happened in your instance. Sorry, I know you love playing the martyr, but we love engaging you, so we’re not giving you this badge to wear.”
In other words, banning me was an accident, but of no real import because unintentional, and would have been justified anyways even if it had been intentional since all I do is engage in tirades, yell, and play martyr.
So, sorry–but not really.
Moreover, the only reason EID un-banned me, says Mr. Shepstone, is so I can’t wear the badge of having been banned. Put more pointedly: If we thought we could get away with banning you and not have you expose that fact, we would have. But we can’t so we don’t.
Third, the Un-Banned, but Conciliatory
Compare that comment with the following sent to me by email, again, unedited:
“I don’t know how you got banned. I checked with everyone on our team and no one else does either. Regardless, I unbanned you immediately upon learning of it. I also posted your comment on the blog and answered it. We make it our business to engage folks on the other side and, frankly, your one of the more interesting conversationalists among those we do engage.”
Here, Mr. Shepstone is clearly trying to perform damage control. I am now an “interesting conversationalist” as opposed to a yelling, tirade-mongering martyr. But these two things are obviously very different.
Which is it, Mr. Shepstone? In the first, Mr. Shepstone is writing FOR his EID audience–and trying to look all the tough PR administrator that he pretends to be.
In this version of un-banning, he strikes a far more conciliatory tone as if he were trying to make sure I let this banning go–to make sure I don’t yell at EID for this lapse of adequate monitoring. Why the two very different posts? Why go to all the trouble to appease me in the second (and this did appear second)?
Mr. Shepstone tries too hard–he didn’t need to go all the way to my email to “make amends,” but he did. Why? Could it really be true that he doesn’t know how this banning happened?
This seems wholly unlikely.
Having some administrative privileges on other websites, I can say with experience that this can’t really happen without there being a trail to follow. Perhaps Mr. Shepstone doesn’t want to know who among his staff at EID usurped his authority, but it is unlikely that he could not find out. It’s either that, or Mr. Shepstone doesn’t have the administrative authority he says he does–both make him look incompetent.
Someone DID something.
Energy in Depth as PR Machine and Army of Rhetorical Snipers
As Dory Hippauf points out, EID is a PR machine. As I argue, they fancy themselves as something more: rhetorical snipers whose job it is to silence the enemy by any rhetorical means necessary–ridicule, personal attack, name-calling. When Mr. Shepstone claims that EID values the point of view of the other side, he is speaking disingenuously. Were this true, he’d not allow anonymous posters (from either side) to simply fire at will.
Apparently someone at EID takes their “stamp out the enemy” charge just one step further, banning those who would challenge the organization’s reason for being–and someone thinks they can get away with anonymously.
Such a strategy may feel to its executor like power–but its motive is nothing but fear.I’ll no longer be posting on the EID Facebook page. And this is a loss for EID whose ill-informed members have bought the pro-fracking horn-swaggle as cover for their own avarice-driven objectives. Some of these soldiers for Big Gas are particularly ugly, and clearly enjoy assault for its own sake.
The anonymous Stage Coach Inn, for example, is not merely an advocate for fracking, but effectively a soldier of fortune for sheer meanness. His/Her posts are largely generic (they could be an assault on anyone on any topic) and brutal without even pretense to an argument. Mr. Peckham hurls naught but invective and insult–but at least he uses his name.
Tim/Kay insists that He/She has always posted anonymously as if this were some justification for hiding behind a pseudonym–but that’s like the parent who says “Well, since my daddy used the strap, I’ll use the strap.” History is virtually never its own justification, and anonymous postings are almost never justified. I not only use my name but am wholly transparent about my affiliations, my work place, my motives. I can be googled–the anonymous cannot–and THAT is a difference of great magnitude.
I point this out because it casts a particularly stark light on the “banning instance”–as Mr. Shepstone likes to put it. Banning someone who posts anonymously might at least be effective. After all, the anonymous potentially risk the exposure of their identity if they raise a ruckus over being banned. I, on the other hand, face no such dilemma. Mr. Shepstone had to know I’d make any such move public.
Hence, he could not ignore it, and he had to respond as quickly as he did. But this is no indication of integrity or “making it a point to engage folks on the other side.”This is just damage control, and thus further evidence that we “on the other side” are making inroads behind the walls of the EID cyber-fortress.
Whoever hit the “ban” button knew this. So does Mr. Shepstone. But now, the EID drones will simply have to stalk me, because I’ll not be making their sniper attacks as convenient as surveying their own FB pages.
EID=Big Tobacco of Fracking
And this brings me back once more to the comparison of EID with the current incarnation of the NRA: both are nothing more than paid propagandists for a product–fracking in one case, assault rifles in the other.
That they’re paid makes ALL the moral difference in the world because their agents don’t have to believe one word of their own propaganda. In other words, Mr. Shepstone and company needn’t believe that fracking is safe, that it creates jobs, etc. All they have to believe is that “money to be made” is its own justification–just like the gentlemen sitting in front of Congress defending cigarettes in the face of definitive evidence that cigarettes cause cancer and just like Wayne LaPierre who insists that putting armed guards at elementary school doors will protect children.
Every one of these claims would be laughably false did people, their lives, and their property not stand to be so damaged if not destroyed. Mr. Shepstone may believe every word he says in defense of fracking–but the point is that it doesn’t matter. He’d say it all anyways because he is PAID to say it.
And this distinguishes the EID/Tobacco/NRA agents in copious moral magnitude from, for example, the Park Foundation whose aims are explicitly philanthropic–and not profiteering.
So, this post is as long as it needs to be to make its philosophical and moral point: banning is certainly morally troubling–but it pales in comparison to the effort to adjudicate it with faux-apologies in the interest of saving face for an organization whose reason for being is mercenary propagandizing for an industry whose history is the incubator of climate change, and with it the famines, migrations, and ultimately wars that may kill us all.
In a world strewn with nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals, in a world of folks who think men like Wayne LaPierre evince reason, this is not hyperbole. A war over water is a war over life–and that is a prescription for suicide.
For Mr. Shepstone’s post, please see: