Friday, April 16, 2010
The Right to Remain Silent
The following blog entry to Grumbles and Grins was written by my friend and 'over the mountain' neighbor David Corrigan, a registered Maine Master Guide. He did not write this to submit it to a blog, did not type it to send to a newspaper editor or magazine publisher. He wrote it because he was frustrated, and he's a writer. We writers express ourselves best this way; through the written word. I was honored when he shared this with me, and I asked if I might have the privilege of publishing it here on GAG. In truth, he hesitated. The quotes listed below were uttered by his own friends and acquaintances, and Dave is a good guy. A real good guy. He doesn't want to offend.
I have confidence that he won't. I trust that, instead, he will do his utmost to bring factual information to the people of his community, and in a patient and gentlemanly manner. Like I said... Dave is one of the good guys.
It’s been a stressful week. In between painting a shed, prepping the garden, cutting firewood and all the other spring chores, I’ve been talking about wind. Specifically, I’ve been talking to people about why I oppose the Highland Plantation Wind Project.
I’ve detailed how the project will negatively impact the environment, the local economy, and my way of life. I’ve explained that the project is not financially feasible, and can only happen by being granted millions of tax dollars in the form of subsidies. I’ve talked about the health problems, lack of sleep, and loss of property value suffered by others who live near industrial wind projects. I’ve shared my belief, backed by the evidence, that wind projects like this one will have no significant effect in reducing green house gas emissions. I’ve even explained how if this project goes through, we will likely see as much as three hundred miles of Maine ridgeline turned over to industrial wind development within the next ten years, at enormous tax payer expense.
Most people have been sympathetic, even supportive, of my views. Predictably, some have also been apathetic, simply believing that it did not affect them one way or the other, and so was none of their concern. Then there were the frustrating few who should know better, but insist on supporting wind power on the strangest of grounds.
These few, who are intelligent, educated, well adjusted, voting members of society, have absolutely astonished me with some of their arguments. They had the right to remain silent, but apparently, not the ability.
“It’s the wave of the future, so it must be a good thing.”
“The wind blows and we get free energy, of course we should do it.”
“If it wasn’t good, the Government wouldn’t be promoting it.”
“I don’t mind wind mills, I think they look kind of cool up on the mountains.”
“It will be good for our economy.”
“Well, they do it in Europe, and it’s about time we caught up with the rest of the world.”
And my personal favorite; “They have had windmills in Holland since the time of Don Quixote, so they must be a good thing!”
All of these, of course, being uttered with complete confidence, as conversation enders, by people who have not bothered to do any real research. To put it simply, by people who should have known better, but have instead chosen to be completely, simply, and sadly, ignorant!
The woman who uttered that last quote is a well educated, very smart friend of mine, but to tell you the truth, when she said that, I almost had one of those moments myself, where I had the right to remain silent, but not the ability!
What I really wanted to do was to slap her up side the head and yell; “What the hell is wrong with you? Did you even hear what you just said? Forget that Don Quixote was in Spain, not Holland, what I really want to know is, how many kilowatts do you think those 16th century windmills were producing? Do you even realize that you are comparing primitive milling or pumping machines, built by hand on open level ground, with 400 plus foot tall modern machinery, being built in some of the most important mountain habitat in the Northeastern United States?”
I mean really, it was all I could do not to jump up and down and turn red in the face while screaming at her to stop being a sheep following the party line, and to open her damn eyes and do a little real research, so that she would be qualified to deliver an informed opinion! But, I didn’t. For once, I took advantage of my right to remain silent, and I simply offered to share some of my research, if she was interested, and then I let the conversation calmly end.
My mouth, or rather, my inability to keep it shut when someone desperately needs correcting, has a tendency to get me in trouble. I was proud of myself. For once in my life I had had the ability to keep my mouth shut when I REALLY wanted to say something. I did it, and it was probably a good thing, but damn it was hard!
Top Photo is of Bigelow's Indian Ledges-taken by Greg or Jenn Perkins