Several days ago I sat in the audience at a Town of Coventry Town Board meeting, once again enduring the rhetoric from natural gas opponents who think seeing “Gasland” made them experts on natural gas, hydraulic fracturing and the environment. It was one hysteric cry after another, repeated endlessly at one meeting after another, with no facts to back up any of it.
Here are a few examples: “our water will be poisoned”; “our children will get sick”; “mutated babies”; “hairless two headed goats”; “a radioactive desert wasteland.”
What happened at this meeting, as well as in a few others, really upset me and still burns me up even more than the stories being told. A parent on the anti-natural gas side had their son take to the podium to address the Town Board. He stated: “I am against gas drilling because what it is doing to the land I will inherit when I get older. It harms the water and I am very opposed to it.” That is all he said in his short, well-scripted speech attacking hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development. He was brave enough to stand up there and talk, which was admirable, but why was he up there?
I also recall, back in 2009, a couple of psychiatrists who live in the Binghamton area using their daughter in a similar way. They, are also opponents of natural gas development, but, being in the psychiatric field, one would think they would know better then to manipulate their child in that fashion. Instead, they not only took their young daughter to these heated meetings, and to Albany to listen to a bunch of outlandish lies and attacks on the natural gas industry, but planted the idea that if we adults allow such development, she will perish as part of a poisoned earth. They even had her hold up two pictures of the earth, one picture showing the earth consumed in a ball of flames, the other picture showing a blue green earth in all its beauty, so they could ask her, “Which Earth do you want to live on?” It was sickening to see a child used to espouse the ideology of her parents.
These fear mongering parents are nothing less than emotionally abusive in my view. Using your children and instilling fear into an 8-year old to make your point isn’t just selfish – it’s manipulative. There are several videos on YouTube where natural gas opponents, including some well-known “stars” among the group, use children in various ways, including holding up frightening posters with dead animals and other grotesque things they try to blame on natural gas, while the adults chant “What about our children?”
The only thing these children have to fear are parents who use them as pawns in their mission to stop new energy development. The parents who bring their children to late night town meetings and expose them to the rage of ill-informed adults ranting about death and destruction, mass illnesses, and genocide should be deeply ashamed. Shame on these parents for subjecting their children to this false hysteria. They seem to hope that by parading their children around on stage, it will help them with their propaganda, but no child under 12 should be dragged to a meeting on this subject. It’s just wrong.
Just imagine, if you will, the criticism those of us in favor of natural gas development would face if we brought an 8-year old child to a public meeting and had them hold up a sign saying, “My Daddy thanks you for the job natural gas gave him to help feed our family.” Our friends on the other side would scream “foul play” and they’d be correct. An 8-year-old doesn’t possess the wisdom to know the value of that job or compare the benefits to other considerations. That’s what the antis would tell us, and they’d be on the money.
Likewise, an 8-year old lacks the wisdom to know whether hydraulic fracturing actually produces any of the horrible things she hears her parents proclaim. Such a child is largely dependent on their parents for judgment and putting them out front as if they did is an insult to all.
Natural gas is not a child’s game. It’s a serious debate on whether or not our country will gain energy independence, whether or not we will prosper as a region, and whether or not landowners shall retain their economic freedom. People on both sides are, undoubtedly, motivated by concerns for their children, but making children an active part of the debate is a sign of weakness in the strength of the antis own arguments.
Let’s leave the kids out of it, OK?