Thank You, Badass Badlands

I feel like I’m in the eye of the tornado, with so much debris swirling around that I can’t fathom it all. And I don’t know what to latch onto to gain any sort of stability. Or what issue to address first.

But I feel compelled to pick something, so I’ll start with suppressing the free flow of information.

When someone tells me to be quiet and “keep my mouth shut,” that makes me want to do the opposite, alarm bells clanging. Now nobody’s said that to me—yet. But that’s what Steve Bannon told the media. It was a definite threat against the free press, that, with all its flaws, is needed now more than ever.

An assault on the press is like an assault on me, because the press must be my voice. Yes, I know. They are rat bastards not to be trusted. That is a credible narrative because it’s true in some cases. But many are committed to reporting truth, and that is essential when all three branches of government are controlled by one party, it doesn’t matter which. The press is an integral part of democracy, and I am part of that too. When Bannon tells the press to be quiet, then he is shutting me up too. And that’s just when I feel most compelled to speak up.

So when the current administration gives gag orders to the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Park Service—all with a pretty obvious attempt to keep the truth about climate change from the people—I am alarmed. It means, of course, that the truth is something the administration fears because they have an opposing agenda. This is not what happens in a democracy.

The good news is that a total media blackout cannot work in this age of social media, even when so many news outlets are controlled by corporations pushing their own propaganda. So I was heartened when South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, in defiance of the gag order, tweeted facts about climate change. Yes, the tweets were later deleted, but not before they had be retweeted many times.

So, to whoever went rogue up there in South Dakota, keep up the good work. We need truth and the courage to speak it now more than ever.