A night of rain made it clear that clouds would obscure any pre-dawn view of Comet C/2009 R1 McNaught but it also freshened up the landscape that Koko and I walked through this quiet new moon morning.
The sky was already shot through with pink that was rapidly retreating, leaving white in its place, and soon I could see the rays of the sun, which was already buried in piles of gray, shining down like a shimmery silver curtain upon the land, causing raindrops on leaves to sparkle and the Haupu range to glow in a distinctive way that I have been unable to describe in words.
Words are powerful, which is why there’s so often an attempt to control them, especially by governments and employers. It’s a topic that’s been at the forefront of my mind ever since I got the ax from MidWeek for criticizing the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which is actually a separate company, although both have the same owner.
Then yesterday I happened to tune in to a segment on Democracy Now! about the BP oil spew in the Gulf. The company required fishermen hired to help with the clean up to sign a contract that made talking to the press grounds for termination. Host Amy Goodman caught up with one of the fishermen who signed because he needed the work:
AMY GOODMAN: So why are you talking to me?
GLENN SWIFT: I don’t feel it’s the right thing to shut somebody up, you know, just because you’re working for them. We’re supposed to live in the United States, and we’re supposed to have freedom of speech.
The company later amended the contract to remove the ban, but Amy said many fishermen were still terrified to talk to them, even though they had important things to share, like they hadn’t been allowed to wear masks during the clean up because BP feared it would make the situation look as dangerous as it is. There already have been reports of trained workers wearing protective gear getting sick. So how do you suppose the fishermen with no gear, and a fear of speaking up, are faring?
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is hunting for Julian Assang, founder of Wikileaks, which I imagine is causing him a bit of fear. For its part, the Pentagon fears that Assang plans to publish some 260,000 classified State Department cables dealing with American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. The State Department claims their publication would pose a security threat. But would it be to our nation, or to those making billions off the death and destruction?
The cables reportedly were leaked by 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland. Manning, now in custody in Kuwait, is allegedly the same man who gave Wikileaks the controversial video that showed a U.S. military helicopter gunning down unarmed men and firing on a vehicle with children.
He’s likely to not only lose his job, but spend time in prison — a price he apparently is willing to pay because he felt the information he was privy to needed to be made public. I applaud him and Assang and Glenn Swift and all the others who chose not be to silenced by fear.
In following the discussion about my firing on Ian Lind’s blog, I was struck by a comment from Mike Middlesworth, former managing editor of The Advertiser:
We all expect public loyalty from people who take our money.
While I understand and have practiced the concept of company loyalty, I was intrigued by the flip side to that comment. It seems we consumers and taxpayers should also expect loyalty from the corporations and governments that take our money; in other words, to not poison our land and water, make us sick, sell us out, rip us off, kill us.
Or perhaps we're only supposed to expect them to make public displays of loyalty, through their PR and election campaigns, while behind closed doors they're free to make their deals to stick it to us.
More likely, given the climate of fear that the government and corporations has created for the citizenry, we're not expected to have any expectations or complaints at all. And if we do, we're not to publicly voice them.