Afraid of the Dark

The June 21st Voluntary Rolling Blackout protest apparently struck a real sore spot with our conservative brethren. For reasons that are totally beyond me, the simple act of turning off a light switch seemed to awaken some primal emotion, buried deep in the hypothalamus, and resulting in some of the least lucid hate mail we have seen to date.

The most common right-wing reaction was, "Oh yeah? Well I am going to turn my lights on and fire up all my appliances and drive around in my big, gas-guzzling SUV." There are so many things wrong with that picture that it is hard to know where to begin.

Set aside, for a moment, the puerile, penis-waving nature of this 'threat." Set that aside for a moment, although it is hard to ignore, and ask yourself, "What kind of a whack job would spend three hours on a sultry summer evening racing maniacally about the house toasting bread, agitating clothes, and pureeing carrots for the sole purpose of driving up their OWN electric bill?" Imagine living next door to this person. Imagine standing in your driveway watching Bob, who always seemed so normal, unloading an SUV full of bread.

"Er.that's a lot of bread, Bob."

"Yesiree, Tom. The wife and I are making toast tonight."

"What are you going to do with 4500 pieces of toast, Bob?"

"I'm going to throw it away."

"Throw it away?"

"Well, duh! You don't think I can eat it all myself, do you? Only a crazy person would eat 4500 pieces of toast!"

Now if I were Tom, I'd be going in the house to make a few phone calls right about now - and the first one would be to my realtor.

But the bad craziness does not end there, folks. Not by a long shot. The toys in the attic are just getting warmed up. Compounding bizarre behavior with tortured logic, the brethren feel compelled to explain that the reason they are engaging in this peculiar solstice ritual is, "Because I am a rich Republican and I can afford it."

I don't know about you, but when I have a little extra cash to spend, I usually use it for something fun. I might take the family to dinner, or go away for the weekend, or buy a new widget for the house. But I am pretty sure that my husband and I have never had a discussion about what to do with our discretionary income that went like this:

"Hey honey, you know that bonus check I got last week?"

"Yes, dear?"

"Well, I was looking at last month's water bill and it was only $75.00."

"Good God, sweetie pie! How did that happen? We must turn on all our spigots at once! Junior, get in that bathroom and start flushing! Daddy's got his bonus check!"

Yes, there are people out there who would beat their own testicles with a rock before turning off a single light switch, and it is really difficult to compose a rational response to someone who informs you that, while you are sitting around the campfire with your friends, s/he will be heating up an empty oven and standing in the front yard with a running chain saw in one hand and an electric-powered Weed Whacker in the other. (Who needs friends when you have Black and Decker? Go figure.) And it is damn near impossible to explain renewable energy sources to someone who states that, "All energy sources are renewable. If you burn down trees, they grow back, don't they?" I don't expect the concept of geologic time means much to a person like that, (a gut-feeling that was later reinforced by this particular writer's offer to prove this to us "after we annex Canada" by napalming a small section of Canadian woodlands with an F-4 phantom jet).

At least half the mail advised us to stop blaming Bush for the energy crisis, and to start blaming Clinton instead. These are probably the same people who believe we should continue trying to impeach someone who is no longer in office. Besides, I do not recall anyone in the Clinton administration asserting, as Dick Cheney did, that Americans should not be asked to conserve energy as it infringed upon their lifestyle. No, the Rolling Blackout was not an action looking for a scapegoat. But how do you explain that to a group of people who have made scape-goating a way of life for the last eight years?

It would be absurd to go back in time looking for the guy who caused the energy crisis. How long have people been polluting? How long have they been wasting the earth's natural resources and when did they first start stripping the earth for profits? How long have alternative technologies been ignored by people who had the power to implement them? When was the first missed opportunity to set things right and who was the first person to miss it?

Who knows? What we DO know, and what should be blatantly obvious based solely upon Cheney's view of conservation, is that this administration will not favor any solution that does not, in turn, favor Big Oil. After all, if we as a nation decide to conserve energy, Dick's boys lose money. Every dime you save on your power bill is a dime you have and they don't. And developing new technology costs money. Could Dick and Dubya promote legislation to offer tax incentives to corporations for implementation of solar power plants and wind farms? Yes. Will they do it? No.

Why? Because they plan on cutting corporate taxes anyway. If their cronies are able to stick with the old technology, they stand to profit more than if they have to spend some of their windfall on developing energy alternatives.

The energy crisis is most certainly more complex than you or I, as outsiders, know. However the Bush administration's blind refusal to discuss renewable energy sources and conservation reflects an unacceptably short-sighted attitude toward a long-term problem that will affect generations yet to come. This was the message contained in our Voluntary Rolling Blackout. Unfortunately, our new conservative - just what, exactly, is it that they conserve anyway? - pen friends were too busy turning on light switches and writing hate mail to think about the challenges their children and their grandchildren might face when the oil well runs dry.

As for the mail itself, the winner of the Psychotic Drivel of the Week award goes to K.H., who hails from parts unknown. S/he writes:


I am holding a flashlight under my chin as I respond,

"Dear K.H.,
How ever will you see us when we turn out the lights?"

By Carol Schiffler
Citizens for Legitimate Government
Tampa, Florida