While I don’t agree with Schoharie Valley Watch on the issue of wind power development in Schoharie County, I respect their right to express themselves without having the cops called on them. A recent wind power forum held at SUNY Cobleskill’s Bouck Theater was supposed to be an honest discussion of wind power. Instead, one side got to speak and the other side got tossed out. This is not how we’re going to solve our energy problems.
Members of Schoharie Valley Watch came to the forum with the intention of expressing their concerns about industrial wind turbine development. I for one would have preferred to hear their criticism, and then hear their points challenged on the merits. But rather than engage SVW, the organizers of the event decided to take the easy way out and call campus security. This was a missed opportunity for real dialogue and a black eye on all of us who support green energy alternatives. But worst of all it is a slap in the face to the very notion of free and open dialogue that is essential to democracy.
At the same time, I would like to address to Kathleen Johnson’s letter to the Times-Journal in which she alleges that an individual was “stalking” her during the event. Johnson is a member of SVW who was among those asked to leave the wind forum. During the entire event, Johnson claims that an unidentified male was following her around and leering over her in an apparent attempt to intimidate her. So was this just some creepy guy? Was it T. Boone Pickens (he’s pretty creepy)? Or is Kathleen Johnson just paranoid?
Let’s look for a moment at the evidence Johnson offers as proof of being stalked. Johnson claimed that this unidentified individual stood up from his seat the same time she did. Clearly, these are gestapo tactics! She also claimed that he was standing near her while she was distributing literature and talking over her. I’m sorry, but bad manners do not qualify as stalking. I agree that calling campus security was an overreaction and was the wrong thing to do. But some people just need to grow thicker skin. People taking their cause to the streets have endured far worse than someone “speaking over” them.