Pennsylvania Doctors on Fracking: Our Lips Are Sealed


Posted on 20 April 2012

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By Kathleen Peine

There’s something buried in a new Pennsylvania law and it’s every bit as toxic as the chemicals used to unearth natural gas through that process called fracking. Lurking in that law is a form of enforced ignorance.

And as Will Rogers said, “When ignorance gets started, it knows no bounds.”

In this law there is a provision that essentially gags physicians when they want to tell their patients what particular chemicals they have been exposed to, should they become ill from exposure to fracking chemicals. The doctors will be required to sign confidentiality agreements in order to find out the components in their quest to treat stricken individuals. The law is advanced as a protection of proprietary secrets……as if we’re talking about New Coke here.

I suppose many afflicted patients could become so enamored by the notion of fracking and subsequent new business opportunities that, despite their illness, they might set up a mom and pop fracking shop once discharged from the Intensive Care Unit. That’s what they could do if they found out those proprietary chemical cocktail contents. And I know that I would opt to get me some natural gas from these rogue mom and pop operators — maybe pick up some saltwater taffy and knitted tumor cozies while perusing for a gross of square head nails. This sort of unhinged competition must be protected against in the interest of potential victims like Halliburton, I suppose.

Or perhaps the ill could (after the Intensive Care thing) make overtures to the big boys who want to frack, but just don’t know how — without this law they would have the short list of ingredients! I’m actually pretty sure that anyone with pockets deep enough to frack would be more than able to find out the “secret ingredients” without the help of mischievous, loose-lipped physicians or patients. Maybe they could buy some binoculars and zoom in on the bio-hazard barrel labels and such. The proprietary concept is fairly ludicrous, and it’s a bit insulting that they don’t try a little harder with a cover story when imposing such blatant protection rackets.

The burden always should have been on the companies to prove they weren’t dealing in harmful substances, but of course it didn’t really happen that way. Quite the opposite, if anything it’s up to you to prove the hurt, but you aren’t even allowed to know what you’ve been exposed to.

How long can a society operate in such a manner before it kills itself off? There are always sociopaths happy with poisoning others for short-term gain. They would probably swear on the safety of those chemicals — may the land shake beneath them if they lie.

It’s troubling how this numb nation seems to accept forced ignorance with little growling. But then, magical thinking abounds, and unless one is directly impacted there seems to be little concern in regard to threats of this nature. And this is just one of the assaults on information currently being floated.

The legislated ignorance is rapidly emerging to keep our public in the dark as anything and everything is tried to cover for the corporate coup that has already taken place…..well, that and to protect against those pesky lawsuits! But the ignorance isn’t just being legislated for corporate benefit, sometimes it’s simply there as a present for those who enjoy cloaking clean information with dusty, plague laden drapes. It’s a fertile time for those who would quash information of all types.

Kansas and Arizona join each other in the dubious distinction of advancing bills which would essentially allow physicians to withhold or misrepresent prenatal testing results should they think that the mother might have an abortion due to that information. Never mind that someone could find out that she is carrying a child with a birth defect, perhaps from something like…..oh, maybe fracking compounds. Perhaps she wouldn’t even want to have an abortion, but might need to prepare and adjust to anticipate the care of a special needs child. Forget that — in this world of pain and ignorance you just get a great big surprise at delivery. Our work is done here say the forces of ignorance.

A society that allows such a smothering of information can only propel itself forward for so long — whatever the reasons for the secrecy. It’s the fact that knowledge and clarity in general are under assault that illustrates the fundamental instability. Those in power know the damage information can do so they advance these reprehensible laws that either add to corporate treasure or simply hand out pain to the masses. And sadly, the United States is not in a place where critical thought is valued. Almost like a battered spouse, the Americans expect and acclimate to this hostile management and busy their minds with “safe” thoughts.

The raging and monstrous treatment of Bradley Manning is evidence of what they will do to impose “quiet” on those who would display the more tortured aspects of American manners. The fact that he didn’t even release anything with that high of a security clearance is moot (for comparison, the Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg put information out there that was a higher level of secrecy, but was never convicted of anything — and he was ultimately appreciated by many for bringing the evidence of Vietnam era lies to the public). Something has certainly changed in these past few decades as evidenced by Manning’s vicious treatment. He may even face the death penalty because he was so bold as to shed light. There is no self awareness in this time and place, like realizing that perhaps mowing down innocents from helicopters is a bad thing to do. The malfeasance is placed on the idealistic kid who wanted his country to learn and stop.

The evil is now thought to be from those who talk, and those who tell truths. If they don’t shut up, there will be more laws. Profit protection and business as usual will receive iron-fisted protection.

Until they achieve that quiet industrial hum they so want to hear at all times.

For now the malevolent paternalism is trying to take hold on every front. And sadly our dad is bloated and insane, waving a gun around to enforce his rules and protect his lecherous buddies. Most can’t bear to see him for what he is because it’s painful and searing. It’s also humiliating that laws are being made to destroy socially responsible information sharing.

And sadly this trend to legislate darkness will probably continue unless Americans start questioning the entirety of the narrative. Because most certainly:

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”. (Aldous Huxley)

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Kathleen Peine writes out of the Midwest. Her pieces appear in DissidentVoice and Counterpunch. This article originally appeared in the LA Progressive.