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Tennessee Official: Water Complaints Could be "Act of Terrorism" 407

Posted by samzenpus
from the deep-water dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director is threatening citizens with being listed as terrorists for giving official complaints. Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources said: 'But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there's no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.' 'In terms of the comments made by a member of the Water Resources Division at the meeting, we are just receiving the information and looking into this on our end,' spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said. 'The department would like to fully assess what was said in the meeting. I am told that the meeting was far longer than the audio clip provided by SOCM and that Mr. Smith actually clarified his remarks. But again, we are looking into it.'"
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Tennessee Official: Water Complaints Could be "Act of Terrorism"

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  • Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by memnock (466995) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:02PM (#44086241)

    The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.

  • This has to end.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mister Transistor (259842) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:03PM (#44086249) Journal

    Welcome to the new McCarthyism. Any time you do anything "they" don't like, you're a ter'ist...

  • by folderol (1965326) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:11PM (#44086337) Homepage
    yet every time I think officialdom can't get any more stupid, they go and prove me wrong... again!
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by click2005 (921437) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:11PM (#44086339)

    They dont want you dead, just obedient, subservient, docile and blindly supporting them. How can you make them richer & more powerful if you're dead?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:12PM (#44086355)

    Sherwin Smith should be fired immediately. If I threatened my customers, my boss would rightfully fire me on the spot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:13PM (#44086365)

    Everyone is suspect of being a terrorist these days. Let's make some terrrorist cake [wikipedia.org] to identify them.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:24PM (#44086459)

    Sherwin Smith should be fired immediately. If I threatened my customers, my boss would rightfully fire me on the spot.

    Public agencies utilities don't have "customers", they have "captive consumers". You can threaten them or piss them off all you want, they have no choice but to keep buying your product or paying taxes at whatever price you set.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:24PM (#44086463) Homepage Journal

    The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.

    I hate to say it, but by definition, the only way for terrorism to work is for people to be terrified.

    If the People would grow a backbone again, and stop being terrified, no matter if it's salafi jihadists or government propagandists who are attempting the scaring, then there could be no terrorism. War's over, let's pack up and go home.

    A skiddish populous is the #1 tool in the effort that has been misnamed the "War on Terror".

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:34PM (#44086549)
    Better to live a single day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb.
  • by lxs (131946) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:35PM (#44086565)

    I don't know. I think Terry Gilliam was very close to making this shit up when he wrote the script for Brazil.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:35PM (#44086569)
    Any civil servant threatening terrorism charges for complaints from the public should be immediately fired. He/she does not have the public interest at heart.
  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by milkmage (795746) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:36PM (#44086579)

    there may be some foundation though.. remember the "dihydrogen monoxide" prank those Florida DJs pulled on April Fools.

    possible felony charges (of course this was radio, so that's understandable because of the panic they caused)

    the charges never materialized.

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/04/florida-djs-april-fools-water-joke/63798/ [theatlanticwire.com]

  • Re:Sensationalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:40PM (#44086617) Journal

    listed as terrorists for giving unfounded official complaints

    Fine even if that is the case we have other laws that cover things like that. "Making false reports", "libel", and "slander", would be some potential examples. These laws carry with them what most people consider to be appropriate penalties and restitution requirements. Slapping the term "terrorist' on everyone who steps even slightly out line has all sorts of negative consequences.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:40PM (#44086623) Homepage Journal
    The easiest way to always have terrorists is to create them.
  • Re:Sensationalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:44PM (#44086661)

    Right. And lets take this a step further. What is an "official complaint"? Making a public statement I can understand as designed to instill fear among the general population. But raising the issue either through official channels for such feedback? Nope. They asked for comments, they got them. If they don't like them, tough.

    Its also my understanding that the complaints were along the lines of: "This water makes me/my kids sick." Not, "There's poison in the water." The former is subjective and purely dependent on the sensitivity of the particular consumer to some attribute of the water.

  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:44PM (#44086663) Homepage

    Why? I've read a lot of articles here on slashdot over the past years about the US accusing China for snooping.

    Isn't it fair when it's exposed that the US does the same on an even larger scale, for China to mention this hypocrisy?

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:45PM (#44086673)
    When you put it that way... actually, living like a lamb doesn't sound like such a bad idea on the surface. Sounds like a nice, calm, peaceful existence. Whereas living like a lion sounds like every day would be a struggle to survive.

    I get what you were trying to say, but there's got to be a better way to say it.
  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:01PM (#44086777) Homepage Journal

    In other news Orson Welles is retroactively found guilty of terrorism by a secret government court.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:02PM (#44086783) Homepage Journal

    personally I'm waiting for them to label schoolyard bullies as terrorists since obviously they're terrorizing people and the law must be the same for everyone - no exceptions(exept gov.)!

  • by naasking (94116) <naasking @ g m a il.com> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:10PM (#44086831) Homepage

    And this is why we should fear how much the government should be allowed to intrude into our lives. Because who knows what sort of low-level bitter bureaucrat may just take a disliking to you, and end up abusing government powers.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mc6809e (214243) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:11PM (#44086841)

    The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.

    Is to terrorize innocent people with threats of imprisonment?

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:27PM (#44086961)

    I don't give a shit about him. The Federal Government's job is to guarantee and secure our freedoms and rights. That's the purpose of the Constitution which is supposed to be the basis for all Federal law. From all enemies both foreign and DOMESTIC. Including the dickhead from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:35PM (#44087009) Homepage

    If there's several simultaneous valid complaints alleging something like a serious illness, the water system may have to be shut down while it's tested or risk spread of a contamination. We've had that happen several times where I live (and I live in a major metropolitan area) when initial tests have shown a possible bacterial problem and they've needed several days for comprehensive tests to tell whether there really is a problem or not. I'd be outraged if a single complaint would have them labeling the complainant a terrorist, but I suspect the missing context is that they're discussing concerted multiple reports filed with the intent of forcing a shutdown and possibly where the complainants are aware they don't have a reasonable basis for the complaints (think anti-fluoridation kooks wanting to "send a message").

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justthinkit (954982) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:44PM (#44087057) Homepage Journal
    With 96% of TN fluoridated [just-think-it.com], you don't have to invent a situation where "some very well connected industry and industrialist is polluting the water."
    .

    Is it going to become illegal to protest the government/city/county poisoning the water?

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@earthlin k . n et> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:47PM (#44087073)

    Given what you say, it's the government that are the terrorists.

    The government is the entity that decided that the people were afraid. The governments actions have caused me to be afraid...of the government.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:51PM (#44087101)
    Yes, there are no other differences in China and other countries that could impact this difference, such as vastly differing viewpoints on human rights and value of individuality. Also, what kind of mental gymnastics does it take to associate a lack of parking tickets with it being dangerous to cross the street? Parked cars are rarely a danger to anyone, especially a pedestrian.

    However, in an experiment, a Dutch town removed basically all traffic signs [guardian.co.uk] and were considerably safer, because instead of relying upon signs and stoplights to tell them what to do, they had to instead actually pay attention to their surroundings. Believe it or not, we generally have strong instincts for self-preservation, and social mechanisms often work better than rules or legal mechanisms when no such system exists.
  • by dcollins117 (1267462) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @04:11PM (#44087187)

    Eventually they will reach a singularity of stupid, from which no intelligence can escape.

    We reached that with George W. Bush. Now we're in a black hole of stupid.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:05PM (#44087455)

    Not a chance that'll happen. In America, we like bullies, and we make fun of people who are their victims. Just look at what happens every time a bullying incidents develops to the point that some poor kid kills him/herself. Americans worship assholes. We might say a few nice-sounding words against bullies once in a while, but we'll never do anything to actually fix the problem, nor will we ever hold bullies accountable for their behavior.

    It's just like how we worship sociopathic business owners, and defend thier unethical and even dangerous behavior, and anyone who complains about them is blackballed in the industry. Whistleblowers (for instance, people who go to the government to stop a business owner whose practices will get someone killed through negligence) are seen as "rats", and will never get another job.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:09PM (#44087475) Journal
    When you put it that way... actually, living like a lamb doesn't sound like such a bad idea on the surface. Sounds like a nice, calm, peaceful existence. Whereas living like a lion sounds like every day would be a struggle to survive.

    One of those things eats the other.

    Hint: The lion only fears other lions. The lamb fears that big scary yellow ball chasing it over the horizon every morning.
  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:49PM (#44087655) Journal

    Nah if its like the rest of the south they'll be locked up in a shithole of a county jail, with wires hanging down and shit falling apart, but it cost the taxpayers millions thanks to good old boy politics, aka massive corruption.

    Sadly the whole south is full of little fiefdoms that are corrupt as hell. I had a bud that flew drug interdiction for the USAF and they used to have jokes like "Why does the sheriff of (insert county) bust so many meth labs? because he doesn't want the competition!" rimshot. The feds know this but they know if they were to bust all of the corrupt cops you would end up having to use the National Guard because in a lot of these places you wouldn't have enough cops left to maintain the peace. My USAF friend said ANY fed could find out if a local police force was corrupt by just 30 minutes of looking at the land deeds, why? You'll find tons of pine forests owned by the cops or close relatives of the cops...because pine trees put out enough heat to foil their infrared scans.

    I have lived my entire life in the south and one thing you learn, if you get on "the right side" of the local politicians and cops? You have nothing to worry about ever. You try stepping on their toes, rocking the boat? they can turn your world into shit REAL quick, you'd be surprised how many laws are on the books in your average state they can use against you.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chihowa (366380) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:58PM (#44087697)

    A thousand years of abject terror.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jordan_robot (1830144) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @06:58PM (#44087943)

    I can't let this go.

    Estimated US deaths due to alcohol: 80,000... per year. The estimated economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption (in 2006) were $223.5 billion

    Lets look at some other numbers from the CDC on deaths in 2010...
    Heart disease: 597,689
    Cancer: 574,743
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
    Alzheimer's disease: 83,494
    Diabetes: 69,071
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
    Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

    Homicide: 16,259.
    Motor Vehicular-related: 32,885

    So don't go on about how the Afghanistan campaign is proportionate. You look like a putz.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoskd (321194) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @07:40PM (#44088157)

    The "War on Terror" is symbolic language for the war against al Qaida, just as the "war against fascism" was symbolic language for the fight against Germany and Italy in WW2. Supposedly smart people should be able to understand symbolism, but there seems to be little evidence for it on Slashdot since I keep reading the same nonsense over and over again.

    You don't have to be terrified to take actions against terrorists. Just making the judgment that it is prudent to prevent mass slaughter of your fellow citizens is enough. Or maybe you could explain why it is a good idea to let your fellow citizens be killed by the thousands and do nothing?

    Be very careful giving government the power to do anything for any justification. In the history of the world, orders of magnitude more atrocities have been commited by those in power when there have been no effective checks on that power. Terrorists may have managed to kill several thousand people in the world trade centers, but it took a fascist state to bring about the Holocaust.

    In short, government without restrictions is far more dangerous than all the terrorists in the world combined. This should be amply evidenced by their shameless use of the existence of terrorists to expand their own power, and reduce all of our freedoms.

    -=Geoskd

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @07:47PM (#44088185) Homepage

    Actually...lions aren't fans of many other species. Hyenas for example. Large enough numbers of hyenas can take down a lioness.

    Just because you're at the top of the local food chain...or occupying one of the higher positions, doesn't mean you don't see a pair of fork and knives when you look down.

  • by meglon (1001833) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @08:54PM (#44088493)
    You are incorrect.

    As often noted by rabid conservative anti-government ideologues wanting to make points through a ludicrous idiotic adulteration of logic: "You choose to remain within the physical area that the government controls, therefor it's your choice.... you can leave anytime you want."
  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tbuskey (135499) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @10:06PM (#44088811) Journal

    Lamb, Chicken, Cows and Pigs are not endangered species. Lions are.

    There's a worth in becoming domesticated. Ever see a wild Cow?

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jordan_robot (1830144) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:53PM (#44089279)

    The poster I responded was essentially arguing that the US should not be engaged in military action to defend itself as long as disease killed more people. It was a nonsense argument whether you apply it to national defense or law enforcement, which is what I was demonstrating.

    Whoa, whoa. Don't you put words in my mouth; I never said anything of the sort. Full stop.

    All I did was re-print some fatality statistics that showed the numbers argument is worthless when justifying the war on terror. I didn't think my brevity would be taken to mean so much more.

    Honestly, you can blast the shit out of [actual] terrorists and I'll cheer, go get em & godspeed. But to state that the reaction to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks is proportionate to the amount of lives and money lost is just not true. If it were, at least some of the other more significant causes of fatalities and monetary loss would have more of a reaction than 9/11. Its not about the numbers, it is about the reaction to being violated. Its about revenge, and making the disproportionate response known... the cost of such future attacks outweigh any benefit.

    And the putz thing was a bit too much. My apologies, I'm sure you're not a penis.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:25AM (#44089439) Homepage

    . I had a bud that flew drug interdiction for the USAF and they used to have jokes like "Why does the sheriff of (insert county) bust so many meth labs? because he doesn't want the competition!" rimshot.

    Which proves pretty much - nothing. He doesn't know, he has no way of knowing, and you're a fool for believing him and a jackass for invoking his military service as some kind of proof of his veracity.
     

    You'll find tons of pine forests owned by the cops or close relatives of the cops...because pine trees put out enough heat to foil their infrared scans.

    The mind boggle at the level of ignorance required to believe this.

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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