censor noun cen·sor \ˈsen(t)-sər\: a person who examines books, movies, letters, etc., and removes things that are considered to be offensive, immoral, harmful to society, etc.
In the last two days I’ve gotten several emails and Facebook inquiries from people asking about the MoveOn petition trying to get Russel Gold’s The Boom removed as the Penn State Reads book (see these two entries). In short, The Boom is a 30,000’ view of the shale gas revolution that seems fairly balanced. It has shortfalls but it’s a well-written and compelling book that got very good reviews. It’s a good entry point to discuss fracking. The petitioners are accusing Penn State of brainwashing students. This is an insult to every thinking person I know.
They’ve appointed themselves the new arbiters of knowledge, discourse and teaching. I wonder what their thoughts are as teachers. Are they looking to develop people’s decision-making abilities, their ability to critically think, their ability to connect dots and think through systems, to reflect on their morals and more? I wonder if they can show us that the people who designed Penn State Reads are focused on promoting fracking. I wonder what they will say if the outcome of the essay contest that they’ve mocked so much is critical of fracking. Wouldn’t that be ironic?
But wait. It’s all clear now. I’ve taken the red pill! Thank you Morpheus!
Every professor, lecturer and student reading The Boom—including me—is an unthinking automaton, a cyborg not-so-secretly working on behalf of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and Chesapeake Energy. I mean everyone knows that the hundreds of faculty at Penn State who will be discussing the book parroting industry talking points with one another and their students lack volition, the ability to analyze information much less teach anyone anything how to…I don’t know…think critically in the service of polluting clean energy. All this time I’ve worked with people I thought were good teachers and that we were doing something called teaching. What a mistake that was. It’s good to know I’ve been working for the American Natural Gas Alliance and now I don’t have to think anymore.
We teachers propagandists face a new problem. I might not be able to teach The Boom preach the gospel according to Aubrey McClendon. All of our ability to be perfect apparatchiks for polluting pristine industry could be ruined. I’ve been eagerly awaiting my chance to exhort the glories of fugitive emissions and climate impacts, redirect questions about shady financial practices, say there have never been well blowouts or fish kills or habitat fragmentation and of course never discuss any study about water contamination. Heavens. We are all too dumb to do those things. And of course, we wouldn’t be allowed. How will I ever be able to critically engage one of the most important issues trumpet corporate newspeak now? The shame of it all!
I need the petitioners to tell me how to make the students think the new right way. Surely they have something for me to do and say. I mean, otherwise we will be lost. Help us plug into your matrix now that we took the red pill. I am eagerly awaiting you to take us into the new mother (censor)ship for reprogramming.