Today is Bastille Day, one of my favorite holidays. The Fete Nationale of France, the holiday commemorates the storming of the prison by dissidents, a landmark event of the French Revolution. The Bastille was regarded as a symbol of King Louis XVI’s absolute power, and a few weeks later, a document establishing the rights of French citizens was issued.

I like the audacity of the radicals. I like their bravery, although, perhaps, some of them were half-mad with starvation. The glorious revolution turned into a bloodbath, of course — the Reign of Terror — but the storming of the Bastille remains a shining moment, an enduring example of what happens when a people have had enough of their government and do something about it.

Too bad we don’t even have half as much gumption.

I’ve been blathering about Edward Snowden’s revelations for weeks. Although I shouldn’t have been surprised that members of our sorry excuse for a Congress pooh-poohed the idea that the National Security Agency is doing anything wrong by collecting electronic data from American citizens, I was. Call me a dreamer.

Worse was the number of citizens who agreed this was a whole lot of noise about a whole lot of nothing. Really? Are you so completely ignorant of history that you don’t worry when your government is collecting information about you? Second thought: You probably are.

Now I’m on a roll about fracking. I suspect that most Americans don’t think about where their oil and gas supplies come from — the price is all they’re concerned about. This makes me crazy. I care about prices too, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the environment for cheap gas.


Or my community. My blood really boiled when I learned that the train that derailed, crashed and destroyed the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, was carrying shale oil, the product of fracking. There is no pipeline to deliver the stuff from North Dakota, so the oil barons are using trains. Nobody has wanted to fix up the tracks for years, even though improving the railway system would help Americans conserve fuel. But now, here we go, sending oil-laden choo-choos over crumbling tracks through Canada and — yes! — through Maine.

I don’t buy conspiracy theories about the so-called “mainstream media.” Having worked in journalism for many years, I know it is difficult to get two reporters to agree on what color the sky is. Also, the New York-centric focus of the national media means that New England is often overlooked, never mind Canada. Heck, NBC even left New Hampshire off a map when reporting on the Lac-Megantic explosion.

That brings me to my point, which is that the horrific event got relatively little coverage by the national media. If Bedford Hills, N.Y., had been vaporized, you can bet it would have gone wall-to-wall.

Still, given the intensity of the explosion, and the terrifying footage, it’s questionable news judgment. I blame the fracking angle, which should make it all the more newsworthy because it’s so darn bad.

Mustn’t offend the oil barons, though.

Just a thought.


So this is the thing about fracking. The official term for this operation is “hydraulic fracturing.”

Liquids are injected into oil or gas mines at high pressure to release more oil or gas. This may sound innocent, but the liquids comprise a chemical soup, including known carcinogens. Fracking operations have contaminated drinking water supplies, and create huge amounts of toxic waste. An enormous amount of energy is expended to get the oil and gas out of the ground. Is this something we really want to support?

Fracking is an act of desperation. The oil barons are doing it because the earth is running out of regular old oil, which is, we must remember, a non-renewable resource, a fossil fuel. Instead of looking for ways to conserve energy, like upgrading our rail system, we are trying to get every last bit of oil and gas out of the ground any way possible.

There are plenty of other things for us to be mad about.

Steam rose from my head when I read about Maine hospital administrators earning obscene salaries while laying off employees, not to mention while health care costs are soaring. Why are we getting involved in Syria? The thought of GMOs in my food makes me nauseous.

We have no Bastille to storm, but we do have the Internet, email, Facebook and YouTube. Everybody has a ranting platform these days, and, from all appearances, you don’t even have to have a grasp of English grammar to get one. All you need to do is use your voice, and remember, “Vive la France!” Oh, and use your spell-check.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at [email protected]

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