The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director Sherwin Smith is warning citizens to think before they start raising concerns about water quality because they could be charged with making terroristic threats. Smith told Maury County resident that unfounded complaints could be considered an “act of terrorism” and turned over the the police and the FBI. The meeting followed complaints about water quality in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee where children have become ill drinking the water. That left residents with the sense that they were being given a Sophie’s Choice by the TDEC: live with sick children or face a possible charge of being a terrorist.
Smith warned residents “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.” One audience member seemed to be in disbelief and asked “Can you say that again, please?” Smtih then repeated the warning.
The residents know something about terror. Joycelene Johns, 68, says that she has had no choice but to drink the cloudy, odd-tasting water for years. She added “I’ll drink it. but I pray before the first sip.”
The comments reflect a fear that the war on terror, like Saturn, inevitably devours its own. Criticism of the government is now viewed as a potentially terrorist act in our new society. The TDEC appears to be paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Joycelene, is not in our water, But in ourselves.”
Of course, the worse thing is if Johns is arrested and water-boarded with the same contaminated water. The least they could do is use some bottled water so not to add insult to injury.