Last weekend the Tribune published what I felt was a rather poorly thought-out editorial regarding CAFOs. I posted a comment in response, and the resulting comment thread was actually one of the more rational and interesting I’ve seen on the Tribune’s site, which usually descends into wingnut chaos. It was a busy weekend and I never got back to respond to the other comments, but it was good reading. I want to address/agree with one point in particular.
Someone pointed out a rather disturbing post on the EPA’s official blog. The post, by a sophomore-in-college intern, undertakes a pretty typical argument for vegetarianism and veganism. It’s nothing new and I don’t need to summarize. The arguments are valid and the discussion about these topics is worthwhile. To be clear, I have no problem with educated vegetarianism and veganism; I actually find the latter more ethically and intellectually consistent than the former.
What’s deeply wrong is posting this on an official government site where people are inevitably going to take it as stated or implied policy. Unless the EPA’s official policy has changed to “producing & eating meat is evil”, this does not belong there. Blogs are free and this intern can create her own platform for sharing her thoughts without piggybacking on a tax-funded website. So there’s no misunderstanding, the large banner at the top of the site says “The Official Blog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency”. A small-print disclaimer states that
“The opinions and comments expressed in Greenversations are those of the authors alone and do not reflect an Agency policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy of the contents of the blog.”
which to me are weasel words. It’s hosted on .gov and is prominently titled “official”. The “About” section claims it’s just a way to start conversations, but people do that quite well on their own without needing official government platforms. Don’t expect that people aren’t going to take whatever is posted there seriously. What do you think would happen if an employee of the US Department of Health and Human Services posted an essay on the evils or benefits of abortion on the official DHHS website?
This is why people distrust government and think it wastes money. Use the site to explain official policies and procedures; don’t use it to give a leg up to individuals’ personal agendas.