by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I was informed today that I am a reporter. It is my job to write the news, not make it. The conversation occurred because somebody, who has nothing to do with any media outlets to which I contribute, wanted me to write about an alleged site contamination. I told him/her/it I was an amateur reporter. I work 17 hours a day on my day job and volunteer to write for a newspaper. I lack the time, budget, and education to conduct a proper soil analysis. I further explained that data can be politicized. He disagreed. I either write exactly what he says whenever he speaks, even though I have a 2000 word limit each week, and I am supposed to report what the elected people are saying – or I am part of the cover-up.
The guy means well, of course; but across the street at city council, we have regulars who engage in public comment. Most, I would deem to be what used to be termed, “mentally ill.” They have a persona, some with costumes and stage names. A big issue is legalizing pot. Is it my job to report what they say, even when it is, “Thus saith the Lord! I will smite you with a curse!” when I only volunteer my time because I am trying to be a voice for individual liberty and decentralization of power? Frankly, I am agitated that I spend half an hour or more a week listening to their performances when I could be, say, reading a physics book.
I graduated from Lyman Briggs College at MSU. I was supposed to be getting trained to sort fact from hype. Since graduating, I have learned that nobody wants anybody to try to do that. People love rumor that stirs mass hysteria. I explained to my friend that I was first a scientist. In spite of a wealth of personal shortcomings, I have a commitment to the truth, to try to find it. Because the benefactor who sponsored my research died, and I peter-principled into the role of Miss Reporter, I cannot drop any semblance of a brain remaining and write without weighing and considering.
My mother used to always say that you know you’re crazy when you think everybody around you is. So, I have a stalker telling me I am Eve, a rib from his side, and it is not good for man to be alone. I spend my days changing commas to semicolons and back. My best friend confuses me with her conscience and jumps all over me for being judgmental when she does things about which I don’t even care. Our leaders tell us that General Electric is responsible for every job and every dollar, twice over, in the community; and cite as evidence that jobs would not have been lost but for the tax dollars they were given. And people still believe that whatever is in the mass media is true, even if other media outlets say otherwise, and in spite of transparent fallacies. One of my favorites goes, “The Founding Fathers owned slaves. That means they were racist. Because they were racist, everything they thought was bad. They advocated for personal liberty, therefore personal liberty is bad.” We are supposed to bring the bacon home – for the voiceless who justify our grants – while professing global consciousness. We are supposed to be happy that investment earnings are skyrocketing when there is no economy to back them. And then, while people hurt and kill each other, we need to nitpick figureheads to help those who dupe us capture their power – for the voiceless, of course.