Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Debate with a Comedian

A man dressed in a suit, and Deb Katz, dressed more casually, took the stage. A moderator introduced William Newcomb from NuCorPAC (he was never referred to by his real name) and Deb Katz from Citizens Awareness Network. The moderator asked the questions and thanked people politely, as if this was a real debate.

At first, I got more and more angry, but then I settled down. After ten minutes, anyone would understand that "Will Nukem" was not from the nuclear industry. He was actually very funny, good theater. His answer to "what should we do with the waste" included not worrying about it since it will flow down the river to Massachusetts ("You people in southern Vermont have done enough. Let Massachusetts do its part") and putting it on trucks to spend a week in every township in Vermont ("Spread the burden. You have done enough, But don't send it to Montpelier. We gotta stay on good terms with Montpelier."). At the end of the debate, he literally danced off the stage, singing "Nuke is Green" and clapping his hands. You gotta hand it to a good actor.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, Deb Katz was not as good an actor. She had the world by the tail: a hand-picked comedian to oppose her, a very receptive audience. This apparently encouraged her to make remarks that I considered nonsensical. For example, she said: There are people missing from our homes, from around our tables. People who will never come back. We must make sure this stops. ( or maybe...make sure this does not continue...my notes are only my notes).

It sounded for all the world like she thought death itself would stop if Vermont Yankee goes out of service. Death would stop, the gene pool would be safe forever? That's a pretty powerful nuclear plant, bringing "Death into the World and all our woe." Whoops, that quote from Milton was about Adam's fall, not Vermont Yankee!

Katz also said that "you shouldn't let them scare you about global warming. If Vermont Yankee is out of service, it won't make a bit of difference about global warming." It made me nostalgic to hear James Moore of VPIRG, who admits that closing VY will lead to using more fossil fuels "for a few years." In Moore's oft-stated opinion:"Relicensing Vermont Yankee would be a twenty-year solution to a three-year problem". At least, he admits a possible problem.

I was also surprised that Deb Katz was potty-mouthed. This was a public forum and at least parts of it were recorded. Yet she raised giggles and applause from the audience several times by referring to the nuclear industry as having "wet dreams." She also said that Entergy planned to "shtup us again." ("Shtup " is a very coarse Yiddish word). Finally, she got quite a hand with the statement that "don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining." Well, I guess all applause is good applause.

After the meeting, one of the organizers asked us if we had enjoyed ourselves. We both said it had been very entertaining. I said that I had been a little surprised that, at the end, they had not introduced the man who played Will Nukem, but instead had him be "Will Nukem" the whole time. They should have told the name of the actor, at least at the end. The organizer admitted that had confused some people, and they probably should have done something at the end to introduce him. It didn't seem like a big deal to him, however.

I wonder if there were some people at the meeting who thought that Nukem was a real industry representative. In the question period, almost all the questions were addressed to Nukem, not Katz.

I am often somewhat depressed on the drive home from these events. This one was no exception. I will try to have more upbeat posts in the future.


Robert Hargraves said...

Were any reporters from the traditional news press in attendance?

Meredith Angwin said...

Howard and I did not see any reporters we recognized. There was a man doing a video recording, probably from the local cable station.

Country Mouse said...

Very interesting, Meredith. Partisan politics should not be closed. Opinionated is one thing but this looks like entertainment fo people who have already made up their minds. Great report!

DunnJH4 said...

Anybody up for hosting a nuclear debate where we have a comedian play an anti? Actually, we could probably just pick one out of the picket lines in Brattleboro. Either way, we should do the same thing. The cue cards should read something like "Will radiation really make me sterile?" "I hear radiation makes plant workers glow in the dark!" "How big is the glowing radioactive pool beneath VY?" and "How dangerous would it be if terrorists attacked VY?" I love that one, I get asked the same thing way too often!