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Thursday, December 19,2013

In case you missed it | PRO-FRACKING COMMENTERS PAID BY OIL/GAS?

PRO-FRACKING COMMENTERS PAID BY OIL/GAS?

 


Here at Boulder Weekly, we welcome discussion of our stories. We hope that whenever we tackle an issue in an article, those with opinions from all sides of the political spectrum can come to the comments section of our website and find a robust and respectful conversation.

We are so open-minded that we even welcome comments from paid employees of some of the people we write about. A reader, James, engaged in a back-and-forth with some pro-fracking commenters on a recent BW column written by Paul Danish. He then wrote a comment challenging us to do some “investigative journalism” on the identities of his debate opponents, since he suspected they were on the payroll of the oil and gas industry.

Well, we looked into it. And James just might be onto something. We entered IP addresses of some pro-fracking commenters on our website into a WHOIS database and were able to track two commenters to two separate IP addresses registered to Noble Energy and one commenter to an IP address registered to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with oil and gas employees expressing their pro-fracking opinions on our website. After all, if they believed their jobs were unethical but did it for the money anyway, that would just make them whores, right? Nothing wrong with that. Still, it’s pretty interesting to note that the majority of pro-fracking comments on one article on our website came from two major oil and gas companies. Online comment boards and discussion groups are increasingly becoming targets for PR firms, corporations and possibly even the government.

Can we add oil and gas companies to the list? Perhaps. We’ll keep an eye on it.

ADDLED BY ADLER The situation involving CU sociology professor Patti Adler appears to be yet another example of the university  administration infringing on academic freedom in the name of political correctness.

Adler has gotten into hot water for a skit in which her teaching assistants purportedly portray different types of prostitutes in her “Deviance in U.S. Society” course.

Fired ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill was not exactly a beacon of integrity, but the witch hunt against him began only after comments he made that were constitutionally protected free speech.

This is becoming a troubling pattern at CU, attempting to silence voices that prove controversial, from the Campus Press to the Silver & Gold Record to the entire School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

We recognize that there should be a genuine interest in prohibiting work or learning environments in which individuals feel harassed, sexually or otherwise, but the university and its faculty play a special role, unique in our society, in pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. It should continue to serve as a free and open marketplace of ideas in which we can advance understanding and knowledge. Sometimes, that process is uncomfortable, but this is one of the only laboratories in which it can still occur, given the corporate-funded and politically controlled spheres in which most of our popular ideas emanate from these days.

We’d like to trust the CU administration in its assurances that this was not just another case of bowing to pressure, another case of saving face. Surely, in a university environment, we should grant wide latitude to learning experiences that stretch students’ — and society’s — established comfort zones and remind us that the best teachers are the ones who dared to confront our most established patterns.

If you are interested in signing the petition protesting this action against Adler, visit http://chn.ge/19bVCWO.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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