“We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously….But 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”
Sherwin Smith, TDEC, Deputy Director, Division of Water Resources
As a politician, I’m more than casually acquainted with the taste of shoe leather. And, honestly, hope that is the case here. Troubling, however, is a recent trend seen in government officials at all levels taking every situation to the extreme worst case scenario. People are confused by the mixed messages and veiled threats.
At the federal level, Tennesseans have been lectured by a US Attorney not to post derogatory remarks about Muslims on social media, lest they be found guilty of some unnamed crime. Just this week, the FBI pulled an ad showing the The Faces of Global Terrorism, bowing to pressure from Congress and Islamic groups saying the fact that most are Muslim, paints a bad picture on their religion. At the same time the Department of Homeland Security is running an ad campaign IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.
Excuse me, if we are supposed say something about what we see, it is helpful to know what to look for. Americans are kind, gentle and patriotic people. Most will GIVE you the shirts off our backs, but woe to the one that decides to SNATCH it without asking. Still, we can certainly be trusted to tell the difference from our neighbor down the street and a cold blooded terrorist. It would certainly be more efficient to admit there are specific people out to destroy our way of life, than monitoring everyone’s phone and internet like a nest of blind squirrels hunting an acorn.
It is my experience the tone of government is set from the top. Federal agencies influence state agencies who in turn model for local agencies. What we need at all levels of government is a little less Barney Fife and more Andy Taylor. After all, taxpayers pay your salary, fund your pension and decide whether you are walking the beat or driving. Last count, we had 20+ agencies at the state and local level with full or limited police power in Tennessee. Too many? Maybe, but certainly enough without being rude to generally law abiding taxpayers.