From the Talking Out Your Ass Department

Residents of Maury County, Tennessee have been complaining to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for months about poor water quality in the area. They went to a meeting to raise the issue and a deputy director of one of the agency’s divisions told them that they might be committing terrorism. Seriously.

“We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously,” said Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, according to audio recorded by attendees. “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.”

“Can you say that again, please?” an audience member can be heard asking on the audio.

Smith went on in the recording to repeat the claim almost verbatim.

That left people baffled and upset, for obvious reasons. Sounds like this guy should be updating his resume.

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  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Yeah, the right with all their whinging about the anti-Christian, anti-conservative police state has really missed the boat.

    There’s a surveillance state, and it’s rapidly toppling over towards police state territory. Yet the right keeps backing all the most extreme “anti-terrorism” measures while refusing to permit any safeguards at all. It’s like the Church commission never happened.

  • rmsc

    I guess he had already used the, “i’m going to tell my big brother” threat.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    If you get upset when government officials ignore your concerns about the declining quality of the water you drink, you might be a terrorist.

    If you get upset when government officials ignore evidence about the potential for massive environmental damage because of oil pipelines, fracking and trains loaded with open cars of coal, you might be a terrorist.

    If you don’t like the government collecting the meta data on every cell phone call or text, you might be a terrorist.

    If you don’t like the government keeping records of every Google search, including the IP addresses of the people making the searches, you might be a terrorist.

    If you don’t like the government being able to make warrantless seizures of data from Internet service providers and cell phone companies to link meta data and IP address with names, addresses, bank account and credit card records, you might be a terrorist.

    If you are unhappy with the government invading other countries and killing thousands of non-combatant civilians, you might be a terrorist.

    If you are unhappy with the government kidnapping people, including citizens, and flying them to other countries where they are tortured and imprisoned in utterly inhumane conditions that would be illegal here, you might be a terrorist.

    If you uncover proof of any of these things, you ARE a terrorist, and the government will hunt you down, catch you no matter how many laws they must break to do so, imprison you in utterly inhumane conditions and keep you there until you rot. And if you object to these actions, or otherwise express sympathy to such people, well, then….

    Does anyone else feel like they are in an Orwellian version of a Jeff Foxworthy routine.

  • erichoug

    Wasn’t their one city out west, I think it was LA that tried to classify graffiti as terrorism.

  • Brony

    Oh good. I really wanted our politicians to utterly ruin another word. Thanks for that…

  • eric


    If you get upset when government officials ignore your concerns about the declining quality of the water you drink, you might be a terrorist.

    Oh, I think we can generalize that one. If you petition the government for a redress of grievances, you might be a terrorist. No doubt the same Foxworthy-ism could be made about speech and assembly, too.

  • Abby Normal

    Maybe the official believes that the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Fifth Amendment applies to the whole Bill of Rights, you don’t have a right unless you specifically declare that you do. If only the citizen had said, “I am petitioning you for a redress of grievances,” they could have avoided being tagged as a potential terrorist. Ah, who am I kidding? These days the DHS considers breathing to be an indicator for a potential terrorist. And they’re not too sure about the non-breathers either.

  • unbound

    Keep in mind that for the wingnuts, people complaining about government services are probably considered to be socialists…therefore, terrorists. So, with that twisted world-view in mind, the deputy director’s statement actually makes sense.

  • David Hart

    So, is there any conceivable behaviour that the government would consider at face value to be inconsistent with being a terrorist?

    And if not, does that mean that non-terrorists have now achieved ontological parity with Sagan’s dragon?

  • dustbunny

    Gregory in Seattle, #3:

    an Orwellian version of a Jeff Foxworthy routine

    That’s a pretty perfect description of life here in TN…

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    To those who scare hydration-loving people with phantoms of lost water quality, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of good thirst to remain silent in the face of dehydration. – John Ashcroft (more or less)