Uncouth Behavior does not Advance our Cause

Some people confuse personal publicity with meaningful progress.

Yesterday, I witnessed bad behavior on a grand scale at the swearing in of Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and I was deeply embarrassed by the blemish they put on the important cause of addressing climate change and fracking. Craving notoriety–a line in a newspaper story–a brief flash on television–they tarnished a cause and treated an important public official with complete disrespect at what will undoubtedly be one of his most sacred moments.

My mother and grandmother often emphasized the need for good manners in public, refinement at the dinner table, and grace when dealing with others you may not agree. I may be old fashion but I believe in good taste and sound judgment. When we were kids horsing around or getting out of line in public, my mother would remind me that “there is a time and place for nearly everything and this is neither the time nor the place for that.”

Those words came back to me yesterday when I watched uncouth anti-fracking activists rudely disrupt the sacred swearing in ceremony of our new Governor. Whether you agree with the Governor’s position on natural gas or not, he has won the election and earned his sacred moment standing before the cameras and thousands of onlookers promising on a family bible to uphold the entire constitution (including Section 27, Article 1 by the way).

Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in the right to assemble to march and protest. I marched at several climate-related events, spoke at a climate and pipeline-related protest in front of the White House and in the seventies, I walked with Native Americans on what they called at the time “The Longest Walk” across America to Washington to protest the breaking of treaties.

What I saw yesterday was uncouth behavior from a half dozen protesters who made their way into the stands, loudly blowing whistles and chanting, disrupted the Governor’s remarks. There is a time and place for nearly everything and this was neither the time nor the place for that kind of behavior.

If they were actually trying to advance the cause to ban fracking with this unsophisticated approach, they failed miserably as their rude disruptions during the Governor’s speech left a negative reflection before every member of the General Assembly-on both sides of the isle-including those who support a ban, on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices and other influential Pennsylvanians who will have great sway. These disheveled protesters by their appearance and outrageous behavior not only lacked respect for the integrity of the orderly transfer of power provided in our constitution but their uncouth behavior reflected badly on every person who calls themselves an “environmentalist.” As one, I resent this association.

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About Larry Schweiger

Larry Schweiger is President and Chief Executive Officer of Citizens for PennFuture. Previously, he was President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and earlier the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Larry also served as the Executive Secretary of the Joint (House and Senate) Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and 1st Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He returned to the National Wildlife Federation in March 2004 with a commitment to confront the climate crisis. He is passionate about protecting nature for our children's future. Larry continues the climate work as the battle moves to the states. Previously, Larry served for eight years as President and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, where he pioneered watershed restoration and promoted ecological research, land conservation, community outreach and Fallingwater restoration. In the past, Larry was the Executive Secretary of the Joint House/Senate Conservation Committee for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs at National Wildlife Federation, and 1st Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Larry wrote a book warning about climate change impacts on nature entitled: "Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth" that won 1st Prize for the best non-fiction at the 2011 Indie Book Awards. Larry started volunteering at age 14 and is an active community leader, having served on more than 40 governing boards, commissions and committees. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Climate Reality; the John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; and National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. In 2012, He was honored by the Blue-Green Alliance for the Federation's leadership on the auto rules and was selected as Pennsylvania’s Environmental Professional of the Year in 2002, Pittsburgh of the Year in 2000, and he received a Conservation Service Award from the Christian Environmental Association in September 1995. Larry is married and is blessed with three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandsons.
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