Fractivist demagoguery knows no bounds because, too often, the behavior is enabled by empathetic “journalists” who are quick to indulge it as the harmless antics of some lovable rogues.
No one has done a better job portraying a false image of themselves and their special interest advocacy than Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. She managed to turn a simple case of trespassing, where basically admits to guilt, into an international cause by portraying herself as a poor victim of the oil and gas industry. It is another case of fractivist demagoguery.
Vera is no lovable rogue. She’s anything but the Golden Girl activist persona she loves to act out to gain the attention of gullible and agenda-driven news outlets. She’s running a PR scam and looking to score big once again on Monday morning when her trespass case is heard again in county court.
Rumor has it Vera Scroggins is soliciting support from New Yorkers to fill the Pennsylvania courtroom with supporters. If so, and she’s true to form, we’ll probably see her buddy Bill Huston from Binghamton there trying to create some sort of scene, or perhaps Isaac Silberman-Gorn, who is in the employ of the radical Democracy Alliance and “Citizen Action of New York,” will lead a protest. This is what these people do every day, after all–insert themselves into any matter they can find to make a statement for the purposes of stopping gas drilling and fracking in New York. It’s all about New York, all of time, for them and Vera’s little plays provide targets of opportunity to create publicity.
We have described the real Vera Scroggins many times before here and elsewhere. She’s a fouled-mouth agitator who couldn’t care less about her neighbors and who has a history of seeking out unpopular causes as a way of drawing attention to herself. Her video of herself issuing 35 filthy insults to Phelim McAleer in four minutes (one every seven seconds) is legendary, for example. New stuff keeps showing every day about her, in fact, such as this very strange movie called the Vomitorium (see trailer here) in which she appears as a statue. She’s also, apparently, a believer in some very strange causes indeed, as this retweet by her under her pen name of Vera Duerga indicates.
This trespass case illustrates how an individual, with absolutely zero credibility, can still secure favorable publicity by packaging herself as a victim to journalists more interested in the narrative than the truth.
It all began with Cabot Oil & Gas, having had quite enough of her persistent trespassing on its development sites (something she apparently admitted to doing with the author of this story) obtained an injunction to keep her off them. Here’s the actual injunction, granted on October 21, 2013:
The key line in the injunction is this:
It is hereby ordered that Ms. Scroggins is restrained, enjoined and prohibited from entering onto property owned and/or leased by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation including but not limited to well sites, well pads and access roads.
Media Indulgence of the Practitioners of Fractivist Demagoguery
Any ordinary reader of this line, issued by the judge, will quickly understand, from the examples cited, the injunction is directed at keeping Vera Scroggins off natural gas production sites. Scroggins, though, and her cadre of anti-gas friends in and out of media, wanted the issue, not a correct interpretation, so she immediately focused on the fact the injunction covered leased lands and focused on the phrase “including but not limited to” to suggest the restrictions preventing her from shopping or going to the hospital.
This phrase “including but not limited to” is a legal term. It’s not good use of the English language as this piece makes clear:
The only instance in which the phrase “includes but is not limited to” is acceptable is in a legal document* or a piece of writing that seeks to resemble one. Legal documents* are often intentionally and excessively redundant in their attempt to prevent every conceivable misreading of a passage. Because many people do believe that a list following the word include is exhaustive, lawyers must resort to redundancy to forestall even the remote possibility of a misinterpretation. In nearly every other professional context, however, we should avoid such phrases as “includes but is not limited to” and “including but not limited to.”
The purpose of the term, in other words, is to ensure no one interprets a phrase such as “well sites, well pads and access roads” to be the only place from which Scroggins is prohibited from entering upon. This prevents her from later insisting the Cabot offices in Dimock, for example, are just a fine place to hold a protest because they aren’t specifically listed. The same would apply to pipeline compressor sites or Cabot’s CNG fueling station, neither of which is specifically listed, but is obviously intended to be covered. It’s a standard approach, and one used all the time, as a consequence of the difficulty in being able to anticipate or think of everything at the time a list is compiled.
Courts, as well as most reasonable people, typically, and again out of necessity, apply a principle known as noscitur a sociis to such lists. It means comprehended, perceived, realized, recognized or understood from accompanying words. There is also another principle called ejusdem generis which is Latin for “of the same kind,” and is used to interpret phrases that list specific classes of things and then refer to them in general, which is the case with this injunction. The general statements, under this principle, only apply to the same kind of things specifically listed.
There are, to be fair, some court cases that interpret “including but not limited to” much more broadly in terms of what is covered, but that’s the case with every legal opinion; there’s always another saying the opposite. The point is simply this; only someone anxious to be a victim, someone desperate for attention and someone determined to demagogue an issue—someone like Vera Scroggins—would ever, under any circumstances, interpret this injunction to mean she is prohibited from visiting a hospital or grocery store because the land under those places is leased to a gas company.
Enabling of Fractivist Demagoguery – Some Examples
Yet, we see one sympathetic “journalist” after another willingly fall for the con as Vera and her allies spin the story with false outrage about having to go to courthouse and search leases to know what stores she can visit. It’s nothing less than bizarre and comes complete with the repeated pictures of Scroggins peering over her eyeglasses at courthouse records in what has to be the most transparently dishonest claims of victimhood since Washington Attorney Roy L. Pearson Jr. filed a $65 million lawsuit against his dry cleaner for losing a pair of his pants.
The narrative is a deliberately chosen one that bears no resemblance to reality. Its a joke. It is 100% pure unadulterated demagoguery and it’s practiced by fractivists and their indulgent friends in many media quarters. These reporters, writers and bloggers are the fractivist enablers. One even suggested it was an “injunction against the first amendment” or free speech issue, as if anyone has a right to trespass on someone else’s property to make their speeches. Here are a few examples of the headlines written since the injunction was granted, headlines from media outlets that know better but buy the scam because they like the scam:
The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 sq miles of Pennsylvania; Court injunction brought in by oil and gas company makes even supermarkets off-limits for Vera Scroggins – The Guardian
A Fracking Company Got This Woman Banned From Her Grocery Store
And the local hospital, and her bank, and 312.5 square miles where the company has drilling rights – Mother Jones (partially funded by the Schmidt Family Foundation, owners of Google)
Fracking Company Gets 63 Year Old Eco-activist Banned from Her Hospital
Anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins is barred from 312.5 square miles of Pennsylvania that includes a county hospital, supermarkets, drug stores, restaurants and other locations she regularly visited before clashing with local authorities – Voice of Russia
If Vera Scroggins has her way, of course, we’ll see more of this on Monday because I’m hearing she’s planning to hold a news conference, pack the courtroom with her New York allies, do more spinning and turn the whole thing into a protest for the benefit of fractivist complaint media. What she won’t have one thing, though, and that’s local support because her neighbors know who she is and it ain’t pretty.