From the publisher...

A.S. Waterman

May 2009

Cover-Ups Uncovered

As I write this, I'm watching a Courier-Journal news page ( update every few seconds. The reader comments to the story about the first Kentucky case of swine flu, or at least the first one to be officially acknowledged — a story that was quickly removed from the C-J home page, by the way — attest to several commenters' first-hand knowledge of cases in Louisville as of today (April 30) — cases that are being covered up so as not to jeopardize Derby. Some of the postings are obvious forgeries, written to enlarge the "nut job" quotient and discredit other postings. Others contain legitimate information, now largely buried in the mix. By the time most of you read this editorial, the truth may be known ... well, probably not.1 In any case, whatever the truth may be, a cover-up is never justified. No one has the right to decide what people have the right to know.

There are precedents in many safety-related fields. For example, Southwest Airlines got away with flying improperly maintained aircraft for more than a year, with full knowledge of the Federal Aviation Administration but not the traveling public. And we now know that the FAA covered up data on bird strikes until April of this year, after the Miracle on the Hudson made people aware of them. That data shows that more than 89,000 bird strikes on aircraft have occurred since 1990. If the government and the media can keep a number like that under wraps, what couldn't they? What wouldn't they?

Dollars before people. Special interests before public safety. Hardly a surprise. What stuns me is that no one seems to care enough to do anything about it.

Hype or reality, the swine flu health scare could be the final nail in the coffin of many struggling arts groups, who have already suffered from the downturn in the economy and the resultant drop in donations and ticket sales. Restaurants, movie houses and retail stores are casualties also, as people simply stay home.

Our theatre groups' defenses against this onslaught are non-existent. Yet our infinite resourcefulness, as theatre people, can save us. Let's gather our forces and ride this out, trying our best not to get discouraged. And let's continue to take to the stage, even if chairs are empty.

If we refuse to let ourselves be silenced, then we won't, and the curtains will rise again.

— A.S. Waterman

1 Updated May 11, 2009: Confirmed cases of swine flu in Louisville were indeed announced during the week following Derby.

Copyright © 2009 A.S. Waterman. All rights reserved.





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