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Word games

Posted: Sunday, June 01, 2003

I guess it all depends on how you define "pristine."

Here are two of the most widely accepted choices:

1. Remaining in a pure state; uncorrupted by civilization.

2. Remaining free from dirt or decay; clean: pristine mountain snow.

Groups organized to stop all meaningful economic activity have adopted a third definition and we are letting them get away with it. Their definition is more illusory. They have turned the word pristine into their mantra, teaching children a meaning for which the word was never intended. While their deification of the adjective gives it a stronger meaning in the minds of the faithful, we need to better understand the truth behind this deification.

If pristine means remaining in a pure state, uncorrupted by human civilization, then what do the etymologists mean by uncorrupted? Again, the most accepted definition of corrupt is "marked by immorality and perversion; depraved. A secondary definition is "to become rotten; spoil. One could conclude from this argument that achieving a pristine state would be very difficult, if not impossible. That is, of course, if you don't ignore the natural cycle of life on this earth where living things die, then rot and decay away.

This is where the organized groups depart from reality. It is their belief that the natural dying and decaying of life taking place on the land and in the waterways of our region is somehow different from any human impacts. Rotting carcasses of sea lions and other mammals lying on the beaches above high-tide lines create no impact. Scraps of left-over meals from humans tossed overboard do create an impact. Animal feces and human feces, both from mammals, are separate and distinct. One is trouble, the other is not. Human waste is verboten, somehow in their twisted view, animal waste is not.

I don't think the organized groups against human development can have it both ways. If they want to keep deifying the adjective "pristine," then they have to be honest with the public. All living things create an impact on our environment making a pristine state virtually impossible. You cannot separate humans from other living things and claim that human activity is despicable while all other activity is sacrosanct.

I think it is time we took the adjective pristine away from them. Let those groups who would stop all meaningful economic activity come up with a more accurate word to carry their fight against us. Maybe their new mantra could be "Stop economic prosperity. It is bad for us." At least that would more accurately define their point of view.

Dave Fremming

Juneau



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