NIMBY – ‘Not In My Back Yard’
Why I was called it: Because I have chosen to exercise my democratic right to protest about the current governments Badgery’s Creek airport proposal.
What the insult implies: That I am only protesting because it is happening over my backyard and that I just don’t want my happy little life to change. That I probably haven’t really thought much further or deeper about this issue than how it will affect me and that I am probably just someone who is scared or nervous of change OR a romantic OR a daydreamer OR an idealist OR just not generally ‘with the program’.
That is a ‘how to argue effectively’ triangle. Calling someone a NIMBY or sticking your finger up while driving quickly by sits in that pinky zone right at the bottom.
On this triangle the bottom is where you don’t want to be. The bottom pink rung of the ladder is where you are if your argument is not really an argument at all, it is more of a reaction – similar to what you might expect from a toddler who has just been deprived of their lolly pop.
The next rung of the ladder is where you guys start calling me a ‘tree hugging hippy’ or shouting ‘get a job / shouldn’t you be working instead of out here costing us money and holding up progress’ or ‘you are so ugly and have terrible hair’ – all comments that were written about ‘me’ (as a protestor) on social media underneath the news story. This layer also lacks intellectual rigour and wouldn’t stand up in court. In terms of the evolution of human reasoning I’d put this layer at somewhere between age 9-11. Playground politics, the type that has you and your mates standing in front of the teacher’s desk for calling Tim a ‘dirty little smell bag’ because he didn’t let you have a turn with his football.
We can stop here and reflect for a moment on where we have seen both of these approaches to an argument before. Tabloid news services tend to use these approaches to get us fired up as that sells papers. The tabloid press has been treating us like primary and pre-schoolers for so long now that it seems pretty normal to many people, even though we should know better.
The yellow and green layer are where you find the average political dog fight especially when the politician is caught off guard and asked a question about something that the opposition has just announced. The general idea is to make out that whatever it is a bad idea while buying yourself enough time to move away and find out for real if it is or not. I guess this is early teenage stuff, react and act out first then go home and reflect over a big bowl of ice cream and some loud music.
My own personal reasons for protesting the Badgery’s creek airport sit in the layers above this. Blue, purple and grey. I have spent many hours pouring over the airport Environmental Impact Statement, found errors contained within it and built arguments around those points. I have only been able to find errors in the EIS by taking the time to pull apart each and every detail contained within, to qualify the ‘facts’ given, compare this airport and its proposal with airports and proposals from all around the world. I’ve read reams of data and studied the virtual skies above airports all down the USA west coast, profiled several airports in the UK and Europe, looked at Dubai, Hong Kong, JFK (New York) and more besides. I’ve spent time attending meetings with professionals who have backgrounds in environmental pollution monitoring, noise profiling, public health, education, alternative transport systems, jobs growth and so much more.
In terms of getting a job I have one, I have a company and am a Director of that. While I have spent many working hours on my airport research I have also spent many hours outside of 9-5 either catching up on work or researching so that I can keep my working week free.
I know what it is like to drive past a protest and think ‘look at them, they have no hope, nobody will listen, they are just a bunch of people who are wasting their time’ because I’ve been there and done that myself. It is easy to be judgemental, it comes naturally and is probably something we are all guilty of at times and as such I don’t judge or get disheartened by the NIMBY comments. Well, not until they come out of the mouthes of those that should know better – our elected representatives.
When our politicians start to dismiss legitimate concerns and well thought out objections to their plans with name calling and Ad-Hominem you know that Democracy is in danger and when democracy is in danger I think the only just thing to do is fight.