Only You Can Prevent Faucet Fires


| 5/7/2013 3:04:03 PM


Tags: Fracking, Smokey the Bear, Activism, Forest Service, National Parks, Culture Jamming, Copyright, Waging Nonviolence, Peter Rugh.,

Will-Get-Arrested-To-Prevent-Fracking 

After a modified, anti-fracking Smokey the Bear went viral, the U.S. Forest Service threatened legal action against the activist who created it. The case now revolves around fair use, culture jamming, and just whose side the Forest Service is really on.  

This article originally appeared at Waging Nonviolence.

Smokey the Bear thought he smelled a fire in the woods. But as he approached the clearing and saw a giant derrick jutting out into the sky, he realized that what his nose had picked up was the scent of hydrocarbons. It was another piece of evidence that the increasingly widespread method of oil and gas extraction known as fracking was poisoning the environment that he and his human friends depend on. He decided something must be done.

At least that’s the way that artist, Occupy Wall Street veteran and environmental activist Lopi LaRoe sees it. But last week she received a letter threatening her with jail time and thousands of dollars in fines for enlisting Smokey to the anti-fracking cause.

In the fall, LaRoe created an image of Smokey that altered his famous invective “Only you can prevent forest fires” to “Only you can prevent faucet fires” — a reference to the phenomenon of flaming taps that occasionally occur near where fracking takes place. The adjustment seemed to her in line with the message of conservation Smokey has come to embody.