Windmills of Cuttyhunk Island

December 11, 2009

By Rebecca Ballard

David Abel recently covered the latest development in wind energy debates in New England with his article On Cuttyhunk Island, it’s yes in my backyard.

What I found most interesting of this article was that by simple juxtaposing the opposing viewpoints (when coming from the two different islands), Abel managed to make the residents of the Vineyard who opposed the windmills look like fairly arrogant, self-centered people.

He simply quotes what the two sides say, and describes their situations, however, so really, they do it to themselves. As the reader reads, they are first introduced to the residents of the Vineyard who are for the windmills–while grudgingly admitting it will ruin their view (“they can live with a windfarm”) they also acknowledge that wind energy is necessary and will be beneficial.

Next the reader is introduced to those on the Vineyard who oppose the wind farms. A woman named Barbara Basset states, “If you are successful in barging ahead with this project, you will have managed to destroy one of the few beautiful places left in Massachusetts. Certainly you can find a more appropriate place to locate this project.”

Directly before this statement, a Vineyard resident who is for the windmills has said that while they would prefer not to look at them, they understand that you can’t simply say “not in my backyard” because that just puts it in someone else’s. The quotes in this order make Barbara look self centered because she has just essentially said “let someone else deal with it.”

Finally, the reader meets the residents of Cuttyhunk and learns that could sorely use the financial benefits of a wind farm. When one man states that many Cuttyhunk residents can’t even afford to turn on their air conditioning or heat, this implies that residents of the Vineyard who are against the windmills are so selfish that they would rather “preserve” their view and deprive the Cuttyhunk residents of basic comforts, than have the wind farm.

Personally, I liked the way this article was written, because I think my merely stating the facts, the reader is able to get to the truth of the matter. While I have written that the order leads the reader along in this direction, I believe that ordered another way, similar conclusions could still be deduced, just possibly less efficiently. But maybe that’s just how I read it.

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