Polarization isn't new to our discourse, nor is it likely to vanish soon. But the red herring is alive and well and, frankly, making a whopping comeback.

Among those who called or emailed yesterday was one S. Brinchman, who directed me to the organization she leads, smartmeterdangers.org. Meanwhile, in an anxious voice, Brinchman barraged me for 20 minutes with a litany of maladies being suffered by the citizenry, from grand mal seizures in children to heart attacks in 30-somethings and far worse.

So I assured her I'd check her website and asked for a link to evidence that electromagnetic frequencies were being used as weapons by the police and the military to subdue opponents, as she claimed. (This led me to involuntarily recall that the U.S. government in fact used Barry Manilow records at ear-shattering volumes to flush Col. Manuel Noriega out of hiding in Panama in 1989. So, obviously, you want to maintain an open mind. If our government would do something so cruel and inhuman, what is it not capable of?)

So I dialed up smartmeterdangers.org, which led me to electrosmogprevention.org, which led me to whyfry.org, which led me to citizensforsafetechnology.org, which led me to stopsmartmeters.org, which led me to emfsafetynetwork.org. The Center for Electrosmog Prevention provided links to the "American Coalition Against Smart Meters" and "Southern Californians Against Smart Meters." (I didn't include whyfry.org's link because my computer warned me: "This site may harm your computer.")

Citizens for Safe Technology offers articles that, among many, refer to BC Hydro as "an invasion force taking control over a country which does not belong to them and imposing their desires on the victims of the invasion" while another asks "is Steve  Jobs' death an early predictor of what will happen to millions of intelligent citizens who have become hopelessly hooked on wireless technologies?"

Somewhere, buried in all that, I suspected there might be a reason that utilities may want to engage their customers.

"Edison installed a new smart meter yesterday," a first-person account begins on emfsafetynetwork.org's website. "I did not sleep last night.

"There is something going on in my head and body," the writer continued. "I have ringing in my ears at a very high pitch. Like a dog whistle or crystal in some electronic device whistling. It is creating some sort of electric waves from my ear to my body that is very uncomfortable. It is making me sick."

Under "Tampering Defined," the organization asked an environmental attorney for a professional reading of what acts constitute tampering and whether a homeowner who removes an interval meter and replaces it with an analog meter is guilty of tampering.

"The replacement of a SmartMeter with an analog meter should not constitute illegal tampering unless it is done with the intent to prevent the device from accurately measuring electrical use. Although the disconnection of the SmartMeter prevents it from recording electrical use, if such disconnection is not done with the intent to get lower electrical rates and a working analog meter that accurately records electrical use replaces the SmartMeter, the resident should be clear of any charges of tampering."

There's not much on the Center for Electrosmog Prevention site on cell phones, microwave  ovens, radio towers and the like, but it does offer a video on "The Dark Side of 'Smart' Meters," which explains the many ways that a smart meter can spy on you. How that relates to electrosmog, I'm not sure.

While it's tempting to write off this movement based on its hysterical and hyperbolic tone, its paranoid stance, its outlandish claims, its inconsistencies, its requests for donations, if I had to dispense free advice I'd venture to say that utilities might want to engage their customers.

Call me crazy.

Phil Carson
Editor-in-chief
Intelligent Utility Daily
pcarson@energycentral.com
303-228-4757