Letter to the Editor of Planet Jackson Hole RE: Best Activist, Worst Paper

Our community was diminished by Planet Jackson Hole’s decision to deny its readers the opportunity to vote for “Best Activist” and “Best Politician That Doesn’t Hold an Office” in the 2015 reader’s choice awards.  These crucial categories have been part of the annual online polls since 2009, but they don’t exist anymore.  As a member of the community, I find this change disappointing and hope that the Planet doesn’t make the same mistake again next year.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that one man — the Planet’s prolific Jake Nichols — got to decide unilaterally who Jackson’s “Best Activist” is.  “Editor’s Choice” is fine for funny categories like “Best Use of Arugula” and “Best Schmoozer”, but “Best Activist” is serious and deserves our capable community’s consideration for obvious reasons.

People here are well educated and care about a variety of important issues.  Let us decide for ourselves.

The problem with letting one person decide “Best Activist” is that their personal biases can obscure the truth, and Jake’s *unique* opinions do not reflect the community as a whole.  For example, in the same edition of PJH where Jake declares our “Best Activist”, he also speaks in favor of the police state and informs us that Americans’, “right to privacy went out the window a long time ago” (in his opinion).  He portrays activists opposed to ever-increasing corporate and government surveillance as “screeching conspiracy theorists” and ridicules George Orwell’s prophetic masterpiece 1984.  He reminds us that Big Brother is watching us, and encourages us to not do a damn thing about it.

Activists campaign for social change.  Jake Nichols “gives props” to corporate and government utilization of advanced technology to monitor us, manipulate our fears, and force our compliance.  That doesn’t sound like community consensus to me.  That sounds like technofascism: the merger of state, corporate, and technological power at the expense of freedom and democracy.

As a local activist and political underdog who was recently labelled a “conspiracy theorist” and “chicken little” by Jake Nichols in the PJH cover story “The Sky Is Falling: Jet Contrails Clouded by Conspiracy Theories“, I find him especially unqualified to decide what issues are important to our community and what citizens are doing a good job addressing those issues.

A person who ridicules free thinkers and fails to even acknowledge the existence of widespread, systemic corruption and criminal activity (aka conspiracies) doesn’t understand the world well enough to decide who Jackson Hole’s best activist is.  We as a community are better than that.

On a slightly less serious note, Jackson’s “Best Mountain Guide” shouldn’t be decided unilaterally by an unqualified “Editor’s Choice” either.  There are dozens of world class mountaineers with decades of experience in this valley, and bestowing the honor on a first year Exum Guide for the stated reason that he’s friends with a Planet Reporter is childishly flippant.

It’s an insult to the climbing community to make a mockery of such a distinguished honor.  If the community had been allowed to decide “Best Mountain Guide” I imagine Tom Turiano would be close to the top of the list for his decades of professional guiding, notable achievements, and the recent release of his most impressive guidebook to date.

Instead, “Jackson Hole’s Alternative Voice” made a joke of another thing many of us take quite seriously.  If we readers can’t take The Planet seriously, how much longer will their advertisers take them seriously?  Your guess is as good as mine.

— Max Mogren 3/30/2015

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