Updated – BREAKING: New fracking ban in U.S.

scratching head

This is breaking news:

There is a new ban on fracking in the United States!

I just received the following comment on my blog post Who put the “k” in fracking? The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the fracking truth.

October 17, 2012 at 9:35 am

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Brett Mickelson
To: kim feil ; registration@stamfordadvocate.com
Sent: Wed, October 17, 2012 9:05:47 AM
Subject: Re: so fracking is a word not allowed in your comments? Re: [StamfordAdvocate.com] Please activate your new account

Hi Kim,

Sadly, many of our users attempt to exploit a perfectly legitimate word as a replacement for it’s more vulgar cousin. As a result, we have been forced to block its usage. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I hope you understand.

Brett Mickelson
Executive Producer
Hearst Connecticut Media Group

In order to understand the impacts of this latest fracking ban, we must first understand the definition of fracking.

Macmillan Dictionary defines fracking as “a method of mining in which cracks are created in a type of rock called shale in order to obtain gas, oil, or other substances that are inside it.”

Oxford Dictionary defines fracking as “another term for hydraulic fracturing.”

Um… not getting it. It certainly sounds like a mining method that needs close scrutiny, heavy regulation and one that should not expand to any new areas but I’m not understanding the reason for this latest ban.

Maybe it’s exploit!

Merriam Webster – : deedactespecially : a notable or heroic act.

Nope, that can’t be it.

It must be “its more vulgar cousin.” But, who is this cousin? Could it be the grammatically incorrect “fraccing” or “fracing?” Nope, I was unable to find a dictionary definition of either word and Google searches kept changing my search terms to “fracking.”

Seeking an answer to the cause of this latest ban, I went directly to the source Brett Mickelson, Executive Producer, Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

How can this be true? Even our president uses the word fracking. It is used in mainstream media worldwide and even in scientific reports.

Please confirm that your paper is or is not censoring comments if they include the word fracking.  If you do censor comments for using the word fracking, please provide an explanation.

His reply:

Hey Sharon,
I totally understand the concern.  I wish a certain segment of our audience was mature enough to be trusted with words that bear a vague resemblance to a less savory vocabulary, but that isn’t the world in which we live.

There is nothing unsettling about the word “fracking,” and it is an important issue in current events.  That doesn’t stop others from using the term inappropriately in an entirely different context.Thank you for your understanding.
Brett Mickelson
Executive Producer
Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Here is what I understand, Mr. Mickelson: Fracking is a real word. It is used by real–often angry–people to describe impacts to their vital natural resources, health and long-term well-being. It is used by the Government of the United States, by our president and by other elected officials. It is used by scientists in their scientific reports. It is even used by industry.

Banning all comments using the word fracking effectively prevents a large segment of the populace from exercising their First Amendment right sharing their direct experience with this risky process. (brainy types pointed out that our 1st Amendment rights do not extend to a paper owned by someone else. Long live free speech!) That is convenient for industry.

In the interest of upping the level of maturity in the general public, will Hearst Media Group also be banning additional vulgar cousins: dang, son-of-a-gun, and shoot fire? What about vulgar cousins of body parts? Will you ban all commenters from the user name Dick?

Mr. Mickelson, don’t thank me for understanding because I don’t.

Subtitle: Hearst Media Group Bans Fracking.

New information update: Do as I say, not as I do. Thanks to Dory.

Hearst Newspapers owns 15 daily newspapers, including Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Albany Times Union and San Antonio Express-News.  Scroll down to the bottom of the pages at the links below, it will say “© 2012 Hearst Communications Inc., Hears Connecticut Media Group, a division of Hearst Newspapers.”

Update:  As Jim Romenesko points out, fracking is in the urban dictionary. I voted for usage #3 because I’m immature that way.  So honored to be mentioned by Romenesko.

This was also picked up by Grist and Capitol Tonight.

Update 2: Hat tip to commenter Scott for this video of children abusing a vulgar cousin.

Update 3, Hearst responds:

It was a technical issue tied to anti-profanity screening. It has been fixed to allow the word “fracking” to appear in our comments section. It was never a policy here or elsewhere at Hearst.
Thank you.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. says

    You’ll just have to talk about it the long way – injection of waste water with surfactants and other chemicals, some unknown, into the Earth’s crust to release deposits of natural gas. Or is releasing of gas now banned by Hearst?

  2. says

    I wonder if Hearst Media Group has any money in fracking operations/frack corporations/frack industry suppliers/frack leases?

    If Hearst thinks some of their readers/posters are using the term inappropriately, why don’t they ban them rather than all usage of the word frack? And, Mr. Mickelson, puhleeze don’t give us that tired line about how much staff time it would take to patrol the comments section. Obviously even you, a big kahuna, have the time to patrol.

  3. Pat Hansard says

    My argument would be which term is more vulgar….I think the one we are all avoiding here is one heck of a lot less vulgar than fracking…but that’s just me…

  4. Dory Hippauf says

    I agree that fracking is obscene. Fracking is obscene by what it does to air, water, the land, people’s lives and communities.

    Are we now to refer to fracking as “that which must not be named” or as “you know what”?

    As Hearst Media Group must be aware, the Natural Gas industry spends gazillion of dollars to buy legislators and to write the legislation which promotes the process.

    Perhaps Hearst Media Group needs to take it’s head out of it’s “you know where” and start doing some real investigative reporting instead of acting as a stenographer for the perpetrators of “that which must not be named”

  5. pnast says

    here in CA, Robert Nast wanted “no frack” for his personalized license plate … the state refused the request … go figure?

  6. dick says

    Looks like I’m screwed. Or should I say: It looks like Hearst Group but their “you know what” in my “down there”?

  7. Jill wiener says

    If only the deciders at Hearst had the power to ban the truly vulgar process of fracking we would all be a lot safer.

  8. Tim Ruggiero says

    Ironically, it was the frackers who invented the word. Whether certain media or Industry is now offended by the use of the word because of its negative connotation or not, we’ll that’s just too damn frackin bad-it’s part of the lexicon now and it isn’t going to change.

    If any of you frackin frackers have a frackin problem with that, well, go frack yourself. You’ve fracked us over we’ll enough.

  9. bigyaz says

    So do they ban freaking, farking, forking, f***ing, f@#$ing, etc.? How about every other word used as substitutes for “vulgar” terms (shoot, gosh, darn…).

    I don’t think young Mr. Mickelson has thought this one through. (I also don’t think he understands the usage of its vs. it’s, but that’s another issue.)

  10. Anonymous says

    I’ll bet that if this media group up north had the GASHOLES drill through their living room, they would have a different idea!!!!

  11. Mike Knapp says

    Is there nothing that you people can’t feign outrage over? Or work into some convoluted conspiracy theory?

    I mean seriously, do you realize how you guys look to NORMAL people?

    • says

      Dear Mr. Knapp:

      It has come to my attention that you took a photo of me off my blog without permission and posted it on your blog. That photo was taken by a friend with my camera and I did not give you permission to use it. I demand that you take that photo down.

      You used the photo in a blog post where you make libelous and injurious statements about me.