Instructions to ALL media

Author: Barrett Rainey


TO: All Media

CC: Everybody else

SUBJ: Spills

Henceforth, when referring to the cataclysmic amount of oil wreaking long-term ruin on our shores of the Gulf of Mexico, stop … repeat … STOP referring to the event as a “spill.”

“Spill” is a word you use when someone knocks over your glass of milk. Or when tea sloshes out of the cup and stains your pants. “Spill” is the apt description when the stack of oranges at the grocery store suddenly rolls to the floor.

The proper term for what’s happening in the Gulf is “blowout.” If what is happening a mile below the water’s surface were on dry land, there would be a plume of oil rising into the air to shower everything around it. If you went to the movies in about 1946, you’d see Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable being drenched in falling oil from their new gusher in Oklahoma. Blowout.

“Spill” trivializes the destruction we are witnessing; destruction caused more by human greed and avarice, regulatory failure and unnecessary risk than any geologic action. Aside from being technically the wrong word in the first place, it fails to capture the event it is meant to describe; the holocaust of crude that is changing a good part of the American experience forever.

There is no apt use for the word “spill” in connection with this story.

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