This is cross-posted from Climate-Skeptic, but it is very much in the spirit of the Canadian tribunals and University speech codes. There are increasing efforts, mainly on the left, to make the world a better place by limiting speech of those who don't agree with them.
preparing a paper for an upcoming conference on this, so please comment
if you can! Thanks. Many people have urged for there to be some legal
or moral consequence for denying climate change. This urge generally
comes from a number of places. Foremost is the belief that the science
of anthropogenic climate change is proven beyond reasonable doubt and
that climate change is an ethical issue. Those quotes from Mahorasy's
blog are interesting. I'll include one here:
there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a
crime against humanity, after all. "“Margo Kingston, 21 November 2005
urge also comes from frustration with a "˜denial' lobby: the furthest
and more extreme talkers on the subject who call global warming a
"˜hoax' (following James Inhofe's now infamous quote). Of course there
would be frustration with this position"“a "˜hoax' is purposeful and
immoral. And those who either conduct the science or trust the science
do not enjoy being told they are perpetrating a "˜hoax', generating a myth, or committing a fraud....
I'm an advocate for something stronger. Call it regulation, law, or
influence. Whatever name we give it, it should not be seen as
regulation vs. freedom, but as a balancing of different freedoms. In
the same way that to enjoy the freedom of a car you need insurance to
protect the freedom of other drivers and pedestrians; in the same way
that you enjoy the freedom to publish your views, you need a regulatory
code to ensure the freedoms of those who can either disagree with or
disprove your views. Either way. While I dislike Brendan O'Neill and
know he's wrong, I can't stop him. But we need a body with teeth to be
able to say, "actually Brendan, you can't publish that unless you can
prove it." A body which can also say to me, and to James Hansen, and to
the IPCC, the same....
What do you think? Perhaps a starting point is a draft point in the
codes for governing how the media represent climate change, and a
method for enforcing that code. And that code needs to extend out to
cover new media, including blogs. And perhaps taking a lesson from the Obama campaign's micro-response strategy:
a team empowered with responding to complaints specifically dealing
with online inaccuracy, to which all press and blogs have to respond.
And so whatever Jennifer Mahorasy, or Wattsupwiththat, or Tom Nelson, or Climate Sceptic, or OnEarth, or La Marguerite, or the Sans Pretence, or DeSmog Blog, or Monckton or me, say, then we're all bound by the same freedoms of publishing.
He asked for comments. I really did not have much energy to refute something so wrong-headed, but I left a few thoughts:
as proprietor of Climate-Skeptic.com, I am sure flattered to be listed
as one of the first up against the wall come the great green-fascist
revolution. I found it particularly ironic that you linked my post
skewering a climate alarmist for claiming that heavier objects fall
faster than lighter objects. Gee, I thought the fact that objects of
different masses fall at the same rate had been "settled science" since
the late 1500s.
But I don't think you need a lecture on science, you need
a lecture on civics. Everyone always wants free speech for
themselves. The tough part is to support free speech for others, even
if they are horribly, terribly wrong-headed. That is the miracle of
the first amendment, that we have stuck by this principle for over 200
You see, technocrats like yourself are always assuming the
perfect government official with perfect knowledge and perfect
incentives to administer your little censorship body. But the fact is,
such groups are populated with real people, and eventually, the odds
are they will be populated by knaves. And even if folks are
well-intentioned, incentives kill such government efforts every time.
What if, for example, your speech regulation bureaucrats felt that
their job security depended on a continued climate crisis, and evidence
of no crisis might cause their job to go away? Would they really be
unbiased with such an incentive?
Here is a parallel example to consider. It strikes me
that the laws of economics are better understood than the activity of
greenhouse gasses. I wonder if the author would support limits on
speech for supporters of such things like minimum wages and trade
protectionism that economists routinely say make no sense in the
science of economics. Should Barack Obama be enjoined from discussing
his gasoline rebate plan because most all economists say that it won't
work the way he says? There is an economist consensus, should that be
enough to silence Obama?
Update: His proposed system is sort of a government mandated peer-review backed with prison terms. For some reason, climate science is obsessed with peer review. A few thoughts:
At best, peer review is a screen for whether a study is worthy of occupying
limited publication space, not for whether it is correct. Peer review, again at
best, focuses on whether a study has some minimum level of rigor and coherence
and whether it offers up findings that are new or somehow advance the ball on an
boy sciences" like physics, study findings are not considered vetted simply
because they are peer-reviewed. They are vetted only after numerous other
scientists have been able to replicate the results, or have at least failed to
tear the original results down.