Category Archive 'Threats to Liberty'
05 Jan 2009
They got the idea from Brussels.
The Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.
The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.
The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.
Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging.
Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.
A remote search can be granted if a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime — defined as any offence attracting a jail sentence of more than three years. ...
Richard Clayton, a researcher at Cambridge University’s computer laboratory, said that remote searches had been possible since 1994, although they were very rare. An amendment to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking legal if it was authorised and carried out by the state.
He said the authorities could break into a suspect’s home or office and insert a “key-logging” device into an individual’s computer. This would collect and, if necessary, transmit details of all the suspect’s keystrokes. “It’s just like putting a secret camera in someone’s living room,” he said.
Police might also send an e-mail to a suspect’s computer. The message would include an attachment that contained a virus or “malware”. If the attachment was opened, the remote search facility would be covertly activated. Alternatively, police could park outside a suspect’s home and hack into his or her hard drive using the wireless network.
Police say that such methods are necessary to investigate suspects who use cyberspace to carry out crimes. These include paedophiles, internet fraudsters, identity thieves and terrorists.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said such intrusive surveillance was closely regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. A spokesman said police were already carrying out a small number of these operations which were among 194 clandestine searches last year of people’s homes, offices and hotel bedrooms.
“To be a valid authorisation, the officer giving it must believe that when it is given it is necessary to prevent or detect serious crime and [the] action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve,” Acpo said.
Residents of Britain live under a legal regime that arrests people for carrying pen knives, for hunting with hounds, and for politically incorrect speech, and which watches its own citizens’ daily activities via 4.2 million CCTV cameras (one for every 14 people). The current British idea of what exactly is a “serious crime” is not likely to provide much protection for individual liberty or privacy.
27 Jun 2008
John Hawkins points to Berkeley, to Canada (where Mark Steyn is on trial), and to Europe as examples of just where we are going to wind up if our liberal friends have their way.
The liberal agenda (today) is, in many respects, the same as it was in the thirties. Whether you call it communism, fascism, socialism, liberalism, or progressivism, the only real difference is how much they believe they can get away with, the way they sell it to people, and the latest trendy name for what they believe.
So, once the liberals pick a policy from their stale program to push, the next step is to get it implemented. This is where liberals have problems because whether a policy makes sense, is practical, or actually improves people’s lives is of secondary importance to them. What is important to liberals is whether supporting or opposing that policy makes them feel good about themselves.
This is why liberals continue to support dysfunctional policies that have been failing miserably for decades and why they often oppose common sense programs that have been proven to work time and time again—because it isn’t about whether it works or not, it’s about how it makes them feel.
In other words, a liberal will almost always prefer a policy that’s extremely expensive, is difficult to implement, helps almost no one, but seems “nice”—to a policy that is cheap, simple to implement, extremely effective, and seems “mean.”
However, since most Americans make decisions about policies based on whether or not they believe the policy makes people’s lives better or worse, liberals have had to become habitually dishonest about what they believe and want to do to get their ideas put into action. ...
Even though this is a center-right country, we do have political cycles and there are times when those cycles favor the Left. When that happens and the Lefties start to get a bit more confident, usually a few liberals at the edges will start talking about what they want to do. At that early point, most other liberals will still vehemently deny their ideological goals to the public out of fear that it will prevent them from getting into power.
However, when the Left gains enough strength to be capable of getting one of the policies they favor implemented, all the liberals who previously denied that they supported it will unapologetically shift on a dime and vote for it en masse—while they rely on their ideological allies in the media and the fact that many Americans are ill informed about politics to cover their tracks.
So, if you want to know what liberals want to do, their words mean absolutely nothing because lying about their agenda has become as natural to them as chasing a cat is to a dog.
Instead, what you have to do is watch what other liberals have done when they have come into power. Look at Canada, where conservatives are being put on trial for hate crimes because they’ve dared to criticize Muslims. Look at European countries, where they have socialistic economies, sky high tax rates, rigid speech codes, and overweening nannystates. You can even look at liberal enclaves in the United States like Berkeley and San Francisco, where members of the military are treated like pariahs and they boo the national anthem.
If you believe the liberals in Berkeley, France, Canada or for that matter in the bowels of the Daily Kos or Huffington Post, are significantly different than, say Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, you are kidding yourself. The only differences are in what they think they can get away with and how honest they are willing to be about their agenda.
28 May 2008
In Washington to promote the newly-published English-language translation of his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles: What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom, Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus wants to debate Albert Gore on Global Warming.
Klaus, an economist, said he opposed the “climate alarmism” perpetuated by environmentalism trying to impose their ideals, comparing it to the decades of communist rule he experienced growing up in Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia.
“Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality,” he said.
“In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat – this time, in the name of the planet,” he added.
Klaus said a free market should be used to address environmental concerns and said he oppposed as unrealistic regulations or greenhouse gas capping systems designed to reduce the impact of climate change.
“It could be even true that we are now at a stage where mere facts, reason and truths are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda,” he said.
Mr. Klaus’ statement can be read in full at his web-site here.
02 Jan 2008
Neal Boortz has some choice words for the left.
Sorry, I’m not in the mood for all of this Happy New Year nonsense. This is getting to be about as phony as the 4th of July. (Freedom … right. Like the people of this country are still in love with the idea of liberty.) This is 2008. This is an election year. We’re choosing a new House of Representatives, about one-third of the Senate and a president. This is not the type of New Year you launch with the traditional expressions of optimism. We’re in trouble. An election is coming in 11 months and millions of parasites, led by single females, are getting ready to accelerate the destruction of the concepts of individuality, private property rights, self-reliance, and this very country by putting a hideous, power-hungry, big-government socialist into the White House.
I think I’ve made a bit of a mistake over the past few months. Trying to be a bit to nice to the people I think are destroying this country. I’ve been trying to cut them some slack .. be a little understanding. You know, the compassion thing. Well, something must have clicked during the last two weeks off. No more free passes. Identify the leeches. Call them out. They’re destroying the greatest system of governance this world has ever known, and they should not be allowed to go unchallenged.
If you squandered every opportunity for an education to end up an unemployable semi-literate loser, that’s your problem, not mine. If you’ve destroyed your health with cigarettes and fast food … then by what right do you demand that people who lived their lives more responsibly than you cover the cost of your medical care. You cry about your “right” to health care. You dare to claim a right to the services of another human being to correct problems you created for yourself? Further, if it is more important for you to spend your money on a cell phone, flat-screen televisions, the best new car, meals at expensive restaurants and fancy vacations than it is to spend your money on a health insurance policy .. then you should be on your own. Don’t beg the government to steal from someone else so that you don’t have to change your lifestyle.
24 May 2007
They evidently were handing out anti-Gay fliers near their high school. Apparently, expressing negative opinions about homosexuality is a felony in Illinois.
Windy City Times, 5/23:
Two female 16-year-old Crystal Lake South High School students face hate-crime charges after allegedly plastering their high school’s halls and distributing anti-gay fliers directed towards a fellow student in the school’s parking lot.
The actions against their former male friend landed the two girls in juvenile court on May 15, after being arrested by Crystal Lake police on May 11. Both, unnamed due to their ages, also face charges of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct, and one teen faces an additional charge of resisting a police officer.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi told Windy City Times that despite arguments being made by many locals about the right to free speech, what the two girls did is clearly a hate crime.
“They had the intent to alarm and disturb another, and they were successful in that,” Bianchi said. “In alarming and disturbing, they also committed a hate crime. Their words … were directed against a specific individual of a certain sexual orientation.”
Bianchi would not comment on the exact wording of the flier because it is evidence. However, other sources quote those who have viewed the flier as containing a picture of the male student kissing another male, with the wording “God hates fags.”
A status hearing for both girls will take place on May 22.
Following the May 22 hearing, one girl is being held without bond.
A 16-year-old Crystal Lake girl facing a felony hate crime charge alleging she and a friend distributed anti-homosexual fliers at her high school must remain locked up until her case goes to trial, a McHenry County judge ruled Tuesday.
Citing concerns over the girl’s home environment and her already lengthy juvenile record, Judge Michael Chmiel denied the girl’s request for home detention. Instead Chmiel ordered her held in the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center while the case is pending.
The girl’s record, Chmiel said, features 13 contacts with police, including an arrest for marijuana possession in August. McHenry County court records show that within the past year the girl also has been charged for driving without a license, consumption of alcohol by a minor, possession of tobacco by a minor, trespassing and three curfew violations.
The incident occurred at Crystal Lake High School in Woodstock, Illinois.
The democrat-controlled Congress is currently moving to making “hate crimes” a federal offense.
18 Apr 2007
American politics is often pretty embarassing, but the EU’s obliviousness to the understanding of Liberty achieved by the Enlightenment in America, and its contemptible readiness to surrender the rights of its unfortunate citizens to political correctness, does make one proud to be an American.
Laws that make denying or trivialising the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences will be introduced across the European Union, according to a proposal expecting to win backing from ministers Thursday.
Offenders will face up to three years in jail under the proposed legislation, which will also apply to inciting violence against ethnic, religious or national groups.
Diplomats in Brussels voiced confidence on Tuesday that the controversial plan, which has been the subject of heated debate for six years, will be endorsed by member states. However, the Baltic countries and Poland are still holding out for an inclusion of “Stalinist crimes” alongside the Holocaust in the text – a move that is being resisted by the majority of other EU countries.
The latest draft, seen by the Financial Times, will make it mandatory for all Union member states to punish public incitement “to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin”.
They will also have to criminalise “publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” when such statements incite hatred or violence against minorities.
Diplomats stressed the provision had been carefully worded to include only denial of the Holocaust – the Nazi mass murder of Jews during the second world war – and the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
They also stressed that the wording was designed to avoid criminalising comical plays or films about the Holocaust such as the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni’s prize-winning Life is Beautiful . The text expressly upholds countries’ constitutional traditions relating to the freedom of expression.
Holocaust denial is already a criminal offence in several European countries, including Germany and Austria. It is not a specific crime in Britain, though UK officials said it could already be tackled under existing legislation.
In an attempt to assuage Turkish fears, several EU diplomats said the provisions would not penalise the denial of mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman troops in the aftermath of the 1915 collapse of the Ottoman empire. Turkey strongly rejects claims that this episode amounted to genocide.
07 Feb 2007
“Charlie Hebdo Must Be Veiled!”
Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly which was the only publication in France to reprint the Danish Mohammed cartoons, is appearing today before the Correctional Tribunal of Paris facing accusations by Islamic Organisations of France and the Grand Mosque of Paris that reprinting the cartoons was a violation of French laws prohibiting politically incorrect expression.
Charlie-Hebdo and the publication’s director, Philippe Val, are charged with “publicly slandering a group of people because of their religion.” The charge carries a possible six-month prison sentence and a fine of up to $28,530.
New Straits Times
Al Jazeera reports:
In an act of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, French newspaper Libération printed the contested cartoons once more on Wednesday.
“It is not words which wound, or pictures that kill. It is bombs,” the daily said, calling the trial “idiotic”.
Never Yet Melted 8 Feb 2006
11 Jan 2007
Jonah Goldberg has one, in a time when it is becoming a rare commodity.
The New York Post recently compiled a list of the things that the New York City Council tried to ban — not all successfully — just in 2006 alone.
The list: pit bulls; trans fats; aluminum baseball bats; the purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds; foie gras; pedicabs in parks; new fast-food restaurants (but only in poor neighborhoods); lobbyists from the floor of council chambers; lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency; vehicles in Central and Prospect parks; cell phones in upscale restaurants; the sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute; mail-order pharmaceutical plans; candy-flavored cigarettes; gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; Wal-Mart.
On Jan. 2 in Washington, D.C., the city council’s smoking ban was extended to bars and nightclubs. Even private clubs, where members pay through the teeth to associate voluntarily, can’t allow smoking on their own property.
In some states, you can’t smoke in your car if young children are present — your own children, that is.
In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville warns: “It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones. …”
This is a typically penetrating insight, and one with new relevance these days. This country seems to have inverted de Tocqueville’s hierarchy. On countless fronts, the natural pastures of daily liberty have become circumscribed by dull-witted but well-meaning bureaucrats slapping down the paving stones of good intentions on the road to hell.
The rule of thumb for a free society should be that it infringes liberties rarely, but when it does so it is for important reasons. Today, that thumb has been cast down, Caesar-like, pointing in the opposite direction.
We have democratized the small assaults on freedom so that everyone must endure them, while we caterwaul about the tyranny of any real inconvenience that might fall “disproportionately” on the few.
We ban using trans fats for millions but flinch at the idea that some kid might have to endure the Pledge of Allegiance or a moment of silence in school if it conflicts with his conscience.
Everyone must surrender his shoes, his regular-size toothpaste and shampoo at the airport, but we man the barricades to protect a few young Muslim men from being inconvenienced for an extra five minutes at the airport.
Free speech is most restricted where it is most important — in political contests near Election Day — while it is maximized to an absurd level at the fringes of culture and decency.
Of course, there are legitimate objections to infringements of liberty or principle on what de Tocqueville would call the “great things.” What is so disturbing is how few legitimate objections are raised about the “little things.”
And I can’t help but shake the feeling that civilizations fall apart, or get plowed under by the wheels of history, when they fail to understand these distinctions.
One of my favorite sayings is that America can choke on a gnat, but it swallows tigers whole. These days, we seem to be choking on the tigers while our bellies fill with gnats.
17 Nov 2006
The Evening Standard has news of Britain’s Labour Government’s latest crime fighting initiative.
Parents could be forced to go to special classes to learn to sing their children nursery rhymes, a minister said.
Those who fail to read stories or sing to their youngsters threaten their children’s future and the state must put them right, Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes said.
Their children’s well-being is at risk ‘unless we act’, she declared.
And Mrs Hughes said the state would train a new ‘parenting workforce’ to ensure parents who fail to do their duty with nursery rhymes are found and ‘supported’.
The call for state intervention in the minute details of family life followed a series of Labour efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve educational standards by imposing rigorous controls on the lives of the youngest children.
Mrs Hughes has established a national curriculum to set down how babies are taught to speak in childcare from the age of three months.
Her efforts have gone alongside a push by other ministers to determine exactly how parents treat their children down to how they should brush their teeth…
This autumn is likely to see an extension of parenting orders that can force parents to attend parenting classes so that they can be used on the say so of local councils against parents.
For the first time, parenting orders are likely to be directed against parents whose children have committed no criminal offence.
The threat of action against parents who fail to sing nursery rhymes was unveiled by Mrs Hughes as she gave the first details of Mr Blair’s ‘national parenting academy’, a body that will train teachers, psychologists and social workers to intervene in the lives of families and become the ‘parenting workforce’.
We’ve all heard of “the nanny-state,” but really!
15 Oct 2006
Koochiching County (population 13,907) is located at the center of the northern end of Minnesota, bordering the wilderness of Northern Ontario. Its principal claim to fame is probably that county’s leading metropolis International Falls (population 6703) having been fictionalized in 1959 on television as “Frostbite Falls,” home of cartoon characters Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Indus Elementary & Secondary School, located 30 miles west of International Falls, has 194 pupils (79 elementary – 115 secondary) attending grades K through 12 from families residing in western Koochiching County.
I mention all this just to make clear the rural character of the setting of today’s headline news item.
The Associated Press yesterday evening ran the alarming headline: Principal quits after shooting kittens at school, followed by this lead:
A school principal has resigned and could face felony firearm charges after he shot and killed two orphaned kittens on school property last month.
That sounds absolutely terrible, of course. But the reality was rather different.
Principal Wade Pilloud, who resided weekdays in a mobile home on school property, had placed one or more traps underneath the trailer “to catch pests,” WCCO’s version of the story reports.
Since the trap was large enough to kill an adult cat, Principal Pillaud was almost certainly using a conibear trap, rather than a leghold trap. Conibear traps are designed to kill the animal. A conibear trap large enough to kill a cat would have to have been set for something larger than a rat or a squirrel. Chances are that a skunk took up residence under Mr. Pillaud’s trailer, and he was taking action to remove a rather drastic problem.
Unfortunately, Mr. Pillaud discovered he had trapped a (presumably feral) female cat, whose death left orphaned a pair of young kittens. A cat-owner himself, Mr. Pillaud did not want the kittens to starve to death; so, after school, one night last month when all this happened, he took his shotgun, and “put them out of their misery,” as people say in the country.
But several children on the schoolgrounds for after hours activities heard the shooting, and went home and told their parents all about it.
This being the day and age it is, even in rural Northern Minnesota, you have nincompoops.
There were parents who felt, apparently some rather strongly, that there were concerns about the safety of their children,” said Joseph Flynn, an attorney for the South Koochiching/Rainy River School District. “The district’s position is that safety was not compromised.”
John Mastin, acting sheriff in Koochiching County, said Pilloud could be charged with felony possession of a firearm on school property and reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor.
County Attorney Jennifer Hasbargen said Friday that the case was under review.
Mastin said the shooting put no one in danger but said Pilloud used “poor discretion and poor timing,” especially amid the growing fear of gun violence in schools.
The district put Pilloud on administrative leave after the incident. Flynn said Pilloud agreed to an undisclosed settlement and resigned.
This type of incident demonstrates that nowhere in America is non-suburban enough today to assure the safety of gun-owners from the ritualized hoplophobia of journalists, politicians, and anti-weapons bigots. The NRA and other gun rights litigation centers need to intervene and contest every such case of the marginalizing of gun ownership and the stigmatization of the legitimate use of firearms. Otherwise, ultimately, a gun ban British and Australian-style is inevitable.
13 Oct 2006
Peggy Noonan observes liberals involved in four speech incidents in the past 10 days:
At Columbia University, members of the Minutemen, the group that patrols the U.S. border with Mexico and reports illegal crossings, were asked to address a forum on immigration policy. As Jim Gilchrist, the founder, spoke, angry students stormed the stage, shouting and knocking over chairs and tables. “Having wreaked havoc,” said the New York Sun, they unfurled a banner in Arabic and English that said, “No one is ever illegal.” The auditorium was cleared, the Minutemen silenced. Afterward a student protester told the Columbia Spectator, “I don’t feel we need to apologize or anything. It was fundamentally a part of free speech. . . . The Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration.”
On Oct. 2, on Katie Couric’s “CBS Evening News,” in the segment called “Free Speech,” the father of a boy killed at Columbine shared his views on the deeper causes of the recent shootings in Amish country. Brian Rohrbough said violence entered our schools when we threw God out of them. “This country is in a moral freefall. For over two generations the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum. . . . We teach there are no moral absolutes, no right or wrong, and I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children.” This was not exactly the usual mush.
Mr. Rohrbough was quickly informed he was not part of the legitimate debate, either. Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post: “The decision . . . to air his views prompted a storm of criticism, some of it within the ranks of CBS News.” A blog critic: Grief makes people say “stupid” things, but “what made them put this man on television?” Good question. How did they neglect to silence him?
Soon after, at Madison Square Garden, Barbra Streisand, began her latest farewell tour with what friends who were there tell me was a moving, beautiful concert. She was in great form and brought the audience together in appreciation of her great ballads, which are part of the aural tapestry of our lives. And then . . . the moment. Suddenly she decided to bang away on politics. Fine, she’s a Democrat, Bush is bad. But midway through the bangaway a man in the audience called out. Most could not hear him, but everyone seems to agree he at least said, “What is this, a fund-raiser?”
At this, Ms. Streisand became enraged, stormed the stage and pummeled herself. Wait, that was Columbia. Actually she became enraged and cursed the man. A friend who was there, a liberal Democrat, said what was most interesting was Ms. Streisand made a physical movement with her arms and hands—”those talon hands”—as if to say, See what I have to put up with when I attempt to educate the masses? She soon apologized, to her credit. Though apparently in the manner of a teacher who’d just kind of lost it with an unruly and ignorant student.
On “The View” a few days earlier it was Rosie O’Donnell. She was banging away on gun control. Guns are bad and should be banned. Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who plays the role of the young, attractive mom, tentatively responded. “I want to be fair,” she said. Obviously there should be “restrictions,” but women have a right to defend themselves, and there’s “the right to bear arms” in the Constitution. Rosie accused Elizabeth of yelling. The panel, surprised, agreed that Elizabeth was not yelling. Rosie then went blank-faced with what someone must have told her along the way is legitimately felt rage. Elizabeth was not bowing to Rosie’s views. Elizabeth needed to be educated. The education commenced, Rosie gesturing broadly and Elizabeth constricting herself as if she knew physical assault were a possibility. When Rosie gets going on the Second Amendment I always think, Oh I hope she’s not armed! Actually I wonder what Freud would have made of an enraged woman obsessed with gun control. Ach, classic projection. Eef she had a gun she would kill. Therefore no one must haf guns.
There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?
It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail.
She missed the proposed Nuremburg Trials for Global Warming skeptics.
12 Oct 2006
Looking for the text cited in that Senate Environment Committee news release this morning, I also came upon this review by Professor Robert M. Carter of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth.
Carter delivers a devastating critique of the film.
Those raw scientific facts that Mr Gore chooses for use in An Inconvenient Truth are mostly correct. Indeed, much of the material could have been drawn from elementary university courses in meteorology, geography or geology, though one would hope that university treatments would be presented in a more balanced and critical way.
Overall, the film is a compelling account of various natural earth phenomena that have the potential to impact humanity disastrously, and therefore a graphic illustration of the fact that we live on a dynamic planet. Were the film to be stripped of its sententious script, we might be watching an episode in David Attenborough’s recent TV series, Planet Earth.
Hence, presumably, the appeal to audiences: who often break into spontaneous applause at the end of a showing, and thereby reveal both their gullibility to emotional messages and their lack of scientific understanding.
For the problem with An Inconvenient Truth is that it is well-made propaganda for the global warming cause rather than well-made climate science. Nowhere does Mr Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet. Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change. This is not surprising, for no such evidence yet exists.
During his movie, Mr Gore asserts that climate change is now a moral rather than a scientific issue. He is right, though not in quite the way that he might have imagined.
The moral issue concerns the way in which much of today’s environmental “science” – including that regarding climate change, as typified by this film – is presented to governments and the public. Mr Gore clearly believes that his presumed morally superior ends justify any means, including distortion of evidence, and in consequence he nails his colours firmly to the climate alarmist mast.
But then I came upon an example of what struck me as impossible-to-believe exaggeration.
Indeed. And the intellectual dishonesty involved in this is not restricted to Mr Gore’s film, but has become all pervasive.
For example, professional sociologists at the London-based Institute for Policy Research urge that “the task of climate change agencies is not to persuade by rational argument. ... Instead, we need to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement. ... The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken“.
Wonderfully damaging material, I thought, but much too good to possibly be true. So I started searching to find if there was the slightest basis for any of this at all, and I immediately found this Institute for Public Policy Research handy how-to publication: Warm Words: How Are We Telling the Climate Story and Can we Tell It Better?
One explanatory diagram
Many of the existing approaches to climate change communications clearly seem unproductive. And it is not enough simply to produce yet more messages, based on rational argument and top-down persuasion, aimed at convincing people of the reality of climate change and urging them to act. Instead, we need to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement.
To help address the chaotic nature of the climate change discourse in the UK today, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won, at least for popular communications. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective. The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken....
What is significant here is that this discourse is immune to scientific argument, since it is simply constructed in a different way. Its currency is not science but ‘common sense’. The prevalence of this repertoire in public media underlines that the task of climate change agencies is not to persuade by rational argument but in effect to develop and nurture a new ‘common sense’....
Much of the noise in the climate change discourse comes from argument and counter-argument, and it is our recommendation that, at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective. This must be done by stepping away from the ‘advocates debate’ described earlier, rather than by stating and re-stating these things as fact.
The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken. The certainty of the Government’s new climate-change slogan — ‘Together this generation will tackle climate change’ (Defra 2006) — gives an example of this approach. It constructs, rather than claims, its own factuality.
Where science is invoked, it now needs to be as ‘lay science’ — offering lay explanations for what is being treated as a simple established scientific fact, just as the earth’s rotation or the water cycle are considered…
Opposing the enormous forces of climate change requires something superhuman or heroic. Science is not enough — especially when scientists argue among themselves. What is needed is something more magical, more mythical. Many strong and successful brands have a kind of myth at their core — they appear to reconcile things that are normally impossible to reconcile.
12 Oct 2006
The US Senate Committtee on Environment and Public Works released the following yesterday:
A U.S. based environmental magazine that both former Vice President Al Gore and PBS newsman Bill Moyers (for his October 11th global warming edition of “Moyers on America” titled “Is God Green?”) have deemed respectable enough to grant one-on-one interviews to promote their projects, is now advocating Nuremberg-style war crimes trials for skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming.
Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”
Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards—some sort of climate Nuremberg.”
And over on the Huffington Post, the same David Roberts bleats that he is being attacked! Though he is willing to admit to “rhetorical excess,” Roberts is not really taking back what he said about crimes and trials. All we Global Warming skeptics are just a bunch of hired mercenary corporate flacks, who know perfectly well that Roberts and the other goofball, tree-hugging, Luddite moonbats are correct about the science, we’re just lying. Oh, sure. Pretty to think so, if you’re a moonbat.
Well, if they are ever going to be putting people on trial for lying about Global Warming, my next posting makes it pretty clear just who it is that will be standing in the dock.
The endless calls for “civility” among the nation’s political and media elite have become so numbing that it’s difficult to get out from under the haze and speak simply about this. But it needs to be said: These people are, morally if not legally, criminals.
EARLIER RELATED POSTING
09 Oct 2006
The Daily Briefing, last year, suggested adding climate-change deniers to Holocaust deniers on the list of persons prosecutable for crimes committed by expressing certain ideas in speech or writing.
David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial. Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence – it is a crime against humanity after all. Twenty good years of action have been lost courtesy of climate change sceptics, many of whom did not act in good faith – they were protecting and promoting vested interests.
Brendan O’Neill, in spiked, observes that the patience of the elect is wearing thin.
There is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate. There has been no decree from on high or piece of legislation outlawing climate change denial, and indeed there is no need to criminalise it, as the Australian columnist suggests. Because in recent months it has been turned into a taboo, chased out of polite society by a wink and a nod, letters of complaint, newspaper articles continually comparing climate change denial to Holocaust denial. An attitude of ‘You can’t say that!’ now surrounds debates about climate change, which in many ways is more powerful and pernicious than an outright ban. I am not a scientist or an expert on climate change, but I know what I don’t like – and this demonisation of certain words and ideas is an affront to freedom of speech and open, rational debate.
The loaded term itself — ‘climate change denier’ — is used to mark out certain people as immoral, untrustworthy. According to Richard D North, author most recently of Rich is Beautiful: A Very Personal Defence of Mass Affluence: ‘It is deeply pejorative to call someone a “climate change denier”…it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust denial — the label applied to those misguided or wicked people who believe, or claim to believe, the Nazis did not annihilate the Jews, and others, in very great numbers.’ People of various views and hues tend to get lumped together under the umbrella put-down ‘climate change denier’ — from those who argue the planet is getting hotter but we will be able to deal with it, to those who claim the planet is unlikely to get much hotter at all. On Google there are now over 80,000 search returns, and counting, for the phrase climate change denial.
Others take the tactic of openly labelling climate change deniers as cranks, possibly even people who might need their heads checked. In a speech last month, in which he said people ‘should be scared’ about global warming, UK environment secretary David Miliband said ‘those who deny [climate change] are the flat-earthers of the twenty-first century’. Taking a similar tack, former US vice president-turned-green-warrior Al Gore recently declared: ‘Fifteen per cent of the population believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona and somewhat fewer still believe the Earth is flat. I think they all get together with the global warming deniers on a Saturday night and party.’
It is not only environmentalist activists and green-leaning writers who are seeking to silence climate change deniers/sceptics/critics/whatever you prefer. Last month the Royal Society — Britain’s premier scientific academy founded in 1660, whose members have included some of the greatest scientists — wrote a letter to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant cut off its funding to groups that have ‘misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence’. It was the first time the Royal Society had ever written to a company complaining about its activities. The letter had something of a hectoring, intolerant tone: ‘At our meeting in July…you indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any further funding to these organisations. I would be grateful if you could let me know when ExxonMobil plans to carry out this pledge.’
Hat tip to Seneca the Younger.
Nuremberg Trials Proposed for Global Warming Deniers
05 Oct 2006
Ann Althouse this morning, quotes a colleague asking rhetorically (and disingenously): What is the rational basis for banning same-sex marriage?
It’s perfectly possible to propose a rational debate on this kind of question, but when one finds that the debate’s proposer has already engineered the grammar of the proposition around so as to make the ordinary status quo appear in the guise of some intended innovation and aggression against the rights of others, it is apparent that there is a certain effort underway to fix the outcome of the debate before it has begun. “How dare some people suddenly compel the legislature and the courts to ban Gay Marriage!”
Of course, we all know that the precise opposite is the case.
Marriage is a human institution existing immemorially, even from times preceding the organization of the state itself, long prior to the creation of individual American states or the United States. The state never created marriage, but merely recognizes marriage as an estate, i.e., as a recognizable status conferring a number of customary privileges and immunities.
That marriage consists of the union of one man and one woman has been its definition for at least the entirety of the Christian era, some two thousand years. The innovation consists of the revolutionary demand that the definition of this most fundamental of human institutions must be modified to confer equality of status on homosexual relations in accordance with the wishes of a contemporary minority.
The increased popularity of monogamous homosexual relationships over the two decades following the arrival of the AIDS epidemic seems to many of us a positive development, but it is far from clear that the fashion would survive the removal of the health threat. Is two decades of anything a sufficient basis to modify the most fundamental institution of human society?
Liberalism has triumphed in the jurisprudential debate about the law’s treatment of homosexuality since the time of the Wolfenden Report. The consensus of opinion these days holds that Mill was correct. Absent some demonstrable harm to others from private action, the state has no right to interfere with the private conduct of consenting adults. Homosexuals have a right to do as they like in private, and the rest of us are obliged to respect that right. We owe them our tolerance.
We do not, however, owe homosexuals our applause and approval.
Just as it is possible to be a law-abiding and unoffending member of the community, and indulge in homosexual acts with another consenting adult in private, it is also perfectly possible to subscribe to religious or other opinions which take a negative view of homosexuality.
Alteration of the definition of marriage to include homosexual liaisons would, in fact, confer both public recognition and approval upon those liaisons in a form which the majority of American are not voluntarily willing to concede.
There is nothing coercive in declining to consent to the adoption of a new and revolutionary definition of marriage. But the forced participation of an unwilling national majority in the public recognition and celebration of unconventional liaisons would be indubitably coercive.
No one is “banning Gay Marriage” by prohibiting homosexuials from conducting whatever private ceremonies or taking whatever personal and private view of their own relationships they like. It is simply the case that a majority of Americans are declining to share those particular views or to recognize those particular ceremonies as meaningful to themselves in the same way.
I obviously disagree with the proposed “state interest” approach to analysis. But if I were compelled to argue in that form, I would observe that a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as it is traditionally understood, as the union of a man and a woman, should be perfectly constitutional. States obviously have a right to define legal concepts and institutions. They have a particularly good right to do so, when they are making no change whatsoever, but merely identifying what has always been understood to be the case.
The obvious line of attack for the left will be via the Equal Protection Clause. But there is no inequality to it. Everyone has just as much right to marry anybody else as he ever did. Arguing that you want to do something different and call it marriage, and you want everyone else to call it marriage, too, and they won’t, and you don’t like it, does not mean you have been treated unequally.
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