The obligatory ill-advised free-speech rant

Listen.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to say obviously silly things.

It never did. The ‘right to bear arms’ as Americans was never envisioned as a licence to carry out school massacres using breech-loading, repeating weaponry; likewise, the First Amendment was never intended as an excuse for promoting ideas rejected by consensus.

That’s why I won’t call deniers ‘skeptics.’ That is dishonest. At Climate Nuremberg they’re referred to as climate Klebolds.

The inherent problem with debates is that they treat right and wrong views equally. ‘Affirmative’ and ‘Negative’ are neutral descriptors, but the truth is not neutral. How can we have a genuine exchange of views unless we start from an accurate understanding, and description, of each others’ ideologies? At The Berg I’m quite happy to let deniers explain to us why all of modern science is wrong, but first they have to admit their motivation is to disinform, confuse and destroy.

Is that asking too much?

6 thoughts on “The obligatory ill-advised free-speech rant

  1. grumpyoldmanuk

    I think you mean,”Kobold”, but as a Keeper of the Flame you have the inalienable right to invent a word and leave others to decipher it’s meaning. That, after all is one of the principles of Nuremburg, to accuse someone of something that they don’t know they’ve committed makes the inevitable Guilty finding so much easier to get.

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  2. Gerry Morrow

    “Quite right too, I’m a sceptic, and I’m motivated to disinform, confuse and destroy,” is the obligatory start to any remarks at our “Sceptics Anonymous” meetings, but now you’ve pointed it out we should insist on it being the beginning of any remarks anywhere by the anti-science fanatics who think they can have opinions distinct from the consensus.

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  3. nige t

    Brad

    I think you’ve nailed it again.

    Some people seem to think that ‘freedom of speech’ means you can say whatever you like.

    It never has done. Sure, you could tell Churchill “You’re drunk, sir!”
    And he’d come back with “And you’re ugly…but I shall be sober in the morning”

    But, try saying that to Adolf Hitler or Pinochet or some other fascist.

    OK, that’s extreme: we live in ‘free’ societies and we should be, ought to be,
    constrained by scientific fact.

    And the facts are clear: sod the ‘debate’

    I’ve never understood this notion of ‘debating’ when the evidence is so compelling.

    Glad to see you’re back to 100% science. And 0% scepticism.Like the good old days
    with “climate, science and climate science”.

    But, hey, sorry brad, these people aren’t ever going to admit to their motivation.

    They can’t admit to themselves.

    niget

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  4. Rod McLaughlin

    Brilliant – but one small mistake – ‘Second Amendment’ should read ‘First’. The First is about freedom of expression, the Second about freedom to massacre schoolchildren because you don’t believe in climate change.

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  5. pdxrod

    Greenpeace summarizes the free speech issue very well:
    “Don’t the deniers have a right to free speech? There’s a difference between free speech and a campaign to deny the climate science with the goal of undermining international action on climate change. However, there’s also responsibility that goes with freedom of speech – which is based around honesty and transparency. Freedom of speech does not apply to misinformation and propaganda.” It’s a shame the US Supreme Court doesn’t get it.
    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/exxon-secrets/faq/

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