First, the big picture stuff. In the United Kingdom, Spiked has launched a campaign for Free Speech Now!:
'Every man should think what he likes and say what he thinks.' It is 350 years since Spinoza, the great Dutchman of the Enlightenment, wrote those simple but profound words. And yet every man (and woman) is still not at liberty to think what he or she likes, far less say it. It is for this reason that, today, spiked is kicking off a transatlantic liberty-loving online magazine and real-world campaign called Free Speech Now! - to put the case for unfettered freedom of thought and speech; to carry the Spinoza spirit into the modern age; to make the case anew for allowing everyone to say what he thinks, as honestly and frankly as he likes.
On the radio on Thursday, I observed to Hugh Hewitt that a generation ago most of the left felt obliged at least to pay lip service to free speech. Not anymore. They're increasingly comfortable with opposing it, and sneering at it as some sort of fringe obsession of "the haters". My own campaign against Section 13 in Canada was won with no support from the left, with the exception of a solitary principled Liberal MP, Keith Martin. A similar campaign to repeal the equivalent "hate speech" law in Oz is openly mocked as a bigots' charter:
Something drastically wrong with the moral compass of a nation when it legislates to make bigotry a right.
For the author above and many if not most of the western left, a commitment to free speech takes a distant back seat to identity group rights and the state's enforcement thereof. Spiked's Brendan O'Neill surveys the scene:
Ours is an age in which a pastor, in Sweden, can be sentenced to a month in jail for preaching to his own flock in his own church that homosexuality is a sin. In which British football fans can be arrested for referring to themselves as Yids. In which those who too stingingly criticise the Islamic ritual slaughter of animals can be convicted of committing a hate crime. In which Britain's leading liberal writers and arts people can, sans shame, put their names to a letter calling for state regulation of the press, the very scourge their cultural forebears risked their heads fighting against. In which students in both Britain and America have become bizarrely ban-happy, censoring songs, newspapers and speakers that rile their minds. In which offence-taking has become the central organising principle of much of the political sphere, nurturing virtual gangs of the ostentatiously outraged who have successfully purged from public life articles, adverts and arguments that upset them - a modern-day version of what Spinoza called 'quarrelsome mobs', the 'real disturbers of the peace'.
Freedom of speech is in a bad way.
Yes, it is. And I'm glad to see Mr O'Neill does not neglect my own current area of interest:
We also have new forms of secular intolerance, with governmental scientists calling for 'gross intolerance' of those who promote quackery and serious magazines proposing the imprisonment of those who 'deny' climate change. Just as you can't yell fire in a crowded theatre, so you shouldn't be free to 'yell "balderdash" at 10,883 scientific journal articles a year, all saying the same thing', said a hip online mag this week. In other words, thou shalt not blaspheme against the eco-gospel.
~Speaking of which, after last week's epic meltdown (since deleted), an apparently stabilized David Appell has returned to the Internet to argue that the real issue is not the silencing of free speech but "Steyn's Silencing of Science".
Mr Appell seems a harmless sort, albeit, like many who've drunk the warm-aid, somewhat overwrought and highly strung. But I don't want to precipitate another meltdown, so, instead of accusing him of attempting to silence my silencing of Mann's silencing of me, let me offer him a useful tip apropos his cry for help a week ago:
I'm just tired of all the extremists on both sides, and their lies.
You know who I miss? Billy Joel. I saw him once in Madison Square Garden. Earlier in the day we went up to the top of the World Trade Center, and I took a picture of my girlfriend Ellen in a spiffy blue hat, with Manhattan blowing in the background. And then the four of us got stoned at the concert, and then we slept in the dirty vinyl seats on the early morning train back to New Jersey.
I don't personally miss Billy Joel, but tootling down the highway the other day I was in the mood for a bit of Artie Shaw so I hit the button for Sirius XM's Forties On Four - and whaddayaknow? Sirius has changed it into the Billy Joel Channel. "Just The Way You Are." "Still Rock'n'Roll To Me." "Uptown Girl." You need never know that dark three-in-the-morning of the soul again! Not with "Piano Man", "My Life", "Only The Good Die Young" 24/7! All Mr Appell needs to do is a buy a big planet-wrecking SUV with a Sirius subscription and he'll never miss Billy Joel again!
Re "Steyn's Silencing of Science", Michael E Mann approvingly ReTweeted Mr Appell twice - the dearth of Mann defenders among those 98.7 per cent of settled scientists requiring him to rely on the support of stoned Billy Joel aficionados. As to how my "silencing of science" is going, how about this headline from The Times of London?
Crackdown Ordered on Climate-Change Sceptics
They're not kidding:
The BBC should also give less airtime to climate sceptics and its editors should seek special clearance to interview them, according to the Commons Science and Technology Committee. Andrew Miller, the committee's Labour chairman, said that appearances on radio and television by climate sceptics such as Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, should be accompanied by "health warnings".
What sort of science is so "settled" that anyone who disagrees with it requires "special clearance" to be permitted to speak? This sort of science:
A climate mob has descended on
@RogerPielkeJr and it's ugly.
Keith Kloor is a blogger at Discover Magazine, a publication so favorable to Michael E Mann that Mann cites it in his legal complaint against me (paragraph 5). Yet Mr Kloor cannot conceal his distaste for what the mob did to Roger Pielke Jr:
This is not to say that Roger is above criticism (He's not). Or that Roger is blameless. (He's not.) And there's some useful context here from Dale Jamieson (ignore the headline), if you want to understand the anger that has been building against Roger since the mid to late 2000s. But I'm sorry, the torch-bearing mob that went after him after he published his first piece at Nate Silver's new site was despicable. And now it's turned into the sort of agenda-driven campaign and ideological cleansing that even Morano would grudgingly admire.
As Michael Levi, the respected energy analyst observed:
'The onslaught is disturbing. I've disagreed with Roger often, but he is genuinely well intentioned. People who care about getting good policy should want more thoughtful voices, not fewer, proposing options â€“ and organized campaigns to run heterodox thinkers out of town are awfully ugly.'
There's a side to scientists and scholarsâ€“their arrogance, sharp elbows, and stubborn biasesâ€“that can be ugly when exposed to sunlight. What's even uglier is when one of them is tied to the whipping post in broad daylight by a mob egged on by leading climate scientists and their henchmen.
What a shame that, even in his moment of candor and courage, Mr Kloor cannot bring himself to name those "leading climate scientists" who "egged on" the "torch-bearing mob" - Michael E Mann and his fellow self-garlanded Nobel Laureate Kevin Trenberth. There's certainly a lot of "silencing of science" going on, but it's at the behest of Mann and his enforcers. This is the climate of fear that he has created. But who knows? Maybe, after they get that "crackdown" on skeptics they've urged for so long, it'll all lighten up, right?
~If you find Mann's mob as "despicable" as Keith Kloor does, and you'd like to help support my pushback against him, I hope you'll consider swinging by the Steyn store or purchasing one of our SteynOnline gift certificates. I'm preparing for discovery and deposition of Mann, and with my new lawyers, as Eli Rabett has noticed:
Mann vs. Steyn and others (the vs others has popcorn value, but not nearly as much), lurches forward as Steyn discovers that being his own lawyer has costs and has acquired some, Michael Songer, Daniel Kornstein and Mark Platt, pro bono or maybe not, but they appear to have a problem, the stuff that Steyn filed on his own. Make no mistake these lawyers are lawyers, but. . . .
No mulligans at this point, so they have to build out on Steyn's crazy in their response to counterclaims asserted by Michael Mann's attorneys, you know the ones where Mann's lawyers had to be restrained from laughing themselves to death about Steyn's filings. At the time Eli noted that all of a sudden Steyn might be getting the hint that he was in over his head, and that does appear to be the case, or, perhaps some friends took him out for drinks and explained the facts of life.
Wow, this Rabett guy is amazing! It's almost like he's inside my head!