Thank you for another lively bunch of letters, and for your continued support, via our SteynOnline gift certificates and various seasonal specials from the Steyn store, for my pushback against the Big Climate enforcers. I'll be in court in Washington this week to hear Michael E Mann take on my co-defendants. I'll be there as an amicus curiae, notwithstanding that I don't feel that amicable toward a curia that, on a case full of out-of-town parties, schedules oral arguments for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. But I'll be there bright and early at the DC Court of Appeals, and maybe doing a bit of TV and radio afterwards.
The issue for me is free speech. As I've had cause to write many times, not so long ago even lefties felt obliged at least to pay lip service to the principle of free speech. Not anymore. For many – most? – under a certain age, the New Rights – identity-group rights, environmental rights, abortion rights - trump speech rights. Mark Spinelli writes:
I can remember growing up in the 80s hearing arguments about speech control that, at the time, seemed merely a means to reaffirm what we all believed: freedom of speech is paramount to a civil, just society.
Remember the expressions "good ideas float to the top, bad ideas sink to the bottom" and "liberty is a two-way street." You don't hear even advocates of free speech using those expressions anymore. What happened to them? Has it literally come down to a war of opinions?
I don't believe the totalitarian left has ever been interested in an exchange of ideas. In a secular age, "liberalism" (in the contemporary perverted and increasingly risible use of that word) has become the default religion – indeed, a state religion, backed by the force of government. And so disagreeing with its tenets is a form of apostasy. The thuggish enforcers on college campuses shutting down dissident views on climate change, abortion, Israel, gay rights et al are the equivalent of Saudi Arabia's mutaween: They believe in the absolute truth of their religion, and so they see nothing wrong in enforcing blasphemy laws on unbelievers.
Outside their 50-grand-a-year madrassahs, the climate mullahs are finding it a tougher sell with the general public. I reported recently that lack of "progress" on "climate change" has led to an epidemic of the new disease of "climate depression". Dave Smith comments:
I've said for years that Climate Change is a form of Global Neurotic Behavior, but the quotes you have in your article today point to specific cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The same thought process that leads a neurotic person to actually believe that stepping on a crack in the sidewalk will somehow lead to the death of people on the other side of the world is the same mental disorder displayed here.
I think people with a tendency for neurotic behavior are drawn to environmentalism for that exact reason.
Westerly, Rhode Island
From Down Under Simon Brockwell puts it all in perspective:
You pose the question: "Is there a name for what these afflicted climate scientists are suffering from?"
Yeah there is, its called the "ludicrously self-indulgent, self-absorbed, self-pity based on nothing more than monumental personal conceit permitted only to the idle, parasitic, children of the privileged Western upper-middle class in the 21st century"
Reading your extracts of the Sydney Morning Herald article on Nicole Thornton's tragic climate related mental malady, put me in mind of the experiences of the father of a girlfriend of mine in the 1980's. This is also apposite for Remembrance Day.
Drafted into the Australian Army during WW2, this rather delicate and cerebral teenaged boy served in the South-East Asian theatre fighting the Japanese. He contracted malaria and was sent home on a hospital ship. The ship, white with red crosses all over it, didn't make it home. As was their wont a Japanese submarine torpedoed the hospital ship and then, as it was sinking, surfaced to machine gun the survivors floating in the water. Those that weren't shot dead, eaten by the sharks that the blood of gunshot wounds attracted, drowned from exhaustion or dehydration were eventually picked up by rescue craft. Said father was one of the few survivors.
As his medical records were on the sunken hospital ship, the army concluded that his malarial episodes were mental health related. His protests that he had malaria were ignored because he had been officially designated as being "insane". He was carted off to be incarcerated for an indeterminate period in a remote military "Psychiatric Hospital" - its location making it very hard for his family to visit him - and subjected to over a year of regular electro-shock "therapy". Without success he used to beg - his word - them not to do it. By accident somebody noticed a blood test showed he had malaria and he was duly released.
There was no action against the state for damages for wrongful imprisonment and/ or torture. No compensation. No PTSD diagnosis. No sympathetic media coverage. He just had to get on with his shattered life as best he could. And he did. The Nicole Thorntons of this world need to get some perspective. Spoiled brats.
Sydney, New South Wales
While we're in fin du civilisation mode, the other day I went to see Christopher Nolan's new film Interstellar:
Plaudits on your review. Saw Interstellar for our 23rd wedding anniversary date night on Saturday. As something of an classical history autodidact I was struck at the similarity of the authorities attitude demonstrated by the school teacher's revisionist history book, and the situation in Britain after the collapse of the Western Roman empire. There was a lovely scene in the TV series "Vikings" set in the ninth century where the King of Wessex discloses to his pet monk the vast treasure trove of knowledge, art and history he had gathered from the bowels of the magnificent but decaying structures (structures they no longer knew how to build or repair) that littered his kingdom, intent of preserving it, but not prepared to disclose it to the general population lest they rise up in revolt when they realise how much they have lost. He remarks that they cope by promulgating the story that the island was once populated by giants.
I have had this conversation with my children. Civilisation is not a given. It is not the natural order of things. There have been at least two and possibly three retreats from civilisation in the history of this planet. And the history of those collapses shows how easily humans can abandon knowledge for fear.
Dr Mann (the real one) and others do not deserve credit for being clever. Promulgating fear is not clever. The abandonment of civilisation is easy. The other thing is hard.
In my review, I quoted a bit from my book After America (personally autographed copies of which, etc, etc) that suggested human capability peaked 45 years ago with the moon landings. Steve Baker responds:
Indeed, human capability peaked in 1969.
In 1970, the government forced the auto makers to cease making efficient high compression engines so cars could run on lead-free gas so babies wouldn't get stupid from eating dirt alongside highways.
It was all downhill from there.
Then again, Bob Dylan thinks that's what sealed our doom. Re the themes of Interstellar, Jay Barney quotes Dylan's "License To Kill":
I never understood the meaning of the lyrics but it is a great song, with Mick Taylor and Mark Knopfler on guitars:
Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please
And if things don't change soon, he will
Oh, man has invented his doom
First step was touching the moon
Jay Barney Tempe, Arizona
Good grief. I don't want to set off all the Dylan groupies, but it amazes me that that late in his career he still thought "doom" rhymes with "moon". What a loon. Pass me a macaroon.
Apropos the deranged fetishization of "peer review" by actor-activist (not necessarily in that order) Ed Begley, Fred Key quotes a far greater lyricist than Dylan:
All this peer-reviewed Ed Begley stuff reminds me of a verse from the great Benny Hill's "Dustbins of Your Mind" (from memory):
Old Ted once took a fence
It was the one outside our gents
Which was opened up officially last year
It was christened by Lord Grey
And people came from miles away
For they'd heard tell that he was a Liberal peer.
Although not British, I imagine Begley and Mann, being aristocrats of the official culture, are known to be liberal peers as well.
Just win, Mark,
As you know, my main reason for going to see Interstellar was because the bad guy is a character called "Dr Mann":
Revealed: The lost chapter of Interstellar. I'm just about to read it, but I couldn't resist sending it to you:
Christopher Nolan publishes the back story on Dr Mann.
Hmm. Mr Nolan is tight-lipped on the question of whether "Dr Mann" is that Dr Mann, but he has ruled out that it's the other Michael Mann. All of which raises the question: If we can put one warm-monger in space, why can't we put them all there?
Alternative title for Interstellar, co-starring Dr. Mann:
Prigs in Space
The Old and Unimproved Dave
Careful now. You know what's coming next:
Wondering if Michael Mann will be suing the creators of Dr. Mann.
Well, his ever inventive counsel Peter Fontaine has sent suit-threatening letters arguing that Mann holds legal copyright in his nose, eyes, buttocks and other anatomical features. So who knows?
Ethel Merman DNA...ha ha ha....classic..what an image..I won't be able to wipe the smile off my face all day!
I understand your points but the film is so badly made, they don't really gel in the watching.
Bad, unimaginative static camera shots and oh so clever, heavy handed avoidance of familiar narrative tricks that would have helped the story along. And then there's that tough guy mumbling. Nobody talks like that, they project so that others can hear them! It's only possible on films because of microphones. The film was ruined right there.
By the look on everyone's faces leaving the cinema, after all the glowing reviews, everyone was disappointed.
Keep up the good work though old boy, we all need your energy.
BTW. I live in the Isle of Mann.
PS Do you have to do your filmgoing in Burlington or Manchester or do those little towns up there have multiplexes or fleapits?
No, I go to the local fleapit, which I mention in passing somewhere in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn. The sound isn't that great, which is why I assumed when I couldn't hear a word Matthew McConaughey and Matt Damon were saying to each other it was a strictly local problem. But apparently it affects your digital HD Imax Super-Odeon on the Isle of Mann, too. You might have a point.
Cheri Reed likes the Ethel Merman sequel, too. Maybe I should pitch it to Warner Brothers:
Anxiously awaiting the "thrilling sequel to Interstellar"...! That paragraph is one of THE funniest things you've ever written and I thank you for your intellect & wit which always brighten my day.
If my brother weren't coming for Thanksgiving would be mighty tempting to make the road trip from the Blue Ridge mountains to DC to catch the showdown live and have you sign a book or three. Ethel Merman is counting on you.
GOOD LUCK MARK!
Thanks for that, Cheri. On the other hand, a dissatisfied customer writes:
Have been following you for some time now but find daily trips to your web site discouraging with your constant references to your current book and your upcoming trial with Mann..
Have your new book and most of your previous books as well but please go back to something else on your web site.
Victoria, British Columbia
Gotcha. More showtunes.
~Drop Steyn a line on his lawsuits or anything else at Mark's Mailbox. And to help his pushback against hockey-stick climate mullah Michael E Mann, please see here. Speaking of "constant references to your current book", it's available in America from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, not to mention Costco, and from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. Or, for instant gratification, get it in eBook - in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.And, wherever you are on the planet, we're happy to ship you a personally autographed copy direct from the SteynOnline bookstore.