Tuesday, June 26, 2007

# Posted 6:37 AM by Patrick Porter  

LOCK EM UP? When trying to persuade people rationally, suggesting that people who disagree should be imprisoned is not a good start:

Guardian columnist and author George Monbiot wrote: "Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and unacceptable as Holocaust denial."

Closer to home, Margo Kingston wrote: "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."

There's something ridiculous about comparing people who deny the Holocaust with people who are skeptical about the cause, extent or implications of complex, long-term climactic trends.

But there's an implicit argument here that its a good thing to imprison holocaust-deniers.

Personally, I would be reluctant to imprison fascist big-mouths for their opinions. Prison is where they write their most damaging work.

And when it comes to climate change, isn't being disagreed with a necessary condition for constructing and sustaining an argument? If we say that certain opinions are unacceptable, ie. cannot be uttered, or if we stick climate change deniers in prison, wouldn't the likes of Monbiot lose their antagonists and therefore lose their ability to make their case?

Alternatively, wouldn't it martyr their opponents?

John Stuart Mill signing off.
(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

There's something ridiculous about comparing people who deny the Holocaust with people who are skeptical

And regardless of what you think about the science, I think it is unproductive to bring the Holocaust into the discussion anyway, as you effectively Godwin the thread (so to speak). In doing so you point you bring the discussion to the level of a immature internet chat thread, and you don't get anywhere.

There is plenty of good science out there for the regular guy/gal to read without having to deal with extremists, alarmists, Al Gore, or The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary.
If you can't ask questions, it isn't science anymore.

I didn't introduce comparisons with Holocaust deniers into the debate - others did, and I'm suggesting why that is excessive.

No doubt there is plenty of good science out there - but for the poor folk who just read mainstream media, hysteria seems to appear once too often to ignore. George Monbiot is not exactly a marginal figure in public discourse.
As repellent a character as David Irving is, I don't believe Holocaust Denial - in and of itself - should be a crime. It should merely be held out there for the public opprobium it deserves.
The piece you reference makes your point for you:

Such attempts at moral equivalence are deeply repugnant and, frankly, stupid. The murder of 6 million Jews happened; the worst consequences of climate change are yet to happen, and we can't even say with certainty what they will be. To start judging people guilty for denying things that haven't happened yet — for having contrary thoughts — is surely to trump Orwell's nightmare vision.

I'm not certain why you felt the need to call it out again.

"An ice sheet in Antarctica that is the world's largest -- with enough water to raise global sea levels by 200 feet -- is relatively stable and poses no immediate threat, according to (...) Andrew Mackintosh, a senior lecturer at Victoria University. "


When I first read this I immediately thought of Godwin's law. And apparently Nathan did as well.
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