I originally planned to include the two essays below in my “Some Links” series. But they detail a risk so great, a state overreach so dangerous, an exercise of government power so egregiously unjust, and a use of ‘official’ tools of intimidation so extreme that I give them here their own post. Each is from the Washington Post, and each deals with a current attempt by government
thugs officials to prevent people from expressing opposition to the dogmas of a religion to which many on the “Progressive” left are mindlessly devoted – namely, environmentalism.
The first essay is by George Will. Two slices:
Authoritarianism, always latent in progressivism, is becoming explicit. Progressivism’s determination to regulate thought by regulating speech is apparent in the campaign by 16 states’ attorneys general and those of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, none Republican, to criminalize skepticism about the supposedly “settled” conclusions of climate science.
The attorney general of the Virgin Islands accuses ExxonMobil of criminal misrepresentation regarding climate change. This, even though before the U.S. government in 2009 first issued an endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gases, ExxonMobil favored a carbon tax to mitigate climate consequences of those gases. This grandstanding attorney general’s contribution to today’s gangster government is the use of law enforcement tools to pursue political goals — wielding prosecutorial weapons to chill debate, including subpoenaing private donor information from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.
With seven state attorneys general and Al Gore sharing a New York City stage , there was no doubt about it: It was showtime for a whodunit. The crime being investigated? Dissent.
The March 29 news conference unveiled, according to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, an “unprecedented” coalition to fight not only climate change but also allegedly deceptive speech about climate change. The group, which dubbed itself AGs United for Clean Power, promised to “use all the tools at our disposal” to battle for progress on “the most consequential issue of our time.”
Schneiderman was blunt about his goal of shutting down debate: “You have to tell the truth. You can’t make misrepresentations of the kinds we’ve seen here.”
This isn’t a law-and-order drama. It’s politics clothed in messianic garb, and its primary tools are censorship and intimidation.
Regardless of where you stand on global warming policy, the notion of a multi-state campaign to end the debate ought to make you worry. After all, there are many science-driven policy debates out there, on topics ranging from genetically modified food to population control. It is not as if the government has a sterling reputation when it comes to science. From Galileo to today’s food plate, we know government politicizes science. It ought not to punish dissent, too.
In today’s Quotation of the Day, Deirdre McCloskey – in part by herself quoting CEI’s great founder, Fred Smith – identified modern environmentalism as a religion. She’s correct. And no matter what you think of religion in general or of the proper role of government in protecting the environment, you fear, if you are wise, the exemption that the religion of environmentalism has from the rule in the United States that church and state be kept entirely distinct. You fear, in other words, what appears to be environmentalisms’ rapid approach to becoming the de facto state religion.
I ask everyone to join me in supporting CEI as it fights the modern Inquisitors. Success at beating back the antediluvian, irrational, anti-science, dogmatic brutes who are attacking CEI will help not only CEI but, more importantly, also our very civilization. I myself will now make a donation. You can make a donation to CEI here. (I have no official role or connection with CEI, although in the past – the 1990s – I wrote some papers for them. No one asked me to use Cafe Hayek as a forum for helping CEI fight the Inquisitors. I do so of my own accord, as a public service. I can, I add, vouch for the excellent integrity, soundness of character, and commitment to the cause of human freedom of the people at CEI.)