Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wingnuttery On Parade

It appears the Republican Party of Maine have adopted as their official party platform the Tea-Baggers' Compendium of White Man's Anger. So be it: they have a god-given right to suffer seizures of fury at whatever issues they choose--gay marriage and abortion and guns and Jebus.

But in four pages of righteous hate (including demanding the elimination of the Department of Education and the rescindment of other people's health care and the insistence that minority religious views be given no protection) there is this little tidbit:

g. Defeat Cap and Trade, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion.

Give and take is a necessary part of the scientific method, and there is much about global warming that is speculative. For example, we don't know with certainty exactly how far sea levels will rise, or which species will go extinct or exactly how weather will be affected. But there seems little controversy among climate scientists about the broad strokes, even if public understanding of the issue necessarily lags years behind.

But that's a far cry from supporting a claim that the issue is nonexistent. Indeed, by now the claim that it's all a myth is a decade or more past its sell-by date. Using our present uncertainties to dismiss the science altogether is like watching a car fly off a cliff and, because we don't know exactly how many chunks the occupants will be torn into in the ensuing crash, demanding angrily that no crash is imminent. Finding "collusion" between government and people trying to slow climate change presupposes that there is some mechanism by which collusion is occurring and that there is some underlying benefit to be gained by the colluders in their coordinated action. There seem a whole bunch of steps that would first need to be taken before this plank has any business being included in a public policy platform.

My question is this: what responsibility do these people bear for their role in propagating political ideas that are completely ignorant (and contemptuous) of science? At what point does a person's rights of speech and thought conflict with the rights of others not to suffer by way of it? The view is more and more prevalent, for example, that smoking in a public place is unacceptable: your right to smoke is superseded by my right not to suffer harm. And I know that hate speech must be protected as a necessary component of free speech (partly because we can't always agree what constitutes hate speech, but also because freedom means freedom to believe ugly things). But on the other hand, we take threats seriously: for example, a person is not allowed to express an intent to harm another. At what point does a policy that is known to lead to societal (nay, global) harm cause its proponents to bear responsibility for its consequences?

The Faux News clowns and guys like Rush Limbaugh are slippery, dishonest people. They will slip quietly away from these topics and find other targets when enough of their supporters realize that you can't really live with this kind of rational disconnect (which may have to wait for the irrefutable evidence of a total climatic meltdown). But they shouldn't be allowed to set this kind of agenda with immunity; the views and actions of climate change denihilists should to be kept front and center, and they should be held accountable for this line of argument they're taking.

(This black cloud of denihilism at least has a dark-gray lining in that it shows us what a Sarah Palin presidency would look like.)


My favorite comment from the Pharyngula article linked above (from many great comments):

Well, what do you expect from folks who concede that reality has a liberal bias, believe in Jebus but want to purge the Bibble of its liberal bias and and want to sandblast Jefferson off of Mt. Rushmore?

Somebody needs to reanimate Leni Riefenstahl and have her come back and make "Triumph of the Stupid."

1 comment:

dbackdad said...

Wow. You can see some obscure county in Alabama having a "pull-out-of-one's-ass" party platform. But for an actual state Republican Party, in an area of the country that most people consider to be fairly educated, that is something else.