Just Go Ahead and Criminalize Freedom, Why Don't You?
In the world of Larry Torcello, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, jail awaits me… and you – that is, if like me you’re a “denier,” as in denying a coming “manmade” climate Apocalypse. The good professor, doubtlessly enamored of the late freedom-loving intellectual and mass murderer, the esteemed Comrade Vladimir Lenin, wants principals involved with any “organised campaign funding misinformation [about manmade climate change] to be considered criminally negligent.”
But what Larry assuredly denies is the slippery slope, even if his call is limited to jailing those who lead organized efforts to “misinform” the public about rascally global warming. When it comes to tyranny – whatever the packaging – Prof Larry should have learned this: when governments begin depriving some people of their liberties, they inevitably deprive most, if not all, of their freedoms. When only approved speech is countenanced, then any other speech is subject to censorship. With tyranny, the speakers of unapproved speech inevitably need to be – what did Delbert Grady say in The Shining? – “corrected.”
Today, it’s the big corporate moneybags that Larry wants cast into dingy dungeons for the high crime of manipulating public opinion in ways unfavorable to the religion of global warming, and who impede draconian government action against this faux scourge. Per Larry’s conceit, manmade global warming is as certain as daffodils in the spring; hence, his charge that organized efforts opposed to global warming are criminally negligent. Like Larry and his ilk, opponents spending their dollars to sway the public know that manmade carbons are killing the planet. The evidence is incontrovertible; climate change opponents are willfully heedless, recklessly endangering humanity.
Tomorrow, however, it’s a schmuck like me, who hunts and pecks and publishes on occasion in opposition to the manmade global warming scam (slap the cuffs on me, sheriff). After all, my writing may well persuade a fraction of the public against climate change hokum, eh? My opinion is somehow informed, a future tribunal will decide. Since global warming is “settled” science, my arguments serve only to agitate against public policies and government programs aimed at rescuing humanity from the curse of manufactured carbons. Off I go, then, to some reeducation camp in the Mohave to be… “corrected.”
My fate is of no consequence to Comrade Larry. But what about Larry’s fate in a future where those who contradict the party line – err, the settled science – are deemed criminally negligent? Or just plain criminal?
Perhaps the day will come when Larry is compelled to voice opinions that dissent from the reigning orthodoxy (legally protected, to be sure). Perhaps Comrade Larry’s bleating is judged criminal, given his conspicuous position as a prof. His students and peers are being unduly influenced, a court rules. If Larry’s opinions gain currency, the broader public might be persuaded as to their legitimacy. Broader public acceptance of Larry’s perspective could inhibit government’s ability to act in accord with the public welfare. In that Brave New World, science needn’t be settled, and criminality is whatever a court decides (based on a liberal interpretation that, shall we say, conforms to the ruling elites’ judgments). Larry, therefore, joins an older, though unbowed, me in my cozy Mohave camp cell. Handball, Larry, is a privilege here.
Then, again, governments are overturned. A new cadre emerges. Manmade global warming is proclaimed a fraud. The science, heretofore suppressed, says so – undeniably. The forces of nature are incalculably mightier than any force of mankind. Economic development has been thwarted for too long, thanks to spurious science, decrees the new government; the public has suffered as a result. “Larry’s Law” is turned with a mythic vengeance on the good professor, for he’s neglectful of the truth of the government approved science. He has spoken out and acted in concert with others to turn public opinion against the indisputable.
While former apparatchik Larry is shipped off to the Mohave, I’m granted a full pardon, though, upon release, I vigorously protest for Larry’s right to voice his apostasy and his right to join others in doing so. After a brief interlude, I’m reconvicted of “crimes against the truth” and shipped back to the Mohave, this time to solitary, being pegged a recidivist and a potential prison yard rabble rouser. Sometimes, you can’t win…
Larry is representative of the left – as it’s always been. If the left can’t win in the arena of ideas, if it can’t prevail against those who persuasively counter its arguments – on global warming now, but perhaps later, over the irrefutable truth of government-run health care – then it seeks to shutdown countervailing points-of-view. If informal censorship – and that can range from ignoring arguments to ridiculing them and the tellers – fails, then the left will turn to formal censorship, up to and including proposals to make unapproved speech criminal.
Note, too, how Larry and the left proceed. They isolate a segment of the “offenders” – a segment that the wider public might regard negatively (this time, corporate interests and their advocates). They seek support for their proposal based on the ad hominem. If the left succeeds in driving this wedge, it establishes a precedent. The precedent is used later to justify expansions of policy or law – criminality, in other words. The rationale for doing so is whatever it needs to be. This has been the “progressive” way in America from the earliest 20th Century to date.
Some may think this concern about Professor Larry Torcello’s call to criminalize speech against global warming is overwrought. (Yeah, Lar, despite your protests you want to criminalize the opposition, you priggish deceiver.) But time and again, what seemed leftist fringiness (homosexual marriage, for example) is persistently pushed from the margins to as near the center as is possible. Sweat equity goes only so far, though. If a leftist idea can’t win full public acceptance (ObamaCare), the left will turn to the courts (thank you, John Roberts) and lean on its pols (Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, for instance) to get it across the finish line.
Leftists – being statists of various stripes and degrees – appreciate global warming as the means to aggrandize government beyond their pre-climate change imaginings. The American left, despite its vehement denials and protestations are pro-tyranny and anti-liberty. Their arguments claiming to champion “positive” freedom and the such is sophistry – artifice. Freedom is freedom, and the left ain’t for it.
Below the left’s shiny veneer of “We are the World” feel-goodism and the rote about “fairness, justice, and equality” are dungeons – for big business evildoers at first, but then for anyone who dare challenge the left’s worldview. The squalid truth about the left is it has always favored force. (See: Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Russia – communist and post – for starters).
Force is handy – when deceptions and lies fall short.