Does the neighborhood bully have a right to cry foul when someone finally takes off his gloves and smacks the bully across the mouth? One should keep this question in mind when reflecting on the Heartland Institute’s global warming billboard featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
The Heartland Institute, for whom I am a senior fellow, did not seek my input prior to its decision to put up its Ted Kaczynski billboard. Had I been aware of the plans, I would have argued strongly against it. That being said, there have been some curious and hypocritical reactions to the billboard.
The professed outrage involves the implicit message that if you believe in global warming you share something in common with mass murderer Ted Kaczynski. Was the billboard a constructive means of calling attention to flaws in alarmist global warming theory? In my opinion, no. Did the billboard message arbitrarily lump honest and well-intentioned believers in a global warming crisis with hateful extremists in the movement? In my opinion, yes.
There are many people, holding many different points of view regarding global warming, who believe there is never any place in constructive debate for the message contained in the Ted Kaczynski billboard. For those who sincerely hold such a belief, and who apply their offense and outrage equally against all offending parties, I find no fault and fully understand their point of view.
The disconcerting reality, however, is that the most vocal critics of the billboard campaign do not apply their offense and outrage equally against all parties. The alarmist global warming movement is heavily populated with hateful extremists who routinely insult and defame skeptics in the most repugnant of manner. The media and most global warming activists unfailingly give these extremists a free pass for their hateful and incendiary rhetoric, yet they have stoked a witch hunt mentality against the Heartland Institute now that the Institute finally succumbed to the bully’s own tactics and punched back.
Less than a week before Heartland’s Ted Kaczynski billboard, Joe Romm of the Center for American Progress published an article comparing skeptics as a whole and me personally to Holocaust deniers. As somebody whose grandfather risked his life and caught a bullet fighting the Nazis in World War II, that is one of the most offensive, disgusting, incendiary attacks a person can make. The media gave Romm a pass on that comment before the Heartland billboard campaign occurred, and they have given him a pass on it since, even though I have pointed out Romm’s disgusting attack to several reporters during the past two weeks.
In July 2011 the Center for American Progress published an article titled “Norway Terrorist Is A Global Warming Denier.” The article not only attempted to link global warming skeptics to a psychotic spree killer, but the article also claimed the murderer’s thought processes “are in line with mainstream opinion among American conservatives.” The Center for American Progress article explicitly stated things that are far beyond what the Heartland billboard implicitly suggested, yet global warming alarmists and their media allies gave a pass to the Center for American Progress while launching a witch-hunt against the Heartland Institute.
In 2008 NASA supervisor and prominent alarmist James Hansen told a UK newspaper, “This is analagous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill.”
The list goes on and on, both before and after Heartland’s billboard campaign, of disgusting tactics and rhetoric directed against skeptics of alarmist global warming theory, yet global warming alarmists and their media allies express outrage and condemnation only when skeptics partially and momentarily employ similar tactics to what alarmists invented, perfected and continue to employ to this day.
And make no mistake, the specter of Ted Kaczynski haunts skeptics to this day. Ted Kaczynski wrote an environmental extremist manifesto that many have had difficulty distinguishing from the rantings of Al Gore. Kaczynski targeted and killed people who worked against his vision of environmental extremism. Global warming skeptics and the Heartland Institute in particular continue to be threatened in like manner, yet the media ignores such threats and gives a free pass to those who stoke the flames of such threats. Just this week, after leaving my wife and children alone for three days while I attended a conference, I returned to an email reading, “You have absolutely nothing to be afraid of unless you are a liar. Are you afraid?”
I and many others wish that Heartland had held back on running the Ted Kaczynski billboard. I personally believe the truth will always win out, and that one does not need to give in to the temptation to employ the alarmists’ own tactics in order for truth to prevail.
That being said, criticisms of somebody finally taking off the gloves and smacking the neighborhood bully in the mouth ring hollow if and when the people making such criticisms focus only on the longtime victim while giving the serial bully a free pass.
[First published at Forbes.]