A group of 20 university professors are hoping the federal government will try to prosecute climate change skeptics. The group sent a letter to the White House earlier this month comparing those who are a bit doubtful regarding man-made global warming to the tobacco industry.
We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool – recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change…The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking. If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done
Guess it’s time for me to find a lawyer because I’m in the skeptic category when it comes to just how much influence the fossil fuel industry has on climate change. There’s no doubt the Earth cools and warms, but it does this naturally and man-made global warming probably has about 5% of the effect on the climate. It could be more, but it’s doubtful it’s as large as the alarmists want to make it out to be.
At this same time this push shows how the left wants to use government power to crack down on people whose narratives don’t fit their own. Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva tried to find out who was giving research funding to seven professors who weren’t climate change proponents. California Congressman Adam Schiff tried to make it legal for civil suits against gun manufacturers. Houston Mayor Annise Parker tried to get the sermons of pastors who didn’t agree with the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Democrats sued in 2011 trying to get the Federal Election Commission to reveal who donated what during the 2010 election. President Barack Obama even considered an executive order earlier this year to force federal contractors to disclose if they’re involved in a Political Action Committee. This isn’t suing over a freedom and liberty issue, but suing to keep people silent. It’s something which Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin enjoy (or enjoyed in Chavez’ case) doing as a way to shut people up and keep the “oh everything is great” narrative going. It’s a violation of the First Amendment which protects freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.
So what’s the solution? The first is to point out when the Left tries to do something like this and explain why it’s wrong. Unfortunately screaming “CONSTITUTION!” isn’t going to solve anything, so people are to have to be convinced otherwise. This means personalizing the issue. The Right can point out how this crackdown could eventually happen to those who think it’s okay for the government to go after climate change skeptics or gunmakers. Pastor Martin Niemoller had it right when discussing Nazi Germany.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The slippery slope is real, despite what people may think. Remember the Bush Administration promised the unconstitutional Patriot Act would protect Americans, but Congress had to amend it because it was being abused. Who’s to say it might happen again with some other law meant to “protect us” or “level the playing field.” People have to be vigilant on encroachments of liberty and fight against them. George Marshall and Leonard H. Courtney were right in saying, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” If no one is willing to pay attention and speak out, then things will only get worse. This is why it’s important to support groups like the Institute for Justice, which works hard to fight against government overreach and issues of economic liberty, the First Amendment, and more.
There’s another point to all this: the Right needs to resist the urge to do what the Left does to people who don’t agree with them. This means not suing climate change proponents or a union leader who’s speaking out against right to work reforms. Freedom and liberty has to be protected, even if it involves groups I don’t agree with. If it’s not, then the Right becomes no better than the Left which isn’t going to help anyone.
Clarification (Taylor): As some in the comments section pointed out, it sounds like I’m endorsing the Patriot Act. I’m not in favor of the Patriot Act and have edited the sentence so it can be more clear. My apologies for the confusion.