“…In all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yeah! I’m for debating anything…”
– (Stephen Hopkins, ‘1776‘)
Once upon a time, the art of debate was viewed as one of the most laudable aspects of American Society. It’s part of our national fabric, and our country was conceived almost solely as a result of prolonged and heated debate. Debate teams have been a constant in schools for ages, and the ability to winningly articulate one’s ideas is as central to our national identity as freedom itself. We even created our Congress as two parts with debate expressly in mind, with the Senate being the chamber where differing points of view could be thoroughly discussed by each state’s most esteemed intellects.
But today, the accepted virtue of Free Debate now seems hopelessly anachronistic.
(via Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard) – “…On his blog this morning, Roger Pielke Jr. at the University of Colorado, a respected climate scientist, reveals that he was one of seven academics being investigated by Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources.
And the good professor’s supposed crime, which is suddenly in need of Congressional inquiry? Take a wild guess:
“…Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases…”.
Professor Pielke knows what’s going on here, as should we all:
Pielke: “…Before continuing, let me make one point abundantly clear: I have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have. Representative Grijalva knows this too, because when I have testified before the US Congress, I have disclosed my funding and possible conflicts of interest.
So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt” designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name…”
And now this same event is being played out against 100 other free-market think tanks and energy companies, as they are also being “asked” by the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works to turn over funding records related to ALL research conducted on climate change.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it should: it’s in vogue across the landscape, and (worse) it’s become alarmingly effective.
From college campus “Speech Codes”, where merely expressing the “incorrect” point-of-view can land a student (or professor) in all sorts of trouble, …to the despicable “John Doe” investigations against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, …to the IRS’ illegal targeting scheme of Conservative/Tea Party groups, …to “climatologist” Michael Mann’s ongoing lawsuit against Mark Steyn for the latter’s criticizing Mann’s global warming research, …to President Obama’s constant invocation of “The Debate is Over” for any discussion which isn’t going his way, …each example is designed to make continued debate of the subject impossible and/or inflict maximum pain on the heretics.
Hey, you don’t exactly require a compelling argument if your opponent can’t say anything, right?
This strategy of anti-discourse is pernicious:
- Don’t agree with Liberal thought on such-&-such topic? You’ll be sued into submission for your heresy.
- Have an issue with a particular canon of Leftist belief? You’ll be “investigated” until you are no longer a threat.
- Feel that your viewpoint has merit, even though it runs afoul of Statist dogma? Prepare to be bullied, intimidated, and harangued until you realize the error of your ways.
All of which makes Andrew Klavan’s brilliant “Shut Up” video from several years ago now seem more prescient with each passing day:
An oft used quote by Mark Steyn is from the historian Arnold Toynbee:
“Civilizations die from suicide, not murder”.
That’s undeniably true, and it’s hard to argue that our nation hasn’t already swallowed a fatal cocktail of stultifying, silent acceptance.