(Revised March 8, 2012)
Donna Laframboise asks the key question about Fakegate: “Where do Gleick Apologists Draw the Line?”
In a recent post on her Web site, No Frakking Consensus, she provides excerpts from scientists, ethicists, and activists who excuse or even lionize Peter Gleick for stealing Heartland Institute budget documents, impersonating a Heartland board member, misrepresenting himself to bloggers as an anonymous “Heartland insider,” and palming off as genuine — maybe also authoring — a fake climate strategy document in which Koch supposedly funds Heartland to keep opposing voices out of Forbes magazine, sell doubt as their product, and dissuade teachers from teaching science.
Laframboise comments: “Climate change is a strange beast. When it enters the room, even ethicists lose the ability to think straight.”
At the end of her post, she asks Gleick’s apologists what other unlawful actions they believe would be justified if necessary to advance their cause:
I get it. Lying and stealing and misleading are OK so long as they help advance a good cause. What else is acceptable? Old fashioned burglary? Arson? Car bombs?
Where is the line?
There is no moral equivalence between Gleick’s theft of Heartland’s budget documents and the release of Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails — quite possibly by a whistle blower — that triggered the Climategate scandal.
The CRU is a tax-funded organization; thus, its research and work-related emails are subject to freedom of information laws. Heartland is a privately-funded organization; thus, its planning documents are not subject to such laws. As we know from the Climategate emails, CRU scientists stonewalled FOIA requests for years to prevent independent researchers from checking their data and methods. That was a bona fide scandal, not only because evading FOIA is unlawful, but also because scientists who deny independent researchers the opportunity to reproduce (invalidate) their results attack the very heart of the scientific enterprise.
Leaking the CRU emails was the only way to (a) produce documents responsive to valid FOIA requests, (b) expose CRU’s willful evasion of FOIA, and (c) subject CRU research products to the indispensable scientific test of reproducibility. Gleick’s theft of the Heartland documents served no legal or scientific-integrity objective. The Heartland documents reveal no breach of professional ethics or law, which is why somebody (Gleick?) had to fabricate a ‘confidential climate strategy memo’ to make Heartland look bad.
Nonetheless, warmistas such as DeSmog Blog, which published the purloined Heartland documents, applaud Gleick as a whistle blower, and stubbornly insist the fake strategy memo is genuine, loudly denounced Climategate as the work of an “illegal hack” of emails “stolen” from the CRU server.
The Gleick affair thus brings into sharp focus what has been apparent for some time, namely, the warmist movement is imbued with a ‘one law for me, another for thee‘ mentality. Such a mindset is toxic to democracy and scientific integrity alike.
As DeSmog Blog sees the world, those who espouse Gorthodoxy have a moral right to (1) flout FOIA and the rules of scientific discourse, and (2) violate the legal rights of climate alarm skeptics. DeSmog and its allies fancy themselves cutting-edge defenders of “the science.” In fact, their mentality is thoroughly medieval.
In Europe’s wars of religion, sectarians often tried to justify unconscienable behavior on the grounds that they had no ethical or legal obligations to “heretics” (i.e., anyone who believed differently than they did). John Locke excoriated this pious fraud in his Letter Concerning Toleration:
Another more secret evil, but more dangerous to the commonwealth, is when men arrogate to themselves, and to those of their own sect, some peculiar prerogative covered over with a specious show of deceitful words, but in effect opposite to the civil right of the community. For example: we cannot find any sect that teaches, expressly and openly, that men are not obliged to keep their promise; that princes may be dethroned by those that differ from them in religion; or that the dominion of all things belongs only to themselves. For these things, proposed thus nakedly and plainly, would soon draw on them the eye and hand of the magistrate and awaken all the care of the commonwealth to a watchfulness against the spreading of so dangerous an evil. But, nevertheless, we find those that say the same things in other words. What else do they mean who teach that faith is not to be kept with heretics? Their meaning, forsooth, is that the privilege of breaking faith belongs unto themselves; for they declare all that are not of their communion to be heretics, or at least may declare them so whensoever they think fit [emphasis added].
DeSmoggers adhere to a similar doctrine: No faith with skeptics. Gleickists (for want of a better term) act on the presumption that when dealing with skeptics, almost any dishonest and underhanded action is okay, or even honorable. They are orthodox (to themselves), which supposedly gives them a right to lie to skeptics, steal from them, manufacture scandals to destroy their careers, politicize professional certification to keep skeptics out of jobs, collude to keep their papers out of the peer-reviewed literature, even accuse skeptics (or their industry allies) of treason (an offense punishable by death) and high crimes against humanity and nature.
The pre-modern sectarians who preached “no faith with heretics” rejected the civil and religious equality essential to a free society. Locke urged magistrates not to tolerate anyone preaching such intolerance.
Thomas Jefferson improved on Locke, arguing that the best way to deal with intolerant sects is to let them discredit themselves in the marketplace of ideas. Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom concludes by affirming:
. . .that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Gleick and his apologists have discredited themselves far more than any Heartland Institute climate science report, climate conference, or global warming curriculum could accomplish.
Fortunately, nothing I say here will make them wise up.