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It never fails. At some point, the mask slips among the “tolerant” members of academia and we are exposed to their real controlling and authoritarian face. Over the past few weeks there have been two good examples of this. At Harvard, we had senior Sandra Korn (“a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator”, whatever that might be) declare that academic freedom is an outdated concept and that “academic justice” is a much better concept:
In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.
Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.
Tolerance of ideas you don’t like or agree with? Forget about it. Instead, refuse to fund research that doesn’t conform to your agenda and we’ll call that “academic justice”. Feel a little chill?
Now we have an assistant professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology who would like to see those who disagree with him on climate change put in jail. Apparently freedom of thought and speech and the right to disagree are outdated concepts as well. Eric Owens at the Daily Caller brings us up to date:
The professor is Lawrence Torcello. Last week, he published a 900-word-plus essay at an academic website called The Conversation.
His main complaint is his belief that certain nefarious, unidentified individuals have organized a “campaign funding misinformation.” Such a campaign, he argues, “ought to be considered criminally negligent.”
Torcello, who has a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, explains that there are times when criminal negligence and “science misinformation” must be linked. The threat of climate change, he says, is one of those times.
Throughout the piece, he refers to the bizarre political aftermath of an earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, which saw six scientists imprisoned for six years each because they failed to “clearly communicate risks to the public” about living in an earthquake zone.
“Consider cases in which science communication is intentionally undermined for political and financial gain,” the assistant professor urges.
“Imagine if in L’Aquila, scientists themselves had made every effort to communicate the risks of living in an earthquake zone,” Torcello argues, but evil “financiers” of a “denialist campaign” “funded an organised [sic] campaign to discredit the consensus findings of seismology, and for that reason no preparations were made.”
“I submit that this is just what is happening with the current, well documented funding of global warming denialism,” Torcello asserts.
No mention of the current, well documented funding of global warming alarmism (Al Gore, call your booking agent). No mention of the science that counters many of the claims of alarmists. No mention of the unexplained 15 year temperature pause. In fact, no mention of anything that might derail his argument. But that’s par for the course among alarmists, and Torcello is certainly one of them. And, as he makes clear, he will not tolerate deniers because they’re not only wrong, they’re criminals:
Torcello says that people are already dying because of global warming. “Nonetheless, climate denial remains a serious deterrent against meaningful political action in the very countries most responsible for the crisis.”
As such, Torcello wants governments to make “the funding of climate denial” a crime.
“The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus.”
Of course the reason he’s so upset is this new fangled thing called the internet has enabled anyone who is curious about the climate debate to actually see both sides of the argument layed out before them. For the alarmists, that has inconveniently helped a majority of people realize that the science behind the alarmism is weak at best and fraudulent in some cases. It has also helped them understand that the alarmist science that Torcello wants enshrined as “truth” was gathered from deeply flawed computer models and fudged data. And, it has also let the voices of dissenting scientists be heard. Finally, this ability for the public to weigh the arguments has found most of the public viewing climate change as a minor problem at best.
Torcello would like to make all of that a crimnal activity based simply on his belief that the alarmist argument is the accurate argument. He’d jail the heretics and deny the public the opposing argument.
The Torcellos of the world once tried to do this to a man named Gallileo. And we know how that worked out.
It is always easy to wave away those like Torcello and claim they’re an anomoly. But it seems we see more and more of them popping up each day. The struggle to gain and maintain freedom is a daily struggle. It is the Torcellos and the Korns of the world who would – for your own good, of course – be happy to help incrementally rob you of your freedoms. They must be called out each and every time they do so and exposed for what they are.
Come and try it Lawrence.