I have become a point of interest for Russell Cook of the Heartland Institute. If you are not familiar with this gem of a human being, don’t be disappointed. His job description with the Institute includes the statement (from his webpage) “He specializes in research of the origins of accusations leveled at skeptics and the associations of people surrounding it, most notably anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan.”
I find it interesting that he “specializes” in this area of work. From my perspective, this makes Cook the Gestapo of the Heartland Institute with the job of hunting down dissenting opinions and persecuting those responsible. Again, that is just from my perspective.
Now, he has apparently set his sights on me. That, in itself, is pretty amazing. Let’s be honest about my blog, this is not one of the top climate change blogs out there. Truth be told, it is probably not even in the top few hundred blogs. So, why does Mr. Cook find it necessary to come after me?
Now, you may ask, just how is it that I feel he is targeting me? He has engaged in a series of comments on my blog, all of which I have published verbatim without any kind of editing on my part. You can read all of his comments and my responses here. These comments appear to be motivated by a posting I made pointing out how the people in control of the NIPCC reports are all tools of the fossil fuel industry, a claim he finds objectionable. I will make a more detailed posting about this claim, but I want to devote this posting to Mr. Cook and his actions, which he supposedly committed as part of his job at the Heartland Institute.
Mr Cook began by demanding I produce clandestine information to support my claim (“(full context document scans, undercover video/audio transcripts, leaked emails, money-transfer receipts, etc.)”) I referred to some documents that are available as an example that the documentation is there for anyone to see. He scoffed at this and responded, “If you had to answer a court subpoena as a defense witness supporting people accused of committing libel/slander against skeptic climate scientists, is that material from ExxonSecrets all you’d have to bring with you?”
Whoa! Wait a minute! Suddenly, we are talking lawsuits, subpoenas and libel/slander. Why? What was the purpose here? None of those topics were in anyway included in my postings or previous comments. I do not for an instant, believe they came out of thin air. It is only reasonable to believe there was a motive behind those comments.
Did he directly threaten me with such a lawsuit? No, he didn’t. Was this an attempt to intimidate me? It most certainly was. There can be one, and only one, reason why Mr. Cook would make a comment like that, to make sure I understood that such a lawsuit was a possibility. The only possible motivation I can see is he wanted to make sure I understood the Heartland Institute is upset with my comments and if I continue, they will do something about it.
When I asked him if he was threatening me with a lawsuit, he responded,
I respectfully suggest you show your verbatim blog post and our comments to the most disinterested person you can find and ask him or her – without any leading pointers on your part – whether my first bit about the wisdom of you supporting your accusation with proof is threatening or intimidation, and whether my prior comment is any indication at all of a pending lawsuit against you. If they say “No” and then look at you sorta funny, that might be an indication that you might want to more carefully re-read my comments.
I have read Mr. Cook’s comments very carefully and there is still no alternative explanation I can come up with. What is very telling is his comment “without any leading pointers on your part”. To remove anything I might say about it is just plain silly, since the comments were directed at me and for my consumption. Let me give you an example, suppose someone says Person A is pointing a gun at Person B, and leaves out any context. What is your conclusion? You can’t really reach one because you don’t know what the story. Is Person A robbing Person B? Is Person A a police officer arresting Person B? Is Person A unlawfully in the Person B’s house in the middle of the night? Is Person B unlawfully in Person A’s house in the middle of the night? Are they playing laser tag or paintball? All very different and you cannot reach a logical conclusion without the context of the situation.
That, of course, is exactly what Mr. Cook wants. And, the deniers are extremely skilled at this. Many of their claims consists of taking selected quotes out of context and putting them into a new context to make them seem like something else. Now, if you are suspicious that I have done this to Mr. Cook, you may read all of his comments verbatim. Again, they can be found here.
One last point, Mr. Cook devoted over 1500 words (1566, according to Microsoft Word) to my blog, once again, a minor blog. You would think he would have bigger fish to fry. Or, maybe its because he thinks a small fry like me can be intimidated. If so, he greatly missed the mark. I was a career analyst in Navy Intelligence, involved with fighting some of the nastiest people on the face of the planet. I have dealt with very nasty people in my private life and do not get intimidated very easily.
As for a slander/libel lawsuit, the burden of proof is on them and the truth is a positive and absolute defense. If anyone would like to sue me for slander/libel because I said certain people receive funding from the fossil fuel industry, the first thing I will do is to subpoena the financial records of everyone involved. And, we know for a fact that the Heartland Institute does not want anyone to see their internal documents. Just look at their reaction when internal documents were leaked.
Again, this blog is not about debunking deniers or exposing all of their dirty laundry. If it comes up in course of my discussions, no problem. They are putting themselves in the public eye and are fair game. But, that isn’t my purpose here.
But, I want to make it clear that any effort on the part of Cook and the Heartland Institute to intimidate me failed. Unfortunately, as much as I want to devote myself to important things, I will need to address Cook and his comments in future posts.