Climate Change Denial is the Moral Equivalent of Racism

On June 21, 1990,  a teenager in St. Paul, MN, identified only as R.A.V., burned a cross in the front yard of an African-American family. He was charged with violating the St. Paul Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance which stated,

Whoever places on public or private property, a symbol, object, appellation, characterization or graffiti, including, but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi swastika, which one knows or has reasonable grounds to know arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender commits disorderly conduct and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

The teenager appealed the charge on the grounds that the law was an unconstitutional violation of his free speech rights. The case is known as R.A.V. vs City of St Paul. The Minnesota Supreme Court found in favor of St Paul and upheld the law. It was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down the law in a unanimous decision. Justice Scalia, writing the majority opinion, said,

Although the phrase in the ordinance, “arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others,” has been limited by the Minnesota Supreme Court’s construction to reach only those symbols or displays that amount to “fighting words,” the remaining, unmodified terms make clear that the ordinance applies only to “fighting words” that insult, or provoke violence, “on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender.” Displays containing abusive invective, no matter how vicious or severe, are permissible unless they are addressed to one of the specified disfavored topics. Those who wish to use “fighting words” in connection with other ideas — to express hostility, for example, on the basis of political affiliation, union membership, or homosexuality — are not covered. The First Amendment does not permit St. Paul to impose special prohibitions on those speakers who express views on disfavored subjects.

He concluded,

“Let there be no mistake about our belief that burning a cross in someone’s front yard is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire.”

What does this have to do with climate change? Nothing.

What does this have to do with climate change deniers? Plenty.

Climate change denial has reached the point of offensiveness that I now contend it is the moral equivalent of racial slurs. Racial slurs serve the purpose of denigrating someone based on some irrelevant basis, such as the color of their skin or their religious beliefs. There is no logic or factual basis to support the claims of people that use these slurs, although they will very vigorously claim there is. I cannot tell you how many racists I have listened to that have gone on about how one race is better than another one, or one religions is superior to another.

Yet, in this country, people are free to hold those opinions and to even voice them (with certain restrictions, most notably the ‘fighting words’ standard). So, if someone wants to go and use a slur in reference to some other person or group of people, they are free to do so. The words may be reprehensible, but they are free to use them.

However, everyone else is also free to condemn them for their words and even for their beliefs. We are free to label someone as a racist and to shun them from our society for their viewpoints. Part of the reason most of us find this kind of thought to be unacceptable is because we realize how illogical the thoughts are. The idea that all of the people in one race are superior to all of the people in another race, simply because of the color of their skin, is completely without any supporting evidence and intelligent people of any walk of life will recognize them as having no value and being offensive. Most people also recognize that, while it is healthy to allow free speech, the hate speech of racists is itself harmful to society.

The words of climate change deniers has now reached that same point. There is no logic or scientific evidence to support their claims and they are made merely for the sake of denigrating science.  In other words, what global warming deniers say about climate science is exactly parallel to what racists say about other races.

Pure and simple, climate change deniers are engaging in hate speech.

Just like in the case of R.A.V vs St Paul, their actions are reprehensible, but are allowed under the Constitution. However, we as a society have a responsibility to stand up to these hateful people and label them for what they are. It is healthy to allow that our Constitution allows them to say the things they do, but it is unhealthy for society to let them do it without condemning them.

I remember my grandmother telling me of how she had a separate set of glasses she used to take water and lemonade out to the help working in the yard. She kept these separate from the other glasses because, as she said, “No white person would ever drink out of a glass after a black man used it.”

Where are you going to stand on the subject? And, how do you want your children and grandchildren to remember your stand?

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6 thoughts on “Climate Change Denial is the Moral Equivalent of Racism

  1. 'There is no logic or scientific evidence to support their claims..'

    What claims? Climate skeptics/deniers make no claims that I'm aware of. Remember, its the alarmist who are making the claims that CO2 is a pollutant and that the earth will suffer climactic apocalypse. It is up to the alarmists to support those claims, and so far they have done a poor job. All the deniers have to do is pick apart the science, and its surprisingly easy and fun to do.

    And the thing about science is that it is SUPPOSED to be picked apart. Good scientist welcome criticism and will release their data for scrutiny, weak scientists hide their data.

    I used to be a climate alarmist like you, and when I heard denialists mouthing off I found it deeply offensive. It took a bit of self reflection to figure out why. It was offensive because I realized that climate alarmism is a faith, almost a religion. That's why you hear people say they 'believe' in climate change. When a denier said negative things against my faith or belief, I found it offensive. I think that's where you are right now.

    Today I'm a skeptic/denier for many reasons, but the main reason is that climate alarmism is politics masquerading as science. My favorite evidence of this happened at the IPCC 2012 Climate Summit in Doha. A summit delegate stood up at an open forum and asked a simple question, he asked why no one was addressing the 16 year pause in global temperatures. His was answered by having his microphone cut-off and he was ejected from the summit. He had to fly home to Britain. That's politics, not science.

    A year later the IPCC was forced to acknowledge the 'pause' in global temperatures in their AR5 report. Today its now 17.8 years of no warming.

    cheers

    klem

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  2. “Climate skeptics/deniers make no claims that I'm aware of.” That statement would be very laughable if it wasn't so utterly stupid. The most remarkable part about it is that you then go and make several claims yourself. Let me point some out for you.

    “pick apart the science, and its surprisingly easy and fun to do.” – It is not possible for deniers to pick apart the science and I have never heard any denier anywhere do so. Further, I have two standing challenges on the blog for any denier to show it can be done. This is a false claim and the part of deniers.

    “Weak scientist hide their data.” – All climatic data is free and available to anyone with Internet access. I access it myself all the time. This is a denier claim and it has no basis in truth.

    “climate alarmism is a faith, almost a religion” – This needs to go on my list of denier speak. This is a claim deniers make to try and denigrate science. Science is what it is and is independent of what ever people believe in. A ball will fall when dropped and it doesn't matter what you believe in. The science of climate change is irrefutable. Scientists realize that and follow the science.

    “IPCC was forced to acknowledge the 'pause' in global temperatures” – Again, you are making a claim and it is a false one. There is no pause in the rise of global temperatures. What we have seen is a slowing down in the rise of surface temperatures (the last decade was the hottest ever recorded and 9 of the hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000, including the hottest three). But, while the surface temperature is has not been rising as rapidly as it was (thank goodness), the ocean temperature has been going crazy. When we say 'global warming' we mean the entire globe, not just the air and land.

    For you to state that deniers aren't making any claims is such a blatant lie that it is offensive. You really do fall in the category of being a bigot. Your mindset is exactly the same as someone that claims one race is superior to another, or someone is inferior because of the religion they follow. Climate science is just that – science. You have to go where the science goes and the science showing man made global warming is real is completely undeniable. I have given many examples of this in this blog and addressed the topic in detail in my book.

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  3. “There is no pause in the rise of global temperatures.”

    You might want to take that up with the IPCC, they refer to it as the 'hiatus' in the AR5. Even the IPCC could not dance around this one.

    To deny the pause is to deny the science. Welcome to the club Chris, you science denier you. Lol!

    Enjoy.

    klem

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  4. It is amazing how deniers keep leaving out the science they don't want. What we have seen is a pause (more of a slowdown) in the rise of surface temperatures. Even that hasn't stopped the rise in temperature, though. Nine of the 10 hottest years and the three hottest have occurred since 2000. But, the part you deniers always leave out is the ocean. “Global” warming means the whole globe, not just the air and land. Take a look at this article and tell me warming has stopped. It really shows how silly you are.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/02/05/global-warming-has-stopped-how-to-fool-people-using-cherry-picked-climate-data/2/

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  5. Do you really think this is about name calling? Do you really think that bullying by deniers is going to change the reality? I'll tell you what this is about, its about the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are dieing every year from climate change while who knows how many are suffering illness and injury. Its about how untold millions are having their quality of life degraded.

    What it is really about is how this is all happening and deniers are actively working to stop anything to prevent this from happening.

    Do you, as a denier, feel good about yourself when you see the human suffering that is going on, but nothing is being done about because a vocal group of people have managed to tie the public up in a debate about whether climate change is real, or not.

    Don't lecture me about name calling and pretend you're some kind of high and mighty. Go crawl under your rock where you belong.

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