You could get giddy trying to keep up with all the contradictions at Anthony Watts' anti-science blog, WUWT. Barely a day after all the WUWT-ers were up in arms that Daily Kos didn't allow a couple of deniers to post a very lengthy, internally inconsistent, denier manifesto under an article, Anthony Watts is proud to say that he doesn't support "free speech" after all. Or perhaps I should say freedom of expression. Not in the UK at any rate.
|Ian Wolter's prize-winning artwork of climate science disinformers, Anglia Ruskin University. Photo: it's all over the internet so I don't know|
UPDATE: See below. You'll enjoy it :)
Christopher Monckton took issue with a work of art from a student at a university, and threatened to sue (archived here). In fact he's claiming he is still going to sue, even though the university apparently caved in to his threats [No, it didn't - see update and my comment below - Sou]. It must be about the first success that Christopher has had out of zillions of times he's threatened a law suit. I guess Anglia Ruskin University wasn't familiar with Christopher's history in this regard and all his mock "threats" of legal action at the slightest provocation (and without any provocation, too).
You might have read about this - deniers all over were up in arms. What happened was that a student, Ian Wolter, won the 2015 Sustainability Art Prize awarded by the Cambridge School of Art and the Global Sustainability Institute, for this two metre high artwork, memorialising six of the UK's climate science deniers:
- Christopher Booker
- James Delingpole
- Nigel Lawson
- Christopher Monckton
- Owen Paterson
- Melanie Phillips
Here's a photo of the full length of Ian Wolter's prize-winning work:
|Ian Wolter's prize-winning artwork of climate science disinformers, from Anglia Ruskin University. Photo: it's all over the internet so I don't know|
Christopher wrote about how he went to the University with threats. He even claims to have got the police involved, arguing the artwork constituted a death threat. I doubt the police would have taken him seriously, but according to Christopher, the University did. Christopher claimed the University removed the web page and removed the art work from display. [No, it didn't - see update and my comment below - Sou]
Thing is, according to this news report, the artwork was only going to be on display until mid-May in any case. It states down the bottom: "The work is made of plywood and will be on display until the middle of May".
Christopher would have known this, so he had to hurry so he could have his moment of fame. (It was on the university's facebook page that it would only be on display until the 16 May, which has already passed.)
So Christopher could well be doing nothing more than grand-standing and taking credit for something that would have happened anyway. It wouldn't be the first time and I doubt it will be the last that he's done something like that.
Christopher wrote about the plywood piece of art:
Now, to put a victim’s name on a tombstone while the victim is still alive is to make a death threat, the nastiest and most repellent form of hate speech.A tombstone? A death threat? Sheesh. He does have tickets on himself, doesn't he. It's a memorial - to remind those who see it of who it is who actively campaigns to make the world too hot for humans (and lots of other species). Christopher even went all Nazi and wrote:
I have recently been reading Richards’ masterly three-volume history of the Third Reich. The first volume deals with the perplexing question how that monstrous regime came to be.Now he's comparing an art student with the Nazis. But it was under the Nazi regime that freedom of expression suffered (along with much, much worse). Does Christopher really want to go there?
Making up stuff again
Christopher is not the most honest person at the best of times. He's a showman and clownish entertainer. At one point he wrote:
The poisonous air of palpable menace remains. Dr Roger Pielke Jr., a scientist who has taken a gently sceptical view on some aspects of the climate question, has recently announced that he can no longer conduct climate research, because he fears for the safety of himself and his family.
Nope! That's not why Roger said he quit climate work. He doesn't say why he quit, but he refers to "incessant attacks and smears". I wouldn't mind betting the final straw was his sacking from Nate Silver's new website. That lost Roger a lot of credibility and deservedly so. (See here for his dumb behaviour with John Holdren, too.)
Not happy that he "won", Christopher is still going to sue
Or so he claims (again). Is this another empty threat? I'd guess so. He's not got a leg to stand on I'd have thought. And didn't first time around. His posturing is all for show. He wrote:
I might have been tempted to leave the matter there, given that the “University” had had the sense to take down its press release and, eventually, the tombstone too. However, the shysters’ letter indicates a cast of mind I don’t like the smell of. I’m preparing a detailed report for the police in Cambridge, for under English law the tombstone and the press release together constitute – at minimum – conduct likely to cause a breach of the Queen’s peace, contrary to s.1, Justices of the Peace Act 1361, the most commonly-cited provision of English criminal law in the magistrates’ courts.
I’m going to have these wretches prosecuted: not the student, who is manifestly not adult enough to understand the seriousness of what he has done, nor even the dreadful “Dr” Aled Jones, who is arguably too blinded by Marxist prejudice and too ignorant of the true science behind the climate scam to think rationally at all.
But an outfit that describes itself, however implausibly, as a “University” ought at least to have made some attempt to behave like one, and not to have made death threats by way of press releases. It should have kept the peace. Now it will reap the whirlwind.
Christopher didn't publish the contents of the letter that indicated "a cast of mind I don’t like the smell of". Perhaps he's not sure that his sense of smell is the same as that of his followers.
I've just been informed by the artist, Ian Wolter, that the University did not cave to Christopher's threats. His work was on display to the end of the show (16 May I believe). And there were no police involved, which is not a surprise at all. (If Christopher goes to the police each time he says he does, I'd not be surprised if he's not on some list as a vexatious complainer.)
Here is a link to the press release, which is live - (h/t Leo Hickman on Twitter)
From the WUWT comments
Most comments were from people who decided that freedom of expression only applies to them, not to anyone with whom they disagree. But as the discussion wore on it became clear that there are a few people at WUWT who aren't as supportive of Christopher's latest publicity stunt. Perhaps he doesn't have as many fans at WUWT as Anthony would like to think. (Anthony is in awe of the British, especially someone with a title, even if it was only a new title and never earned by its holder.)
The article and discussion are worth reading if you want to better understand the weird world of science deniers. Then go and read Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, if you haven't already done so. It's slow to download, but worth it. You'll not often be given such an excellent example of the theory at work. Christopher Monckton can be seen in the "dirt-bag, scum-bucket politican" described in the passage:
...suppose you are a completely unethical, dishonest, power-hungry, dirt-bag, scum-bucket politician who will say whatever he has to say to get elected. Whom are you going to try to lead, high RWAs or low RWAs? Isn’t it obvious? The easy-sell high RWAs will open up their arms and wallets to you if you just sing their song, however poor your credibility.In the comments you'll see many parallels with the "right wing authoritarian followers".
Against Freedom of Expression - the following WUWT-ers do not support freedom of expression. They are in the majority.
Jenn Oates is against freedom of expression
May 19, 2015 at 8:08 pm
Go get ’em. :)
climatereason is also against freedom of expression and thinks that artwork should be against the law. He's from the UK and probably knows his proper place in the social hierarchy there.
May 20, 2015 at 12:50 am
The work is made of plywood so what it will be used for next in order to demonstrate its sustainability is an interesting question. Answers on a postcard….
The artist appears to have imagination and some talent. It would be good if he used it in a less intimidating manner. The artist is presumably young and naïve and has been indoctrinated with a one sided view of climate change. He will be affected by police action. How about he publically apologises and agrees to listen to sceptical arguments as an alternative?
The University ought to know better however and can not promote this sort of nonsense. I note that any legal action is going to be aimed directly at them.
Tony also picks up on the fact that this is nothing more than a publicity stunt. I wonder who'll get the more favourable publicity - Ian Wolter or Christopher Monckton?
May 19, 2015 at 8:30 pm
Fantastic Christopher! What great publicity it will be to expose these ratbags.
Well done on getting to No1 too.
inMAGICn - it never ceases to amaze how many people who favour a "small guvmint" leaning blog want to go running to the guvmint when they have a complaint.
May 19, 2015 at 8:51 pm
I think you should go ahead and sue the lot of them.
May 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm
Excellent Call Lord Monckton. Force that pseudo elite mockery of education to face up to their elitist notions backed with their dire threats.
kokoda is a subservient laddie, a wonderfully docile right wing authoritarian follower
May 19, 2015 at 9:34 pm
My short list of the most courageous, intelligent, and historically important people in the last 2 centuries are: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Dwight Eisenhower. However, I am now adding Christopher Monckton of Brenchley to that list.
Jack says to "get ready", but I don't think he expected the "howling" would come from WUWT
May 19, 2015 at 8:48 pm
Get ready for the plaintive howling of artisitc freedom. So long as they are trashing your reputation that is art, but when you protest that is suppression of art. Hypocrisy, they name is global warming.
In favour of freedom of expression - these are some of the comments from people who didn't approve of Monckton's actions.
Manos is from the USA, where freedom is highly valued (and the attitudes of serfs and vassals are less common)
May 19, 2015 at 9:14 pmAlex is only in this section because he replied to Manos. He is against freedom of expression and said so below - and in many more comments (getting increasingly irate each time.) He is correct that there are limits to free speech. However it's not very likely that this student artwork would be regarded as crossing the line.
I find the art in ill taste. Having said that, as an American, this speech would be 100% protected in the the US. I am able to hold both thoughts at once. The best way to deal with speech you don’t like is with more speech.
May 19, 2015 at 9:40 pmYou are BS. Try that in the US and you would likely end up in court. Free speech does not mean you can say anything you like without repercussions. I suggest you do something like that for Obama and we will see how easy it will be for you to travel by plane.
Manos retorts with:
May 19, 2015 at 9:53 pm
An artistic tomb stone wouldn’t be actionable in civil court and would not be investigated criminally in the US. I’m disappointed that a web site that I like and support as fact based is willing to turn to the weapons of the thuggish enemies of real science. How boorish.
May 19, 2015 at 9:15 pm
Monckton is trying to use the leftist concept “hate speech” against the left, and not doing a very good job of it. Freedom of speech implies no sanctions against hate speech. Death threats are not hate speech, they are violent criminal offenses. Writing someone’s name on a fake tombstone is a lame joke, not a death threat.
May 19, 2015 at 9:23 pm
Couldn’t agree more. The whole concept is a lame joke and not a real threat. Monckton needs to grow some skin.
wickedwenchfan is a hard core denialist, and a strong supporter of freedom of expression:
May 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm
Sorry Mr Monckton, but you fail to explain where the actual death threat is in this stunt. What in the press release connected the tombstone with your name on it to an incitement to kill you? Perhaps it can be interpreted that way, but it can also be interpreted as: ‘ years from now how will we remember these people?’ When speech or writings can be interpreted in different ways, then I think freedom of speech should apply. Just because you find their view erroneous, tasteless or even offensive, does not give you the right to prosecute them for saying it. In effect you are reacting to fear of one kind of tyranny by imposing your own.
Unless this was clearly an actual death threat, I think you are severely over reacting.
Steve allows that the United Kingdom does not have the same freedoms as in the USA.
May 19, 2015 at 9:57 pm
Although it is only my opinion as a fellow American, I second the view of Manos. When speech leads to prosecution, persecution, violence, or anything but more communication, there is equal potential for mischief in every case. I am a confirmed Anglophile and Moncktonphile, but on this, I believe the UK, Europe, and Lord Monckton have gotten it wrong. I am not critical of Monckton for using the laws of the UK to address an obvious violation of those laws, but I prefer the U.S. system of vigorous, free discussion, in which only explicit threats are illegal. It’s messy and causes me much angst, when I read the opinions of some of my fellow Americans, but I think it is still best to have an almost totally free flow of ideas in which the best can come to the top and the others can be revealed to be inadequate. I grew up in the Southern U.S. in the 1950s and I saw the separate accommodations for black and white. I think virtually completely free expression (plus some exceedingly stupid racists who killed 4 young girls in a Birmingham church) caused the transformation that occurred in the U.S. on the issue of race. I am not claiming these issues are solved and much work remains, but if we had been prosecuting each other every time someone perceived a threat, progress would not have been as rapid. Right ideas eventually prevail, and I would even suggest that the “university’s” stupid post will do Lord Monckton’s position much more good than his prosecution of them.
richard verney wonders what all the fuss is about. The answer: Christopher Monckton of course. And Richard is from the UK - so not all deniers in the UK see themselves as right wing authoritarian followers. Good to know.
May 20, 2015 at 1:47 am
I must confess that I struggle with the concept that a tombstone is a death threat.
Were the builders of the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt threatening death to their Pharaohs?
Were those who were drawing up plans of the state funeral of Margaret Thatcher issuing death threats against her. We have come a long way, in the UK, since the time when the mere talk of the death of the King was seen to be plotting the death of the Kind and hence viewed as treasion as, for example, the fate that befell Anne Boleyn
Death comes to us all in the fullness of time, and there is nothing in the tombstone itself that seeks to hasten the demise of any of the named individuals.
If the tombstone carried a date (detailing the date of death Eg 6th July 2015) then arguably that might be different. It could be a prediction (or in climate science speak a projection) or possibly an incitement to bring about the demise of the named individuals by the chosen date. However, as far as I know no specific future date of death is mentioned.
It is simply a matter of poor taste, and not at all funny. In my opinion, it is a typical childish leftist stunt, but that does not make into something more sinister. i do not consider that the artist deserves the attention that he/she has received from such an purile and infantile waste of space. It reminds one of the other ill judged tombstone that was in the press recently which may have played a role in the demise (in the political sense) of the labour party or its leader .
The real sceptics? - there were not many real sceptics in evidence. Here are comments from two, though I could be wrong about the first:
Bulldust is the first to show some insight (maybe or maybe not), he picks up on the Nazi reference and is possibly referring to Bickmore’s First and Second Laws of Monckton
May 19, 2015 at 8:25 pm
So Monckton’s Law is a double Godwin? Or is that a reverse Godwin?
On the other hand, he might not know about Barry Bickmore's Laws of Monckton. He was just as likely to have been referring to Christopher's admonition:
And if you are tempted to cite Godwin’s “Law” to the effect that he who calls his opponents Nazis has lost the argument, let me cite Monckton’s Law in return: those who cite Godwin’s Law confirm ipso facto that they are active supporters of today’s Fascists.
spaatch discovered what I did, that the artwork was only displayed till the sixteenth of May:
May 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm
“And the tombstone is now gone too”
It’s gone not because of Monckton’s actions, its because it was only to be on display until the middle of May!
And a press release is still up too!