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Environment

Gangster Climate Talk

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorSeptember 19, 2010 4:30 PM

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I continue to marvel at the parallels between WUWT and Climate Progress. Let's examine recent comment threads from both blogs, in which the majority of commenters impugned the motives and character of their respective targets. Exhibit A is the festival of insults and accusations that Anthony Watts allows in this thread about Bill McKibben. But let me back up for a minute to the source of ire for Watts and his readers. On Thursday, McKibben published an opinion piece in the LA Times. Referring to his 350 organization, he wrote that

we recently issued a call for ideas about a campaign of civil disobedience next spring "” at power plants and coal mines but at White Houses too, if they don't turn at least a little green.

Oddly, Watts interprets this as a "threat" and then makes an unseemly insinuation after that McKibben passage about a planned civil disobedience campaign:

So tell me Bill, what then after that if that doesn't work?

That's all the prompting WUWT readers needed. In the thread, one commenter considers mere expressions of civil disobedience to be akin to "terrorist ideas." Most readers are content to malign McKibben's character and intelligence. One, however, suggests that a good physical beating might put some sense into McKibben:

At the end of the day, the one sure cure for a bolts-in-the-side-of-the-head liberal, such as Mr McKibben, is a seriously good mugging. It is truly amazing how much clarity of thinking a near death experience brings. In exceptional cases, two muggings may be needed to cure the affliction. BS? I have seen it with my own eyes "“ logic and good science rarely works, so a good mugging is about the only guaranteed cure for a serious liberal.

Watts doesn't seem bothered by any of this talk; there are no inline comments from him asking readers to tone it down. Now let's review exhibit B, in which the Romm faithful wield their pitchforks against BBC journalist Richard Black. Upset over this story by Black on Arctic sea ice loss, which Romm calls "dreadful," his readers--like those at WUWT--slime their man with all manner of accusation and insult. Black's story is called "criminal," by one commenter, while another says

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the creepy hand of BP is behind it.

My favorite--and it's a true gem--is this one:

People who intentionally do harm for pay are gangsters. These people aren't journalists: they're gangsters.

Such is the degeneration of the climate debate. One side can't abide peaceful (liberal) protesters and tars them as terrorists. The other side, fed up with the media, has taken to calling journalists gangsters. No blogger can be responsible for the views of his audience, but both Watts and Romm frequently engage with their readers. If they disagree strongly enough with a comment, each has no problem letting the reader know. In these two cases, Watts and Romm are silent on the tone and content that reflects the respective threads.

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