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GWPF Samizdat 02/07/20
We’re Facing A Tsunami Of Censorship
While Communists Extinguish Hong Kong's Freedom, Radical Activists Are Trying The Same In The West
1) We’re Facing A Tsunami Of Censorship
Toby Young, The Spectator, 4 July 2020
1) We’re Facing A Tsunami Of Censorship
Toby Young, The Spectator, 4 July 2020
It’s open season on mavericks and dissenters at the moment.
If you publicly challenge any of the sacred nostrums of the social justice left and you work in a school, a college, a university, an arts company, a public broadcasting organisation, a tech company, a charity, a local authority or, indeed, Whitehall, you are at risk of being cancelled. How do I know? Because in February I set up the Free Speech Union to protect those being targeted in this way and in the past month we’ve been contacted by people in all of these fields who have either been fired, suspended or are ‘under investigation’ for having said or done something controversial, usually on Facebook or Twitter.
And by ‘controversial’ I don’t mean they’re guilty of hate speech. One person who asked for help was Mike McCulloch, a maths lecturer at Plymouth University, who was being investigated by his employer for having liked a tweet saying ‘All Lives Matter’. Then again, the definition of ‘hate speech’ is so nebulous and broad that it’s increasingly common for mainstream views to be labelled as such. For instance, another FSU member, the feminist campaigner Posie Parker, started a petition on Change.org asking the Oxford English Dictionary to keep its definition of ‘woman’ as ‘adult female human’, and the moderators took it down on the grounds it was ‘hate speech’. J.K. Rowling knows all about that, of course.
I thought it was bad when I set up the FSU, and it was. According to the Telegraph, the police in England and Wales have investigated and recorded 120,000 ‘non-crime hate incidents’ in the past five years. That’s more than 65 people a day being interviewed by the authorities for precisely the kind of thing Mike McCulloch was investigated for, e.g. liking a tweet that dissents from fashionable left-wing dogma.
Once that’s on your record, it shows up on an enhanced DBS check, which means you might not be able to get a job as a teacher or a carer. But things are worse by an order of magnitude since the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement. At the FSU, we used to get half a dozen requests for help a week. Now we get half a dozen a day. [...]
What can be done about this tsunami of censorship? I’m tempted to say: make it illegal to fire someone for exercising their lawful right to free speech — but I don’t want to encroach on private companies’ freedom of association. What about limiting the protection to those who express political views? At present, people’s religious and philosophical beliefs are a ‘protected’ characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and firing someone because of those beliefs is supposed to be unlawful.
But in a recent case a judge ruled it was perfectly fine to sack someone for saying ‘men cannot change into women’, because that particular belief ‘is not worthy of respect in a democratic society’.
The problem with legislating to protect free speech is that the law has to allow for some wiggle room, and that will give the courts all the latitude they need to find against you if you’ve said something Afua Hirsch or Owen Jones would disapprove of. You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service have been captured by the social justice cult and the Courts and Tribunals Service is not far behind.
The pro-free speech forces do win the occasional victory — Plymouth has dropped its investigation of Mike McCulloch. But the authoritarian tide is rising and every time you think things can’t get any worse, the ground goes out from under you. We need the government to defend this age-old liberty, but since when has a Conservative government actually conserved anything?
The GWPF is a corporate member of the Free Speech Union. Please visit the FSU website if you want to join the battle for freedom of thought and free speech,
2) Forbes Falls To Cancel Culture As It Erases Environmentalist’s Mea Culpa
John Robson, National Post, 30 June 2020
It’s big news when somebody prominent apologizes for being badly wrong on a major public matter, promises to do better going forward and urges others to do the same, right? Unless the person commits heresy like, say, Michael Shellenberger.
In case you missed it, and they did their best to make sure you did, Shellenberger is an excruciatingly woke environmentalist and progressive. By his own account “At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s co-operatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.”
His environmentalist credentials are equally solid beginning with raising money for Rainforest Action Network at 16. But in cancel culture, all that is solid melts into air … with a little help from a match.
Including Shellenberger’s remarkable cri de coeur in Forbes starting “On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.”
Sorry. Did I say “in Forbes?” Alas, if you go there now you get a terse “This page is no longer active. We regret any inconvenience.” In the fast-vanishing spirit of fair play, I contacted Forbes to see if it was just a technical glitch. Nyet, tovarisch.
Their initial wary response asked “the angle of your column” and suggested “a brief call for us to connect.” I retorted that “the ‘angle’ of my column has no bearing on the reasons for your decision” and asked bluntly “Was it because you discovered a factual error? Because of protests from subscribers? Because of protests from within the organization? Because something in it struck you as legally problematic? It’s a pretty major decision. I assume someone fairly senior in the organization took it, and that this person knows why. Please ask them, and tell me what they said.”
Their reply, which would make a seasoned politician or bureaucrat blush, read, in its entirety, “You can attribute the below statement to a Forbes spokesperson. Forbes requires its contributors to adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This story did not follow those guidelines, and was removed.”
I responded tartly: “Thanks. But obviously this statement raises fresh questions, particularly: 1. Which guidelines did it not follow? 2. In what way did it not follow them? 3. How often do you remove a story for violating those guidelines?”
As you may imagine, that inquiry went down the memory hole. I won’t say I became a non-person because I think I was one already. But Shellenberger sure did.
Except he didn’t, because for all its faults the internet is a really lousy place to hide things. People archived the piece (here for instance). And Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never, is Amazon’s “#1 Best Seller in Climatology.”
Since you can read it for yourself despite Forbes’ craven hypocrisy, I won’t spend much time on the column’s contents, including statements like “Climate change is not making natural disasters worse.” But let me quote one highly pertinent part.
“Until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an ‘existential’ threat to human civilization, and called it a ‘crisis.’ But mostly I was scared.”
Yes. Scared. “I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.”
The SJWs like to pose as courageous dissenters standing up to the patriarchy or some such vanished bogeyman. In fact I think one reason they’re so frantic is they’re all geared up for mortal combat against a foe who’s fled the field. But regardless, the truth is that they’re running the show and running it as nasty, scary bullies who do not tolerate dissent.
They no longer favour free speech even in principle. For decades young people have been educated and socialized to believe there is only one side to any significant issue from climate to gender to economics. And it worked.
Some like Shellenberger have the courage and profile to stand up to this ill-educated, ill-bred mob and prevail. But for the average person, including academics, it’s flat-out terrifying. So they stand mute and trembling as the tumbril passes by.
3) Forbes Censored Interview With Prof Nir Shaviv
Global Warming Policy Forum, 2 July 2020
The decision by Forbes to erase Michael Shellenberger’s climate apology was not the first time they censored a critical voice in the climate debate. Last year, they did the same thing: an interview with Professor Nir Shaviv, one of the GWPF’s scientific advisers, was removed by Forbes. Here he describes what happened.
Prof Nir Shaviv is an astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.
Forbes censored an interview with me
A few days ago I was interviewed by Doron Levin, for an article to appear online on forbes.com. After having seen a draft (to make sure that I am quoted correctly), I told him good luck with getting it published, as I doubted it will.
Why? Because a year ago I was interviewed by a reporter working for Bloomberg, while the cities of San Francisco and Oakland were deliberating a climate change lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil (which the latter won!), only to find out that their editorial board decided that it is inappropriate to publish an interview with a heretic like me.
Doron’s reply was to assure me that Forbes’ current model of the publication online allows relative freedom with “relatively little interference from editors”. Yeah Sure.
After the article went online yesterday and Doron e-mailed so, I saw how much relative exposure it received. It had already more than 40000 impressions in a matter of a couple of hours. Impressive. All that took place while I was relaxing with my family on a Tel-Aviv beach. But this didn’t last long. Although I continued to relax at the beach, the article was taken down for “failing to meet our editorial standards”, which apparently means conforming to whatever is considered politically correct about climate change.
The piece itself is (or was, or will be?) found here. A copy was posted here.
4) Down With Eco-Censorship
Spiked, 30 June 2020
Forbes has censored Michael Shellenberger’s sensible critique of eco-alarmism.
Michael Shellenberger, a lifelong climate activist and Time magazine ‘Hero of the Environment’, this week issued an ‘apology’ for 30 years of climate alarmism.
‘On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years’, he wrote. ‘Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.’
Shellenberger’s apology was initially published in Forbes, where he is a regular contributor on energy and environmental matters. But on the same day, Forbes censored the article without explanation.
The article summarised the claims made in Shellenberger’s upcoming book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. These include the well-evidenced facts that ‘humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”’ and that ‘climate change is not making natural disasters worse’. (You can read his censored piece at Environmental Progress.)
Apocalypse Never has been praised by numerous scientists. And Shellenberger has himself been invited as an expert reviewer to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which establishes the ‘scientific consensus’ on climate change.
Of course, these facts fly in the face of an increasingly shrill and apocalyptic climate movement, best represented by Greta Thunberg's claim that the world is on fire, and Extinction Rebellion's warning of mass extinction. Polling suggests that this message has cut through: around half of all people in the West mistakenly think climate change will make humanity extinct.
The only way these claims of mass extinction can survive and thrive is because they are shielded from criticism – both through formal censorship (as in the Forbes case) or informal means (Shellenberger says he avoided speaking out, fearing a loss of friends and funding). Anyone who pushes back against extreme green scaremongering is branded a ‘climate denier’.
But like all wrongheaded ideas, climate alarmism collapses when it collides with the truth.
5) Facebook Oversight Board Urged To Close Climate Opinion "Loophole"
Axios, 1 July 2020
Prominent environmentalists and Democratic activists say Facebook is "allowing the spread of climate misinformation to flourish, unchecked" and urging the company's external oversight board to intervene.
Driving the news: A new open letter with signatories including Stacey Abrams, John Podesta and Tom Steyer takes aim at distribution of content from a group called the CO2 Coalition without warning labels or restrictions.
The coalition argues more carbon emissions are a "net benefit" and rejects consensus science on warming.
Why it matters: The letter, organized by the recently launchedgroup Climate Power 2020, could provide an early test for how the recently established oversight board deals with the topic.
The state of play: The letter to Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair of the board, centers on recent reports about how Facebook addressed a CO2 Coalition post.
"Instead of heeding the advice of independent scientists and approved fact-checkers from [the nonpartisan fact-checking group] Climate Feedback, Facebook sided with fossil fuel lobbyists by allowing the CO2 Coalition to take advantage of a giant loophole for 'opinion' content," it states.
"The loophole has allowed climate denial to fester by labeling it 'opinion,' and thus, avoiding the platform’s fact-checking processes," the letter adds.
What’s next: It’s hard to say! Scott Rosenberg, Axios managing editor for tech, notes that the oversight board hasn’t formally begun operating yet and will have discretion about which complaints to take on.
6) Woke Capital Targets Free Speech
Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 30 June 2020
Advertisers want to turn Facebook into a political enforcement tool.
American companies are in a frenzy to get ahead of the current moment of woke moral panic. That sometimes means sacrificing an unlucky employee to the political mob or buying copies of the best-seller “White Fragility” to encourage workers to define themselves by race. Now large firms are joining a campaign to turn social media platforms into tools of political surveillance and enforcement against conservatives.
Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Verizon, North Face, Eddie Bauer and other major brands have paused Facebook advertising after left-wing activist groups claimed that it does not censor enough political speech. CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week promised further controls, including flagging posts by politicians. This predictably did nothing to satisfy the activists, who see the opportunity to expel more of their political enemies from the public square.
Facebook already takes down content promoting violence and has a broad definition of impermissible hate speech. Yet the coalition of left-wing groups urging the corporate boycott, “Stop Hate for Profit,” wants a progressive power-grab. It demands that Facebook “empower permanent civil rights infrastructure” to search for speech it deems biased.
If you think that means merely striking insults and threats based on identity—Facebook already does this—you haven’t been paying attention.
America is in an environment of cultural censorship in which HBO suspended “Gone With the Wind,” Netflix is erasing scenes or episodes from shows like “The Office,” and universities are investigating staff for reading aloud Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” or firing them for courteously questioning some claims of the Black Lives Matter movement. Facebook is being told to have its enforcers root out political speech and artistic expression based on deliberately opaque criteria.
The activists also want Facebook to use algorithms to more closely surveil “private groups” as well as remove any that focus on “climate denialism.” Watch out if you debate climate projections in what you thought was a private forum. They also want Facebook to fact-check speech by politicians, but don’t expect claims consistent with officially sanctioned social-justice ideology to face any scrutiny.
Some firms may have signed on to this campaign because they cut advertising budgets anyway amid the coronavirus downturn and see an opportunity to win easy plaudits from a monolithic media. Some may come back after the 30-day boycott period ends.
But the boycott nonetheless reflects a new and worrying effort to leverage corporate power against America’s open public square.
Woke Fortune 500 firms had better hope that they will make fast and permanent friends among the anti-capitalists of the new left because they are fast burning through reservoirs of goodwill among American conservatives.
7) BBC, Climate Change & Censorship: An Interview With Benny Peiser
The Institute of Art and Ideas, July 2014
Benny Peiser is a social anthropologist best known for his work on the portrayal of climate change. The founder of CCNet, a leading climate policy network, Peiser is co-editor of the journal Energy and Environment and director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Following the BBC's recent decision to uphold a complaint against comments made by climate change sceptic Lord Lawson on the Today programme, we spoke to Peiser about scientific consensus and climate change in the media.
Q: The BBC's head of editorial complaint recently said that Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by any evidence from such things as computer modelling scientific research; thus, they should strengthen their editorial procedures to avoid misleading the public. Do you think there is such a thing as a unanimous scientific consensus about climate change today?
BP: I think this is irrelevant. I mean, there is a general agreement on CO2 and greenhouse gas: that we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and that this will have a warming effect. This is agreed by everyone so that is not the real issue. Even the sceptics agree to that. So, this is a red herring, because no one denies the basic physics, no one denies the basic facts.
And that was not part of the discussion at the BBC anyhow. It was about the flooding this winter and whether it was caused by climate change, as well as what to do about climate change. And, of course, there is no consensus about these issues.
Q: So, the BBC is using a red herring to deny critics of climate policies and climate alarmism a forum. A question of rhetoric then?
BP: No. It's a bit like saying, “do you accept that there is a European Union?” This is the consensus, right, and because Euro-sceptics don’t accept that there is a European Union, they shouldn’t be interviewed on the BBC because they deny the existence of the European Union.
BP: It’s an argument that no one denies, but which is used to silence critics of the policies, and the subsidies, and the billions of pounds being thrown at the problem. So I think it is basically censorship, using a scientific argument that is standing on water. No one really questions this general consensus.
Q: So this is a problem of censorship? We know that climate change is a debate that attracts some extremely strong opinions. Why do you think this is?
BP: This is not about scientific proof. It’s about how serious is it and what should we do about it, you see. It is only the BBC who claims this is about scientific proof. As I’ve just said, no one is questioning the basic physics; no one is question the basic consensus. So this is not about denying climate change or denying the effects of greenhouse gas or that there is human contribution… this is all a red herring. This is about denying anyone who criticises the green lobbyists and the green agenda from raising their criticisms. This is what is at stake. It’s not about the science.
Q: So do you think that, when it comes to the media, it is a one-sided kind of alarmist perception of risk that comes into question?
BP: Of course, because they are well-known for pointing out everything that is alarming and being silent on reports that show it is not as alarming. So you have a bias in favour of alarm, and a kind of ignoring any evidence that suggests that it might not be that alarming.
It’s about people who think we are facing doomsday, and people who are thinking that the issue of climate change is exaggerated. And if you deny anyone sceptical of the apocalyptic doomsday prophecies, then you get in a position where the BBC is so biased that MPs are beginning to consider cutting the license fee, or abolishing the license fee altogether, because people are beginning to be upset by the BBC’s bias.
This is a self-defeating policy; the BBC is digging its own grave by annoying half of the population who are known to be sceptical about the alarmist claims which are not substantiated, which are not founded on any evidence. They are only based on on some kinds of computer modelling, which is not scientific evidence.
Q: So scientific evidence, such as computer modelling and research, is being used as an instrument in the rhetoric?
BP: Well there is a big difference between observation, what you actually observe in reality – that’s what I would call evidence – and computer models that try to model the climate in 50 or 100 years time. I wouldn’t call that evidence. There is a difference between evidence and people saying, “if we don’t act now then in 50 or a 100 years time we will face mega catastrophe”. That’s not evidence, it is speculation.
Q: So, for example, if someone were to say, “scientific knowledge or evidence is always a requirement to express criticism toward the prevailing views on climate change as portrayed in the media,” would you agree with that kind of comment?
BP: No, of course not. Because what is scientific knowledge, you know? Who decides what scientific knowledge is? Do you have to be a climate scientist to have scientific knowledge or do you have to have enough information? Who decides who’s qualified to decide what the right policy is? Because at the end of the day, the scientist cannot tell us what is the best approach to deal with climate change.
The scientists have no idea about costs and benefits; about policy and economics. The scientists only know the atmosphere, they know how the atmosphere functions. But if you want to decide what to do about climate change then the climate scientists are really the least likely to understand what policies or alternatives there are.
The climate debate is not just about the science, but also about policies, about economics, costs, benefits. That’s where the scientists are unequipped, and where the economists and policy makers are those at the forefront of the debate. The BBC makes it out as if it was all about the science, but it isn’t. There are so many other questions where the climate scientists simply haven’t got the expertise, or certainly less expertise.
see also: The GWPF's 10 year battle against climate censorship
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