Tom Nelson reported over the holidays that Grist Magazine’s Andrew Dessler called for the immediate sacking of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin when Barack Obama takes office. Griffin must be censored and drummed out of his job for being insufficiently attuned to a particular agenda and its requirements and, as such, “is going to be an impediment”.
Pause to let that sink in.
As Nelson also asked a few days later: why is it only one side in this discussion that demands the other side not be allowed to speak, that they be shouted down, shut down, censored or simply chased out of their jobs if they insist on expressing inconvenient thought? I address that in a subsequent post later today.
Let’s revisit Griffin’s run-in with this anti-speech, anti-science crowd when he first came to their attention, from Red Hot Lies:
The green machine showed its fangs again in 2007 when NASA chief Michael Griffin dismissed the zealous global warmist presumption of amazing (and highly unlikely) anthropogenic powers. He also dared scoff at the implicit argument that we happen to live in a time with the ideal climate. It was to satirize precisely that fantasy as theorized by philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his Theodicy that Voltaire created the character Pangloss.
Griffin dared wonder aloud in an interview on National Public Radio, of all places, “Whether [global warming] is a long term concern or not, I can’t say. . . . To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had. . . . I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.” He had yet to meet arrogance, but soon would.
The Washington Post and alarmist weblogs were joined by Gore advisor and NASA scientist James Hansen to leap in unison with frenzied outrage. The heat led Griffin to hurriedly affirm the observed warming trend the next day and to apologize, but at least he did so only for expressing his personal views and prompting a distracting controversy (Dr. Hansen, we’re still waiting for yours). He did not go so far as to scrape in shame over having held the views. In a vacuum this would not amount to much of a defense, but in this context Griffin’s is in fact a relatively strong stand, what with the track record of so many who rush to proclaim, in appeasement, a full-throated cry of looming catastrophe after having angered the beast.
After the furor died down, Griffin admitted in an interview that he was surprised by the reaction to his having spoken what, in any open and honest debate, is a fairly basic statement that only the truly righteous could resent. Said Griffin, “I didn’t realize it had approached the status where you can’t express any sort of a contrary opinion or a comment without it being treated almost [sic] as a religious issue.” Now he knows. The point of the establishment’s attack machine is to spread that knowledge so that fewer and fewer Michael Griffins of the world have any doubt that this will be the reaction. This approach toward achieving a dissent-free society has ritually failed in the long run, though there seems to always be one more faction with totalitarian instincts — recall the serial claims that dissent carries criminal overtones — to try their own hand at it.