Mark Steyn discussing Brendan O’Neill interviewing George Brandis

A bit convoluted, but here goes. Mark Steyn has an article, Medieval Moralists, in which he quotes from an interview with George Brandis conducted by Brendan O’Neill which may be found in a posting with the heading, Free Speech Now. This is the passage Steyn has taken from that Brandis interview with O’Neill:

Brandis says he’s been a fan of free speech for ages. He reminds me that in his maiden speech to the Senate, given 14 years ago when he was first elected as senator for Queensland, he let everyone know that ‘one of my most fundamental objectives would be to protect freedom of thought and expression’. He tells me he has long been agitated by ‘the cultural tyranny of political correctness’. But there were two recent, specific things that made him realise just what a mortal threat freedom of speech faces in the modern era and that he would have to dust down his Mill, reread his Voltaire, and up the ante in his war of words against, as he puts it, the transformation of the state into ‘the arbiter of what might be thought’. The first thing was the climate-change debate; and the second is what is known down here as The Andrew Bolt Case.

He describes the climate-change debate – or non-debate, or anti-debate, to be really pedantic but also accurate – as one of the ‘great catalysing moments’ in his views about the importance of free speech. He isn’t a climate-change denier; he says he was ‘on the side of those who believed in anthropogenic global warming and who believed something ought to be done about it’. But he has nonetheless found himself ‘really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate-change deniers’. He describes as ‘deplorable’ the way climate change has become a gospel truth that you deny or mock at your peril, ‘where one side [has] the orthodoxy on its side and delegitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong’.

He describes how Penny Wong, the Labor Party senator for South Australia and minister for climate change in the Julia Gillard government, would ‘stand up in the Senate and say “The science is settled”. In other words, “I am not even going to engage in a debate with you”. It was ignorant, it was medieval, the approach of these true believers in climate change…’

The great irony to this new ‘habit of mind’, he says, is that the eco-correct think of themselves as enlightened and their critics as ‘throwbacks’, when actually ‘they themselves are the throwbacks, because they adopt this almost theological view, this cosmology that eliminates from consideration the possibility of an alternative opinion’. The moral straitjacketing of anyone who raises a critical peep about eco-orthodoxies is part of a growing ‘new secular public morality’, he says, ‘which seeks to impose its views on others, even at the cost of political censorship’.

And as for free speech being free, if you go to the article you can find a bit of first-person experience shared by Steyn in replying to some Canadian nong, Adam Stirling, who finds it a bit tedious to hear Steyn go on about free speech:

The only reason Master Stirling can read me in a Canadian national newspaper is because Maclean’s and I fought a long, hard public battle and won it! And we’ve got seven-figure legal bills to prove it! How funny is that?

And therein lies a tale, which Steyn’s article also discusses.

UPDATE: Here is Mark Steyn again discussing the slow death of free speech. It all needs to be read but here is a bit from the middle:

I’m opposed to the notion of official ideology — not just fascism, Communism and Baathism, but the fluffier ones, too, like ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘climate change’ and ‘marriage equality’. Because the more topics you rule out of discussion — immigration, Islam, ‘gender fluidity’ — the more you delegitimise the political system. As your cynical political consultant sees it, a commitment to abolish Section 18C is more trouble than it’s worth: you’ll just spends weeks getting damned as cobwebbed racists seeking to impose a bigots’ charter when you could be moving the meter with swing voters by announcing a federal programmne of transgendered bathroom construction. But, beyond the shrunken horizons of spinmeisters, the inability to roll back something like 18C says something profound about where we’re headed: a world where real, primal, universal rights — like freedom of expression — come a distant second to the new tribalism of identity-group rights.

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52 Responses to Mark Steyn discussing Brendan O’Neill interviewing George Brandis

  1. blogstrop

    Good, apart from this:

    He isn’t a climate-change denier; he says he was ‘on the side of those who believed in anthropogenic global warming and who believed something ought to be done about it.

  2. Alfonso

    If the old CAGWarming believer and “much of S18 is useful” George is the best free speecher and interpreter of climate reality we have ……..we’re in deep shit.
    Steyn will eventually understand that most of George’s political positions are theoretical.

  3. Sir Fred Lenin

    Climate changers are exactly the same as the Medieval priests who used to argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin ! The only difference being these clowns all agree with each other ,and as for the ole leso wong what the hell would she know about science? bloody ambulance chaser like tho other ole leso giliard.

  4. Tintarella di Luna

    I am a little concerned that Brandis may not be entirely sincere and trustworthy. He appears to have an unhealthy look about him, and a very strong tendency to back-pedal when you aren’t looking.

  5. jupes

    The world would be a far poorer place without Steyn.

    Dunno about Brandis. So far he has talked the talk.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    He describes the climate-change debate – or non-debate, or anti-debate

    One interesting aspect is when there are rare debates the IPCC side always loses. This has happened time and time again, such as the Richard Denniss-Chris Monckton debate. Then there is the Gavin Schmidt-Roy Spencer ‘debate’ when Schmidt refused to physically debate Spencer or even be on screen with him…after about a dozen other climate scientists refused outright. That was after Michael Mann petulantly declined to go on Fox at all. And Marc Morano has had quite a few IPCC-ers chicken out on debating with him, even though he isn’t a climate scientist.

    They really do have a problem if they cannot take on a debate and even achieve a draw. Denniss didn’t supply any science in his debate with Monckton, just hand waving and waffle. Monckton had lots of data and citations to scientific literature including the IPCC’s own reports. So the result is they don’t debate, they just try to bullshit through.

    And it is bullshit pure and unadulterated.

  7. Robert Blair

    Alfonso, Tintarella:

    To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld – you got to war with the politicians you have, not the politicians you would like to have.

    At least Brandis talks the talk. With luck and a following breeze he may not need to much more than that.

  8. DrBeauGan

    I’m also worried about Brandis. The one thing to be said on his behalf is that a depressingly large number of creeps in his own party are happy with 18C. Given the lack of interest in free speech from his own side, he really does have problems.

  9. Laurel but not Hardy

    Robert Blair at 9.17 pm. How right you are!
    Brandis has a huge job ahead of him and if he can push enough water uphill that will at least nullify section 18c, he almost will have done the job.
    Personally, I would like to see that Discrimination Mob Department scrapped altogether, including the (professor or somesuch) person who runs it.

  10. dover_beach

    Medieval priests who used to argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin !

    This never happened; the story fabricated by the later critics of scholasticism. In fact, to return to your analogy, warmenists are just like these critics, fabricating stories to denigrate their opponents.

  11. nerblnob

    My Facebook was full last week with partisan stuff like “George Brandis compares himself to Voltaire”. Then I perused The Age on the plane and see a whole page of letters accusing Brandis of denying “The Science”. Nevermind that his argument wasn’t about The Science but the way the “debate” is conducted. The Voltaire allegation is just stupid.

    I think this deliberate obtuseness is just partisanship – he Lib, he bad – but by god it’s depressing. I remember when “The Left” were the ones quoting Voltaire. Can’t they see that they’ve become what they were supposedly rebelling against?

  12. Louis Hissink

    The purpose of identity politics is somewhat unintended – by rejecting individual rights, we end up having to invent other rights, but all that does is divide us into different identity groups, from which conflict grows.

    Stupid is as stupid does, I suppose.

  13. CatAttack

    Sorry. I like Brandis. You don’t earn many Browny points for what he is saying at present. It is so much easier to be one off the other squibs who bow to the ethnic councils ‘representing’ all those folk who are supposedly going to vote against you.

  14. nerblnob

    The purpose of identity politics is somewhat unintended – by rejecting individual rights, we end up having to invent other rights, but all that does is divide us into different identity groups, from which conflict grows.

    Not only that but we empower and pay too much attention to the obsessives and fanatics who presume to speak for their “community” .

  15. Bruce of Newcastle

    He describes how Penny Wong, the Labor Party senator for South Australia and minister for climate change in the Julia Gillard government, would ‘stand up in the Senate and say “The science is settled”.

    Paul Mirengoff of Powerline blog points out that the “debate is over” syndrome isn’t only about the global warming meme. Its a philosophic signature of the progressive left.

    “The debate is over” — a core progressive tenet

    Meanwhile Delingpole reports a new poll of Americans which amongst other questions asks:

    how confident you are that … the average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gases?

    Only 33% were extremely/very confident. This is a rare survey which asks the real question including the words “mostly because”. Certainly doesn’t sound like the science is settled and the debate is over.

  16. johanna

    Anyone who claims that “the debate is over” about an aspect of science simply doesn’t understand what science is, or how it works.

    It is appalling that tens of thousands of scientists all over the world have stood by and let this utter abrogation of everything that they are supposed to stand for, go though to the keeper.

  17. brennan

    Brandis is at least talking the right way on this issue. I’m sick to death of political correctness and the shutting down of discussion because it doesn’t tally with someone’s own position. Being an engineering type, I want to (metaphorically) see the data; make your case or STFU.

    I’ve been annoying the preciousses with this comic since I saw it in 99 (Canuckistanian GF at the time).

  18. Anne

    The Germans have a sense of humourous about Green schemes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e2U2cYcPro#t=134

  19. jupes

    Hey db from your / CH’s link:

    Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, written c. 1270, includes discussion of several questions regarding angels such as, “Can several angels be in the same place?”

    So let’s get this straight:

    It is denigrating priests to suggest that they argued over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. On the other hand it is perfectly legitimate for the great Catholic Aquinas to ponder whether several angels can be in the same place.

    Makes perfect sense.

  20. The Consigliere

    This is just PC nonsense. If you are wrong you are wrong. If the science is settled the science is settled.

    No one is stopping anyone from going on about how dinosaurs and men lived together just four thousand years ago or if you travel too far south you’ll fall of the edge of your flat earth. No one is putting people in jail for claiming that global warming doesn’t exist.

    But that doesn’t mean we have to listen to these people or take them seriously just to placate their tender little sensibilities. George needs to stop mollycoddling the crazies.

  21. jupes

    If the science is settled the science is settled.

    Except when it isn’t.

  22. Bruce of Newcastle

    Con – So why do you think the global temperature has remained stable for nearly 18 years?

  23. Empire Strikes Back

    If you are wrong you are wrong

    Very big of you to finally admit you are a certified fucktard. Run along now.

  24. Bruce of Newcastle

    Con – That study is worthy since it does point out the impact of the ~60 year cycle in the oceans (which is what the “La-Niña-like decadal cooling” means). The cycle is evident in the AMO, the PDO and in ENSO.

    But their big problem is they only look at 42 years ie 1970-2012, which is only about half a cycle. They really should be looking at at least the period of HadCRUT from 1850. I use 250 years of HadCET to derive sensitivity in my model, but that is not a global dataset – but sensitivity should be the same everywhere so that is not an issue.

    The other thing they don’t mention is the cyclic cooling explains the “hiatus”, but also comprises nearly 70% of the warming in the short period they looked at. If you include that in the models your derived equilibrium climate sensitivity falls by about 40%.

    Then if you include the solar variance the ECS falls by about another 40%. So they do have half the story, and you are correct. But if ECS is a fifth of the IPCC value then CO2 is harmless, since the equation of CO2′s temperature response is logarithmic.

  25. Zaphod

    Anyone who claims that “the debate is over” about an aspect of science simply doesn’t understand what science is, or how it works.

    Surely ” the debate is over ” with many aspects of science.

  26. jupes

    But if ECS is a fifth of the IPCC value then CO2 is harmless, since the equation of CO2′s temperature response is logarithmic.

    Con, you have been Bruced!

  27. JC

    Go stick your head up your fat arse, Con. It’s not about being invited to the right cocktail parties. It’s about the fact that sceptics are being referred to as deniers which has a direct link to holocaust denial. It’s about the totalitarian instincts of the ‘vironmental slimeballs and their misanthropy.

    And furthermore while your here agitating in support of gerbil warming theory, you may want to reflect on your own denial that demand/supply curves have no sloping tendency and are basically random. You fuckwit. You denialist wanker.

  28. The Consigliere

    Bruce – Where is your HadCET based model published?

  29. JC

    And Con, you fucking idiot. Yes , the science is pretty well settled that there were dinosaurs roaming the earth a long time ago as we have the evidence of the fossil record. That science is pretty settled.

    However the science is nowhere near being settled about gerbil warming in some very important respects. The actual data doesn’t match the models, which means the whole theory of the sensitivity could be at risk. In fact scientists like dick lindzen appear to be right on this one.

    Furthermore even if there was warming why measure only the cost side without taking account of the benefits on a global scale?

    STFU Con and bugger off.

  30. JC

    Bruce

    Don’t get taken in by his supposed niceness. Con is a first rate passive aggressive dick.

  31. The Consigliere

    JC –

    It’s about the fact that sceptics are being referred to as deniers which has a direct link to holocaust denial.

    Ok fair enough nitwit. You are not a holocaust denier.

    Still, hurting your sensibilities is not curtailing freedom of speech.

  32. Zaphod

    new poll of Americans which amongst other questions asks:

    Does the result help anyone’s case?
    Around half think the earth has existed for less than 10,000 years.

  33. JC

    Let’s be quite clear on what part of the debate is over and the science well and truly settled.

    The models are fucked as they don’t fit the actual measurements. There’s no more discussion on this. None.

  34. JC

    Zaphod,

    Stop retarding this discussion with stupid shit. You also need to go away.

    Con

    Ok fair enough nitwit. You are not a holocaust denier.

    Still, hurting your sensibilities is not curtailing freedom of speech.

    LOL. Fuck off.

  35. JC

    Before you go let me ask you two nut balls this

    Do you accept that the temp record doesn’t fit the models. If so what does this do to your settled science theory, you fucking arseclowns.

    Con and Zaphod?..

  36. Rococo Liberal

    JC

    Don’t hold back. Tell us what you really think of Con and Zaphod :)

  37. Fisky

    The Left are the real creationists. They believe there are no biological distinctions between the sexes, and also that evolution stopped around 100,000 years ago.

  38. Bruce of Newcastle

    Bruce – Where is your HadCET based model published?

    Con – Here. All the details are in the description, the datasets are publicly available and you will be able to replicate it using a spreadsheet. If you have trouble finding any I can give you direct links.

    I built it in 2010 so the original dataset was only up to the end of the solar cycle which finished in late 2009. Earlier this year I updated to the end of 2013. You can see that the fit has been good. I should mention that the ~60 year cycle component is a composite global sinusoidal function. Because HadCET is in England I perhaps should have used the AMO. The AMO is about 10 years behind the PDO in its cycle, if you look at the two links I gave upthread.

    No, before you ask I have not submitted a paper to a journal, though I could do so as I have many publications in my professional field, which is chemistry. It’d be a lot of effort and there is considerable danger that I’d suffer persecution. I’d rather not lose work and income because of bigots on the IPCC side.

  39. The Consigliere

    Do you accept that the temp record doesn’t fit the models.

    stop saying silly things.

  40. Gab

    Wait, what? Con argues for scientific evidence for the existence of God but believes in AGW?

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

  41. Bruce of Newcastle

    Con – You do know Dana Nuccitelli’s an activist don’t you?

    By comparison here is the same basic analysis by a climate scientist:

    STILL Epic Fail: 73 Climate Models vs. Measurements, Running 5-Year Means

    You can see the IPCC ensemble models suck. That is because they backcast to the 20thC temperature record, but omit the two most significant variables: the ~60 year cycle, which was worth about 0.28 C and the overall solar forcing, which was about 0.33 C out of the total 0.74 C rise in the century. Because the ensemble models derive climate sensitivity by difference, same as I do, the number they have is too high. So when the Sun and the oceans turned down after 1998 the ensemble models kept on going like Wile E Coyote going over a cliff.

  42. The Consigliere

    Sorry Bruce but I’m not a climate science expert so I can’t possibly verify if your analysis is accurate. Have you had any expert input into you results even if you aren’t in the position to publish?

    Since you are in the science field you know a non-expert will have no chance at verifying your work without a prohibitively long learning process. You’ll probably also know that one of the longest parts of getting a paper published is finding a reviewer who has the requisite expertise in your specialised area.

    Gotta respect the process, its what keeps the pseudo-science at bay.

  43. JC

    Con – You do know Dana Nuccitelli’s an activist don’t you?

    Lol, he sends me to the Guardian, presumably Constance thinks it’s peer reviewed.

    Constance, let me quite clear, even the IPCC has admitted that the models don’t align with the real life comparative data. Stop being a fucking moron especially by sending me off to a Guardian link. You ought to have a limb cut off for that, without anesthetic.

    Where’s Slaphsod as he needs to apologize.

  44. JC

    Con’s link is to Dana Loonatelli, another fucking lying piece of shit warming monger

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/22/dana-nuccitellis-lie-of-omission-in-the-guardian/

    You detestable asshat, Con.

  45. Zaphod

    Where’s Slaphsod as he needs to apologize

    What do I need to apologize for JC ?

    Me – “Surely ” the debate is over ” with many aspects of science. ”

    You -” And Con, you fucking idiot. Yes , the science is pretty well settled that there were dinosaurs roaming the earth a long time ago as we have the evidence of the *fossil record. That science is pretty settled. ”

    *Some suggest the fossils were put there to test faith.

    Me -”new poll of Americans which amongst other questions asks:

    Does the result help anyone’s case?
    Around half think the earth has existed for less than 10,000 years.”

    You would be the first to point out that truth is not determined by numbers.

    May I ask why you always seem so angry?

  46. JC

    May I ask why you always seem so angry?

    I’m not angry, Slapshod. I’m intolerant of idiots like you and Constance. You shouldn’t confuse anger with intolerance.

    Look at Constance for instance, he tell us he’s not a glimate scientist and then posts a link to a leftwing barbarian at the Guardian which lies why the models are fucked.

  47. Bruce of Newcastle

    Con – The publication process for climate science and other highly divisive fields is a mess. The peer review system has broken down to a tribalised system where reviewers are in cliques with no objectivity. If you have a reviewer from a hostile clique you won’t get published no matter how scientifically correct.

    The only system which works in such cases is open review under an editorial head. Basically, blogs.

    Scientists are human, and there is a lot of money riding on the IPCC consensus right now. I have seen many cases of bad reviewing. The political aspect has made it even worse.

    No one has so far falsified the model. I have reviewed it with one other expert (I can claim rightly to be an expert given I have substantial stats and process modelling credits myself). Since I built it there have been a lot of new findings which flesh out the mechanisms behind the solar forcing described in Butler & Johnston 1996. That is a plus. Furthermore the consensus is now reluctantly addressing the oceanic oscillations, such as in the paper you linked above. That is a second supporting point. What has not yet happened is the consensus accepting that if ocean cycles cause the “pause” then they must have caused much of the warming in the run up to 1998. They are reluctant because that would lower the calculated ECS very significantly. And governments will withdraw funding when they understand that CO2 is basically harmless.

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