On Mark Steyn and Free Speech

Michael Mann is a special kind of douchebag. No, not the awesome director of movies like Heat and Last of the Mohicans, but the climate scientist famous for his controversial and thoroughly discredited “hockey stick” graph, which purports to show a calamitous rise in global warming since 1900. Mann is the type of progressive who views the cause of “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) through the kind of militant, silence-all-opposition lens of intolerance that is familiar to most on the eco-fascist left. He is simply not a proponent of free speech. After James Delingpole exposed the fraud of “climategate” in 2009 and the IPCC officially scrapped his hockey stick from their climate assessments in 2013, further scientific “consensus” stubbornly persisted in eluding Mann and his work. The man’s professional reputation had been greatly diminished, but it would be an affront to his tender sensibilities that re-animated Mann in the form of a defamation lawsuit.

Mark Steyn castigated the climate change fear-mongerer by suggesting he was not unlike Jerry Sandusky in his zeal to “torture and manipulate data.” While this may be untoward and unsophisticated, in no universe should it qualify as defamation. But in our world of perpetual grievance where any offensive speech is seen as grounds for retribution, and where any blithe reference to word “fraud” is taken as a coordinated attempt to remove one from his profression, it is no surprise that Mann is suing Steyn, National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute on defamation grounds, on the presumed basis that Mann’s reputation as an esteemed man of science is so fragile and threatened by words that his career is must be at stake, or something.

This is all a bunch of nonsense of course, however, so far the courts have seen fit to deny multiple motions to dismiss, and so the suit proceeds apace. As Steyn has often mentioned, the point of these lawsuits is never about the result but about the heavy burden placed on defendants and their financial resources. Mann and his cohort are rabidly intolerant of any dissent and their aim here is twofold: first, potentially put the leading conservative opinion journal in the country out of business and second, broadcast an unmistakable warning to anyone who would consider challenging climate change orthodoxy going forward. If you think I am kidding or engaging in hyperbole, I invite you to scan the comments of this ThinkProgress article and answer me why it is leftists are so enthusiastic about silencing, censoring, or otherwise intimidating speech they think is offensive, dangerous, or just plain wrong? And they do not seek to use persuasion or societal shaming, but only force (i.e. government) to shut up the dissenters. And they have the audacity to call us fascists?

I have no doubt that Mark Steyn and his co-defendant organizations will ultimately prevail in court, but the fact that they must bear the financial cost to do so because of nothing more than a journalist’s criticism of a professional’s (discredited) work is outrageous. Free speech should be absolute, and thankfully we have such fearless and committed free speech absolutists as Mark Steyn.