There are several levels to this. What did Heartland do? Was it a nice thing, or the right thing to do?
The second level is: Should Heartland judge and weigh their own actions by the moral standards of members of a limited circle who participate in online debate about climate change?
The first question, I feel, is meaningless.
Let me explain. When the 10:10 No Pressure video was made, were you shocked? When I watched it, I felt the momentary twinge but it passed away. I was then left with no particular outrage towards those who made the video, because, I didn’t care for the people who made it, and a certain immunity to being shocked by gratuitous violence has been acquired. The greens can make the most outrageous video possible – they are not going to reach me. I know their game.
Moral conundrums are more subtle in the modern world. Everyone attempts to find simplicity but knows it doesn’t exist. Simplistic stuff, consequently, doesn’t move us. If an act of violence triggers a mass eruption of emotion, it is only when unresolved contradictions have built up under the surface for a long period.
The second question is easier.
Look at the list of people, by no means complete, who criticized the Heartland Institute for its behaviour:
- Andy Revkin
- Keith Kloor
- Leo Hickman
- Andrew Sullivan
- Jim Newell
- Trey Pollard (Sierra Club)
- Joe Romm
- Charles Pierce
- Michael Mann
- Ken Caldeira
- Lucia Graves (Huffington Post)
- Kate Sheppard (Mother Jones)
- Brendan DeMelle
- Richard Littlemore
Have any one of these ever engaged with the Heartland Institute ever in the past? For them, the Heartland Institute did not exist – just in the vein that organizations who have a contrary opinion on global warming do not exist.
Why should their standards become the scale against which Heartland is held?
This is not to encourage the balkanization of public propriety. Heartland should weigh itself against standards of its own. Behaving properly so as to not give others a ‘stick to beat you with‘, especially when the ‘others’, consist of unprincipled opportunists however, ought not to be reason good enough.
It pays to remember, that, Heartland is a small organization with a big burden. When Peter Gleick perpetrated his fraud on its members and hired some very powerful lawyers money can buy, it must have been an enervating moment. When the force of being right, in full public glare, cannot fetch you a modicum of justice what else can? Heartland did everything they can, but they cannot do the one thing that needs to be done: hire some lawyers of their own and go after Gleick. They cannot obtain personal justice. There is no closure. They are not big enough.
The climate story seems to run the same way for McIntyre. For years a big player “by the rules” McIntyre found one day that at the end of so many blog posts, papers, articles, books, inquiries, investigations, Congressional hearings and court rulings, Mann, to be touring the world signing book copies. With no active benefaction to science Mann now wears all criticism that ever came his way, and the troubles his actions brought him, as feathers in his cap.
In America, it pays to be on the side of the climate consensus.
Heartland therefore, is out of ordinary, everyday options. Its profile is higher. The path left is to realize, that the burden it carries on its shoulders – of failure, call it that if you will – is a gift it possesses. There is no need for Heartland to open the eyes of the public through its billboards. The climate issue is dead in the water for them. Even when it came before them, about ten years ago now, virginal and untarnished, climate change had the faintest whiff of a scam.
On the other hand, it is the consensus that needs billboards, snuff videos and Arctic animal pictures. It is they who need to spread their message to school children and television viewers. It is they who forget, that “… men are wiser than they know. That which they hear in schools and pulpits without after-thought, if said in conversation, would probably be questioned in silence.” Heartland simply ought to know. Everywhere it goes, the doctrine of global warming is questioned in silence. Talk about criminals believing in global warming breaks that fatal silence. Ironically, Heartland’s moral capital has catapulted it to an orbit its political opponents imagine that they inhabit. That is why they suddenly see it fit, to impose their unsolicited demands on Heartland.