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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/14/2009

Joe Wilson, Civility, and Climate Change

By Andrew Freedman

When Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina uttered his infamous "You Lie!" heckle of President Obama during last week's Joint Session of Congress, one thought ran through my mind. "Oh no," I whispered to myself, "it's finally happened. There is no more wall between the way people interact online, and the real, live action world."

In the real world, decorum and civility used to rule the day. Online, however, such concepts never took hold. Instead, there has long been an anarchic element, in which anything goes when it comes to discussing serious issues. Rather than the Speaker's gavel, Internet forums seem to be controlled by Red Bull, the energy drink, and screaming is the name of the game.

On a host of issues, including climate change, which is the topic I cover here, the way people interact in the blogosphere - with name-calling and frequent uses of misinformation - seems to be taking over from the passionate, yet reasonable in-person discussions of weighty, highly complex issues from days of yore. This is regrettable, because it means that we may now be in a new era characterized by people shouting past one another, with the loudest voice emerging as the victor.

joe-wilson.jpg
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (By Harry Hamburg -- Associated Press)

As a writer for this blog since its inception on washingtonpost.com, and before that when it was a smaller independent blog (CapitalWeather.com), I have seen firsthand how people engage with each other about the highly complex and contentious issue of climate change. Just in case you haven't been reading the comments section of our climate posts lately, let me warn you, it ain't pretty.

Picture a thousand Joe Wilson's yelling at one another in unison.

To me, when he called the president a liar, Wilson seemed like a commenter on a blog, ripped away from his computer for a few minutes to watch a big speech. I think he just forgot where he was for a minute, and figured he was still typing.

The anonymity granted by online comments sections frees readers up to say anything they want, at the small risk of being banned from a site for foul language or blatant name-calling. In fact, online it's kind of an unwritten rule that responses to articles on climate change should come in the form of often rambling outbursts either in support or against the article, and then in support or against fellow respondents to the article. In the end, no minds are changed, and little if any compromises are considered.

For example, following last week's column in which I advocated that President Obama should make a prominent climate science speech in the near future, and in a follow up post, I was called a liar multiple times. I was also accused of committing "journalistic malpractice." Via email, a reader even called me a Bolshevik , which I found so puzzling that I had to go to Wikipedia to remind myself why that is extremely insulting.

What was worse was the way that commenters went after one another, which was quite typical of online climate discussions. For example, "shesgruesome" criticized fellow commenter "B202" by saying, "B2O2 your facts figures and web links are a joke so I'm giving you a homework assignment. This way maybe you can spend one day not being a completely brainwashed idiot before you die from Global Warming." Ouch.

The dynamic seen in CWG's comments section plays out on climate change sites throughout the blogosphere, both on the skeptic side and the more mainstream climate science side. I understand that the author of an opinion piece should expect forceful responses. To a large extent, the reaction meant I did my job as a writer. But over time and across the Web, the entire climate change, and now health care, debate seems to have devolved into typing/shouting insults and questioning one another's motives.

All sides on the climate change issue bear some responsibility for the frequent lack of civility and high degree of combat that takes place online, and increasingly in personal encounters. I am certainly not advocating for censoring comments, or setting up some sort of Orwellian thought police. I'd be honored to continue to be yelled at week after week.

But readers need to recognize that there is great value in a free exchange of ideas that is rooted in mutual respect and fairness, rather than knee jerk anger. I think Congressman Wilson has learned this the hard way, judging from his recent tortured apologies.

I honestly have no idea how to change the dynamic of climate change discussions, other than to encourage open, honest, and respectful dialogue. I will continue to try to do so.

The views expressed here are the author's alone and do not represent any position of the Washington Post, its news staff or the Capital Weather Gang.

By Andrew Freedman  | September 14, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman  
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Comments

Maybe there would be less "shouting" if one side of the argument wasn't so blatantly discriminated against by this newspaper and this blog.

You may think you are being fair when it comes to this issue, but last week was the first time in a very long time (if ever) that you allowed someone to post some information that challenged your beliefs on Anthropological Global Warming (AGW). I challenge you to go through your archives to find the last time you or somebody on this blog actually challenged any of the core beliefs of AGW.

When this type of argument suppression happens, of course people will start to yell, just to be heard. I give you some credit for engaging in the debate last week, but you can't deny the dismissive attitude from those on your side of the argument, and frankly you have shown at times. And then you wonder why people get mad. Sorry if free speech gets in your way, but at least you have a taste of what others feel.

Posted by: octopi213 | September 14, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Well done, thank you very much for writing this piece.

Posted by: gstern1994 | September 14, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"The dynamic seen in CWG's comments section plays out on climate change sites throughout the blogosphere."

Actually, there are quite a few sites where rational discussion does occur, and the reason is very simple: comment moderation, something CWG and WaPo have consistently refused to do, under some twisted interpretation of free speech. Does free speech require the carbon-based edition to publish every illiterate scribble it receives? What you've done here is expose the conflict of interest inherent in an eyeball-delivery-based commercial blogosphere. Every wacko you can attract by getting yourself linked at Climate Despot or the Dreck Report is more money in the WaPo's pocket (and, to a lesser extent, yours). If you're really interested in accurately communicating the science and policy, here's an example of what you might want to emulate:

Comments that are not relevant to the post that they appear under or the evolving discussion will simply be deleted, as will links to Denier spam known to be scientific gibberish.

Until then, you're just crying crocodile tears, especially in light of Matt's post of last week.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 14, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Great piece.

Just one quibble: boorish behavior in American political life is not new.
Congressional Democrats booed Bush in 2005; Reagan and Goldwater were likened to Nazis back in the 1960's; FDR was called a fascist....and on and on.

Posted by: VirginiaIndependent | September 14, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So, Andrew, does this mean you are willing to actually have a 1 on 1 debate with Marc Morano?

Meanwhile, it is your side of the AGW argument that calls people deniers, skeptics, calls for them to be fired, locked up, etc.

Posted by: NCDevil | September 14, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

If the previous comment policy quote was too radical, here's one from an actual meteorologist (emphasis added):

A full name and working email address is REQUIRED if you want your comment posted. If you just want to call me names, no problem (I have been doing weather on TV for 30 years, I have a thick skin) just do not expect to see it posted.

Personal attacks on ANYONE are not permitted. I do not publish links to junk science papers/sites. This is not a platform for you to publicize junk science. I write this blog to do just the opposite. On the other hand, if it’s something published in a journal, let me know the cite, so I do not have to hunt for it.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 14, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Superb analysis and commentary, Andrew - a necessary and timely disposition on the sad state of affairs in discussions on climate and and other controversial topics, such as the debates over health care.

Those displaying the least civility tend to be those whose objective is to obstruct, confuse, distort, impede and otherwise misdirect issues from objective reality (and associated uncertainties) to their own irrefutable and usually unsupportable opinions/beliefs - as well as some self-serving agenda. And this applies to the extremes on both sides of of an issue.

Andrew (or anyone), what do you think of this??

A Skeptical Take on Global Warming (Matt)
- 160 comments and still counting

Obama Speech + Follow Up (Andrew)
- 113 comments

compared to

Learn How Scientists Predict Climate Change (Ann Posegate)
- 6 comments

And, at the peak of the hurricane season:

New Tool for Hurricane Forecasting: WISDOM (me)
- 00 comments

I suspect the answer lies in the same category as why Glen Beck is tops in the ratings.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | September 14, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Congressman Wilson has learned this the hard way.

I knew you were naive before, but this takes the cake. Yeah, he learned his lesson all right:
Rep. Joe Wilson won't apologize again. No way, no how

Total raised between him and his opponent: $2 million and counting. Money talks, the rest walk.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 14, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

AGW is a hoax. Folks have been screaming that this is a hoax since its debut. Now we are a senate vote away from taxing the air we breathe based on this hoax.

You are damned right the time for civility is over. When a politician says that raising taxes lowers the tempurature of the planet??? You are damned right the time for civility is over.

And what about Obama? You can put lipstick on that pig of a speech all you want, but he rather directley implied Sarah Palin was a liar just moments before Obama was finally called out on being a liar.

I was in full throated agreement with Joe Wilson. These are not petty issues and Obama is lying.

The planet has not been warming for the last decade. CO2 is not a pollutant. If "Death Panels" were not part of Obama's plans, then why did he have the language that would have created them removed?

If illegal aliens are not going to be covered, then why did the Dems specifically kill an amendment requiring photo IDs? If abortions are not covered then why did the Dems specifically kill an amendment banning them in "health coverage?"

I think civility was over along time ago. When Al Gore can look into our living rooms and tell us he invented the internet, he is not being civil by lying to me.

Each year the trace gas of CO2 goes up a tiny bit. Yet year after year the ratio of natural CO2 in the atmosphere remains the same. And the majority of CO2 released into the atmoshpere gets there naturally. So again, the public is being misled.

But when we are told the lie that it is getting warmer when we know it is getting cooler -- worse still this lie is going to take money out of our pockets. This is government run strong armed robbery based on a lie.

And we are supposed to what??? Remain CIVIL?

It is long past time to pick a side and fight for your very lives everyone.

I will stand with those telling the truth. And calling a liar a liar is the truth. It is far less civil to allow powerful politicians to get away with lies.

Posted by: TomLama | September 14, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

A couple of comments here. From what I read, when you get into the name calling, both sides tend to blame the other for starting it.

Your discussion with Marc Morano seems to fall into this category.

But I would be very interested in seeing a debate between you and Morano. You indicated that it was Obama's fault that the science and politics of AGW wasn't further along. It would seem to me that you would want to debate the topic to set the record straight.

I myself am a skeptic. The argument seems to come down to the role of feedback and the question of "is it positive and large" or "positive and small or perhaps even negative."

Much of the rest seems to be scientists arguing about papers that are peer reviewed but can have opposite conclusions? Does CO2 last 6 years in the atmosphere or is it 1000? Is Mann's hockey stick "the most discredited study in history" or has it been found to be credible? Have the radiosonds failure to find the hot spot we should find if AGW is happening or can we use wind speed as a substitute for actual temperature readings?

Posted by: goodspkr | September 14, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

In rereading my comment above in mentioning Glen Beck I see where it might be misconstrued. By no means was I suggesting that Andrew is anything close to being in the same category of a Glen Beck who purposely will say anything in any way to excite, incite and otherwise arouse the passions of his minions. It's the reactions by those who comment and by doing motivate even more comments that drives the large number of comments - not Andrews objective reporting (rarely opining) on subjects he knows extremely well.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | September 14, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@CapitalClimate

A few responses...

1 - You have to be registered with a legit email address to post a comment.

2 - Us deciding what is/is not denial science is a huge slippery slope - and we would get complaints about violation of free speech.

3 - It's apples and oranges to compare letters/comments published in the print edition with the comments section of an online blog. The net is quite different in that it's an open forum based on interactivity and inclusiveness, not cherry-picking.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 14, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. T,
A certain blog post claiming conservatives are clean and liberals are not (I'm not going to dignify it with a link) has 1108 comments in 24 hours, so by WaPo/CWG standards, it's a roaring success, since it can generate 10 times the revenue you can.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 14, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

16 more just in the time it took to write the previous comment.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 14, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Is this a political blog? My problem with AGW is that it always seems to come to politics.

Getting back to science, what evidence do you have to support your contention of positive climate feedback? Try commenting scientifically and rebut:

http://thereisnoevidence.com/

Posted by: mckyj57 | September 14, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Of all the Immigration enforcements laws that really works E-Verify has settled in to removing illegal immigrants from the workplace. But there is a "Sunset Provision" that could determine its future, since it’s specially working for the millions of jobless Americans? Supposedly E-Verification expires on September 30, only days after a Federal judge turned down a desperate delay from the despicable Special interest lobbyists led by the US Chamber of Commerce. On September 8 E-Verify, a contingency of the SAVE ACT was fully implemented mandating that all federal contractors and sub-contractors--MUST--use this computerized identification system.
The American people must understand their is tremendous pressure on anemic members of both political parties to dismantle, store or hinder the E-Verify process as they are the puppets of rich business enterprises. Then Rep. JOE WILSON R-NC) opened the proverbial humongous can of worms in the full house chamber.

We must endeavor to continue on raising our voices against the powerful forces that think nothing more than to destroy this valuable commodity called E-Verify. Overtime it will rid from every workplaces of millions of illegal workers, who think they are safe from government intervention. It will save billions of dollars being exported to other lands and sever the tolerant welfare programs, health care, education accessed by illegal low wage earners. E-Verify could introduced in all medical facilities, to check a persons national identity. The expedited message will spread and these lawbreakers will realize that it's fruitless to keep on applying for jobs. Eventually families will start to pack-up and depart for every corner of the earth. But it's up to the American voter to keep relentlessly calling the Washington switchboard 202-224-3121contacting their politicians.


Evaluate each lawmaker at NUMBERSUSA or JUDICIAL WATCH and command them to enforce E-Verify permanently. Not Voluntary for every business, but a mandatory addition for each employer. Fulfill their obligation to build the fence according to Rep. Duncan Hunter R-CA. Keep training the regular police according to the Federal 287 G directive,. Not to Rescind the No Match letter or desist ICE raids or weaken any other enforcement law, such as the 1986 Immigration Control & Reform Act. Fed's should restrict SANCTUARY CITY & STATE policies. NOW IT'S UP TO YOU? STARTLING WEBSITE! GOOGLE---IMMIGRATIONCOUNTERS.

Posted by: infinity555 | September 14, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Andrew -
You make many valid points, but if you aren't willing to be part of the solution, you are indeed part of the problem. Just asking people to play nice then publishing their attack flak isn't sufficient; you have "parental responsibilities" for your blog, the first of which is to be fair yourself. Just your use of the derogatory term "denial science" tells me you are hugely prejudiced against any potentially valid counter argument and shouldn't be making any decisions on what is science for either side of the argument. However, if you really believe that incivility is a problem, you have a responsibility to set and enforce rules of behavior. You can, as someone else suggested, just exclude without comment those which are obvious screeds. If a comment has some merit, but contains ad hominem or uncivil attacks, you can either delete the offending portion, e.g., [deleted:ad hominem] and/or tell the poster to re-post with the offensive material edited out. It may take a lot of work initially, but I suspect the number of out-of-order comments will drop dramatically when people find out you aren't going to let them get away with it.

Posted by: FadingFast | September 14, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

All: Thanks for your comments, I appreciate the suggestions.

FadingFast: A clarification: I didn't use the words "denier science." The word "denier" originated in a post by the reader "CapitalClimate," and was repeated in a reply by Capital Weather Gang to that reader. I do not use that term, as it is derogatory and connotes a prejudice (as you indicated) to the arguments of others. There are many, many unanswered questions in climate science, and the views of climate skeptics should not be denigrated. Regarding your suggestions for improving the tone of the dialog on this site, most of them strike me as reasonable. But I worry that they would lead us down a slippery slope towards censorship. What one person perceives as a valid argument could be interpreted by another as an unrelated 'screed', for example. But I agree, some degree of 'parenting' is called for.

One thing I have long contemplated is requiring every commenter to use their real names, rather than an alias, but that too could stifle free speech since many people are reluctant to comment under their real identity.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 14, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Andrew - Thanks for your clarification. I withdraw that portion of my comment and applaud your openness to a fair exchange of ideas and information.
Regarding your fear of creating a cascade of censorship, you have to strike your own balance, and I agree that forcing use of real names will likely stifle speech from those who for personal or professional reasons aren't able "to come out of the closet." But to add another cliche, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, i.e., you can't let your fears prevent you from assuming responsibility and taking action. Otherwise, with respect, don't complain about the level of discourse.

Posted by: FadingFast | September 14, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for a great post, Andrew.

Posted by: --sg | September 14, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Point well taken, "FadingFast." Thx.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 14, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

CWG needs to stop inhaling its own exhaust so much. If the concept of comment moderation seems so mysterious, maybe you need to get out more. See what happened when Matt tried to troll at thingsbreak, for example.

And for the record, it's customary when seeing words enclosed in quotation marks to deduce that they were written by someone other than the current author. The use of "denier" in the earlier comment was in quotation of another blog in no way affiliated with CapitalClimate. Out of 859 posts at CapitalClimate, precisely 2 contain the word "denier" and only a handful more contain "denialist", at least 2 of which I have determined are in turn quotations. If you have a better word for someone who is fraudulently misrepresenting himself as a skeptic, I would appreciate hearing it. Did you ever read the excellent definition by the Canadian high school student I once referred you to? Her grasp of the subject makes your expensive education look like a complete waste of money.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 15, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

@capitalclimate

The use of denier was attributed to your comment, not to you specifically. Re-read both of the pertinent bold-faced comments and that will be abundantly clear.

Re: comment policy, we do our best to enforce the stated rules as best we can. We're not going to make up our own rules, so this is becoming an academic discussion. We understand you don't like the lenient comment policy here and respect your decision to have your own blog where you can police comments to your liking.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 15, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Andrew Freedman wrote, "When Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina uttered his infamous "You Lie!" heckle of President Obama during last week's Joint Session of Congress, one thought ran through my mind. "Oh no," I whispered to myself, "it's finally happened."

This is a PERFECT example of how ideology can blind a person.

Assuming you watched the entire speech (and if you didn't, is it responsible to write a column on it?), ONE minute and 20 seconds prior to the point you are referencing, you *should* have heard President Obama say, "Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a LIE, plain and simple." (go and go to the 2:57 minute mark)

President Obama accused Republican politicians of lying.

But apparently, that little bit of incivility slipped right pass you. Or, if you did notice it, it appears that it doesn't bother you to the extent that it is comment worthy.

But a mere 1 MINUTE LATER, when a Republican said, "You lie", well, that was just too much for Mr. Andrew Freedman!!! Oh my God! Where has the civility gone?!?!?!

You are blinded by your ideology. And the exact same ideological blindness is reflected in your climate change coverage.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Andrew Freedman wrote, "I was also accused of committing "journalistic malpractice."

You bet you were. And it was fitting. I find it fascinating that you would seek to draw attention to your misfeasance, but hey, if you want to, let's discuss it.

Do you know what malpractice is? Do you know what misfeasance is? What is your definition of journalism?

My description of your conduct was spot on. And if you wish to have a debate about it, I welcome it.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Capital Climate, I believe you are referring to a post at Gateway Pundit which compared what levels of trash and mess left after the 9/12 protest and Obama's inauguration. Visual evidence speaks for itself.

Still waiting to know if Andrew will debate Marc Morano one on one.

Posted by: NCDevil | September 15, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Joe said what the rest of the millions in a "captive audience" wanted to say, but couldnt. It wasnt a heckle , it was two words, spoken with courage and truth.

You Lie!! obama

Posted by: babylee | September 15, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps Andrew and Marc Morano should take an exam in meteorology instead of debating and see who scores higher, or perhaps shoot a game of pool and see who wins.:)

The trouble with debating is that it is much more likely to show who is the better debater than who is right and who is wrong.

The problem with science is that it is an attempt to determine reality. Reality is not determined by who is quicker on one's feet or who is louder or who is more shrill or who is more certain he is right or who is more willing to post and post and post.

Keep up the good work, Capital Weather Gang.

Posted by: Dadmeister | September 15, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Dadmeister, for pointing out the fact that political style 'debates' on scientific subjects such as climate science do not necessarily improve public understanding, but rather merely highlight who has better debating skills.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 15, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Free speech ain't necessarily "free", chumps:
WaPo Blog Policy Promotes Climate Astroturfing

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 15, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, I can respect your position, and I appreciate the idea of civil discourse, but at the risk of going after a colleague of yours, why does Steve T. suddenly feel the need to inject highly partisan non-topic related opinions into the commentary regarding this article? He brings up "Glenn Beck" out of nowhere, and describes his subscribers as "minions", and he simply leaves me wondering if I signed up to discuss issues on Politico, as opposed to CWG? This is absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | September 15, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

It seems that global warming deniers, 9/11 truthers, death panel believers, and Ron Paul supporters all have one thing in common: they talk up a big game, but are in the minority.

Posted by: JTF- | September 16, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

So "JTF", would you rather be in a Minority that is correct, or a Majority that is ignorant? Take your pick.

As to clumping together everyone you dislike into one lumped category, well, that speaks volumes of your naivety. Leave the CWG discussions to those who actually concern themselves with relevant topics. Trolls be gone.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | September 16, 2009 3:47 AM | Report abuse

A few random comments.

1. The problem with "debates" about science is that they are subject to the Chewbacca defense, one side making numerous random false and irrelevant claims that the other side does not have time to tear apart leaving anyone who is not expert in the audience with a false impression.

2. A reasonable way of dealing with this is the one that George Monbiot came up with when challenged to debate Ian Plimer, give each side the chance to ask the other a number of questions. Plimer was clever enough to deploy the Chewbacca defense, his questions essentially were of the sort "Explain the Universe, give two examples". Then he simply started making excuses.

3. To have a reasonable debate the questions have to be narrow, for example,

Resolved: a doubling of CO2 concentration will raise global temperatures between 2 and 4.5 C.

or

Resolved: an increase of global temperatures of 3 C will be dangerous, an increase of 5 C will be a disaster.

Both of these propositions are true according to the best science that we have. They are essentially the core propositions of the IPCC WGI and WG II, and you could have a sensible debate about what the policy response should be. This is basically where the delayers (Lomborg, Pielke Jr.) are fighting a rear guard action against doing anything substantive now. The denialists are still trying to deny both but can only come up with an incoherent mish mash of isolated studies at best.

OTOH, if you want to see a pretty good climate debate go here and follow the link to the flash video (Lomborg vs. Myles Allen)


Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 16, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

On to theme two.

The first rule of blogging is that its your blog. You write the posts, you set the comment policy. Anyone who doesn't like it can open their own pop stand.

However, it is important to understand that the comment policy is a strong determining factor in the success of the blog. You are building a community, not a speakers platform. This is a major issue with a group blog as well as for commercially housed ones such as this where the comment policy belongs to the host rather than the blogger. YMMV, as it obviously does.

Teresa Nielsen Hadyen had a pretty good take on this,

"If you have a weblog or live journal, or you administer a website that has comment threads, stand up for yourself and your readers. The jerks are never going to like you, or praise you, or admit that you’re doing the right thing. And if you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to suppress and thereafter ignore malfeasants, you have it right now. If you want, I’ll make up a certificate. Go forth and civilize. "

You can pick up your certificate at the link

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 16, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Andrew,

The great Benjamin Franklin said, "If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."

and

"Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one."

AGW theory is far from complete. The purpose of debating theories is to break them and build stronger ones. Andrew's view on the subject is based on solid science, whether complete or not. We all can have our own theories about the subject, which I certainly do, but writing and covering an evolving theory as a journalist must be very difficult with so many open questions and new research coming out. Putting all the pieces together in writing to make a coherent message is the hardest part about science journalism. I applaud Andrew for his efforts and personally find them well reasoned science articles. These types of science articles are hard to find in mainstream media, blogs and other mediums, and we should all continue to support Andrew's efforts, whether you agree with his views or not.

Best,

Scott

Posted by: meteoscott | September 16, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

CWG -- At some point you, and those who comment here, need to remember that the "free speech" argument you continue to promote is irrelevant here. As a private company, TWP Co. can censor any comment or person they wish. There might be other, non-governmental, consequences for such an action, but there is nothing to stop CWG from taking such a position.

To Mr. Q re: Joe Wilson. The problem with Rep. Wilson's conduct is where and when it took place. Whether you agree with the President, you don't scream out that he's a liar in the middle of his speech. You do so on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh's show after. I yell at my TV all the time while listening to politicans speak. I would never do so in person while they were speaking.

I would also venture a guess and say if Rep. Wilson said "that's a lie" rather than "you lie" the response from the left would not have been quite as vehement.

No matter who it is a person, particularly an officeholder, deserves respect. The argument they are making might not, but the office they hold does.

Posted by: Registration1982 | September 16, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

To Registration1982 re Joe Wilson.

You say, "The problem with Rep. Wilson's conduct is where and when it took place."

Like when the Democrats en mass booed President Bush during a State of the Union address? Is that what you mean? That was also a joint session of Congress. They were booing while he was speaking. Does that not count?

Where was Mr. Freedman's outrage then? Where was his anguish over the lack of civility when hundreds of Democrats booed? Does he ignore the hundreds and save his condemnation for the one?

If the issue is a lack of civility during a President's address to a joint session of Congress, Congress Wilson is not the first. Not even close.

If the issue is accusing someone of lying during a President's address to a joint session of Congress, again Congressman Wilson is not the first. President Obama had just finished saying that prominent [Republican] politicians lied.

Where is the outrage over President Obama's lack of civility?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 16, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman wrote, '"Oh no," I whispered to myself, "it's finally happened. There is no more wall between the way people interact online, and the real, live action world."'

Which real, live action world have you been living in?

Senator Reid has called President Bush both a loser and a liar.

Democrats booed President Bush during President Obama's inauguration. How classless is that?

There was a faux documentary in which President Bush gets assassinated.

There was a play on Broadway about assassinating President Bush.

There were rallies where President Bush was hung, and hung and then burned in effigy, and beheaded by a guillotine. Signs where President Bush has a bleeding bullet hole in the center of his head.

I guess none of that was "real, live action world."

I challenge you to go to those two links. Especially the zombietime link. And you look at every single one of those pictures. Take a long, hard look at that reality. I dare you to look at every single one of those pictures. Then come back here and whine about someone accusing President Obama of lying in the "real, live action world."

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 16, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Moderation isn’t rocket science [April 17, 2007]:
If you have a weblog or live journal, or you administer a website that has comment threads, stand up for yourself and your readers. The jerks are never going to like you, or praise you, or admit that you’re doing the right thing. And if you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to suppress and thereafter ignore malfeasants, you have it right now.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 17, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

" . . . both on the skeptic side and the more mainstream climate science side. . . ." Wow. So science is no longer skeptical? Or perhaps it is only that "climate scientists" are not skeptical. You might as well have written "heretic" instead of "skeptic."

Posted by: MBP1 | September 18, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Scientists should always be skeptical. That has been the problem with the "done deal" mentality with respect to AGW. A careful scrutiny of many of the AGW papers will reveal incorrect statistical analysis, incomplete sample selection, and non-uniform procedural sampling. I would argue that AGW is still a hypothesis that is being tested. A reader of some of these columns may believe otherwise.

Capitol Climate is turning down a dangerous road of censorship. I would argue that there is plenty of "junk science" being conducted by Mann et al.

Posted by: Tom8 | September 18, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

It is not about civility/global warming/racism, it is about communism/socialism/progressivism. Help America stay strong, wealthy, free and independent buy resisting the progressives!
Unexpected and unconventional disruptions are by definition "radical" activity. The best place to look for an understanding of this sort of activity is Saul Alinsky and his "Rules for Radicals."
Saul Alinsky didn't invent radicalism any more than Isaac Newton "invented" gravity. What Alinsky did was to study it and put it in a system others could use. He literally "wrote the book" on radicalism.
I agree that the system has flaws and needs to be improved. We cannot make CHANGES this huge in six months and under a one party system let us move slowly and take 10 years if needed and get the conservative input so that we have a fair and balanced solution.

Posted by: zactech | September 19, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

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