International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)

2009/08/09

Civil disobedience is civil

cite as: F. Bi. 2009. Civil disobedience is civil. Intl. J. Inact., 2:79–80

Click to view an updated version of the global warming debate flowchart.

Click to view an updated version of the global warming debate flowchart.

Civil disobedience is in the air! Michael Tobis writes:

In the typical congressional recess, American congressmen hold lightly attended town hall meetings to discuss issues with the more engaged fraction of their constituencies. This tradition has been badly disrupted by concerted efforts to disrupt these meetings with loudly and urgently repeated misrepresentations of the legislation.

There was an incident here in Austin, one among many, apparently centrally organized, apparently funded in part by Republicans and in part by insurance interests, although drawing upon genuine backwoods fear and paranoia, as well as whatever racism might be handy to the purpose.

Tim Russo:

This is what Republicans do with online organizing. They organize riots.

UPDATEx2 – A teabagger at the event suddenly realizes who she’s joined up with. […]

Freedom loving patriots celebrated liberty by knocking down a disabled woman and starting a fist fight with someone. I feel sorry for the people who went there to learn, whether it was to support or criticize. Too bad they weren’t allowed to speak.

Well, as Cicero (I think, as far as I know) famously said — and who dares to contradict Cicero? —

Extremism in defence (or is it pursuit) of liberty (or is it patriotism) is no vice!

And besides, the protesters were just following Henry David Thoreau’s tradition of nonviolent resistance! (That is, minus the “nonviolent” part.)

In contrast, if anyone even tries to pull off something similar at the Heartland “global warming is a scam and Obama is a secret Marxist” Institute’s upcoming Fourth International ‘Conference’ on Climate Change — nay, if anyone even utters a single phrase criticizing the ‘conference’ — now that, that’ll be crossing the line between civil disobedience and outright fascist Hitler-esque ad-hominem Inquisitional brownshirt-ism!

Let me explain. You see, even if you believe with all your heart and soul that global warming is an extremely serious, extremely dire planetary emergency that requires urgent action yesterday, the moral high ground says that you should still maintain the highest standard of decorum at all times! You must first insert “please”, “Sir”, “thank you” at the right places in your speech, before we’ll even begin to consider that there may be a planetary emergency.

This is wrong:

Someone: [sees a fire burning in the room] Fire!!! Fire!!! Fire!!!!

Even-handed impartial observer (i.e. me): Hmm, this guy is shrill and frantic, therefore I’ll ignore him.

This is right:

Someone: [sees a fire burning in the room] My dear Sirs, with all due respect, please be aware that there’s now a fire in the room.

Even-handed impartial observer (i.e. me): Hmm, this guy is civil and polite. However, if the fire’s so serious, then why’s he taking so long to warn us about it? I think I’ll ignore him.

And here, my friends, is the difference between small-government patriotism and big-government alarmism.

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7 Comments »

  1. If it was Cicero, Barry Goldwater failed to give him any credit.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 2009/08/09 @ 12:39 | Reply

  2. Michael Tobis:

    Well, apparently it’s “common knowledge” that the quote came from Harry Jaffa, who “by his own admission” (according to Eric) claimed to be quoting Cicero. Strangely, I haven’t been able to find the quote inside Cicero’s Orations Against Catiline (but perhaps I was looking in the wrong place).

    Comment by frankbi — 2009/08/09 @ 13:23 | Reply

  3. Until today I’d never heard of it attributed to Cicero. I’ve only heard it from Goldwater, and had assumed you were being sarcastic (in a “thus spake Galileo” sense).

    By the way, take a peek at Hyrynshyn’s latest if you haven’t already. It’s another link between the “grassroots” we see in the health town halls and the climate inactivists.

    Comment by Brian D — 2009/08/10 @ 16:45 | Reply

  4. Off-topic (while I wait for the other comment to get through moderation), but if you haven’t yet seen Alan’s brilliant parody of McLean, de Freitas and Carter, that should be rectified.

    Comment by Brian D — 2009/08/11 @ 22:30 | Reply

  5. Brian D:

    Until today I’d never heard of it attributed to Cicero. I’ve only heard it from Goldwater, and had assumed you were being sarcastic (in a “thus spake Galileo” sense).

    Hmm… I’m being half-sarcastic, since the Cicero attribution is starting to smell apocryphal (but I may be wrong).

    By the way, take a peek at Hyrynshyn’s latest if you haven’t already.

    Holy cow…

    if you haven’t yet seen Alan’s brilliant parody of McLean, de Freitas and Carter, that should be rectified.

    🙂

    Comment by frankbi — 2009/08/12 @ 17:26 | Reply

  6. Holy [expletives deleted].

    http://www.politicaldivide.info/globalwarmingskeptics.info/forums/index.php?PHPSESSID=19f4dbbbed2dc8c8a7b37775a11ea432&topic=183.0

    Quoting Richard S. Courtney, “I am firmly convinced that dangerous AGW is not a problem and cannot become one. However, I do think the possibility of the geo-engineering should be supported. My reason for this is a political ploy and I explain it as follows…

    Hearing it that bluntly is refreshing, especially so early in the life cycle of this new approach (i.e. inactivists supporting geoengineering).

    Comment by Brian D — 2009/08/13 @ 03:12 | Reply

  7. Brian D:

    Hmm… (emphasis mine)

    This suggested political ploy is not fanciful and it has precedent. Opponents of the nuclear industry have objected that there is no “safe” method to dispose of nuclear waste. The nuclear industry has responded by asserting that the waste could be vitrified. A practical method for the vitrification still remains to be developed, but assertion of the possibility of the vitrification has been sufficient to overcome objections to nuclear power in several countries for nearly 40 years. (incidentally, I am in favour of nuclear power).

    Truth at last. :-B

    Comment by frankbi — 2009/08/13 @ 18:42 | Reply


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