Popular U.S. television personality Bill Nye is the latest public official to show contempt for free speech and intellectual inquiry.
Known for the PBS show he hosted in the 1990s, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Nye is a prominent advocate for action on climate change. And when Climate Depot’s Marc Morano recently asked him what he thought of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s comments that some climate sceptics should be prosecuted as war criminals, Nye seemed supportive. The Washington Times reports:
“We’ll see what happens… In these cases, for me, as a taxpayer and voter, the introduction of this extreme doubt about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen… So I can see where people are very concerned about this, and they’re pursuing criminal investigations as well as engaging in discussions like this.”
The irony of quashing dissent in the scientific community was apparently lost on Nye, who added “That there is a chilling effect on scientists who are in extreme doubt about climate change, I think that is good.”
The mere fact such a position could be seriously contemplated by a public intellectual, let alone a member of the scientific community — which holds scepticism as a central plank of the scientific method — is a sad reflection on society.
But this won’t come as a surprise to readers of FreedomWatch. Whether through trigger warning and microagression policies in the U.S., the scourge of “no-platforming” in the U.K., free speech is under a sustained attack across the Western world.
Last year alone Australia witnessed Bjørn Lomborg’s acceptance, and subsequent expulsion, from a position at the University of Western Australia — not for being a climate sceptic, but for being insufficiently supportive of the anti-fossil fuel agenda promulgated by the Greens.
Then there is the atrocious behaviour of an academic at Queensland University of Technology, Cindy Prior, who has taken a group of students to court under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The students supposed crime was a few innocuous Facebook posts about being kicked out of an indigenous-only computer lab. These statements included:
“Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT [is] stopping segregation with segregation” [and] “My Student and Amenity fees are going to furbish rooms in the university where inequality reigns supreme? I believe if we have to pay to support these sorts of places, there should at least be more created for general purpose use, but again, how do these sorts of facilities support interaction and community within QUT? All this does is encourage separation and inequality.”
I still have enough faith in the Australian legal system to hope this case will be thrown out. But it is still likely to leave these young students with excessive legal bills of more than $200,000.
It’s at this point that I’m reminded of the words of the great NSW upper house MP, Peter Phelps:
“We should not be so surprised that the contemporary science debate has become so debased. At the heart of many scientists — but not all scientists — lies the heart of a totalitarian planner.”
Maybe Phelps’ statement could be extended to other areas of academia, as well.