The left­ist thought po­lice

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - David Lim­baugh

The po­lit­i­cal left, which holds it­self as pro­gres­sive, ra­tio­nal and fact-based, is be­com­ing an en­emy of aca­demic in­quiry, and a prac­ti­tioner of thought con­trol on a wide variety of is­sues. In­creas­ingly, from the left’s per­spec­tive, there is just one ac­cept­able view­point.

Con­sider the sub­jects of evo­lu­tion, global warm­ing, spe­cial rights for ho­mo­sex­u­als and ab­sti­nence ed­u­ca­tion. Con­sider ef­forts of the left to si­lence con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio. Con­sider the main­stream me­dia’s ar­ro­gant de­nial of its trans­par­ent lib­eral bias, pro­nounc­ing it­self to be above pol­i­tics and in­her­ently ob­jec­tive and its crit­ics some­how skewed.

Con­sider the left­ist re­frain that red-state con­ser­va­tives do not merely pos­sess a dif­fer­ent world­view, but are not part of the “re­al­ity-based com­mu­nity.” Con­sider the near mono­lithic lib­er­al­ism and sec­u­lar­ism of our univer­sity fac­ul­ties.

The U.S. House is ex­pected to pass a land­mark fed­eral law that would ex­pand hate crimes leg­is­la­tion to in­clude at­tacks against les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der cit­i­zens. Op­po­nents ar­gue that it’s con­ceiv­able un­der the bill that if a rabbi, priest or pas­tor reads to his con­gre­ga­tion a pas­sage from the Bi­ble con­demn­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, he could be con­sid­ered an ac­com­plice to any parish­ioner who later com­mits a “hate crime” against a ho­mo­sex­ual.

Var­i­ous ac­tivists are be­hind leg- is­la­tion that would pro­hibit pub­lic schools from con­tin­u­ing to teach Ab­sti­nence Un­til Mar­riage (AUM) in North Carolina and would force them to teach com­pre­hen­sive sex ed­u­ca­tion.

In my book “Per­se­cu­tion” I de­scribed the tri­als of a univer­sity pro­fes­sor who was dis­ci­plined for mak­ing avail­able, but not man­dat­ing, ma­te­ri­als in her class that de­vi­ated from the dogma of ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tivists. One school ad­min­is­tra­tor, in de­fend­ing the school’s chill­ing ac­tion said, “We can­not tol­er­ate the in­tol­er­a­ble.”

Global warm­ing alarmists tell us there is an over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus on the is­sue and fur­ther de­bate is point­less. Yet there are a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of gen­uine dis­senters in the rel­e­vant dis­ci­plines. Many more would doubtlessly emerge from the closet but for the po­ten­tial fi­nan­cial con­se­quences that might en­sue. Plus, many of those counted as ex­perts by the alarmists are sci­en­tists with no ap­pre­cia­ble ex­per­tise in the field. De­spite ar­guably in­suf­fi­cient data and ques­tion­able tech­niques to mea­sure cli­mate change his­tor­i­cally, not to men­tion ques­tions con­cern­ing the ex­tent of man-made warm­ing, the global warm­ing zealots brook no dis­sent. They ridicule and cas­ti­gate any­one, in­clud­ing those ev­ery bit as cre­den­tialed as they are, who re­fuses to im­bibe their Kool-aid.

Their un­com­pro­mis­ing cer­tainty demon­strates stag­ger­ing hubris, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the track record of many sci­en­tists who have is­sued un­equiv­o­cal con­clu­sions, for ex­am­ple, in the health field, only to re­tract them a few short years later.

By pro­nounc­ing an end to de­bate — just be­cause they say so — they be­tray the very prin­ci­ples they claim to up­hold: an ad­her­ence to sci­en­tific in­quiry and a com­mit­ment to facts and rea­son in fa­vor of ide­o­log­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally driven con­clu­sions.

Tom Bethell, in his “Po­lit­i­cally In­cor­rect Guide to Science,” quotes au­thor Michael Crich­ton as say­ing that con­sen­sus science “is an ex­tremely per­ni­cious de­vel­op­ment that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. His­tor­i­cally, the claim of con­sen­sus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid de­bate by claim­ing that the mat­ter is al­ready set­tled. When­ever you hear the con­sen­sus of sci­en­tists agrees on some­thing or other, reach for your wal­let, be­cause you’re be­ing had.”

We are wit­ness­ing a sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­non on the sub­ject of evo­lu­tion ver­sus in­tel­li­gent de­sign. Evo­lu­tion­ist Richard Dawkins, ex­plains Mr. Bethel, be­lieves that evo­lu­tion is not a de­bat­able topic. “I’m con­cerned about im­ply­ing that there is some sort of sci­en­tific ar­gu­ment go­ing on,” said Mr. Dawkins. “There’s not.” Mean­while the In­tel­li­gent De­sign move­ment is gath­er­ing coura­geous and im­pres­sive ad­her­ents who would de­bate the no­tion that no de­bate is go­ing on.

But when th­ese re­cal­ci­trant up­starts refuse to toe the line, they some­times pay the price. Mr. Bethell tells of the pub­li­ca­tion by the peer-re­viewed “Pro­ceed­ings of the Bi­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Wash­ing­ton” of an ar­ti­cle on the Cam­brian Ex­plo­sion by the Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute’s Steven Meyer. Though Mr. Meyer re­lied on the work of re­spected sci­en­tists in the ar­ti­cle, its sub­ject mat­ter did not sit well with the “con­sen­sus” gods. Richard Sten­berg, the ed­i­tor of the jour­nal, was vir­tu­ally ac­cused of be­ing a re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ist and a right-winger for pub­lish­ing the piece. He was re­quired to “sur­ren­der his of­fice and keys to the de­part­ment floor, deny­ing him ac­cess to the spec­i­men col­lec­tions he needed.” And, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Bethel, “A se­nior Smith­so­nian sci­en­tist com­plained that pub­li­ca­tion of the ar­ti­cle ‘made us into the laugh­ing stock of the world, even is this kind of rub­bish sells well in back­woods USA.’ No­tice,” wrote Mr. Bethel, “it was not the sub­stan­tive claims about the Cam­brian Ex­plo­sion that caused such fury, it was their pub­li­ca­tion in a peer-re­viewed jour­nal.”

If this trend con­tin­ues, it’s hard to imag­ine what we’ll see in next decade. How the left can con­sider it­self fair and open-minded in view of such de­vel­op­ments is be­yond com­pre­hen­sion.

David Lim­baugh, the brother of talk ra­dio host Rush Lim­baugh, is na­tion­ally syn­di­cated.

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