The somewhat hysterical Heartland Institute President Joe Bast has lashed out at the lengthening list of “friends” who are trying to distance themselves from the institute's increasingly embarrassing anti-science antics.
In a letter to one of the “scholars” who have asked to be removed from the list of “Heartland experts” (BigCityLiberal is keeping a good headcount here), Bast complains that his institute has always tried to stay “above the fray,” and it's now being victimized “by ideological extremists as part of the ongoing attack on us and our donors.”
In that light, Bast scolds his former supporter:
So John, I’m disappointed that you would side with folks who would use such tactics. if you want to stand up for truth seeking and honesty, for taking an unpopular stand against prevailing wisdom, then you should be speaking up for me and The Heartland Institute, not abandoning us in this moment of need.
The Heartland Institute’s jaw-droppingly ill-advised, and now withdrawn billboard campaign—pictured here–has drawn a huge volume of denunciations in the last week. There’s not much more to say substantively about the campaign, or the fallout from it, which has included a number of Heartland funders heading for the hills.
But it is fascinating to try to understand why the Heartland Institute may have gone to this extreme. The psychological phenomenon that I see lurking behind these ads is a critical one to understand–black and white, “in group/out group” thinking.
This is something that David Ropeik has already written on very observantly. In trying to explain and justify its linking of global warming with people like Ted Kaczynski and Charles Manson, Ropeik notes, here are some of the things Heartland has said–and the words speak volumes:
The most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
…what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ‘mainstream’ media, and liberal politicians say about global warming.
What is going on here, psychologically, is something called “splitting.” The Heartland Institute is ignoring basic intellectual distinctions and all sense of nuance, and dividing the world up into black and white extremes.
Once you do this, it becomes much easier to group one’s intellectual opponents together with “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
In the wake of the outrageous Heartland Institute billboard campaign equating everyone who acknowledges the science of global warming with “murderers, tyrants, and madmen,” many of the group's corporate donors are fleeing away, lest their public reputations get sullied by Heartland's recklessness.
Bravo to these companies for dumping Heartland. It is ridiculous to describe everyone from the Pentagon, President Obama, religions leaders and a majority of global citizens as “mostly on the radical fringe of society.” In Heartland’s twisted worldview, we’re all “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
This type of reckless behavior isn't new at Heartland, in fact it's par for the course for their leadership. The billboard idea illustrates Heartland's core mentality.
Ever wonder why a blooming green energy industry has faced such harsh opposition? Now, as the old adage goes, “the cat's out of the bag.”
The Guardian today revealed the network of fossil-funded groups coordinating the ongoing onslaught of attacks on renewable energy, particularly wind power. A memorandum passed to The Guardian from the Checks and Balances Project details the organizations and personnel acting as ringleaders to build an astroturf echo chamber of clean energy critics.
“A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.”
A confidential memo seen by The Guardian and obtained by DeSmogBlog “advises using 'subversion' to build a national movement of wind farm protesters,” explained Goldenberg.
The London-based liquor giant Diageo has joined the companies that are criticizing or cutting off the Heartland Institute in protest over its campaigns to confuse people about climate science and to cast prominent climate activists as “murderers, tyrants and madmen.”
As Leo Hickman reports in the Guardian, a Diageo spokester said: “Diageo vigorously opposes climate scepticism and our actions are proof of this. Diageo's only association with the Heartland Institute was limited to a small contribution made two years ago specifically related to an excise tax issue. Diageo has no plans to work with the Heartland Institute in the future.”
This news came a day after Microsoft also criticized Heartland, (although the world's second-richest computer company has not indicated that it will STOP supporting Heartland in the future). Auto giant General Motors cut off its funding of Heartland in March in apparent embarrassment over being associated with the Chicago-based “think” tank's anti-science activism. (Heartland is a big promoter of tobacco as well as a dissembler about climate science.
Look here for an excellent compilation of all the public corporations that have or continue to support Heartland (and hat's off to Brad Johnson and ForcastTheFacts.org.)
Microsoft is finally taking a clearer position denouncing the Heartland Institute's irresponsible position on climate science, but the computer megacorp still won't shut the door on providing Heartland with free software in the future.
In the wake of Heartland's highly offensive advertising campaign, in which Heartland said, flatly, “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists; they are murderers, tyrants and madmen,” Microsoft''s Director of Corporate Citizenship Steve Lippman distanced his company from the Heartland position:
“The Heartland Institute does not speak for Microsoft on climate change. In fact, the Heartland Institute’s position on climate change is diametrically opposed to Microsoft’s position. And we completely disagree with the group’s inflammatory and distasteful advertising campaign.”
But he went on with this unconvincing dodge:
“Heartland did participate in our global software donation program in 2010, as did thousands of other nonprofit organizations. It’s important to point out that hundreds of environmental and conservation groups also took advantage of the same program, and received over $13 million in free software to pursue their missions.”
Although not likely to be the last, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) became the first speaker to distance himself from Heartland Institute's outrageous billboard stunt today, telling the Washington Post that he will no longer attend Heartland's forthcoming denier conference in Chicago, a.k.a. Denial-a-Palooza.
GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a leading climate “skeptic,” will be pulling out of an upcoming conference sponsored by the group where he was supposed to speak.
Rep. Sensenbrenner's spokesman did leave the door open for him to attend if Heartland pulls the campaign (it has), but it would be difficult for any politician - even the leading sponsor of the Patriot Act - to continue associating with Heartland's extremist behavior.
Stay tuned for other defections as the insanity of Heartland's stunt - and its failure to apologize even though it decided to discontinue the billboards after only 24 hours - reverberates around the world.
We will stop running [the billboard] at 4:00 p.m. CST today. (It’s a digital billboard, so a simple phone call is all it takes.) The Heartland Institute knew this was a risk when deciding to test it, but decided it was a necessary price to make an emotional appeal to people who otherwise aren’t following the climate change debate.
The Heartland Institute has stooped to new lows today with the release of a billboard campaign in Chicago featuring “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Heartland's intent with the billboards is to suggest that anyone who accepts the overwhelming evidence of manmade climate change is a radical on par with these murderers and madmen.
Leo Hickman, who was first to cover this shameful stunt at the Guardian, sums it up best:
It really is hard to know where to begin with this one. But let's start with: “What on earth were they thinking?”
The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
With a despicable stunt like this, it will be a miracle if Heartland retains financial support from any of the nineteen public companies that its internal documents revealed are fostering the group's work. Even Altria (a.k.a. PhilipMorris) should feel compelled to distance itself from Heartland after this. Who wants to sip Ste. Michelle wine (an Altria brand) knowing that the company funds this kind of extremism?
The Heartland Institute's current President, Joe Bast, has launched a billboard campaign denouncing science, scientists, conscientious political activists - and by association EVERYONE else who speaks with concern about climate change - as murderous, tyranical or insane.
Settling on that third descriptor, it's difficult to imagine what kind of crazy person thought this was an appropriate attack on the public dialogue about the most pressing environmental issue in the history of humankind.
This is a link to the 2012 Heartland Fundraising strategy, a document the institute was careless enough to email to a stranger, regardless that it includes the full list of Heartland funders. General Motors has already announced that it wants off this list - that it is embarrassed by any association with a disinformation organization of this nature.
But if you are concerned about climate change, if you are NOT a murderer, a tyrant or a crazy person, and you are a shareholder or customer of any of the organizations on this list (maybe we could start with Microsoft), please send an email, write a letter, make a phone call or sell your stock. Let's make it clear that Joe Bast needs a vacation, permanently.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.