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“A Reality-Avoidance Scheme”: The Republican List Of Things You Cannot Say

You are, perhaps, already familiar with the Republican List of Things You Cannot Say. If not, here’s a quick refresher:

1. “Vagina.” That’s a definite no-no. Three years ago, Republicans in the Michigan statehouse banned Democratic Rep. Lisa Brown from speaking after she used the v-word.

2. “Condom.” The Bush administration sought to ban sex-ed teachers from mentioning the c-word or, indeed, any contraceptive method but abstinence.

3. “Gun.” A 2011 Florida law prohibits pediatricians from asking if parents have a g-word in the house. Mind you, they can ask about swimming pools, tobacco, seatbelts, lead paint and other potential home-based threats to children’s health. But not firearms.

To that list, a new term has now been added. In Florida, you may not say “climate change.”

Now, you’d think the Sunshine State would be using the double c-word quite a bit just now. Florida is, of course, a lowlands state, home to the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, i.e., the Everglades, and as such, one of the most environmentally vulnerable places in the country. That confluence of facts represents a challenge to which a governor can respond in one of two ways: 1) grapple with the problem and look for ways to solve it; or 2) ignore the problem and silence those who dare to bring it up.

Governor Rick Scott has chosen the second option. The state now operates under an unwritten gag order banning environmental officials from using the double c-word in any official email, correspondence or report to discuss the threat from human-caused planetary warming and rising seas.

The governor, for the record, denies any such rule exists. “It’s not true,” he told reporters last week. But Scott’s words are simply not credible in the wake of a withering report published last week by the Miami Herald. In it, multiple former state Department of Environmental Protection officials describe how they were, in fact, censored by their superiors. “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said former DEP attorney Christopher Byrd.

No, the GOP is not the only party to regulate what its officials may say. Yes, the Obama administration has lately come out against language conflating Islam and terrorism in order, it says, to deny gangs of criminal thugs the legitimacy of religious underpinnings. You may or may not find that reasoning persuasive, but give the White House this much credit: The ban seems designed to make a philosophical point — not to forestall discussion of terrorism.

What we see in Governor Scott, on the other hand, amounts to little more than a reality-avoidance scheme, a way of not having a debate he cannot win and would rather not have. The governor has previously tried denying the reality of global warming. He has used the “I’m not a scientist” dodge that the GOP adopted in lockstep last year. But this may be his most effective means yet: Commandeer the language, rendering discussion impossible.

It is not, however, the debate about global warming that threatens to submerge downtown Miami, but global warming itself. It turns out that, contrary to what we believed as children, if you ignore a thing, it doesn’t go away. Often times, it simply festers and gets worse. And as guns, condoms and vaginas continue to exist despite GOP silencing, so too does the threat to Florida, the country and the planet from rising seas and temperatures.

Yet in the face of that existential danger, the GOP continues its strategy of sowing doubt, denial and delay. It is a depressing sign of our times that Florida’s governor exerts so much energy to manage the language of catastrophe.

Here’s a thought: Address the catastrophe and the language will take care of itself.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 18, 2015

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Warming, Rick Scott | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Willful Suspension Of Disbelief”: See No Climate Change, Hear No Climate Change, Speak No Climate Change

We already knew that Republicans like to live in their own alternate version of reality, sanitized of any inconvenient truths that might interfere with their ideology. But Florida (as usual) is pushing even the GOP’s incredible willful suspension of disbelief:

The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.

But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

The creepy Orwellianism on display is exacerbated by the fact that of all places in the U.S., ignoring climate change is particularly suicidal for Florida, a state that will be almost entirely inundated as sea levels rise.

For state officials in Florida to ban the words “climate change” from even being uttered for ideological reasons verges perilously on death cult territory. And for what? So that a few rich extraction-based millionaires can stay just a little richer, just a while longer? So that the people who still buy into objectivist ideas about the economy can live in their delusional bubble for a few more years before drowning in the oncoming tide?

On a smaller scale, this kind of behavior would indicate a need for a social services intervention. At this scale it’s basically a human rights issue, and merits some sort of federal intervention. And possibly some form of libertarian cult deprogramming.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 9, 2015

March 11, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Florida, Global Warming | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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