Call the Wah-mbulance. Increasingly Radioactive Heartland Says Critics Unfair.

May 8, 2012

Martin Luther King was right. The Universe bends toward justice.

And then, sometimes, it just breaks open like a big piñata….
Fallout continues from Heartland’s Unabomber billboard face plant.

Bad Astronomy:

— this tactic has backfired on Heartland. Even before the billboards went up they lost sponsorship from the Diageo liquor company, which makes such brands as Smirnoff and Guiness. In March, General Motors dropped Heartland as well. Even people who support climate change denialism are worried that their own reputations “[have] been harmed”.

And now, after a few bloggers wrote to State farm, the insurance company has announced they too will withdraw funding from Heartland Institute. State Farm specifically cites the billboards as the reason in their announcement.

I suspect that Scott Mandia’s open letter to them was the major driver for this. For my part, I tweeted about this on Sunday:

Red Orbit:

The controversy began when the organization unveiled the first of a planned series of billboards which claimed that “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” The first of the digital billboards featured Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, and featured the caption “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

Future billboards would have featured the likes of Charles Mason, Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden, and James J. Lee, the man who took hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters two years ago. However, on Friday, the Chicago-based, conservative and libertarian think tank told the Washington Post that they were going to abandon the billboards, which were being used to promote an upcoming conference on climate change.

“This provocative billboard was always intended to be an experiment. And after just 24 hours the results are in: It got people’s attention,” Heartland Institute President and CEO Joseph Bast said in a May 4 statement. “This billboard was deliberately provocative, an attempt to turn the tables on the climate alarmists by using their own tactics but with the opposite message. We found it interesting that the ad seemed to evoke reactions more passionate than when leading alarmists compare climate realists to Nazis or declare they are imposing on our children a mass death sentence. We leave it to others to determine why that is so.”

Scholars and Rogues:

“I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

Those were the words associated with the mug shot of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unibomber, a terrorist who, over the course of 20 years, injured or killed 26 people around the country with mail bombs. Shortly after the billboard went live, however, media and bloggers caught wind of it and began publishing what would become a flood of blog posts and news articles taking Heartland to task for equating climate realists with mass murderers, terrorists, and lunatics.

Leo Hickman, writer of the Environment Blog at The Guardian, broke the story. He wrote that he was sufficiently shocked by the billboard’s insinuation to ask “What on earth were they [Heartland] thinking?” The Hill’s E2 Wire quoted Sierra Club spokesman Trey Pollard saying “[i]t must be embarrassing for Heartland’s donors like Exxon to have their money used in a way that compares the majority of their customers who believe in climate change to mass murderers.”Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast wrote that the billboard represented a “refusal to acknowledge scientific reality; and a brutalist style of public propaganda that focuses entirely on guilt by the most extreme association.”

What’s been most corrosive to Heartland’s carefully promoted self concept as promoting “dialogue” and “alternative voices” on climate change has been the savage satiric attacks that the billboard provoked, like this from Indecision Forever:

Never before have logic and clear-minded thinking ever been used to so adroitly prove a point as they have today.

The Heartland Institute have just started a billboard campaign in Chicago that very not-ridiculously draw a direct line between believing in empirical evidence for anthropomorphic climate change and being a mass murdering psychopath

The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010)…

[W]hat 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… The point is that believing in global warming is not “mainstream,” smart, or sophisticated. In fact, it is just the opposite of those things. Still believing in man-made global warming — after all the scientific discoveries and revelations that point against this theory — is more than a little nutty. In fact, some really crazy people use it to justify immoral and frightening behavior.

Oh no! But I believe in man-made climate change. Or — more to the point — I believe in science, and all the science points toward man-made climate change. Does that mean that I’m a genocidal serial killer? I mean, I can’t remember where I was last Wednesday night. What if I was out murdering thousands of members of a minority group?!

Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants.

Oh, thank God! Then there’s still a chance for me. Quick, somebody tell me how to block dangerously rational thoughts from taking root in my head before it’s too late!

Has Heartland’s 15 minutes been cut somewhat short? Stay tuned – with their Denia-Palooza anti-science conference coming up in a few weeks, this story is still finding its legs. (I guess that’s another way of saying, somebody might be doing a video on this….)

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23 Responses to “Call the Wah-mbulance. Increasingly Radioactive Heartland Says Critics Unfair.”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Another positive development, ThinkProgress has disappeared the Breivik article by Brad Johnson. Sanity, out of insanity.


  2. [...] Call the Wah-mbulance. Increasingly Radioactive Heartland Says Critics Unfair. « Climate Denial Cro… [...]


  3. @ omnologos
    For once, I’ll say I agree with you. I don’t think CP should have taken down the Breivik article. And I think it’s kind of cowardly.

  4. Lazarus Says:

    Some alternative Heartland posters can be found here;
    http://reallysciency.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/hitler-liked-dogs-do-you.html

  5. havinasnus Says:

    I’ve designed a poster campaign. The strap line reads:

    “the most prominent deniers of global warming aren’t scientists. They are think-tanks, oil-men, and tea-partyers.”
    “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

    Any one want to spencer them?

  6. MorinMoss Says:

    I don’t think that Climateprogress should have removed the Breivik article.
    If they thought afterwards that it was inappropriate, then an apology should have been issued.

    This sort of revisionism, by any group, is unwelcome.

    Digital media, unlike print, has the advantage of deletion but it shouldn’t be permitted to simply “disappear” a controversial article without an explanation.

    And I see that Watts climbed up really high on his morality horse about the Breivik article and he can never shut up about Skeptical Science having done what he considers to be improper edits.

    But he’s silently pulled several articles after the fact – unless he wants to own up to it, he’s as big a hypocrite as any.

    • climatehawk1 Says:

      Joe Romm writes: “It was also brought to my attention this week that a TP Green post on the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik was put under the Climate Progress banner after TP Green merged with us a few weeks ago. That post had not been on CP post before, and it isn’t any longer (it is now part of TP Security). I apologize for any confusion caused by this switchover.” http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/05/08/479965/heartland-gate-day-5-green-coalitions-dump-institute-forbes-slams-wattsupwiththat/

    • otter17 Says:

      I see a HUGE difference between the approach that Climate Progress took with the Breivik article versus Heartland’s and Watt’s slanders. The Breivik article gave examples from the man’s own insane writings that he took inspiration from some of the more hateful denier speech. Climate Progress, from what I recall, did not make any broad sweeping judgement of deniers, painting them as cold blooded killers.

      On the other hand, we have Heartland giving people the idea that people shouldn’t associate with scientists and rational people, since the Unabomber also agrees with them. Also, we have Watts who has floated the idea that somehow Bin Laden represents “warmistas” in general. Furthermore, Watts lets through comments that indicate the Heartland billboard is justified since the “warmistas” have some sort of genocidal or fascist agenda. When you are desperately trying to support an untenable position, I guess people do and say crazy things.

      Nevertheless, such a topic for an article should be approached carefully, and Climate Progress was, in my opinion, getting close to the line with that one.

      • climatehawk1 Says:

        Ummm, it wasn’t Climate Progress, as noted immediately above. I have some interest in this because Judith Curry attributed the article to Joe Romm, which is also incorrect and pretty careless.

        • otter17 Says:

          Ah, sorry. I knew Joe Romm didn’t write the article, but I was under the impression that it was a guest post on Climate Progress. Sorry for the misinformation.

  7. Peter Mizla Says:

    Yet Bill Gates still stands in here for Heartland. How goes MSFT in the 2nd Gilded ages it helped make. Bill- you truly are no humanitarian.

  8. daryan12 Says:

    As Lewis Black demonstrates in this view right winger’s suffer from a condition called “Nazi Tourette’s”. Anyone give’s you a problem he’s like Hitler! Obama wants gay marriage – HITLER!, Al Gore? to quote Glenn Beck “Hitler’s enemy, the jew, Al Gore’s enemy Global Warming”…..just watch the video!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JngI1_8beoA

    And no, I don’t think Glenn Beck’s, nor the Heartland institute are familiar with Godwin’s Law


  9. [...] the Heartland’s tactic’s have backfired, badly! They have been derided by critics. Many leading company’s, such as State Farm, Diageo, [...]


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