Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

By Their Language We Shall Know Them

People who employ the word ‘denier’ in a climate context are silencing normal, healthy debate.


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Ben Pile is one of the most incisive and original thinkers in the climate sphere. His blog posts, at Climate Resistance: Challenging Climate Orthodoxy, are often long, but well worth a careful read. His latest effort examines recent online discussions regarding the use of an ugly epithet:

The word ‘denier’ is in the official climate change lexicon. It is not street slang. It is not shorthand. It is precise. It is deliberate. Its use is intended to service a political agenda.

This political agenda involves giving authority to entities that aren’t democratically accountable:

The institutions of climate change were established outside of the usual processes which steer the construction of public bodies – their rectitude given from the outset, as planet-savers, no need for debate, no need to test their legitimacy or purpose, no need for meaningful oversight.

…a great deal of political capital is invested in climate change. This is to say that, no matter how real climate change is, there was an intention, from the outset, of making the environment the ground for political authority – in particular supranational political bodies – outside of democratic oversight…

When words such as ‘denier’ and ‘denial’ appear on Twitter and elsewhere, Pile says we learn important things about the people employing these terms:

  1. They have no interest in genuine conversation.
  2. Afraid of debate, they hide behind name-calling.
  3. They consider themselves morally righteous.
  4. To challenge them is to be labelled and dismissed on moral grounds.

In other words, these people are fanatics.


read Ben Pile’s blog post, About ‘Denying’, ‘Deniers’, and ‘Denial’


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This entry was posted on February 12, 2015 by in ethical & philosophical, free speech and tagged , , .
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