Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: More on Greenpeace’s peculiar definition of free speech (see previous post here).
BIG PICTURE: For the past decade, Greenpeace has publicly insisted that free speech is not absolute. Rather than regarding it as a fundamental, non-negotiable pillar of democracy, Greenpeace treats free speech like a bit of wire to be twisted this way and that.
Intent on squelching climate dissent, a Greenpeace website says “there’s also responsibility that goes with freedom of speech – which is based around honesty and transparency.”
What rubbish. Free speech advocacy, extending back centuries, has never placed an asterisk beside this noble idea, and then proclaimed in small print: only applies if you’re being responsible, honest, and transparent. If someone calling you a liar is all it takes to shut you down, free speech is utterly meaningless.
In legal documents, the contents of which have not been proven in court, Resolute Forest Products says Greenpeace has been using phony photos and phony video footage to falsely accuse it of wrongful logging practices.
It’s critically important to notice that Greenpeace’s defence is not that Resolute is mistaken. Its defence is not that everything it has ever said about Resolute is honest and true. Its legal strategy is not to show us what transparency looks like by releasing internal documents that demonstrate good faith efforts to triple-check the accuracy of its public statements.
Rather, in a legal document, Greenpeace practically admits nothing it says should ever be believed. Its publications are “well-known for advancing…opinions, not hard news,” it tells the court. Members of the public “clearly understand” that its accusations against Resolute aren’t scientifically factual but are merely an “interpretation,” it insists. After all, “heated rhetoric” is to be expected in important public debates.
Greenpeace is making no attempt to defend the outrageous accusations it has levelled against a company that employs 8,000 people – many in small, resource-based communities where jobs are scarce. The years Greenpeace has spent trying to harm this company has endangered those jobs.
Now, its position in court amounts to: Hey, we exaggerate. Everyone knows that.
TOP TAKEAWAY: For Greenpeace, honesty is just a word. One it uses to justify the muzzling of others.
|Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout : The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist
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