"If the Intent is good, it's not Fascism."
The above statement is not true, as, unfortunately, Fascism ultimately doesn't have to have anything to do with intent, and much of it's formation, often, doesn't.
And while a University Professor's recent well intentioned idea smacked of fascism (and would be a critical step toward it if ever implemented), the running of his idea in an online news magazine, in the name of opinion, is only furthering contemplation of it's potential acceptability.
The level of misinformation on Climate Change is rampant. Most of it is probably believed by those engaging in it. To dismiss this (or to cynically believe otherwise) is not only a big mistake when it comes to effective communication and knowledge on the issue, it also leads, out of frustration, to radical proposals - even if here just by one Professor, published in The Conversation: Good title for a learned online information source, very poorly chosen opinion piece, and to whatever extent considered plausibly reasonable, extraordinarily poor opinion.
One that is pedestrian, perhaps, but chilling.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to the concept of misinformation. Opinions, and even the assertion of questionable or even wrong facts, and constant "spin" or rhetoric, on issues of the day, can not be separated out into neat little piles of speech, and non speech. Such actions pervade most conversations, most representations, most advocacy, many assertions on most websites, in most books, in most media presentations.
There is no cutoff line. Or anything even approximating one, nor any ultimate authority on determining it. (One of the biggest problem with criminalizing "false" information on a select topic, even a potentially devastating one.) Nor is intent - exactly how genuine the belief - relevant to the basic right to advocate a position.
Thus the idea of criminalizing "Climate Change" misinformation, no matter how well intended the idea, is exactly the same as a Fascist regime criminalizing perspectives that it does't want to hear, or have its people hear. That is a key part of what Fascism is. And that, under a reasonably written article dripping with frustration regarding industry group backed misinformation on this critical global topic, is exactly what was just proposed by a professor, and published in The Conversation.
Industries, and the people who work for them and run them, are part of the world. They live in it. Their kids live in it. Their grand kids will. If they want to discourage Climate Change action because the mistakenly think this is the way to continue their same industry business model, that is as American (and democratic) as Apple Pie (even if, today, it might be of the organic apple, more naturally sweetened, kind).
The redress is to effectively show that this is being done. To grab back the framing on an opinion where the facts support those who would argue against industry backed opposition to climate change - and the huge set of the populace that, along with misplaced economic fear, is thus driven toward misconception on the issue as well. And paint, show, a pattern of misinformed and self reinforcing belief, where the arguments and "facts" and assessment of their relevancy, is being slotted to fit into a pre-determined belief, rather than the other way around.
And to not dismiss the relevancy of the beliefs and arguments of others, as if the enormous amount of misinformation wasn't fundamental to and completely changing the nature of the relevant world "debate" and conversation on this topic, or that it isn't that very same "debate" and conversation that ultimately determines our responses.
Similarly, not concluding that the only relevant debates on how to respond to Climate Change (rather than Climate Change misinformation) are the ones held by those who already know or think Climate Change is "a really big issue," when right now, those don't matter anywhere near as much as the "debate" and conversation the whole country, and the whole world, is having. What can be done, what information and how it is relayed by news sources, and what people then know or believe which in turn shapes this even more, is all driven by world information, or lack thereof.
Confusing the debates of "those who know" with the relevant, and as a result, highly misinformed "debate" and assessment of the world, is probably the most fundamental mistake that can be made. And it seem to be made a lot. As is attributing misinformation to ill motives, and dismissing it, or rarely focusing on open communication designed to reach people and allow for consideration, not just seen clever or score points (even on a more mundane level, to "rate this," or "buzz up" or "like," or "unlike") with those in a group adhering to the same general view, which leads to more and more polarizing, non illuminative communication, and more and more presumption; which in turn gets heavily in the way of good communication, so necessary on the issue of Climate Change.
That is, there is an almost automatic, widely presumed, and yet ill thought out idea that almost all Climate Change misinformation is driven by a desire to deceive. But if those "in the know," didn't so categorically dismiss the concerns of so many, which, well founded or not, they have a right to believe, they wouldn't be adding to the very same polarization, and excessive mischaracterization, that enables industries to be able to perpetuate toward what to them, if mistakenly, seem productive ends, rather than what would otherwise, or could (and need be) shown, toward counter productive ends all around, facing adaptive change in processes and in response spending a fortune to fight the idea through misinformation and rhetoric (which becomes a losing business strategy when it is no longer seen as worth the cost), and an appearance of public manipulation as well as lack of knowledge on the issue on the company or industry's part.
And, somewhat similarly, there is also a very widespread and again sometimes almost automatic presumption that if anybody doesn't know the "true" facts on Climate Change, it is their fault, and can't be changed. This flies in the face of the very frustration that would lead a professor, and even if (one hopes) with reservations, The Conversation, to publish, an absurd (and chilling) piece calling for the criminalization of severe Climate Change misinformation in the first place.
There is a person considered to be one of the front runners for the U.S. Presidential Nomination of the Republican Party in 2016, who knows less correct information on the issue of Climate Change than a very well informed, well... person of "significantly less age."
This is the state of (mis)information on this topic.
In part it is due to all the misinformation out there, and the fears and uncertainties that drive it. But it is also due to the fact that many people, and in particular many of the more outspoken advocates on climate change, not only do not agree with the sentence just above in blue, they believe it to be naive, and far fetched, "given the facts."
And believe that Texas Governor Rick Perry's stance on Climate Change, and that of many other people who have been given, or self selected for, the information that they have, in a veritable sea of rhetoric, misunderstanding, accusation and misinformation on Climate Change is because Rick Perry doesn't care, or thinks the future of the world should be ruined. (Much like much of the "Far Right" and some others honestly believe that many advocates for Climate Change really want a world dominating U.N.; want to weaken the economy; want to have the government further control our lives; or want to just "protect" nature to the exclusion of any human values, or that these two sets (even now when we may literally, if slowly, be near permanently flooding the very lands we live upon and need), always have to be mutually exclusive.
Or believe, or even say, things about Rick Perry's intelligence which - in the context of what is needed to be able to learn the important basics of this issue sufficiently to not be able to say the things Perry says with a straight face - are insulting and inaccurate.
I posted a comment at Skepticalscience yesterday. It's not a great comment, but there is an important point found therein.
I don't think that most people know the basics of Climate Change.Meaning why past and present anthropomorphic activities are significantly affecting the longer term climate of the world in which we live, in a way that is highly likely to be extremely counterproductive. (Aka, somewhat destructive, from our perspective.)
I saw a few comments on here that implied [or said] it was inexcusable.That sentiment seems to be widespread. But to say or believe it [not knowing the key facts - not conclusions - but facts and why they are key] is inexcusable, is to say or believe that being human, is inexcusable.
Humans are going to collective believe some compilation of the information presented, and how presented. That seems like it is the way it has always been, and it is probably the way it will always be. It also seems almost a little unrealistic to expect otherwise on this issue right now, given all the misinformation out there, all the hype and misleading rhetoric, the potential complex aspects of the issue and ease to confuse uncertainties with lack of knowledge or even "mistake," and science misunderstanding in general.(That's part of the problem though, the importance of that in shaping other people's perspectives,and thus the legitimacy of their perspectives, even if egregiously wrong, is inadvertently dismissed.)
It's also not a rationale for criminalizing some of that misinformation, simply because it is leading to ignorance, ignorance on what is a very important topic. In fact, nothing is.
Future rampant Climate Change affects toward the more negative end of the reasonability scale - incredible and previously even hard to imagine intense precipitation periods and droughts, super warm global ambient temperatures, incredible windstorms, wide scale devastation, ocean rises that are ho hum from the perspective of the globe, but monumental, catastrophic, to us, etc. - is still not.
When it starts making companies look bad to convey information which is blatantly misrepresented and manipulative, they won't do it. To accomplish that requires understanding why there is so much misinformation in the first place.
Because of deceit is not an answer, because deceit exposed and made into a bigger issue than the deceit in the first place is harmful, not helpful to the deceiving party' credibility and cause.
Because of misinformation is not an answer. It's a free world. Information can be conveyed just as easily as misinformation, and carries with it the sometimes helpful advantage of being correct, and the far more important advantage of having the facts support it. It needs to be made more effectively.
Those concerned need to do a far better job of conveying this information effectively.
And far less (in fact, not at all) at even inkling of ideas, that smack of Fascism.
How to do that is a difficult task, but a couple of clues are suggested above. Namely, to consider the idea that the immediate disparagement of all who would deny climate change (not disparaging their ideas, but their genuineness), and failure to recognize any genuineness of motive therein, and instead routinely assert its opposite as a reason for such misinformation and the expressed adherence to (or belief in) such misinformation, are only further entrenching passionately held or desired beliefs, or deepening what were just simple inclinations in the first place.
It is also consistent with failing to show, rather than simply stating, or concluding.
Saying things like "everybody knows climate change is a problem," is not helping to show, but it is helping to support (even if not intentionally) the idea that this is something that should "just be taken for granted," rather than rigorously assessed, and the ranges, affects and probability scenarios given serious intense ever ongoing examination.
And it's completely lacking in credibility with those who don't yet. Yet which is exactly who needs to be reached for far better and more accurate assessment of this issue, which in turn is required for a more intelligent response to it as the issue and response is ultimately going to be driven by the population at large, and the overall quality of the information that population is receiving. (Presuming the opposite of this, that those who "don't know" even if it includes a good portion of Congress in the U.S.,don't matter, and that it doesn't determine the very nature of the general perception upon which we invariably base our responses (or lack thereof), is also a critical mistake.)
These are themes on what underlying tendencies have gotten in the way of far more effective communication, or, even more importantly, what has possibly badly skewed what is then viewed as effective communication. (Often such communication is solely judged by how those who already agree receive it, which is the least relevant aspect.)
Regardless, better information, not conclusion - and a lot of it - and more effective communication is needed.
Otherwise, that "ongoing examination" is almost wholly going to be while looking in a rear view mirror, because we (the human race) will never have done much that is truly effective about this, and then we (or our kids and their kids) will get to see it all laid out, in full dimensional world wide, detail.
The same "worry" ironically, prompting such a however, unusual, published call to government information control, which is Fascism.