But when it comes to climate change, as with many other highly charged debates in our country, people are increasingly fond of issuing themselves special licenses to abandon those norms. Sure, in general they are in favor of free speech and open inquiry. But this issue, they say, is too important to allow the people who disagree with them to propagate their appalling misinformation.
This is, of course, exactly backward. Ideas that are unimportant, or that no one disagrees with, do not require protection from government interference.
…It is the unpopular, the unpleasant, and the dangerously controversial ideas that come under fire from government officials, and those are the ideas around which we must build stout fortifications. It is those fortifications that will protect our own ideas when the other side brings out its howitzers.
By all means, stand with the Department of Energy as it protects civil servants whose work displeases the incoming administration. And when the time once again comes when government tries to silence deniers of climate change, stand with those deniers as well. It’s a matter of principle, not just politics.
Department of Energy employees participating in politically-charged conferences are not just ordinary citizens merely expressing their beliefs.