Nye orating in October 2010. Wikipedia photo by Ed Schipul

Let’s return to the type of thinking that made America Great

By Eric Blauer

Can a giraffe have a short neck?

One’s answer to that question illuminates the quicksand swallowing up a type of thinking that is based on a reality of beauty, truth and reason and replacing it with adversarial polemic of nihilism and solipsism against objective truth. This is a mentality that walls itself up in arguments that state that nothing is objectively true and the individual is the only definer of reality. The irony of defying absolutism, absolutely, never fails to escape me.

The latest example of this clash of concepts was recently brought to my attention in the Facebook trough by some comments about climate change by Bill Nye.

Could you be jailed for thought crimes? Maybe according to the bow tied, science guy. Below is the video of Bill Nye’s comments in response to a question from activist Marc Morano, a global-warming denier who is also the man behind the film, Climate Hustle:

MORANO: “We interviewed Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist… He said that climate “deniers” — his word — energy CEOs belong at The Hague with three square meals and a cot with all of the other war criminals. What is your thought on that? And do you think some of the rhetoric on your side — as I am sure both sides — gets too carried away? What is your thought on jailing skeptics as war criminals?”

NYE: “Well, we’ll see what happens. Was it appropriate to jail the guys from Enron?… So, we will see what happens. Was it appropriate to jail people from the cigarette industry who insisted that this addictive product was not addictive, and so on? And you think about, in these cases — for me as a taxpayer and voter — the introduction of this extreme doubt… about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen. So I can see where people are very concerned about this and are pursuing criminal investigations as well as engaging in discussion like this.”

There you have it a science guy saying we should possibly jail other science folk if they don’t share the same conclusions about climate change as some other scientists do.

This is an example of the type of polemic thinking that’s permeating our social media landscape. Americans are debating the supposedly “unalienable” rights of our founding fathers. The court of popular culture is putting on trial the freedoms many once considered red, white and blue established political and social truth.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

If we examine a lot of the American political and social debates today, we can trace the arguments right back to the freedoms in our Bill of Rights:

Almost every hot button issue today: religious concience, gun laws, laws relating to personal choice or self-perception, matters of security, searches and privacy can be traced back to the US Bill of Rights:

-9th Amendment
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

-1st Amendment
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

-2nd Amendment
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

-4th Amendment
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

-10th Amendment
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

When examined in this light, it’s easy to see why many Americans are locking horns with those who are fighting to redefine or reimagine America’s law, history and moral self understanding. The danger that’s developing is how this lawlessness is eroding our ability to think about truth, reason and reality.

G.K. Chesterton brilliantly tackles these issues in chapter 3 of his book ‘Orthodoxy‘ called “The Suicide of Thought”:

“Anarchism adjures us to be bold creative artists, and care for no laws or limits. But it is impossible to be an artist and not care for laws and limits. Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump: you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end.”

“There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped.”

“That peril is that the human intellect is free to destroy itself. Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought.”

“The new rebel is a Sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it.

“In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

Can a giraffe have a short neck?

It appears so, if you buy this typed of flawed thinking that’s being regurgitated today. This is a critical time for conservative leaning, concerned Americans to resist the temptation to believe that a president can make ‘America Great Again’ and instead return to the faith and reason that made America great.

About Eric Blauer

I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.

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  1. “There you have it a science guy saying we should possibly jail other science folk if they don’t share the same conclusions about climate change as some other scientists do.”

    No. Wrong. Dead wrong. What you have here is a scientist who sees those in power knowingly and willingly spreading disinformation for the sake of maintaining their power and wealth, despite being fully aware that their well-packaged lies cost human lives. Politicians and oligarchs who deny climate science now are no less guilty than their forebears who popularised eugenics in the years leading up to the third reich.

    • Obviously we disagree, especially in light of the neo-progressive championing of Planned Parenthood and it’s holocaust of impact on the population, especially the poor…that’s eugenics, all the way to the founder actually. To compare scientists that disagree with other scientists about climate change as killers is ridiculous.

      Interesting how such statements get through the culture censors these days. If you worry about a man in the women’s locker room or think Nuns should not have to hand out birth control, or oppose assisted suicide, drone wars or the draft of women or support the right to bear arms…you are a hater, homo/trans-phobe etc etc etc. This is an example of the type of thinking I am addressing in this article.

      • “Obviously we disagree”

        Because you’re wrong.

        How does this discussion go from climate change, to the Bill of Rights, to giraffes, to Planned Parenthood and the Holocaust? You’re just throwing around words. “Neo-progressive!” “Culture censors!” “Eugenics!”

        I see you’re a pastor. Are your sermons comprised of this much word salad, too? Or can you for a coherent thought when speaking publicly?

      • People who deny anthropogenic climate change are perpetuating a lie that causes immense suffering and costs lives (not to mention billions of dollars). People are morally responsible for the consequences of the lies they tell. I can’t make it any more plain than that.

        As to the rest of your meandering trainwreck of a response, I honestly can’t tell if you’re trying to bury me with the tangled jargon of right-wing paranoia or if you’ve simply had a stroke. My best (brief) responses:

        1. The link between Planned Parenthood and eugenics is about as strong as the link between the Democratic party and the KKK–which is to say that there isn’t one and hasn’t been one in any meaningful sense in either of our lifetimes. It’s a historical red herring, used by people too lazy to discuss the actual issues.

        2. Culture censors? Really? To put it as plainly as possible, people calling you out on your bullshit is not censorship. (In fact, it’s kinda the opposite.) “Free speech” applies to everyone, and (clearly) no one’s preventing you from voicing your anti-intellectualist, anti-factual rantings. Indeed, the nice people at Spokane FAVS have even generously given you a platform from which to do so.

        3. Men in women’s locker rooms? Again, total bullshit. Transgender women are women, your (apparently) invincible ignorance notwithstanding.

        4. Nuns don’t have to hand out birth control. Nor do they have to perform tonsilectomies, et cetera. The law requires that insurance plans cover necessary medications, including those that may be used for contraceptive purposes–but they don’t even have to do THAT. They’re given an out, and all they’re required to do is affirm that they are taking that out. They are exempted from the law that binds the rest of us because of their employer, and all that is required of them is that they fill out a form affirming that they do, in fact, consider themselves above the law. Funny how accomodating “oppression” looks like, isn’t it?

        5. Assisted suicide/drone wars/conscripted womenfolk/ baring your arms et cetera… If you have an actual position on any of those issues, we can discuss them (provided having a conversation isn’t too “oppressive” for your sensibilities); I suspect we’d agree far more than you think. Of course, that would require your actually articulating some ideas–and being prepared to accept that, insofar as you are not God, whatever thoughts you do conjure will not themselves represent some absolute, transcendent, unquestionable Truth. Do you think you can manage that?

    • What Bill Nye said, what you quoted him as saying, and your next paragraph about jailing scientists, is a complete fabrication. Bill Nye said nothing about scientists. He said nothing about people who disagree with him. You pulled that whole idea out of thin air.

      He was specifically referencing any industry leaders who might know the facts and are willingly spreading misinformation (such as happened in the tobacco industry, etc). That is very clear in the context above.

      • I assume that comment is directed at Mr. Blauer and not myself, since it’s more or less the same thing as what I wrote.

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