I’m Not Charlie. But I Still Don’t Like What Michael Mann Did

Judith Curry has a post up about the tragedy in Paris. She added a couple of points about the value of freedom of speech, saying those who support the French satirical magazine’s right to publish cartoons that offend some would find it difficult to support Michael Mann’s lawsuit against Mark Steyn (among others) for defamation of character.

On the face of it that’s pretty simple. Charlie Hebdo (the French phrase for Charlie Brown of ‘Peanuts’ fame) is a satirical magazine (think Onion but far more savage). Mark Steyn is a satirical columnist. Freedom of speech for one should imply freedom of speech for the other.


Then all hell breaks loose, both in the comments section of Curry’s blog and on Twitter and even in chalk scrawls on the sidewalk outside! No more chim-chim cheroo for you. Some are accusing Curry of exploiting the tragic deaths of innocents in Paris to continue her evile vendetta against Michael Mann (Heat really was not only a bad movie but an extravagant waste of talent.)

I got into it with three long-time sparring partners, Joshua, Michael and Willard. I sided with Judith Curry–freedom of speech is threatened in both instances and defending the Parisian magazine would imply a defense of Mark Steyn. Joshua, Michael and Willard did not, loading this instance onto the back of long-held grievances, first with Judith and then myself.

As Judith snipped some of their comments, I offered them the chance to bring the conversation over here. We’ll see if they show up. Your opinions on this are also welcome, of course.

Maybe I’ll finally find out who Groundskeeper Willie is and what shirt ripping is all about. I honestly don’t know and Willard has been saying that about me for five years.

49 responses to “I’m Not Charlie. But I Still Don’t Like What Michael Mann Did

  1. The storm over at Climate etc is ridiculous. Judith Curry is consistently thoughtful and thought provoking. While I agree with her post on free speech and deplore Michael Mann’s bullying, I think her criticism of Mann is slightly off the mark. A more accurate parallel would be if Mann sued the cartoonist “Josh” for mocking him.

    Mark Steyn attacked Michael Mann’s professional reputation. If Mann had been more professional, he might have had a case.

  2. I am also on Judith Curry’s side. I find Michael’s attempt to persuade Judith to censor her own speech ironic – given the topic.

    Michael Mann wants scientific respect – but as an advocate who has attempted to intentionally deceive with his propaganda (disguised as sciene), he is not entitled to any.

    He will lose his defamation case – it is just a matter of what stage he will lose at.

    • I certainly hope he loses. In fact, I cannot see any way for him to win. But his lawyers will… as always.

      On 13 January 2015 at 21:47, The Lukewarmer's Way wrote:


  3. Those three trolls are pathetic and pathological. I do not have the desire to wallow in their mud. It is amazing to me how weak minded fools like those three can actually seek censorship over a discussion of the weather. It is more pathetic than the old Trotskyite vs. Stalinist fights, or Luther vs. the Church.

  4. I am fully on Prof Curry’s side. However, I think the parallel is not very strong. There’s just too big a difference between suing someone and murdering dozens of people. Also, Islamic extremism goes far beyond offensive speech. Many others have been murdered by Islamic extremists for other reasons.

  5. Getting a raging bonfire and then throwing rocket fuel on it will result in a rather predictable outcome.

    It apples and oranges really. The test of free speech is allowing people who you really, really, oppose to speak freely. It is easy to support Steyn and Charlie if you are a western skeptic.

    Allowing Islamic fundamentalists a mainstream platform to spout their rhetoric is a test of your real feelings. Should that radical mosque down the road that several terrorists came out of be allowed to continue unabated? Now you have a test of your feelings of free speech.

    Free speech says imams should be free to preach submission to Allah, wearing burkas, and Islamic jihad (but being ever so clever as to not directly support terrorism). How far should he be allowed to go?

    Praising terrorists should be allowable under free speech.

    We construct laws that seem reasonable but can be used to restrict speech. Inducing terrorists acts, or yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    Why should someone be arrested for thinking about doing a terrorist act, talking about it, but not actually doing it? This is the thought police. Should saying a terrorist act is a good policy be actionable? Is a fatwa to have someone killed actionable if the killing never occurs or the one issuing the fatwa is not connected to the final act?

    Was not Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen given the death penalty for his speech? Not so free after all. I shed no tears, but it is a conflict of my values.

    Anyway, these are how you better test your feelings about free speech. I’m not siding with terrorists here, but pointing out that where one draws the line is not so black and white as some suppose and varies by your values.

    The libertarian in me is opposed to anything resembling the thought police. It is actions that matter, not the thoughts.

  6. As a follow on to the above…consider the recent “What do want: Dead cops, when do we want them: now!” protesters. Should they now be held liable? Nobody sees this as actionable hate speech, right?

    Insert a politically sensitive group for “cops”, such as “blacks” or “Jews” and see how fast you get thrown in jail, and this without any deaths actually occurring. In the example above, it arguably led to actual deaths.

    Seems like actionable speech is pretty malleable depending on which way the wind is blowing in politics. Why one, and not the other?

    • Hi Tom

      As always, you raise interesting points. I believe the U.S. has a good track record in recognizing that line, although Mann v. Steyn shows that it may take a lot of time and money…

      Fire in a crowded theater? No–unless there’s a fire. Inciting to riot? No.
      On the other hand, what is commonly regarded as hate speech? Yes. Norms of proper speech are self-propagating and self-reinforcing. The N word stopped being used (much) long before the concept of hate speech became a social fashion

      • Inciting a riot – You have Brown’s father screaming “burn this b***** down”…..followed by a riot. No action taken. Only making a point that the law needs to be applied equally. There is a fair amount of prosecution discretion here, and that is where these laws can be abused for political purposes. I didn’t really want to see this guy arrested, but also don’t want to see them turn around and arrest some guy at a less politically favorable event for the same thing.

        France did just arrest a comedian yesterday for a Facebook post that allegedly praised the terror attack.

        My thinking is that preventing the speech doesn’t prevent the thought process, it remains. Better to know what people are thinking than drive it underground and pretend it doesn’t exist.

        I don’t think driving the N word out of the lexicon changed racism very much, it just makes racists harder to identify. People start using code words such as urban youth or thug, and eventually these words have the same negative connotation as the original. It’s debatable whether anything was accomplished. I can see where people object, denier is derogatory. I don’t really care because it just identifies the people who use it as emotionally entangled the same way the N word does. Denier…the N word of climate science.

  7. Tom, If you are not yet familiar with Ben Pile over at Climate Resistance, I urge you to read some of his work. I believe you will like it a lot.

  8. I am definitely not Charlie. Of all the senseless murders we have had, I can’t see making martyr’s out of a bunch of bigots who draw dirty pictures.
    In my own backyard, there was a terrible tragedy and traversty of justice. No one is doing anything about because it doesn’t fit a convenient narative.
    Google “Shayne Iverson”

  9. Are the rest of us supposed to understand this?

  10. Why wouldn’t you just say tu quoque? And I still don’t understand who Groundskeeper Willie is. I mean, I know you’re referring to me. I just don’t know who Groundskeeper Willie is/was/will be.

    As for the rest of your comment, it’s typical willard. Partial quotes out of context to prove your point. Is there a Latin term for that? The conversation occurred at Bart Verheggen’s Our Changing Climate and can be seen here: https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/there-are-at-least-as-many-walks-as-talks/#comment-12594.

    Eli Rabett despairs of action against climate change because his opponents won’t take any action. I point out that Anthony Watts has solar panels on his roof and I quit driving a car in 1990.

    I certainly don’t feel like a victim, but then I’m not a skeptic, so perhaps your comment doesn’t apply to me. However, alarmists have written each of those things and those the alarmists consider their opponents have indeed faced consequences, for example Roger Pielke Sr.

    As for Climateball (the art of comment combat without engaging on any climate issues, shorthand label being ‘yo mama’), as was said of Ogden Nash, you both invented and destroyed it.

    • If you ban him from this site, I won’t think ill of you.

    • What–and let him proclaim his victimhood throughout the blogosphere? No way.

    • Yes, willard, I will not ever forget that you paste links to a thread where people tell really base lies about me. Never. I think Bart Verheggen said it best when he called it slander. “Exactly because I don’t like those kinds of games (trying to shoot someone’s credibility down by bringing up entirely unrelated and unproven accusations).”

      I’m surprised you’ve waited so long to paste it here. You usually do it the minute it’s obvious you are on the losing end of our conversations. But don’t worry, willard. Don’t worry. I won’t forget who you truly are and what you do.

    • And of course, when willard gets upset that he is losing his argument, his English slips a bit and we get neologisms galore.

    • I think a good description for someone who uses partial quotes and subtle inscrutable bs to make their points might be “artsy troll”.

  11. Oh–I didn’t see your reply to Marty. You might mention that our quasi-Faustian bargain was a two-way street and that you failed to honor your end of the bargain first. It was only after you nicknamed me Groundskeeper Willie and kept going after me that I resumed our intermittent ‘conversation.’

    And I would caution readers that willard’s site contains partial quotes from climate conversations. I recommend going to the source. In this case, it’s Michael Tobis’ Only In It For The Gold and can be found here: http://initforthegold.blogspot.tw/2011/04/not-boring.html?showComment=1303929754387

    • > You might mention that our quasi-Faustian bargain was a two-way street and that you failed to honor your end of the bargain first.

      Show me.

    • > And I would caution readers that willard’s site contains partial quotes from climate conversations.

      I would caution readers against the very idea of a non-partial quote.

      An interesting question at Bart’s:

      What kind of person would accuse someone of a crime because they didn’t like their political position on global warming?


      (Editor’s note: the entire thread is here: https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/there-are-at-least-as-many-walks-as-talks/_

      A tentative answer would be: a person who has not thought of using mass-suicide or terrorist analogies instead.


      Those who relish analogies might be interested that in his political hit job, Groundskeeper referred to contrarians as “an Army of Davids” (p. 97), and wonder who, in the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, can be associated with that role.

      Let’s also recall that this political hit job features someone who intruded into a server, published “partial” emails, and arguably terminated the scientific career of Phil Jones.

    • Tom, There are many forms of censorship. When I worked at a think tank in the 70’s, there were many ex intelligence types. They used the term “trashing the channel.” For example, if there was a story coming out that you wanted to suppress and couldn’t silence it, you flooded the news with a bunch of stupid stories along the same line. Let’s say a credible story about a politicians sex life gets reported and the woman won’t go away. Get a bunch of really stupid women to make really ridiculous accusations. People will stop listening to any of them.
      Tom, your channel is being trashed.

    • No, willard. The base lies have been identified in threads where you pasted them.

    • Banning an incoherent deceitful troll is not censorship. After checking out his link and reading (wading through) his posting here, he is incoherent. He is a troll and he is deceitful.
      Show him the door.

  12. ==> “Maybe I’ll finally find out who Groundskeeper Willie is and what shirt ripping is all about. I honestly don’t know and Willard has been saying that about me for five years.”

    Fascinating that he’s been wondering about that for five years, and never even considered using the Google?


    • You actually think I’m that interested in willard’s names for me? I only am responding to him here because he is gleefully repeating lies about me that have been posted on other threads.

  13. See, Tom – this is why I love you, man…

    ==> “Maybe I’ll finally find out who Groundskeeper Willie is…”


    ==> “You actually think I’m that interested in willard’s names for me?”

    And with that, have fun with your blog, and offering lame reasons for why you’re responding to him here…you know, ’cause he’s makin’ you do it.

    If you were a Republican, I’d have to tweak you for the argument that “conservatives” believe in personal responsibility.

    • I should think it obvious that if I didn’t look for the source of willard’s nickname I wasn’t really that interested.

      I am having fun with this blog. I can of course understand why you don’t have extra time to spend here. Burning Judy requires so much from you.

  14. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Trollbird
    Among twenty reasonable comments,
    The only livid thing
    Was the caw of the trollbird.

    I was of three minds,
    Like a blog
    In which there are three trollbirds.

    The trollbird whirled in the autumn winds.
    It was a small part of the pantomime.

    A man and a man pretending to be a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a man pretending to be a woman and a trollbird
    Are one.

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The banality of congruent discourse
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The trollbird ROFLMFAO’ing
    Or just after.

    Libertarians filled the long comments section
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the trollbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause.

    O thin men of Webdom,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the trollbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the earnest among you?

    I know noble accents
    And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
    But I know, too,
    That the trollbird is involved
    In what I know.

    When the trollbird was banned,
    It marked the edge
    Of one of many circles.

    At the sight of trollbirds
    Remarking in a green mood,
    Even the bawds of euphony
    Would cry out sharply.

    Wieseltier rode over Connecticut
    In a glass coach.
    Once, a fear pierced him,
    In that he mistook
    The shadow of his equipage
    For trollbirds.

    The book has four-and-a-half stars.
    The trollbird will be flying soon.

    It was evening all afternoon.
    It was snowing
    And it was going to snow.
    The trollbird signed on
    With a fresh user-name.

  15. Yeah, Marty, I’m calling time early. Willard, you’re banned and all your comments are going into the trash. Bye.

  16. Banning Willard is like shooting cartoonists, you bunch of fascists. 😀

  17. Pingback: thentheresphysics – hostilities | East X South

  18. I visited ATTP’s world for the first and last time. The civil response is “wow”….. just “wow”.

  19. I clicked on the link Willard embeds in his name.
    He is a living breathing demonstration of the limits of flow of consciousness style of writing.
    “Incoherent troll” comes to mind.

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