Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, drawing a false parallel between skeptics of global warming and the dangers of smoking cigarettes.

He wrote:

Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution. Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco’s denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise.

The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your product; (2) develop an intricate web of PR experts and front groups to spread doubt about the real science; (3) relentlessly attack your opponents.

Whitehouse continued on to suggest that the government prosecute global warming skeptics using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the same law used to prosecute those intentionally misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.

In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups, alleging that the companies “engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO.”

… In 2006, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided that the tobacco companies’ fraudulent campaign amounted to a racketeering enterprise. According to the court: “Defendants coordinated significant aspects of their public relations, scientific, legal, and marketing activity in furtherance of a shared objective — to . . . maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public.”

The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking.

Since when is the scientific method considered “racketeering?” Last I checked, the ongoing process of challenging theories, and testing, and asking questions was just called “science.”

This is the classic progressive mindset: Speech is free, unless you disagree with me. In that case, you’ll be prosecuted.

 

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