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Heating up: Climate change advocates try to silence Krauthammer

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Costas vs. Putin

Heavy-handed New York Times?

Heating up: Climate change advocates try to silence Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer says it right up front in his Washington Post column: “I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier.”

He does, however, challenge the notion that the science on climate change is settled and says those who insist otherwise are engaged in “a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate.”

How ironic, then, that some environmental activists launched a petition urging the Post not to publish Krauthammer’s column on Friday.

Their response to opinions they disagree with is to suppress the speech.

Brad Johnson (@ClimateBrad), the editor of HillHeat.com and a former Think Progress staffer, boasted on Twitter that 110,000 people had urged the newspaper “to stop publishing climate lies” like the Krauthammer piece.

I understand that many people are passionate about global warming and consider skeptics to be flat-earthers. Those who don’t like the arguments by Krauthammer, a Fox News contributor, should by all means criticize, dispute, denounce and otherwise go at him. That’s how debate takes place in a country with a vibrant media culture.

Instead, these folks believe that censorship is preferable. Why engage Krauthammer when they might just be able to employ pressure tactics to silence him? And what’s the difference between this and shouting down a speaker at a town hall?

Krauthammer told me the petition-signers “showed up just in time to make precisely the point I made in the column.”

When it comes to free speech, he says, “they don’t even hide it anymore. Now they proudly want certain arguments banished from discourse. The next step is book burning. So the question of the day is: Can you light a Kindle?

“Is there anything more anti-scientific than scientific truths being determined by petition and demonstration?”

Maybe this reflects a broader trend in which people want to wall themselves off from contrary information — and wall off others as well. Debating a complicated subject like climate change — and, equally important, what to do about it — is difficult. Attempting to silence the other side is the easy way out.

Of course, most climate-change proponents are perfectly willing to argue their case on the merits. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to everyone.

Costas vs. Putin

Since NBC Sports has taken some heat for its treatment of Russia during the Sochi Olympics, it’s only fair to note that Bob Costas said this during prime time:

“While in many significant ways, Russians have better lives than Soviet citizens of a generation ago, their’s is still a government which imprisons dissidents, is hostile to gay rights, sponsors and supports a vicious regime in Syria, and that’s just a partial list.”

A partial list indeed.

Heavy-handed New York Times?

It often pops up when you read the New York Times website: “Recommended for You.”

I don’t really need the Times to steer me to certain pieces, but some people find this absurd. As Public Editor Margaret Sullivan writes: 

“One, Patti Reid, wrote, ‘I find this offensive and ridiculous, since I feel competent to choose articles to read on my own.’ Others express privacy concerns – they don’t want their preferences tracked; and others protest the commercial applications that allow advertisers to present ads tailored to readers’ apparent preferences. A New York reader, D.B. Smith, wrote: ‘I subscribe to the NYT — I PAY money every week for access.’ He said he was annoyed that The Times tries to ‘monetize my patronage.’”

As for Sullivan, “I agree with readers that this is lamentable.”

Of course, lots of websites do this. Maybe a little humility is in order, as in “You Might Also Like”…? 

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Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.