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« Diary dates, tree rings edition | Main | Wam, bam »
Tuesday
Jan192016

Academic: let's try violence

It goes without saying that huge numbers of academics are a waste of time, space and money, but on a purely selfish level I'd hate anyone to actually deal with the problem. Where else are you going to get an endless stream of people willing to make fools of themselves in public? Without them I'd have nothing to write about.

There I was this morning struggling for something to write about, when Dr Tara Smith came to my rescue. Dr Smith is a legal scholar (allegedly) at Bangor University in Wales, although she is a native of Ireland. In The Conversation, she has set out her view on why environmentalists should be able to break the law with impunity. This was prompted by a US court deciding to throw out an argument by a bunch of hippies that their blocking oil trains was justified by "necessity" and therefore not criminal. 

While necessity is difficult to assert in climate activism trials, the Delta 5 and Greenpeace cases raise a big question: should activists be allowed to take matters into their own hands to prevent global warming and climate change? Given underwhelming results in combating this at the international level to date, arguably they should.

This is such a breathtakingly stupid argument that it's hard to know where to begin. It seems fairly clear that Dr King Smith hasn't thought this through at all. As Geoff Chambers points out in the comments, if the idea of necessity can be extended to climate change it can certainly be extended to necessities like fossil fuels for heating, or powering hospitals and the like. An excuse of necessity, drawn so wide, could easily direct action on people who block oil trains or even, dare we say it, on academics who argue that hippies should be able to do so with impunity. You can see where this would end. Dr Smith is making the case for "might is right"; for thuggery, for violence and - whisper it - for fascism.

One other point of interest. Here's an excerpt from Dr Smith's webpage.

Dr. Smith was a member of the Irish Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Doha in 2012 and Warsaw in 2013 as well as a member of the EU Expert Group on Adaptation, developing EU policy on climate change adaptation for the international climate negotiations.

And here's her disclosure statement from the pages of the Conversation:

Tara Smith does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

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Reader Comments (86)

We should agree with Tara and argue whether it might be a necessity for us to kill her so as to protect society againstt climate activism which seems intent on creating fuel poverty, and energy production collapse with resultant loss of life.

To any rational person the necessity plea seems rather weak.

And as a counter, it could be argued that activists who choose to protest by putting themselves in harms way (eg climbing the Shard) forfeit all right to necessary assistance where that assistance might involve loss of life amongst the rescuers.

This could become such good sport!

Jan 19, 2016 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

TinyCO2, the Russians dealt with Greenpeace activists, in accordance with their Law. Greenpeace expects to act illegally, and appeal to international Guardian readers. I support neither the Guardian nor Russia, but have to applaud the Russians for taking 'direct proportionate action', or whatever the Greenpeace official jargon is. Greenpeace also seem to be showing Russia respect, but show the UK ans US contempt. I bet the Russians are laughing about it still.

The Indian Government has learned more from Russia, than the US and UK

Jan 19, 2016 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

She has thought it through. She complains of the :underwhelming" action on climate change because she and her friends understand what the world doesn't. Consensus is her bag for truth and virtue only when consensus equals her beliefs.

She is an academic elitist, authoritarian in the HG Wells, scientists-as-rulers way. UtopianOne World way. Direct action by the "better informed" is a fundamental part of her vision, but it is by her governors, not individuals. In her society, the concerned activists would be the governors.

Jan 19, 2016 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

If I extend the concept of "necessity" being grounds for not obeying the law, if I had 3 hungry children, no job, and no prospects for one, but I had an axe while the people next door had all the food that I need to feed my 3 hungry children, then "necessity" would permit me to use that axe on the people next door to feed my children. It is a bit extreme, perhaps, but it really isn't significantly different from what she proposes since her intent is to save the children of the future from the injustices of the present taking away their future. I'm just moving it into the same time frame.

Jan 19, 2016 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom O

Some suspected terrorists have just been hauled in front of court for allegedly planning to kill a police officer or soldier.
At what point does "should activists be allowed to take matters into their own hands to prevent global warming and climate change? Given underwhelming results in combating this at the international level to date, arguably they should." and similar agitation become incitement to commit a crime and, therefore, a criminal act? It would be interesting to see the outcome if she was reported to the police for inciting violence and damage to property.

Jan 19, 2016 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

The law is owned by the corporate state...just saying.

If we look at the European dash for gas experiment .
In many ways it started in Ireland a decade before the UK deregulation post 1990.

Much of the gas from the Kinsale field was used for the NET fertilizer plant.
(Remember this was a time of massive agri waste)
Another large % was used to provide electricity for Irish Steel which was little more then a jobs scheme.

Now we have the Corrib field.....
Much of its energy will be used to light up the night sky both directly (flaring) or indirectly.

The point is the Irish people will be paying for Shells capex costs into infinity.

Jan 19, 2016 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

One wonders whether this lady gets any taxpayer funding to support her, and whether taxpayers have a right to demand it be stopped. If it isn't stopped, what are taxpayers allowed to do next?

I don't think much of Donald Trump, but can we ban from Britain those MPs who wanted him banned from Britain, and cut off their income? All we need is enough people to register on a petition, and it has to be debated.

Jan 19, 2016 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf

Taxpayers.......now there is a loaded word.
But what are they paying tax on ?
Usury baby.

The simple fact is oil would be somewhere in the region of £5 a barrel without consumer credit.
No need to expand frontiers to get energy . (Dash for as etc)
Most of today's energy is wasted in corporate consumer schemes.

You should read Steve from Virginia.
He is a tad Puritan for my taste but he is basically correct.

Jan 19, 2016 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Golf

Taxpayers.......now there is a loaded word.
But what are they paying tax on ?
Usury baby.

The simple fact is oil would be somewhere in the region of £5 a barrel without consumer credit.
No need to expand frontiers to get energy . (Dash for as etc)
Most of today's energy is wasted in corporate consumer schemes.

You should read Steve from Virginia.
He is a tad Puritan for my taste but he is basically correct.

Jan 19, 2016 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Gamecock (2:31 PM): in TheBigYinJames’s discussion, “Predictions for 2016”, I mischievously predicted that Obama may create an emergency that negates the possibility for any further presidential elections, so remaining in power for as long as he wanted. It was rather tongue-in-cheek, but now I am beginning to wonder if I will end up biting my own tongue off!

Jan 19, 2016 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

These folks is having a larf. They can say what they want. They are the establishment, not the opposition. That's why they do it.

Taking them seriously is preposterous.

Jan 19, 2016 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The connected corporate sector is guaranteed a return.
This means that any capex costs will be recovered from the population regardless of the real cost. (Let's say if it destroys all domestic demand)
Again it is production for the sake of production.
Not a real production /consumption system.

Again peoples love for a Russian Peter the great style capitalism (horrid centralization) is very disturbing.
It expresses itself through man love of the Putin figure.

Jan 19, 2016 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Tom O, but the real issue is much more complex than that. It's over simplification that is part of the problem. The moment people start asking questions the evidence falls into bits, some more worrying than others. Warmists just point to the heap and say 'the evidence is there!' We just see a mess.

Jan 19, 2016 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The Green blob has already drove a train through the law with the Irish ones at top of list. Look up Pat swords UNECE compliance committee and high court Ireland.

Jan 19, 2016 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen

Do we have to read ATTP's trolling?

Jan 19, 2016 at 12:04 PM | Sara Chan
=============================================
He's an "academic". Lots of time on his hands.

Jan 19, 2016 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Doug Proctor: In what I think was the best (and well-written) comment I have read for a long time, my take-away was this:

Consensus is her bag for truth and virtue only when consensus equals her beliefs.

Jan 19, 2016 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

https://mobile.twitter.com/DerorCurrency/status/689184102549827584/photo/1

Let's deal with the elephant in the room first.

usury and the costs of depreciation as a result of people "working" machines to pay the usury bill.
Typically half of the price of goods is artificial , with embedded costs of usury throughout the production chain.

Jan 19, 2016 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

<B><I>+ Where else are you going to get an endless stream of people willing to make fools of themselves in public? Without them I'd have nothing to write about.</I></B>

Any Heartland Conference will do nicely.

Jan 19, 2016 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

@ clovis marcus

Your quote:

> To be honest, I regret giving the Conversation an extra click

Yes, I understand, but I always find it incredibly easy to refuse that temptation

Jan 19, 2016 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

@ Owen

Your quote:

> The Green blob has already drove a train through the law with the Irish ones at top of list. Look up Pat swords UNECE compliance committee and high court Ireland

Complete criminality by both the Irish Govt and the Irish High Court

Accountability and treason only work one way - from the bottom to the top - never the reverse

Jan 19, 2016 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

I'd say her views mark her as a collectivist because all collectivists believe that the end justifies the means. Except of course when the means might be directed at themselves.

Jan 19, 2016 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in cheshire

I'm disappointed I didn't get to read the insightful comment from ...and Then There's Physics. Russell's got a poor backhand and The Dork of Cork is barely hanging to sanity by a hair. Where is the dissent to the creed of this place?

I feel the need to riot.

Jan 19, 2016 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAila

This is a great reminder of why Americans like clinging to their guns. This pathetic mobster trying to justify her mob violence would find herself dealing with Americans carrying their equalizers, not cowering unarmed masses huddled seeking her cold mercy.

Jan 19, 2016 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

how very orwellian . as long as she understands when democracy and the rule of law go out the window it works both ways.

Jan 19, 2016 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterbit chilly

Some misleading etymologies in the above comments. 'academic' comes from the suburb (deme) of Athens called 'Akademeia'. This is where Plato had his Academy, and so 'academic' meant a person who studied at Plato's Academy, itself so named because it was located in Academeia.

'skhole', from which we get 'school', 'scholar', 'scholastic' etc, means 'leisure time'. The underlying idea seems to be that, for good citizens, the only responsible use of leisure time is serious study.

Jan 19, 2016 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaleC

Aila, I missed it to, but I will get over it.

If you feel the need to riot, UK tradition suggests that waiting for warm summer nights is recommended. In the absence of global warming, sub-zero winter nights are not conducive to attracting popular support.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Aila, it's a little hard to chain yourself to a blog space. You could roll out a banner but only if you pay advertising fees. Even streaking would be a little difficult, but if you post the video we promise to watch it and be intimidated. What sort of a riot did you have in mind?

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Sorry, Alla, -- busy chewing out McKibben at Grist

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

"I don't think [The Big A.H.] actually won the election despite all his efforts, but became head of a coalition and then manipulated it so he was elected dictator within months banning all other parties, including those who supported his elevation to dictator. The rest is history and a lesson to us all." --SandyS

Yes, but not exactly. He never got a majority until after he was appointed Chancellor by Hindenburg. (The latter and his son had been pilfering veterans' funds and had been indicted. Once Hitler was Chancellor, the indictments were quashed.) Chancellor Hitler began issuing Executive Orders, (among other things) to make the opposition disappear. (Earlier in the 30's, the Nazi Party had assassinated dozens of candidates of the other 33 political parties. The fact that there were 34 parties is probably symptomatic of Germany's doom.)

The results are well known, but the "lesson to us all" has never been learned by most people under 65. That lesson should include British starvation of about a million Germans, which forced Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

Jan 20, 2016 at 5:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

jorgekafkazar


Yes Adolf H. was appointed on the recommendation of big business.

I hadn't heard of the British horror, but the absolutely crucial involvement of the United States in Germany from 1918-1945 is what resulted in the Nazi terror.


American co-operation with Nazis 1932 -1945.

http://goo.gl/bzfyww

Jan 20, 2016 at 5:26 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Tara Smith does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above

Other than the biggest, richest and most powerful organisation of all - the state. Whose obvious vested interest in making itself even bigger, richer and more powerful are very well served by the article.

Jan 20, 2016 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterPunksta

There is a relevant lesson from ‘20s and '30s Germany, although the current circumstances are obviously nowhere near as extreme.
It striking when reading histories of the period that two justice systems seemed to be coexisting, what Ernst Fraenkel called the ‘normative state’ and the ‘prerogative state’: “… which used legal sanctions as well as brutal violence against people considered to be enemies of Nazism …”(Wiki).
A nascent twin system of justice actually got a start under Stresemann and grew in acceptance during the Bruning and Papen governments.

Jan 20, 2016 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Aila:

I feel the need to riot.
Poor spellchecker you have there Aila: you have a extraneous 'i'.

Jan 20, 2016 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

...busy chewing out McKibben at Grist
*snork*

I do hope they were gentle with you.

Jan 20, 2016 at 9:31 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

attp, vvussell and El Dorko come here, I think, as nobody else puts up with them. See it is a form of care in the community.

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

n. tarasmith. An assertion of necessity in relation to an imaginary, spurious, or infinitely distant emergency. e.g., The tarasmith justified my derailing the train, but the judge was a fascist and dismissed my defense.

Jan 20, 2016 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

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