My name is Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard). I’m a professional climate change denier and I use this blog to blow the whistle on myself and sometimes others, too.
Today I continue my series on denier assholery by calling them out for their pearl clutching when they get called “deniers.” My post here is inspired by this blog post, written by Blair King, a self-proclaimed free-market, lukewarmer who apparently helps mop up fossil fuel waste for a living. In his post he explains why use of the word “denier” to describe individuals who deny climate change “saddens” him. His blog post was, in turn, inspired by his recent Twitter war with the denier-slayer from down under, Sou, who recounts the details of said war here. As usual, Sou does an excellent job sending him up.
Anyway, back to my point: why are deniers like me, who object to the label “denier,” major assholes? Now, I know I’m late to this debate and I’m on the losing side of it, at least if the AP were judge, but our King fellow has resurrected feelings I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a while now. So let’s get to it.
First, the dainty deniers and supposed lovers of the free, rough and tumble exchange of ideas are almost always the first mother fuckers in line to recoil in horror at the idea of “political correctness.” Our dear Mr. King, the aforementioned inspiration for this post, is no exception. For example, in the last paragraph of this blog post from May, he laments how “honest scientists” are victimized by “attack-first climate activists,” for challenging what he calls “politically incorrect” positions on climate change.
Boo fucking hoo. Pass me a tissue.
But then, after railing against the idea of political correctness, deniers want us to believe describing them as deniers hurts their feelings. Well, guess what assholes, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim you despise political correctness on the one hand and then swoon every time you get called a name you don’t like.
What’s particularly idiotic is these assholes can’t even figure out the difference between labeling someone for their ideas and true hate speech. For example, in this blog post from 2015, Mr. King has the gall equate the term “denier” to the “f” word used to disparage homosexuals (go read his blog post if you want to see the slur spelled out). As if a word intended to exclude or shame a person for a central part of their being is the same thing as a descriptive moniker for a kook making wild claims in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sorry, but if I think your conclusions about climate change or the proper response to the crisis are shit–especially if you act like a juvenile, know-it-all asshole–I get to call you out on it. Nothing personal.
But the crux of King’s argument is he objects to the word “denier” because that word is somehow sacred, like a retired sports jersey number, and should refer exclusively to Holocaust deniers. Weirdly, he’s actually cool with calling someone a “denialist.” Even more weirdly, he suggests we call the hard core deniers “sky dragons,” instead. Whatever. Anyway, for King, the word “denier” is off limits because it “carr[ies] with it the toxic scent of Holocaust denial.” What a bunch of total and utter horseshit.
First of all, there are all kinds of deniers. There are “Jesus deniers,” “moon landing deniers,” “9/11 deniers,” “religious deniers,” “vaccine deniers,” “liquor deniers,” “racism deniers,” “evolution deniers,” etc., etc. Google these phrases and you’ll see them everywhere. But by this moron’s reckoning, all such terms describing all the many types of deniers should be off limits because it unfairly associates them with evil Holocaust deniers thereby diluting the word “denier” that King, at least according to him, worked hard to imbue with super, magical powers to beat back white supremacists.
It’s obvious to anyone beyond a sixth grade reading level that the word “denier,” used alone, is shorthand for a specific kind of denier. The type of denier it refers to is made clear from the context the word is used in. If I’m writing about “evolution deniers,” for example, I don’t continually have to write the term “evolution deniers” to make clear I’m not referring to Holocaust deniers. I can just use the word “deniers” and it’s obvious from the context what kind of denier I’m referring to.
Aside from Blair, the only people who read “Holocaust denier” into the word “denier” are those who’d like to convince the world they are getting wrongfully persecuted by “alarmists.” Now some might try to argue that if a group is offended by a label, it’s just common courtesy and respectful to discontinue using it. For example, shouldn’t the “Washington Redskins” rename their football team out of consideration for the Native Americans that have raised objections to it? This seems to be the reasoning behind the AP’s decision last year to not use the term “denier.”
And that brings me to my final point. What truly make deniers who feign offense at the use of the word “denier” assholes is they essentially try to equate themselves with groups, like Native Americans, who have endured long histories of racial, ethnic and social persecution and who have legitimate gripes about the words used to describe them; words that were used to alienate, ostracize and dehumanize them so they could be divided, conquered, enslaved, persecuted and killed by an unsympathetic, dominant culture. So to these mostly male, mostly white, often wealthy, well-educated, reality-denying assholes, I say, “Fuck you, quit complaining, and go do the hard work of publishing legitimate science to back your crazy claims up.”
And you want to know the real reason deniers don’t like being called “deniers?” Because, just like the moon landing deniers, 9/11 deniers, evolution deniers, vaccine deniers and yes, Holocaust deniers, that word effectively paints them as the fucking kooks that they are. So don’t listen to Blair King. Keep calling them “deniers” every opportunity you get.