If you live in or were visiting the Chicago area on Friday, you might have seen the Heartland Institute's billboards featuring mug shots of convicted Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, mass murderer Charles Manson, or former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro saying, "I believe in Global Warming. Do you?"
The syllogism is obvious: if psychotic madmen accept climate change science, therefore accepting climate change science makes you a psychotic madman.
Heartland denied its intent was to implant such an inflammatory notion into people's heads. The billboards' purpose, Heartland said, was to get across its message that "the people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society."
Out there on what Heartland calls the radical fringe are marginal types such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama. Also, Heartland's definition of the fringe includes such sketchy outfits as NASA, the American Physical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, and the national science academies of the U.S., Canada,, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa.
One is known by the company one keeps.
Late on Friday afternoon, Heartland agreed to pull the plug on the billboards. Heartland's CEO Joe Bast said in a statement that his organization "knew this was a risk when deciding to test it, but decided it was a necessary price to make an emotional appeal to people who otherwise aren't following the climate change debate."
It's an artfully worded explanation that sums up Heartland's problem to a tee: When those who refuse to accept the abundant evidence of climate change resort to such crude publicity stunts, the reek of their desperation is in the air.
Note: The Institute pulled the billboard after less than one day, according to published reports.
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