One of my blog buddies, Barney, recently wrote an excellent blog about a couple of readers he lost because the opinions he stated on his blogs were deemed unfair or perhaps even offensive. He made an interesting comment, that “fairness in opinion is passionless.” Indeed so. Further, it is impossible to please everyone and a writer of blogs who is intent to get people thinking about pressing issues shouldn’t even worry about offending some. It is inevitable.
But more to the point, how is one to be fair when he or she feels strongly about an issue and is convinced that a conclusion that is sure to offend someone is the only one that can reasonably be reached at the moment? For example, let’s take the matter of climate change about which the weight of evidence has come down heavily in favor of the claim that continued use of fossil fuels will further damage the earth on which we depend. On this issue, the denial of that claim is almost entirely on the side of the Republicans and an honest opinion would have to find fault with that party on this issue — as long as 74% of the Republicans in Congress continue to deny publicly that there is a problem. What constitutes “fairness” in this case?
This month’s Sierra magazine, for example, has a brief article by Paul Rauber noting that those who are “fossil-fuel-friendly” in this country have launched a campaign against clean energy. We know by now how the game is played, and we know from their voting records that those “f f f” folks support conservative Republicans in political offices — almost exclusively. As Rauber says in his article, “Leading the movement to repeal [renewable energy standards in 29 states] are the libertarian Heartland Institute . . . and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which crafts ‘model legislation’ for conservative politicians to introduce in their home states. ALEC’s major donors include Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest private coal company; Exxon Mobil, and ultra conservative dirty-energy industrialists Charles and David Koch.. . . ALEC’s fill-in-the-blanks vehicle to roll back clean energy is the Electricity Freedom Act, written by staffer Todd Wynn. It casts renewable energy standards as a regressive tax…”
As Rauber goes on to point out, this claim is false, since states such as Colorado, for example, have shown that that state’s renewable energy standards will save its “customers $100 million over 25 years.” In a word, we have lies and half-truths being promulgated to push an agenda that favors the short-term thinking of wealthy individuals and corporations that simply refuse to admit there is a problem and are not only willing but eager to promote policies that will ensure higher profits at a cost to the planet and the health and well-being of future generations. How is one to be fair in a case such as this?
Barney imagines his lost reader, whom he calls “Mindy,” worrying that since corruption is rife on both sides of the political aisle (which is certainly true), one should not come down on one side in this — or any other issue– without also pointing out the foibles of the other side. But what if there is no “other side” in a case such as this? And it does seem to be the case that the political right is almost entirely of a mind to deny climate change and focus exclusively on profits and keeping their well-paying jobs, while those on the left are more aware and seem willing to work toward a solution.
In a word, the Republicans have shown themselves opposed to measures to encourage the use of alternative energy which seems a no-brainer from the point of view of saving the planet, while the Democrats on this issue, at any rate, seem to be in support of measures to phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and pursue alternatives that promise hope for the future of the planet on which we all live. The exception is those few Republican politicians who live in states where a great many jobs are involved in the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines. But on the whole, it’s not possible to be entirely fair at all times, and in some cases it shouldn’t even be attempted.