Does This Nonsense Ever Stop?

Way to be, Krugman:

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word treason, in that anyone who accuses someone of treason for non-treasonous behavior automatically loses the argument. Yes, the climate change deniers are, in my opinion, wrong, and yes, they are making all sorts of ridiculous arguments, but after the last eight years, can everyone just knock it off with the accusations of treason? It is just a loaded term and does no good, and I assure you that even though Krugman is arguing for “treason against the planet” (whatever the hell that means), this will be used to justify future right-wing claims of treason because Dick Durbin mentioned Pol Pot and the US Army in the same hour, or some other nonsense like that.

Christ. Just stop it.

And I say this as someone who is hesitant to criticize Krugman, because every time I pop off at the mouth he turns out to be right.






89 replies
  1. 1
    Kyle Menig says:

    Cole’s Law? The Balloon-Juice Rule?

  2. 2
    Lennox says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s just hyperbole, and it makes Krugman’s underlying argument (which I more or less agree with) look stupid.

    But for someone like Krugman, this kind of thing will be like crack rock to his fans, and will piss off his critics, thus raising his profile even more, which is, I suppose, why he does it.

  3. 3
    Dreggas says:

    John, your evident disdain for discussion of treason is in and of itself treasonous. Against what I am not sure but I will get back to you on it….traitor.

  4. 4
    lethargytartare says:

    but after the last eight years, can everyone just knock it off with the accusations of treason?

    wouldn’t that be a little like punching your little brother in the arm 12 times and then calling “game over” when it’s his turn?

  5. 5
    scarshapedstar says:

    When the fate of the human race is at stake and the best you can muster is bad-faith arguments about snow in Texas, you are a fucking traitor.

    Okay, fine, in their defense, their treason is inspired by bags of cash from the oil companies.

  6. 6
    chopper says:

    tell me about it. the right, in their zeal to use the t-word against any and all things disagreeable, watered the term down so much its pretty meaningless now.

  7. 7
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    Wasn’t Admiral Kirk accused of inter-planetary treason?

  8. 8
    harlana pepper says:

    Well, I and a lot of others were fucking traitors for opposing the Iraq War and nobody gave a fuck, so I knows all about treason. If Krugman wants to use the term “treason against the planet” that’s okay by me.

  9. 9
    Mr Furious says:

    I’m calling bullshit, John.

    The Shrill One is certainly over the top on this, but at some point an extreme point needs to be made about the actions of the deniers.

    Krugman has sufficiently couched his hyperbole, in my opinion. He builds to it, and likens to “a form” of treason, but doesn’t actually call it treason or the people traitors.

    At some point, you can’t just softsoap it and continue to call this “opposition”—it’s much worse.

    Pretending there are two reality-based sides to this issue is like continuing to use the term “enhanced interrogation” instead of “torture.”

  10. 10
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @lethargytartare:

    wouldn’t that be a little like punching your little brother in the arm 12 times and then calling “game over” when it’s his turn?

    When your big brother has turned into a complete psychopath who did nothing but foam at the mouth and scream “Treason!” over and over for eight years, then if he says “Okay, your turn now!” you actually just might want to take a pass.

    Just saying.

    I’m not sure Krugman’s comment rises anywhere near the level of say Coulter and Co who really did mean actual, political treason, Krugman’s seemed more figurative. Still, I see the point.

  11. 11
    Aaron says:

    @scarshapedstar:

    I am not sure about that. I mean, there is a wealth of other great words to use to describe this behavior, and these people. When everything becomes treason – then nothing is treason and the word loses its (already loaded) meaning.

    Can’t we save the “treason” label for cases that warrant it and just call these people anti-environment conspiracy theorists? Or just plain old “idiots . . .

  12. 12
    guster says:

    Agreed. Using the word ‘treason’ is positively rude.

  13. 13
    Jess says:

    But in what way is it not like treason? I get that “treason” is a loaded term, since it suggests that executions should follow, but it seems to be used pretty accurately here. If people act against the best interests of their country and their fellow citizens in a time of crisis, not out of mistaken principle but for self-serving profit, isn’t that treason? In what way are these members of the govt., sworn to act in America’s best interests, NOT behaving like traitors when they sell us and the rest of the planet out? Do you have a more accurate term for what they’re doing? Or are you just hoping for a more comfortable one?

  14. 14
    John Cole says:

    @Mr Furious: What part of loaded term don’t you get?

    Did you not watch the video of the Letterman protesters last week, with the woman screaming “He’ll RAPE you with his mouth.”

    You toss around the word “treason,” you have queered you whole damned argument and you aren’t doing the climate change side any damned favors.

  15. 15
    Aaron says:

    @Mr Furious:

    There is a middle ground between “opposition” and “treason,” however.

    Calling things you don’t agree with treason dilutes the term. Lying a country into war is treason. Voting against a climate change bill is just being stupid

  16. 16
    Rosali says:

    It may not be treasonous to have them but Obama Chia pets are just plain wrong.

  17. 17
    Elie says:

    The emotional, hyperbolic language is part of the continuation of the reign of terror the right has imposed on our civil and political reality over the last 30 years.

    We have to stop it because the jacked up language actually obscures meaning and acts as a red flag, spurring people to react to the emotion … the constant and ongoing escalation of even the most banal discussion into rancorous debates is making our country almost ungovernable and the quality of our civic experience such that too many people are turned away from participation because of being turned off by how they are forced to engage…

    Whether Obama turns out to be all the many hope or not, one thing that I truly welcome about his way of communicating is the lack of drama and low key appeal to logic. Its going to take a while to see the change but we can all help by focusing less on the melodrama in our arguments and more on low key, non emotional and highly charged language whenever we can…

  18. 18
    Paul L. says:

    How does the graph at whiskeyfire square with this?

    NASA recently corrected its climate figures after the discovery of inconsistencies in its U.S. temperature data. According to Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a contributor to the RealClimate blog (posting as “gavin”), the correction resulted in a re-ranking of NASA’s list of the warmest years in the United States. For example, whereas 1998 was previously ranked as the warmest year for the United States, it is now ranked second, behind 1934. According to Schmidt, the temperature difference between 1934 and 1998 in the United States — both before and after the correction — is not statistically significant.

    BTW who discovered the inconsistencies, the deniers.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Brian J says:

    If you restrict the definition of this word to one sense and rule out what he clearly wasn’t implying–that they are trying to overthrow the government–then he’s entirely within the bounds of acceptable usage. On the other hand, as you state, it’s bound to do him more harm then good, because he will look like nothing more than a polemicist (in a bad way) when he’s actually making a good point. Of course, anybody who has the stature to actually disagree with Krugman almost certain agrees with him in this case, so what’s the difference?

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    Look how easy this would have been:

    And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a suicide cult — albeit one that was going to take the rest of us with them.

    You can use strong language that invokes an emotional response and avoids the “Godwining” that will inevitably follow when you toss out the word treason.

    @guster: It was stupid, makes his argument easy to dismiss, and did no one any favors. But cheer it on, because it will really help the cause, and it FEEEEELS OOOHHHH SOOOO GOOOD. You know what else works? Giant puppets at anti-war protests.

  22. 22
    Captain Goto says:

    I kinda see John’s point.

    How about replacing “treason” with “hatred of reason?”

    Hmmm. I dunno. It still doesn’t get across how stupid and evil these assholes are.

  23. 23
    The Other Steve says:

    It’s clear that John Cole now hates the planet in addition to America.

    You are either with the planet, or against the planet!

  24. 24
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    I would just ask my fellow baby murderers, liberal fascists, communists and terrorists to consider the feelings of people who hold differing opinions before demonizing them with loaded words.

  25. 25
    Comrade Dread says:

    As I’ve previously posted on this topic.

    As people who continually have cited the dangers of language (and who have had the moniker applied to them recently), I would think you would be far less likely to be so blase about using the word traitor to describe those who disagree with you.

    The word traitor carries a great deal of weight to it, and implies that those who bear the term deserve some sort of censure, imprisonment, or other less pleasant punishments.

    And should it only apply to those who don’t believe in man-made climate change? Or should it apply to those who don’t believe the worst case scenarios which are frequently used to justify whatever particular program the author desires and avoid scrutiny?

    (As in, “We have to pass my (and only my version) of the Climate Change now?” “You want to modify it? Are you one of those f***ing traitors to the planet?”)

  26. 26
    ricky says:

    I think Krugman is a credit to his minor life form on an insignificant celestial body.

  27. 27
    Zifnab says:

    @John Cole: Perhaps a poor choice of words. But at least he got his facts straight. Nothing about “A nine-zip decision”.

    And, at this point, I don’t think Krugman is doing more than preaching to the choir. He’s not trying to bring in support from the middle and sell a pro-climate change position. He’s rallying the base and targeting their ire at the fence-sitters and marginalists in the Democratic Party that voted against the bill.

    I mean, I hear where you’re coming from. Calling a guy a “traitor” because he weighed perceived job losses or higher tax burdens against what remains a nebulous future threat and found the bill wanting seems to demagogue a very complex decision.

    But at this point, I just don’t fucking care. FOX News. There. I’m sorry, but Paul Krugman now has license to compare voting against the Climate Change Bill with eating a live baby toes first. There is so much bald-faced lying and massive distortion surrounding this bill, that I have a very hard time pillorying Krugman for simple exaggeration.

  28. 28
    Mr Furious says:

    @John Cole: I guess I’m looking at the word treason as already off-loaded to a degree and not meant to literally imply “attempt to overthrow the government and should be executed.” More like “actively choosing the course that is harmful to the country.”

    In that sense he is over-the-top yet accurate.

    I agree it’s not necessarily the term I would have used, and I do prefer your suggestion (#20), but one could make the same literal argument in response that no one is killing themselves or anyone else…

  29. 29
    anonevent says:

    @Paul L.: Paul L, lots of places have been over this before: You don’t use average US temperatures to argue that the average Global temperature is not rising. Just because the living room is getting cooler doesn’t mean the rest of the house is doing OK.

  30. 30
    chopper says:

    Krugman has sufficiently couched his hyperbole, in my opinion. He builds to it, and likens to “a form” of treason, but doesn’t actually call it treason or the people traitors.

    ‘treason’ isn’t a term i like in passive-aggressive talk. to me you don’t really water that term down. its like ‘murder’ or ‘rape’ etc.

  31. 31
    JanglerNPL says:

    I second the first commenter’s suggestion of “Cole’s Law”, because denouncing over-the-top usage of loaded terms like “treason” goes great with fried chicken.

  32. 32
    Mr Furious says:

    John, if you can’t handle the rhetorical heat, get out of the rapidly-warming planet.

    ;-)

  33. 33
    Elie says:

    27 – Zifnab —

    I dont think that its about pillorying Krugman as much as just noting overuse of more severe language to get a point across. I don’t think and in fact I know that this is not just a Krugman issue, but a broader issue in our public arena. It just makes logic and reason harder to apply because the landscape is always put in the most extreme emotional context to shout down anyone with a different opinion…

    We have to learn to be different by actually trying to BE different if this is to ever change…

  34. 34
    Mr Furious says:

    Chopper, John, etc.

    Like it or not, the term is already watered down. You might not choose to acknowledge it, but I think it’s true. Though I can certainly understand the desire not to participate in furthering it.

  35. 35
    Joshua James says:

    Fox called the bill itself “treason” so on my part, I don’t have a problem with Paul’s use of it (plus he couched it very artfully, a “form of” treason against the “planet”, not against the US.

    So in a way, it was not incorrect. I get that the term pisses you off, sure (and for my part I am always steamed whenever a politician invokes god … even and especially Obama, separation of church and state, yo, come on!) but treason is a brick that gets thrown a lot at progressives by neo-cons, so why not throw it back in their face?

    Just my opinion, of course.

  36. 36
    hear hear says:

    Well said, John Cole. That’s why I keep reading.

  37. 37
    Legalize says:

    To be fair, the GOP since Nixon has pretty much been a treasonous party. Since, say, 1970, when hasn’t the GOP acted in its own interests and the interests of its buddies ahead of all else, to the detriment of this country?

  38. 38
    gex says:

    @lethargytartare:

    wouldn’t that be a little like punching your little brother in the arm 12 times and then calling “game over” when it’s his turn?

    Which is exactly how the Republicans behave. See filibusters, troop funding, etc.

    However, John is now a reluctant Democrat. Which in my experience means worrying about this kind of issue while allowing the other side to exploit it to your detriment. It’s part of the conversion.

  39. 39
    Mr Furious says:

    Elie (and John, chopper, etc)

    Agreed. But guess what, if Krugman didn’t say it, it would have been just another rational, reasonable argument from the reality-based side that already knows this information, and knows the bad actors involved.

    In other words, dog bites man.

    Using (abusing) the term might be the best way to cut through the noise and call attention to what’s happening.

  40. 40
    harlana pepper says:

    @Joshua James: What you said. I’d say “tit for tat” is way, way, way overdue and I don’t give a shit if it’s childish. Having been insulted and drug through the mud by the right for 11 years, it’s our turn to toss insults at the appropriate parties (that also includes “treasonous” Dems, btw). Progressives are so obsessed with parsing words, sometimes I think we need more hyperbole, not less. Worked for repubes for years.

  41. 41
    passerby says:

    The Rightwing didn’t bat an eye when they used the word treason to label their political opponents. They flung that shit everywhere. That Krugman is now using it to make his point is akin to him lighting the shit and throwing it back at them.

    No. It’s not high-minded nor is it constructive, but we don’t have anything close to intelligent discourse served up by the msm anymore. And, since Krugman voluntarily enlisted as a player in the media circus, I don’t think we should be surprised by his characterization of the obstructionists as treasonous. You wrestle a pig, you get muddy.

    Krugman is a master economist. He is not an elected official nor an adept pundit. Why is he dirtying himself in this circus? Hope the money and fame makes it worth his while.

  42. 42
    gex says:

    @Death By Mosquito Truck: This comment made my day.

  43. 43
    sparky says:

    John, I’m wondering if you read all the way to the bottom of the piece. Krugman makes a rather careful argument as to why he thinks “treason” is an apt word choice. Now, we can disagree about whether it should be used in this fashion but he isn’t just tossing it in as hyperbole; instead, his word choice is an essential part of his argument. So I don’t think your example here is a good one.

    Incidentally, the words treason and traitor have a long history of being used outside the narrow sense of GOP usage. I see no need to concede traitor to the GOP any more than I see the need to concede “liberal” to them.

    @Death By Mosquito Truck: win

  44. 44
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @JanglerNPL:

    I second the first commenter’s suggestion of “Cole’s Law”, because denouncing over-the-top usage of loaded terms like “treason” goes great with fried chicken.

    Tee-hee. That’s damn funny.

    I agree with John, and with chopper:

    ‘treason’ isn’t a term i like in passive-aggressive talk. to me you don’t really water that term down. its like ‘murder’ or ‘rape’ etc.

    To me, these terms have very specific meanings. When they get tossed around in unrelated topics, then the specific meaning isn’t as powerful.

    It’s like the American flag or ‘patriotic’. Neither hold much sway for me after the last eight years. In fact, I react negatively to them. In addition, it’s just lazy writing used to fluff the base. I expect more from Krugman.

    Added: After reading sparky’s remark, I read the whole piece. I understand what Krugman is trying to do, but I still don’t like the use of the word treason. In fact, I was thinking the word betrayal works, too, and that’s how Krugman ends his piece. He could have taken out the word ‘treason’, and the piece would have been just as powerful.

  45. 45
    John S. says:

    Another fine job of stuffing 10 pounds of shit into a 1 pound bag by resident wingnut Paul L.

    He loses bonus points for not linking “the myth” of global warming to Mike Nifong and Duke lacrosse.

  46. 46
    PeakVT says:

    The treason bit doesn’t even make much sense because there’s nobody the planet could be betrayed to. And “the planet” isn’t a sentient entity or an organization of sentient entities, either, so the accusation doesn’t make sense that way either.

    You could argue climate change denial is a betrayal of trust to future generations, but even with that there is no explicit agreement to default on. Denial is just a longer-term expression of the contempt for other humans that conservatives have, which is demonstrated by their short-term policy prescriptions (tax the poor, subsidize the rich, bomb the foreigners, etc.).

  47. 47
    Comrade Dread says:

    I think Krugman is a credit to his minor life form on an insignificant celestial body.

    I don’t know why he’s so upset about Global Warming. We all know that the Vogons will be arriving in 2012 to make room for a new Hyperspace bypass so there is nothing to really panic about.

  48. 48
    harlana pepper says:

    Ach! Progressive pearl-clutching. Out of my league, here, obviously

  49. 49
    Mr Furious says:

    Yes. Asiangrrl and PeakVT are right, that “betrayal” is probably the better (best? most accurate?) word—but I still see Krugman’s point in making the more extreme choice.

    After getting 8 years of boot-stomping and surely being on the receiving end of “traitor!” , Krugman is allowed to jab a finger back into the right’s chest.

  50. 50
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I don’t like the use of ‘treason’ here. I’m not sure that “suicide cult” quite works, though it’s certainly cultish: I’m sure that there are some House crazies who think that Jesus will save them. I did like the way David Kurtz put it:

    We hear a lot from global warming deniers about the “high cost” of carbon emission regulation. Of course, in absolute terms they are right. It will be expensive. But what price are the deniers willing to pay personally for the high cost of being on the wrong side of science and history? Many of today’s deniers will be long dead by the time the worst effects of inaction are realized. Those who do live long enough will more than likely be insulated from the most extreme effects by their relative wealth and prosperity, compared to Bangladeshis, for instance. And in any event, there is no justice — no democratic justice — in punishing fools for being fools.

    In spite of conservatives’ copious self-regard for standing athwart this “monstrous liberal hoax,” their denial is in fact easy, pain-free, and cheap.

  51. 51
    ricky says:

    We all know that the Vogons will be arriving in 2012 to make room for a new Hyperspace bypass so there is nothing to really panic about.

    There is if you remember that the filthy stinking Vogons
    never leave when a job is finished and it will cost a fortune to educate their barely literate replicants.

  52. 52
    KRK says:

    John’s right. “Treason” is the wrong word here and it has absolutely no rhetorical impact as Krugman uses it, no matter how much he laid out his case. To insist that we DFHs, who were right about the war (and everything else so far in this millenium), should be free to call wingnuts “traitors” because it’s our turn or whatever is to cede the argument in favor of name calling. Unless you’re talking about selling state secrets, tossing around “treason” means nothing more than saying “you’re on the other side of this political argument.” The “suicide pact” alternative suggested by John is at least more evocative of the peril at stake for everyone in the Republicans’ games. “Treason” doesn’t evoke peril anymore (thanks, Republicans!), so it doesn’t do the work that Krugman needs it to.

    edit: So, I guess I’m disagreeing with John (and many others) because I think “treason” was the wrong word for Krugman to use not because it’s too extreme or too strong but because it’s not extreme, it’s empty.

  53. 53
    different church-lady says:

    It dismays me to believe that I just witnessed Krugman’s shark jumping moment.

  54. 54
    Mr Furious says:

    So, should we continue to pearl-clutch and argue the semantics of language along the margins of the arguments while actual elected Senators on the other side outright accuse the EPA of fraud and criminality regarding climate change?

    Yeah. Krugman went WAAAAAAYYYYY over the line…

    When it comes to climate change or healthcare legislation are we going to hold back from passing this stuff through reconciliation with 51 votes because that’s what the GOP would do—and DID for Bush’s tax cuts—because we’re supposed to be better than them?

    Fuck that shit. Fuck it right now with Krugman taking the gloves off and fuck it when it’s time to railroad this shit into law.

  55. 55
    DZ says:

    @John:

    Yes, you are correct overall, but it depends. The Constitution defines treason quite narrowly, and we should stick to that narrow definition. OTOH, the only POTUS that even came close to treason was Ronald Reagan. He sold TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran just two years after Iran committed acts of war against the U.S. by violating the Vienna Convention. A factoid often worth using against the Wingnut Empire.

  56. 56
    Alan says:

    As far as I’m concerned, everyone who made it through the last 9 years and is still a Republican — every last God-damned one of them — is not just a traitor to the United States of America, but an enemy of the entire human race. Whether through stupidity, ideology or simple malice, they won’t stop until they’ve killed us all. Fuck’em.

  57. 57
    terry chay says:

    I suggest you read the whole article before you jump on the Cole bandwagon. The actual editorial is about equivalence…

    “If calling objecting to the War in Iraq is ‘treason’ then certainly denial of global warning is (a form of) ‘treason’ (against the planet).”

    Note the two qualifiers and the setup…

    I see where John is coming from, but if this is going to get indignation for the left, it’s a bit of grasping… just compared to what is TYPICAL for the right.

  58. 58
    terry chay says:

    BTW, I’m not saying that John Cole (and others) don’t have a point that hyperbole may be overwrought, I’m just saying that the qualifications make the accusation defensible…

    During World War 2, warprofiteering was considered “treason” against the United States by many, ads at the time depicted that not car pooling was “riding with Hitler” (a.k.a. treason-like against the war effort).

    Now we have people denying facts about global warming where it is clear where their motivations lie (profiteering). I think it is eminently defensible to say that if the above, then these acts may be considered treasonous against the planet.

    I, for one, would not mind more posters along the lines, “When you drive an S.U.V., you drive with Osama Bin Laden.”

    But whatever. I guess I can always move to Tropical Canada when the time comes.

  59. 59
    Elie says:

    Well its good to know that many here think that the only way that you can make a strong argument or advocate effectively for a position is to adopt name calling and extreme rhetoric. Like the right wing, you don’t believe anyting else works, right and that using verbal abuse works well to get your point across, right? Talk about capitulating to someone else’s frame…

  60. 60
    oh really says:

    Perhaps we need a constitutional amendment stating that “Inappropriately or trivially accusing someone of treason is treason.”

    There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word treason

    While we’re at it, can we include “Marxist,” “Socialist,” “Muslim,” and “terrorist?”

  61. 61
    JGabriel says:

    Mr Furious:

    I’m calling bullshit, John.

    Yeah, I call bullshit, too. Especially since Krugman actually addresses the argument John makes:

    Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

    Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

    Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

    Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

    Did anyone of the people here castigating Krugman even read to the end?

    It’s not as if Krugman thoughtlessly engaged in the “treason” rhetoric without even addressing the concerns John raises. You may disagree with the point Krugman makes or how he makes it, but there’s clearly a thoughtful, stated, and argued, reasoning process behind it.

    To characterize it as the same kind of ranting bloviation that often proceeds from Rush Limbaugh or NRO creates a false equivalency between them, and that strikes me as very unfair and wrong-headed.

    .

  62. 62
    John Cole says:

    @JGabriel: No, of course I did not read it to the end. It is entirely impossible that I read the whole thing, and came to an entirely different conclusion than you did, then wrote about it and elaborated several times in the comments of that post. In fact, it is so impossible, I may actually be guilty of treason against the planet myself.

  63. 63
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole:

    In fact, it is so impossible, I may actually be guilty of treason against the planet myself.

    Ha! Ok, maybe I overreacted. Then again, maybe we both have? Anyway, to be fair, I read the post but not all the comments before responding – so I suppose I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

    .

  64. 64
    Mike G says:

    Whether through stupidity, ideology or simple malice, they won’t stop until they’ve killed us all. Fuck’em.

    Not exactly. They won’t stop until they’ve amassed all the money and power in the world, and they are psychopathically indifferent to whether the process kills off everyone who isn’t one of them and destroys everything they don’t care about.

  65. 65
    brantl says:

    I have to tell you JC, that while I agree with you in principle, how much more important is it not to absent yourself from service to the environment that keeps you alive, versus simply betraying a country?

    You’ve got to admit it’s levels of magnitude worse / more stupid. We’re going to feel pretty stupid, right before the end, if we’re the frogs that boiled ourselves.

  66. 66
    brantl says:

    Yes, you are correct overall, but it depends. The Constitution defines treason quite narrowly, and we should stick to that narrow definition. OTOH, the only POTUS that even came close to treason was Ronald Reagan. He sold TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran just two years after Iran committed acts of war against the U.S. by violating the Vienna Convention.

    He allowed his administration to sell drugs to U.S. citizens. That’s treasonous. Tremendously cold-hearted, too!

  67. 67
    oh really says:

    Anyway, to be fair, I read the post but not all the comments before responding – so I suppose I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

    Of treason!

  68. 68
    The Raven says:

    If opposition to the attempt to prevent drastic climate change is not a betrayal of life, and all life on earth, what is it? And, says the OED, the general meaning of the term “treason” predates its specific legal use; it’s a correct usage. Why the objection? If action to moderate climate change is not taken, and taken soon, even us corvids will go hungry.

  69. 69
    CalD says:

    I tend to think that Goodwin’s law expands to fit any rhetorical over-the-top-ism in labeling. In fact any time I’m in an argument with someone who resorts to name-calling (or any other sort of ad hominem attack), I always take it as an admission that they’re completely out of intellectual ammunition and chalk it up as a win for me. I don’t think you really have to be called a Nazi, specifically, for the rule to apply.

  70. 70
    Thers says:

    This is kind of off topic, but to respond to 18’s question:

    How does the graph at whiskeyfire square with this?

    The graph at my site is labeled “Average Global Temperature.” You’re referring to a change relative to average US temperature. So even if the change you referred to were statistically significant, which it isn’t, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the graph I posted.

    “Traitor” is perhaps the wrong word to use about people who make arguments of this quality, but luckily several other expressions come quickly to kind.

  71. 71
    Danothebaldyheid says:

    See I’m British, and ‘treason’ doesn’t seem like such a big a deal to me. It’s the word people use when someone calls the queen a c*nt. So, I’m afraid this is one of the few John Cole things I 100% disagree with.
    Anyone who pretends there is no evidence for global warming and encourages everyone to continue with the same pattern of behaviour is guilty of delaying change which will save lives. That may sound like hyperbole, when you are relatively rich and have emergency services that can largely protect you from death by: hurricane, wildfire, flooding etc. But if you live on a poor Carribbean island in the path of a giant storm, or a Pacific islander whose land ceases to exist at high tide, this stuff is very real indeed. So by all means sit around with your friends who can afford computers (I am aware of my own hypocrisy, here) and call out those who over ‘hype’ climate change all you like, but don’t kid yourself that there are genuinely two sides to this issue, or that you are somehow unbiased. One day, when the world is a perpetual storm (and I am not joking about this, I have read the literature, and the worst case scenarios draw a world that is unrecognisable), we can all enjoy our own self importance for all it is actually worth….. Scientists are telling us this stuff – you remember scientists – those boring people in lab coats who scoffed at us at school for liking bands, and films and stuff – once they’re telling you things are bad, perhaps you’ve got something to worry about?!…
    Rant over – good luck out there!

  72. 72
    MNPundit says:

    Considering if these NO votes had their way every single one of us would die, and you would have to watch Tunch slowly starve to death because all the food is burned or drowned in floods…

    I’d have to say no.

    Sorry, the human race is the only half-way intelligent thing in this entire dimension. If it goes the entire dimension is wasted.

  73. 73
    Mike Godwin says:

    I don’t know that “treason” needs its own law — for me it doesn’t rise to the level of egregious Nazi comparison, although of course it is a rhetorical overreach. But I’d appreciate it if progressives didn’t parrot the Right’s rhetoric.

    –Mike Godwin

  74. 74
    Xenos says:

    Ha! This is the internet version of the scene in Annie Hall when Marshall McLuhan steps out from behind the potted palm at the line at the theater to tell off the jerky poser trying to impress his date about his knowledge of new media.

    I can tell my children I was there when it truly happened…

  75. 75

    […] “There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word treason, in that anyone who accuses someone of treason for non-treasonous behavior automatically loses the argument. Yes, the climate change deniers are, in my opinion, wrong, and yes, they are making all sorts of ridiculous arguments, but after the last eight years, can everyone just knock it off with the accusations of treason?” link […]

  76. 76
    Steve S. says:

    Christ. Just stop it.

    This will be used to justify future right-wing claims of antichristianity because John Cole muttered “Christ” in his blog, or some other nonsense like that.

    There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to profanity, in that anyone who casually uses it while excoriating someone else for hurting the feelings of know-nothings automatically loses the argument.

  77. 77
    NCReggie says:

    what danothebaldyheid said

  78. 78
    jeff l johnson says:

    “And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a suicide cult — albeit one that was going to take the rest of us with them.” does a better job in fewer words than Krugman’s actual longer, less pointed explanation does , and it isn’t too hard to think of a number of ways that passage could have been improved. Definitely better to leave “treason” virtually out of one’s lexicon save for the most obviously appropriate cases, let alone adapt it to ill-fitting circumstances or actions. Bad form and definitely counter-productive at best. Still, I rather doubt the stink the opposition will be able to produce using Krugman’s fodder as fuel will ever reach the street. So Mr. Cole, are you just irritated or is there an undecided yet politically critical group out there that may be influenced by either the actual words or the spin thereof?

  79. 79
    gex says:

    @Danothebaldyheid: I want to say that killing brown people around the world is usually considered to be patriotism, not treason, in the United States. But that’s too cynical, I think.

  80. 80

    […] 29, 2009 · Leave a Comment john cole: There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word […]

  81. 81
    OGWiseman says:

    I love the idea of this law, but don’t start with Krugman. If we had a tally of all the instances when ‘treason’ had been misinvoked over the last decade, I’d bet cash money that the Righties outdeploy the Lefties by a ratio of at least 50-1. At least.

    Also, if you get this adopted as law, can it also include misuse of the word ‘Unamerican’? Oh and also, calling someone a ‘Socialist’ unless they actually profess to be one, or if the person calling the name doesn’t know the definition of Socialism? (I’m looking at YOU, Sarah Palin)

  82. 82
    tc125231 says:

    You had better be careful about dissing Krugman, since he has been right a LOT more than his detractors.

    But, of course, in 21st century America being right doesn’t matter. We make up our own facts.

    Pathetic.

  83. 83
    Nat says:

    Ok. According to James Lovelock, the effects of climate change are going to kill about 90% of humanity by the end of this century. I think Krugman has it right. If anything, he soft peddled it. More shrill, please.

  84. 84
    jim says:

    I’m fine with it – if someone can prove that the people voting against said bill will be able to use their votes to either overthrow the government or aid enemy states (/pedant).

  85. 85
    Mary says:

    The bottom line is that anytime Krugman uses emotional hyperbole, it means he hasn’t actually READ the bill itself, and has no facts to present to his audience.

    This was the worst article I’ve ever read from Krugman.

    Get the facts, Paul, and tell us what the bill includes, analytically.

    That’s your JOB as a journalist.

  86. 86
    Ron Cantrell says:

    I’ll bet the people trying to live in the future if we don’t act on global warming will agree they were traitors.

  87. 87
    actor212 says:

    I thought his description was not only accurate, but fair.

    After all, if terrorism is an attack on the very security of our nation, and to aid and abet terrorists to destroy a city like, say, Miami, is a treasonous act, then to aid and abet climate change to flood that self-same city and cause equal and likely greater destruction is in and of itself an act of terrorism.

    Ergo, treason. Ergo, traitor.

  88. 88
    grumpy realist says:

    I come down on the side of those who think the term “treason” should not have been used.

    First of all, it’s a legal term. It deals with authority and activity against it.

    Global Warming? Planet Earth? No authority at all. Gaia isn’t going to give a shit about whether we end up cutting our carbon emissions or not.

    Basically, this is a question about whether we’re intelligent enough to realize we’re involved in very very *dumb* activity that is going to totally wreck the planet we are living on from *our* viewpoint.

    Mama Nature? Feh. Couldn’t care less. Crank up the percentage of CO_2, cause methane release, melt the ice caps, shut down the Gulf Stream….you think Mama Nature *cares*? You’re just as idiotic as the fundamentalist fruitloops who moan: “oh, but GAWD will save us! He wouldn’t possibly do that!”

    No matter what we do, the laws of physics will continue on, remorselessly. End result: one fried planet, from our viewpoint. There will be life-forms that will survive, and undoubtedly the cockroaches. No, the Earth is not “sick.” It does not “have a fever”. Nor are carbon sinks going to cause it to “go into remission.” It’s a goddamn complex environment formed of a whole lot of interacting feedback loops with a small G-type star acting as the outside energy source. What will happen is that the Earth will simply go to another state of equilibrium over time. The fact that that that state of equilibrium may not be good at supporting human life is something that the Earth is totally indifferent to. The Earth Does Not Care.

    I’m looking at the whole thing as one stinkin’ intelligence test of Humanity. Which we’ll probably fail.

  89. 89

    […] is stupid and hyperbolic (though he has good reason to be angry). John Cole has the correct reaction, so I don’t have much to say on […]

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  1. […] is stupid and hyperbolic (though he has good reason to be angry). John Cole has the correct reaction, so I don’t have much to say on […]

  2. […] 29, 2009 · Leave a Comment john cole: There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word […]

  3. […] “There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word treason, in that anyone who accuses someone of treason for non-treasonous behavior automatically loses the argument. Yes, the climate change deniers are, in my opinion, wrong, and yes, they are making all sorts of ridiculous arguments, but after the last eight years, can everyone just knock it off with the accusations of treason?” link […]

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