“Denialism is choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth. Author Paul O’Shea remarks, ‘[It] is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event’.” 

 - Wikipedia

It began with people whose writings question the official histories of Auschwitz and other German concentration camps, who were called “Holocaust Deniers”. The term was extended more recently to those who disbelieve the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, who are now “Climate Change Deniers“, and those who question aspects of the Peak Oil consensus, who are now “Peak Oil Deniers“. As a left-libertarian and a permaculturist, none of these people are my natural political allies. It would take a lot of evidence to convince me that the entire history of the gas chambers in concentration camps were Soviet war propaganda, and that the Nuremberg Trials were a repeat of the “kangeroo courts” of Stalin’s purges. It would take some very powerful arguments to convince me that fossil fuels are not a finite resource which we need to move beyond, or that the visible evidence of climate change is not real.

I understand that in the case of Climate Change and Peak Oil the “denier” label is really aimed at industry-funded spindocters like Marc Morano and Christopher Monckton whose goal is to polarise the debate, and confuse the public. What bothers me though is that friends of mine risk being labeled “deniers” too, regardless of that fact that their sympathy for contrarian arguments stems from legitimate scepticism about the policies being offered by state and global corporate bureaucracies as “solutions” to these environmental problems.

What worries me even more is the ‘mission creep’, where people just keep finding new uses for the word ”denier”. Now that it’s associated in the public mind with unsavoury types like neo-nazis, anti-semites, and paid liars whose spin is putting the survival of millions of people at risk, this dangerously loaded prefix is being used as a weapon by the very state-corporate interests it was coined to criticise. Anyone who publicly expresses concerns about the safety or effectiveness of highly profitable vaccination programs is now a “vaccination denier“. Similarly, anyone who questions the theory that AIDS is caused exclusively by HIV is now an “AIDS denier“, despite the fact that many aspects of the medical theory on HIV/AIDS are questioned by scholars like Cell Biologist Dr Peter Duesberg, and Anthropologist Eric B. Ross. HIV/AIDS is the latest controversial topic to get the Drilling For Truth treatment. No longer satisfied with branding its critics “extremists”, and even “terrorists“, the state-corporate systems have decided environmentalists and natural health advocates we are all ‘progress deniers’, or perhaps ‘neoclassical economics deniers’.

As for “holocaust deniers”, such people are naturally my political opponents. That’s why, when I find myself agreeing with some well-argued points about academic freedom, and the double standards that allow some genocides to become dogma while others are denied, it surprises me that the article in which these points are made,  ’New Zealand’s “Cyber Crime Law: The Back Door to Censorship“, was written by Kerry Bolton, author of ‘The Holocaust Myth’.

Having to swallow my pride and admit that I agree with a political opponent about something also increases my respect for the courage and intellectual integrity shown by Professor Noam Chomsky, in his defence of the free speech rights of holocaust revisionist Dr Robert Faurisson. Like Chomsky, whatever I might think of the intellectual rigour of my opponents arguments, I see threats to academic freedom when governments create historical “fact” by legislation, and make the courts into a modern day Inquisition used to punish heretics. I agree with Bolton that it would be foolhardy for the New Zealand State to sacrifice our freedom of thought and expression to for an illusory “security” by joining the “Budapest Agreement” on policing “cybercrime” (a word eerily similar to “thoughtcrime”). Actually I’m suspicious of the whole demonization of the internet that is implied by tacking the prefix “cyber” onto negative words like “crime”, and “bullying”. Does that make me a “cybercrime denier”? Too bad. 

Filed September 21st, 2012 under Uncategorized