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Freedom of speech = removing others’ freedom of choice?

May 15th, 2009 at 04:22pm

In the early hours of this morning I was reading through various forums that I frequent and came across a reply to a long-dormant thread that I was a part of. The thread in question was about whether Jumba (the host which keeps this website online) should take up various “green” initiatives such as carbon offsets etc.

The way it started, oh so long ago, was that a particular person under the name “Morgan” was interested in convincing Jumba to “go green”, and wanted to use the discussion to take numbers of interested people to Jumba, so that they could then decide on what, if any, plans may be viable:

I am interested in exploring the idea of making our hosting with Jumba a darker shade of green! Have been advised to guage interest from other users here on the forum… anyone interested? Am guessing we will need to take over one of the jumba servers and then offset the power usage of that machine. I have contacted Carbon Planet Australia to get an idea of the cost. Shoot me a message with an indication of the amount of domains you have with jumba… will come back with a price soon,

This whole thing placed me in a difficult position, because silence would indicate either a lack of interest or agreement, especially if the entire thread was filled with people supporting the idea, and no dissenting voices. On the other hand, butting in to the thread to say “no” would almost certainly drag the thread off-topic, with it devolving in to a discussion of global warming.

When there were three people in a row supporting the idea, I couldn’t remain silent on the issue as one of the reasons I am happy to deal with Jumba on an ongoing basis is that they (to the best of my knowledge) do not have any of these anti-global warming programs, and I needed to make sure that they knew there is not unanimous support for any “green” plans.

If I merely said “no, not interested” then it would have been inevitable that somebody would come back with a “you don’t want to save the planet?” response…so in the interests of keeping my contribution to a minimum and to give Morgan as much time and room as possible to gather their numbers, I decided to mention my unwillingness to be involved in any sort of “green” project that they may be considering, and a brief outline of my reasons:

Sorry, but no. I aim to avoid giving money to “green” companies, especially seeing as the planet’s temperature is trending downwards.

Not trying to start a debate, just pointing out that there are people such as me who will avoid this type of scheme for various reasons.

Succinct and, in theory at least, should have kept the “where’s your proof? Haven’t you seen the evidence?” brigade at bay. Alas, no…it seems that going against “green” anywhere requires a flame suit. One of the three aforementioned supporters of the idea was less than impressed:


1. How exactly is it that you are not starting a debate when you add a message to a discussion saying that you don’t believe what it is about?

2. Looking at the page you referenced, of what is visible, the upper, later half of the cycle of the smooth is much higher than the lower part – indicating increasing average temperature over the top of the smooth. Looks to me like the smooth won’t cycle to as low as that of ’87-’89. Conclusion: upwards trend. Also, the person who wrote the site you reference agrees that there has been an increase in temperature over the last 100 years, but disagrees as to the cause. You should get you references straight.

3. Human society has existed for about 10,000 years – basically since the Earth’s temperatures settled in a temperature range which allowed us to grow crops. If we can’t grow crops, it’s back to the trees and the savannahs – no cars, no internet. Even if it is only a remote possibility, from whatever cause, but overwhelmingly acknowledged to be caused by us, would you wish that on future generations?


Whether Karl was legitimately asking the questions, or just trying to make me drag the thread off-topic, I don’t know, but I replied briefly.

Because I’ve been in this position before. If I don’t briefly explain why I won’t send money the way of green companies, then people speculate about my reasons.

If you want answers to the rest of your questions, PM me, I’m not dragging this thread off-topic.

The thread then went back on-topic, and I never heard from Karl…until a couple days ago. The replies to the thread had long since died off, but months later Karl decided that now would be a good time to revive it by provoking me…he must have known which buttons to press because loony arguments are good way to interest me in a debate:

Samuel and lonely,

Nobody is requiring you to do anything. I happen to want the energy that I use to be from non-polluting sources. Many, many others do as well (I think the majority of people, but that is not for discussion here). This has no effect on you – you can choose where your energy comes from.

Nobody in this discussion has said that you should be using any particular form of energy. You have freedom of choice and my desire to obtain non-polluting energy does not impinge in any way on your ability to choose polluting energy.

In fact, what you are doing by disrupting this thread with you nay-saying is removing mine and others’ freedom of choice. This is hypocritical.

Your comments may be well-placed in discussions where people dispute the effects of pollution or where people are requiring the use of non-polluting energy. Neither is happening here. Your comments are neither relevant nor welcome.

I ask that you remove yourselves from this thread.


Uh huh. “This is a place for believers of the warming faith only…we don’t want your numbers included in any tally because, let’s face facts, you’re ignorant unbelievers who should be banished from the planet for your evil polluting and warming ways.”

A reply from me, once I read it and got myself a coffee this morning, was inevitable:

  • Originally Posted by kgg
    Samuel and lonely,

    Nobody is requiring you to do anything.

Except to say whether I’m interested in “greening” my association with my hosting provider, so that the OP can take numbers to said hosting provider.

  • Originally Posted by kgg
    I happen to want the energy that I use to be from non-polluting sources.

As is your choice.

  • Originally Posted by kgg
    In fact, what you are doing by disrupting this thread with you nay-saying is removing mine and others’ freedom of choice. This is hypocritical.

Wrong. Suppose that I, and people with similar views to me, stay silent, and a large number of people with your views respond…Jumba might just decide that carbon offsets or some other green plan should become part of their mandatory plan pricing, which would cause me to move hosting provider in order to maintain my “freedom of choice”.

By replying in this thread, I am not removing your freedom of choice, I am simply making it known that not every Jumba customer supports this idea. My aim is not to prevent Jumba from going down this path, merely to make carbon offsets etc “optional extras” for those who do want to use them.

I am completely in favour of freedom of choice.

Some days it’s therapeutic to demolish a loony argument. Now I’ll wait and see if he responds again. If he does, I will politely inform him that the argument is off-topic (but a clever way to draw attention to the thread) and I will reply by private message.


Entry Filed under: Global Warming,Samuel's Editorials

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