RICO: A NEW FRONT ON THE WAR ON FREE SPEECH:  As preposterous as it sounds, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has an oped in the Washington Post arguing that the federal racketeering law, RICO, should be used to prosecute those who deny global warming climate change:

Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution.

Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco’s denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise. . . .

The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking.

In the case of fossil fuels, just as with tobacco, the industry joined together in a common enterprise and coordinated strategy. In 1998, the Clinton administration was building support for international climate action under the Kyoto Protocol. The fossil fuel industry, its trade associations and the conservative policy institutes that often do the industry’s dirty work met at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute. A memo from that meeting that was leaked to the New York Times documented their plans for a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to undermine climate science and to raise “questions among those (e.g. Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.” . . .

To be clear: I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don’t have enough information to make that conclusion. Perhaps it’s all smoke and no fire. But there’s an awful lot of smoke.

Senator Whitehouse seems to be utterly ignorant of the fact that the “science” supporting global warming climate change is far from settled, unlike the situation of the tobacco litigation, which involved, in the judge’s words, evidence that the tobacco industry “suppressed research, [] destroyed documents, [] manipulated the use of nicotine so as to increase and perpetuate addiction, [and] distorted the truth about low-tar and light cigarettes so as to discourage smokers from quitting.”

First, this man should be voted out of office as soon as human possible.  His ignorance is dangerous. Second, the state bar should require him to undergo at least 100 hours of mandatory continuing legal education on the subject of constitutional law, with emphasis on the First Amendment. Newsflash: joining together to discuss common interests and even–gasp!–funding research, white papers and lobbying efforts to advance one’s perspectives on an issue isn’t illegal; its free speech.