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If a state government issues a right-wing political order, but it’s not written down, does it make a sound?
Bart Bibler, a respected employee of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, says you betcha – even though the order directed at state employees like him was meant to enforce the sound of silence. Since Rick Scott became governor of the Sunshine State, various agencies run by his appointees have issued 1984-style newspeak decrees that “climate change,” “global warming,” “sustainability,” and other terms related to Earth’s looming climate disaster are verboten.
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Unaware of this censorship edict, Bibler innocently blurted out the phrase “climate change” in a February teleconference. To his amazement, his breach of ideological correctness earned him an official letter of reprimand, a two-day suspension without pay, and – get this – an order to undergo a doctor’s evaluation to verify his mental “fitness for duty.”
When outrage over this blunt attempt to banish the idea of climate change spread across the country, the governor and his appointees doubled-down on Orwellian denial: “It’s not true,” said the slippery Scott, insisting that no such gag policy exists. By “exist,” though, he means his dictate is not written down. As many employees have confirmed, however, state officials verbally impose their policy of outlawing the language of climate change. The official taboo is so extreme that even a phrase as benign and factual as “sea-level rise” is banned. Instead, Scott’s team has mandated that this measurable (and alarming) reality be referred to as “nuisance flooding.”
It’s their mental fitness that needs to be evaluated! Trying to ban words only amplifies their sound, meaning, and impact – while also exposing how pathetically scared and stupid the censors are.
“Gov. Rick Scott’s ban on climate change term extended to other state agencies,” Miami Herald, March 11, 2015, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article13576691.html
“Scott’s climate change gag order claims a victim,” Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, March 18, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/19/florida-employee-forced-on-leave-climate-change
“In Florida, Officials Ban Term ‘Climate Change,'” Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, March 8, 2015, http://fcir.org/2015/03/08/in-florida-officials-ban-term-climate-change/
“It’s ‘Orwellian’: Florida Scientists Respond to Report That State Agency Banned ‘Climate Change,” Center for American Progress, March 9 2015, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/03/09/3631450/scientists-respond-to-florida-climate-censorship/