Characterizing the opposition

Whether it is making the opposition criminal or just plain disgusting, a flavor in modern politics is beginning to suffer inspection. Both political decision making and the nature of science provide recent examples.

Glenn Reynolds noted a Jerry Pournelle observation about the effort to promote the prosecution of former office holders. That was followed by a Mark Lardas analogy to the Roman Civil War. The point was made by Pournelle:

The absolute minimum requirement for democratic government is that the loser be willing to lose the election: that losing an election is not the loss of everything that matters. As soon as that assurance is gone, playing by the rules makes no sense at all.

The Attack Machine highlights the science example in Science and the Left.

But beneath these grave accusations, it turns out, are some remarkably flimsy grievances, most of which seem to amount to political disputes about policy questions in which science plays a role.

This last is related to several blog postings noting that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has published a study about the administration corrupting federal agency science. Those postings fail to note that the UCS is an advocacy group with a long history of rather poor science. As with the NASA scientist who continually claims he is censored by the current administration yet has more interviews on record, much of the proper context and support for the allegation is conveniently missing.

The point is ‘can we all get along?’ We cannot if disagreements are such as to be made a criminal matter or a matter of ethics. A governance of the people must have a means that will achieve decisions backed by responsible people who can accept that decision. Disagreements have to be considered as a need for education and persuasion, not as a matter of prosecution or ethics.

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