When I was an undergraduate at Ohio University in the early '80s, majoring in magazine journalism, I attended the keynote address during Communications Week to hear Lyle Dennison speak. I don't recall what his theme was, but I remember the moment when he said: "Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was wrong. You do have a first amendment right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater and if people panic and start running about without looking for smoke, well. That's on them."

Minors and the mentally challenged should be protected, but the rest of us are responsible for our actions and if someone makes a fool of us because we don't pay attention, well, that's on us.

As a working journalist I've held to one primary maxim: The response to objectionable speech must never be censorship. In any free society--especially one where the freedoms of speech and the press are enshrined in our constitution--the only acceptable response to offensive speech must be more speech.

I think Moore's right, but I'll accept that some disagree with me and if they think they have a case then they should tell the world about why they believe that to be true, not call upon corporate “community reviewers” or “news credibility specialists" to tuck them safely in their beds.

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Unfortunately these knee-jerk calls to ban and censor have become mainstream, even amongst people who really ought to know better.

In the late-80s Noam Chomsky defended a French Holocaust denier’s right to free speech even though he did not agree with the man’s views. When confronted by critics who said he was legitimizing disinformation, he answered “if you believe in free speech only for views you agree with, you don’t believe in free speech.” This used to be the default position of the “liberal left.”

How far we have fallen. Nowadays even people like Naomi Klein support the censoring of views that she does not agree with (one can hardly classify Moore’s film as disinformation even if one does not see eye to eye with him on every issue it raises).

Advocating for the censoring of views you don’t like is silly and immature and, among other negative consequences, further splinters the notoriously sectarian left. Whatever happened to debating contentious issues In good faith?

Censoring Holocaust deniers and other fringe loons or charlatans like Alex Jones actually does them a favour and raises their stock amongst supporters. It gives them the perfect opportunity to say “I speak the truth and this frightens my powerful enemies and, as I predicted, they are now trying to shut me up.”

It is really disconcerting how dumbed down and credulous many intelligent people have become since Trump was elected. It’s like their brains are broken. This new love of censorship is also a disturbing example of how media distributed propaganda stealthily influences even highly literate and university educated people.

These wise intellectuals and their fans ought to take a time out and consider how, without them apparently noticing, they and the mainstream liberal “left” came to embrace the authoritarian anti-free speech position that was perviously associated with the reactionary right. The benefits of self-awareness and a basic understanding of history and human psychology are many.

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No matter WHAT you think of Moore’s movie, or his methods, there is exactly ZERO justification in censoring or cancelling it and him. The world can take a little harsh criticism, even of its most righteous “movements.” There is no question there is much validity in Moore’s depiction, and likewise no question that he bends the rules a bit. But, the New York Times BREAKS the rules almost every day, more than once at my personal expense, but I still read it and defend its right to publish, though I believe it has too much protection from libel and defamation laws. Moore is a vital voice, and we should listen to him. He has this nasty habit of being right about almost everything.

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Absolutely brilliantly piece of writing. It does scare me because this is moving in the wrong direction, and it is accelerating.

I watched the movie 3 times. And yes, it is provocative (duh, it's a Michael Moore Doc). But still, they might not give newer data on solar efficiency. But that doesn't mean the mining, production, and shipping of it isn't still devastating for nature.

Here in the EU/Netherlands/Amsterdam most people were on the wrong side of it as well. New media & traditional. They were all promoting censorship or at least condoning it. And even people here in the comment section are losing their minds. As if you wrote a fluff piece on Hitler?! Wtf, how come even your audience doesn't agree with this piece? Wow, that is really baffling. You'd expect to see a more critical thinking approach here. But who knows, it might be paid opposition, not sure.

This whole situation makes me think of being a teenager again and sitting in the Jehovah's Witness Church. Hearing this constant indoctrination and monopolizing on what is ''truth''. Because that is really what I see everywhere on this issue. A religious response with a lot of faith-based reactionary arguments. Mixed with intersectional/left-identitarianism. How can people not see that going straight for ''white man wants mass murder, depopulation and genocide'' is absolutely ridiculous. How do people fail to see that is an absurd claim? Those are just vicious ad hominem attacks with extreme conclusions. As if talking about population size directly means you are for eugenics and genocide. It is an utterly ridiculous conclusion.

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I live near the new Berryessa Snow Mountain Natl. Monument, and there is a wind plant being proposed and planned 2 miles from where I live, at an entrance to the Monument.

I looked into wind with a depth I hadn’t previously, looking at fire danger, bird fatalities etc.

I kept running across claims that it would not reduce carbon overall, and would in fact increase it, which I dismissed as right-wing crap. Of course if you replace a plant that burns anything with a wind plant you are making progress - I assumed.

Turns out that because of their intermittency they are backed up by regular plants, just as the movie points out. Plus they use massive amounts of grid power, on or off.

It took me days of reading to convince myself, and I’ve angered friends trying to explain it, so I was greatly heartened that Michael Moore and a Jeff Gibbs made that point in the movie.

Great movie, and if it bothers anyone, they need to hit the books and open up to the truth.

I think we should still make use of things like solar panels on the roofs of cars and attached to microgrids, to lessen the dangers of pollution, fire from the grid, and profits in the hands of oligarchs.

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Matt. Another great article. Sad how we witnessing a repeat of bad history. My mom grew up in a fascist European country and would tell us of the censorship and the horrendous lies by the government and the tattlers who would turn in their neighbor or the teacher who told authorities about the objections her parents had with the government. This is the modern-day version of censorship except with a new private-public partnership.

Sad to see Michael Moore being censored or marked as ”dangerous”. The fake left knows they cannot win their arguments in the field of ideas. Instead they lie, intimidate, and partner with tech and “pure” liberal activists (See MSNBC - Pod Save America) and government officials who share their ideas.

True conservatives and true liberals have more in common than one might think. Especially now!

It’s our children who will inherit this insane world of lies and algorithms - in the land of the free. Sad!

I think the fake left is way more “dangerous”.

Big tech sold its soul to China a long time ago. Now they are censoring Doctors who disagree with the party-line on COVID and now Twitter is shame censoring 45 - (yes he says the stupidest things) - I haven’t seen similar scrutiny for Adam Schiff and most MSNBC hosts. Now they go after Michael Moore. Sure he’s not pure - and he knows he isn’t. He is very entertaining but pedaled the Russiagate nonsense, etc. I have respect for him as a businessman. He knows his audience or at least he did until the release of this documentary.

Matt , you are pretty pure in your reporting and you call BS on all sides. How come you are never on MSNBC? ( I think we all know the answer)

PS: Michael Moore dangerous to the left?

(The snowflakes are in charge)

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Right on! This crap is really dangerous, and it's disheartening that it is coming from the "left" (mainstream liberal environmental activists).

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Your timing is perfect on this one.

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Matt, thank you for all the years you've served as a voice for empirical reason and been doing what all lawyers and journalists (at the least) should be doing: following the facts to their logical conclusion, even when that conclusion is inconvenient and uncomfortable. We already have a super-abundance of blindly loyal partisan cheerleaders and self-serving sophistry, so I'm especially grateful you're out there as a counterweight to all that.

The environmental crisis is *the* issue of our time and unless we solve it, nothing else will matter. Since you're a sports guy, whether the facts in Moore's film are "dead-on balls accurate" or not, it's about time serious environmentalists reviewed the game tape to see how we can improve our swing. The attempts to suppress even the discussion are dangerous, tragic, and yet not surprising. They reveal the danger of greenwashing and self-flattery.

As with anyone else, If environmentalists need to silence the voices of people they don't agree with to successfully make the case (because those voices are too dangerous to be hear), they are using pathetically weak arguments for what should be an easy case to make: "Hey, let's figure out how to live our lives in a way that doesn't burn the house down." That should not be a hard sell. It weakens even the right position to use it as a justification to suppress voices you don't want to hear.

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Amazed at the vitriol being poured on Matt and this piece, in particular.

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Excellent Reporting Matt. Thank you

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Thank you so much for writing this. We have reached a point where we cannot even discuss the truth - whatever it may be - because taking a stance, even if it is untrue, or dangerous, or actually harmful to its own cause in the long run, must be enforced on every one at all costs, otherwise the other side might "win". It is exactly the same argument Democrats are using against anyone criticizing Biden or Russia hysteria; there is no connection anymore between facts and what is allowed to be discussed. Regardless of the film's chosen green examples, it was asking some very important questions, ones we need to answer if we are to gauge how we are addressing the climate crisis bearing down on us: are we right to put all our hopes in addressing climate change in the rollout of renewable energy? Especially if we disregard biomass and hydro and focus only on wind and solar, will these really be enough to reduce our emissions in the amount required, in the time needed? If not, what else do we need to be pushing for in addition? How do we respond to the fact that increases in wind and solar energy have not even been able to keep pace with the growth in energy demand? These are critical questions, and time is running out.

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No power should be granted unless the givers are willing to give it to the opposition. Thank you for an insightful piece.

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Ironic that those of us who are Trump voting conservatives would NEVER agree to silence people like Moore or any other left wing activist, even over scurrilous bullshit like Fahrenheit 9/11. Either we have freedom of speech or we don't.

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Matt, I think the day you go over to the other side is the day I will have to end my life. I have been waiting for someone who knows how to think and has the skill to write to take on the issues of censorship. Thank you, thank you, thank you. SO IMPORTANT!! Thank you! I can keep breathing. Never lose your integrity, Matt. You are awesome.

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"... progressives seem to have lost the ability to care."

O, they do care, like a Stalinist would; but they "care" only about the purity of their virtuous right opinion(s). Everyone else can go fuck themselves, find an accommodation in Gulag or burn in Hell, reserved for the "other."

Our one-party two-branches (Despicable and Repulsive) oligarchic political system is now so grotesquely disfigured that we're witnessing an inner fight of fascist-like, ultra right lunatics on one side of the political arena and a totalitarian, morally superior Stalinist-like party line on another.

We've lost our souls a long time ago (think Amy Cooper, think George Floyd of today) and are now losing our collective minds. An ability to have an open, honest conversation would soon be a pure revolutionary act and therefore banned for life.

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