Monckton – not forcibly detaining Aids victims for life a mistake

The right honourable Lord Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount of Brenchley, former advisor to Maggie Thatcher, current the deputy leader of the UK Independence Party and darling of the US Tea Pary climate denialist circuit has done us the great honour of dropping over John Bull’s Other Island.

He’s here to share a platform with, ahem, like minded individuals here, these include Jim Corr, one-time drummer and now campaigner against the Illuminati(!) and the New World Order, an anti-vaccintion propagandist from the US and the editor of the far-right wing, ‘Sovereign Independent’ (typical headline: Two mothers and their toddler children banned from council-funded playgroup – for being BRITISH). This motley crew were lecturing under the banner of ‘The Truth Agenda’ in Cork last night and in Dublin tomorrow.

Monckton is a gifted spoofer. His academic qualifications include a primary degree in the Classics (hence the ad absurdum interjections in Latin) and a diploma in journalism. No primary, doctoral or post-doctoral qualifications in physics or any science whatever. No peer-reviewed paper ever published.  Yet he alone has managed to debunk pretty much the entire ‘global warming scam’. You carefully cherry picking a line or two here, a chart there, and a reference somewhere else, mix them all together, and voila! Out gushes fountain of plausible-sounding bull that his science-illiterate Tea Party audiences lap up.

Monckton is of course himself generously funded by the energy industry, and they certainly get value for money. In fact, when House Republicans were asked to select an ‘expert witness’ to speak before the Select Committe on Energy Independence and Global Warming, they bypassed the hundreds, indeed thousands of physicists, Nobel laureate scientists and atmospheric specialists in favour of the chap with the plummy accent and the diploma in journalism. That’s how accomplished he is at gish-gallop and disinformation.

That’s also a sad testament to how debased and politicised the debate on science in the US – once a world leader – has become that they wheel out a Walter Mitty fantasist, straight from central casting, as their “expert” on the deadly serious business of addressing global warming.

Matt Cooper gave him a good four minutes-plus of an uninterrupted spiel on The Last Word yesterday evening. I was brought in as ballast. The whole 11-minute clip is below. Nothing you wouldn’t expect, including lots of Tolborg economics to prop up specious arguments. Needless to say, we didn’t exactly see eye to eye, but it made for a good scrap, and this is showbiz, let’s never forget.

TodayFM Monckton 20-1-2011

Where it does get a little more interesting is when I challenged His Lordship on his slightly controversial 1987 article in ‘American Spectator’ where he wrote an article under the loaded title, ‘The Myth of Heterosexual Aids’:

“There is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month … all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently.”

And since heterosexual AIDS is a ‘myth’, what Monckton was in effect demanding was the mass internment and forced testing of homosexuals. They were to be ‘isolated compulsorily, immediately and permanently’. Permanent concentration camps, in other words. A pogrom against the entire gay community; men, women and children to be “humanely” incarcerated for the rest of their lives.

First off, he furiously, indignantly denied on-air that he had ever demanded internment for AIDS victims, calling me a liar into the bargain. (“I’ve never said anything of that kind. It’s a lie”) .Then things got really, really interesting. Here’s the transcript of the relevant bit. Cooper asked him directly if he had ever advocated locking up AIDS victims:

“No I didn’t. I wrote a very careful article 25 years ago in which I said the standard public health measure which you use if you’re trying to prevent the emergence of a new and fatal infection that can’t be cured is to, eh, isolate the carriers immediately, compulsorily, permanently but humanely. It doesn’t mean locking them up. I never used any such phrase, I never mentioned concentration camps, indeed I explicitly said that the methods could be and should be humane, however, I added at the end of the article, in the West, the sensibilities are such nowadays that any such measure would prove to be in practice impossible and as a result, tens of millions would quite unnecessarily die. And since I wrote that article, 25 million people have died of AIDS, according to UN figures, who arguably most of whom would not have died if the normal public health measures that got rid of smallpox and other such diseases had been put in place in time….by now, if the normal public health measure had been followed, AIDS would have been wiped out…”

Quite how you compulsorily, permanently isolate people without locking them up, he never did get around to explaining. Perhaps because it’s impossible. Sadly, His Lordship got the last word, and I also never got to ask him how you could have ‘wiped out AIDS’ if you are operating under the bigoted misconception that it is a “Gay Plague” that is of no risk to heterosexuals. Monckton’s grasp of medicine and epidemiology is second only to his understanding of climate science. Both appear to be primarily informed by deep-seated bigotry (he is also a fundamentalist Catholic who frequently quotes the Bible in his lectures) and misconceptions.

But back briefly to climate change. Peter Sinclair’s superb online video series, ‘Climate Crock of the Week’ dedicated two full 10-minute clips to exposing and eviscerating the tricks of Monckton’s trade, uncovering the intellectual sleights of hand involved in his “scientific” presentations. It’s worth spending 20 minutes to see this master of misinformation at work – and to enjoy seeing his carapace of falsehoods expertly unpicked. As m’lud himself might say, QED.

Oh, and did I mention that Monckton calls Obama a “monster”, a “Communist” and regularly repeats the vile Tea Party smear that he was not born in the US and is thus a bogus President. And he repeatedly called a group of American college students advocating for clean energy “Hitler youth” and “Nazis”. He denied that, too, but luckily, someone recorded him in full flight. Nice guy. Really nice guy.

Finally, sources tell me the Monckton circus will feature on RTÉ’s flagship ‘Late Late Show’ this evening. If so, shame on all concerned for giving the oxygen of publicity to such an individual.

ThinkOrSwim is a blog by journalist John Gibbons focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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One Response to Monckton – not forcibly detaining Aids victims for life a mistake

  1. Toby says:

    Adam Smith,

    Totally agree about Monckton. I saw a video of him in the US buttering up an audience about “birtherism” (implying Obama was born in Kenya). It went down a bomb (all straight Tea Party audience) and they were eating out ofhis hand from then one.

    Great salesman, lousy science. Unfortunately, his plausible roguery had many people lulled into thinking he is “Mr Science”.

    However, the constant debunking of him by Skeptical Science and John Abrahams, assiduously advertised on the internet, is bearing fruit. I warrant his univerisity appearances have fallen off. The fact he is here to address an obvious lunatic fringe meeting is evidence his stock is lower than it once was.

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