The baby reached a major life change this week. He discovered Monty Python. I also stumbled on Monty Python back in my teen months. I don’t remember if I’d seen snippets of it before. If so, I didn’t pay much attention. You have to reach your teen months before Monty Python’s humor clicks. Now I get to discover it again, courtesy of the baby, who spent most of the weekend quoting this famous scene from their 1975 movie, Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail:
The baby is also starting to become politically aware, as many teens do. I asked if that scene reminded him of Sarah Palin’s version of the ride of Paul Revere, what with the ringing bells and warning shots and British and so on. He said that was silly, as there were no warning shots in the Monty Python skit and a horse only showed up at the end. I next asked if he liked it because of its similarities to the Republican plan for Medicare, which polls show is about as popular as the Black Plague. But like most teens, he hasn’t thought much about Medicare.
“So why that particular scene?” I asked.
His answer: Climate Change and Michael Crichton.
This of course sent me scurrying to my Blewberry, where I learned that novelist Michael Crichton participated in a panel on climate change yesterday. The discussion is part of a two-day event sponsored by the American Freedom Alliance, yet another well-funded libertarian think tank claiming to be “non-political” and “non-partisan” while parroting Republican talking points on political issues.
So I wasn’t surprised to see Michael Crichton on the panel. His 2004 novel State of Fear purported to be a techno-thriller that exposed a massive scientific conspiracy to promote false information on climate change. I say purported because I couldn’t even finish the book. There was plenty of techno – of the fictional variety – but not much thriller. And I quickly realized the book was a polemic masquerading as a novel. I read enough 21st Century Political Nuttitude researching for my thesis. I don’t need to wade through more of it in novels.
Still, Crichton fit two ideals for a conservative source. First, he’d written something they like. And second …
… he’s dead.
A reasonable person might think being dead would disqualify Crichton from participating in a debate. He can’t answer questions. He can’t respond to new evidence. He can’t change his mind. He can’t challenge those who might misrepresent his statements.
Those are all reasonable objections to letting dead people speak in political debates. Those reasonable objections are also exactly why conservatives love to speak for dead people. From the Bible to the Framers to Ronald Reagan to Michael Crichton, conservatives routinely act as spokespersons for the dead. Or as they call it, “upholding traditional values.”
I don’t know if Crichton would have changed his mind, had he read the evidence on climate change that has emerged since he researched his novel. Having committed himself so publicly on the issue, he might simply have dug in his heels and cherry-picked the recent evidence in the same ways he cherry-picked the earlier evidence. Humans tend to do that. But he can’t change his mind now, no matter what evidence emerges.
And that makes him an ideal conservative.
Sadly, if conservatives continue to dominate policy on climate change, a lot of us may be reenacting that Monty Python scene. And not as a joke.
Good day and good nuts.