by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
In December, I wrote about New York Attorney General Eric Shneiderman’s inquisitorial attack on Exxon Mobil for making politically incorrect statements about climate change. I noted that:
Climate activists will no doubt be pleased by this development, and so will lawyers and state attorneys general with fond memories of the tobacco litigation bonanza of the 1990s.
It seems I was right. At the Daily Signal, Hans von Spakovsky reports that:
A group of state attorneys general have announced that they will be targeting any companies that challenge the catastrophic climate change religion.
Speaking at a press conference on March 29, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said “The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real.” He went on to say that if companies are committing fraud by “lying” about the dangers of climate change, they will “pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”
The coalition of 17 inquisitors are calling themselves “AGs United for Clean Power.” The coalition consists of 15 state attorneys general (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington State), as well as the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Sixteen of the seventeen members are Democrats, while the attorney general for the Virgin Islands, Claude Walker, is an independent…
Schneiderman and Kamala Harris, representing New York and California respectively, have already launched investigations into ExxonMobil for allegedly funding research that questioned climate change. Exxon emphatically denounced the accusations as false, pointing out that the investigation that “uncovered” this research was funded by advocacy foundations that publicly support climate change activism.
Standing next to Schneiderman throughout the press conference was … former Vice President Al Gore….
Gore … praised the coalition, stating that “what these attorneys general are doing is exceptionally important.”
When pressed on the effect that such investigations and prosecutions will have on free speech, General Schneiderman claimed climate change dissenters are committing “fraud” and are not protected by the First Amendment.
Eric Schneiderman and Al Gore aren’t the only ones who want to punish heterodoxy. According to Reuters:
A little-known alliance of hundreds of lawyers in Pakistan is behind the rise in prosecutions for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death that goes to the heart of an ideological clash between reformers and religious conservatives….
The stated mission of the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat Lawyers’ Forum and its leader Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry is uncompromising: to use its expertise and influence to ensure that anyone insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad is charged, tried and executed….
Since Khatm-e-Nubuwwat was founded 15 years ago, the number of criminal blasphemy cases filed in Punjab, the group’s home base and Pakistan’s most populous province, had tripled to 336….
The law … was rarely implemented until about 20 years ago. [It] states that anyone found to have defiled the name of Prophet Mohammad in writing or speech, including by “innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly”, should be punished with … “death and nothing else”.
No one in Pakistan has been executed for blasphemy so far, but jails are filling up with those sentenced to death, and there have been sporadic assassinations of the accused and people involved in their defense.
Some recent blasphemy cases made headlines around the world, including that of Christian woman Asia Bibi, whose conviction drew international attention including from the Pope. Her case was prosecuted by the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat.