"I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads." James Cameron on global warming skeptics in March.
In March of this year, famed director and amateur hole stuffer James Cameron threw down the green gauntlet, stating in an interview that he wanted to debate global warming skeptics in a most public way, the better to expose them for having their heads "deeply up" their, um, abysses.
Cameron doesn't like global warming skeptics. Or the military. Or mining. Or, you know, Americans. So in the post-orgy afterglow following the success of everything-bashing Avatar, he was ready to mix it up. Right?
Alas, the gun-slinging was not to be. In lieu of the scheduled dust-up, this weekend Cameron opted to simply call skeptics "swine" and screen a documentary about his own heroic opposition to Brazilian electricity before jet-setting back to that carbon credit trader's wet dream he calls a home.
And yes, that says "scheduled" dust-up. Because the ballyhooed Hometree showdown was supposed to take place this weekend as a scheduled close to the 7th Annual AREDAY conference in Aspen. Among the invited opposition was documentary producer and journalist, Ann McElhinney. In a post this weekend at the "Not Evil Just Wrong" blog, Ann lays out the series of backtracks:
When the debate was first proposed, it did indeed seem that the director was prepared for his high noon scenario:
Mr. Cameron was attending the AREDAY environmental conference in Aspen Colorado 19-22 August. He wanted the conference to end with a debate on climate change. Cameron would be flanked with two scientists. It would be 90 minutes long. It would be streamed live on the internet.
They hoped the debate would attract a lot of media coverage.
"We are delighted to have Fox News, Newsmax, The Washington Times and anyone else you'd like. The more the better," one of James Cameron's organizers said in an email.
It looked like James Cameron really was a man of his word who would get to take on the skeptics he felt were so endangering humanity.
Everyone on our side agreed with their conditions. The debate was even listed on the AREDAY agenda.
This all began to change as the date approached. McElhinney reports that Cameron's folks started "changing the rules."
They wanted to change their team. We agreed.
They wanted to change the format to less of a debate—to "a roundtable". We agreed.
Then they wanted to ban our cameras from the debate. We could have access to their footage. We agreed.
Bizarrely, for a brief while, the worlds most successful film maker suggested that no cameras should be allowed-that sound only should be recorded. We agreed
Then finally James Cameron, who so publicly announced that he "wanted to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out," decided to ban the media from the shoot out.
He even wanted to ban the public. The debate/roundtable would only be open to those who attended the conference.
No media would be allowed and there would be no streaming on the internet. No one would be allowed to record it in any way.
We all agreed to that.
At every step of the way, each new restriction was met with acquiescence. One might almost think Cameron was fishing to have Ann withdraw through the increasingly bizarre demands. Curious. But no withdrawal came.
Well, not until the day before the actual event, that is.
And then, yesterday, just one day before the debate, his representatives sent an email that Mr. "shoot it out " Cameron no longer wanted to take part. The debate was cancelled.
Ann tells me by email that each of the restrictions were offered under the fig leaf of making the debate "more productive," but points out that they were clearly attempts to make the debate "less public." Their excuse for ultimately canceling was that they wanted higher profile participants such as Senator James Inhofe or Glenn Beck.
Got that? The debate they tried to hide from cameras was eventually canceled because the participants weren't big fish enough for, presumably, big coverage. Logical.
Judging by the series of events, it's hard not to conclude that, ultimately, Cameron was simply afraid of exposing himself as yet another ill-informed demagogue. He was afraid of facing Ann McElhinney. Is afraid.
Propagandists don't like to deal with bare facts. Facts are hard. It's much easier to deal in unveiled symbolism and elementary metaphor than with a real live expert sitting across a table citing statistics. Just shouting "the science is settled" may get applause at the Oscars, but it won't get you very far in an academic debate. The science is not settled. It is unsettled. Hence, you see, the debate!
James Cameron and AREDAY (which also, tellingly, featured Ted "THE CANNIBALS ARE COMING!!!!" Turner) backed out. They backed down. For all the high noon bluster, they retreated in the eleventh hour. As McElhinney put it:
The man who called for an open and public debate at "high noon" suddenly doesn't want his policies open to serious scrutiny.
I was looking forward to debating with the film maker. I was looking forward to finding out where we agreed and disagreed and finding a way forward that would help the poorest people in the developing and developed world.
But that is not going to happen because somewhere along the way James Cameron, a great film maker, has moved from King of the World to being King of the Hypocrites.
PS> A note about Ann McElhinney:
Ann McElhinney is a documentary film director and producer. In 2008 she produced and directed Not Evil Just Wrong a film which examines the devastating consequences of the global warming hysteria.
If you don't buy and watch the movie, you hate Alaska.