Jeff Jacoby claims that Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter correctly exercised prosecutorial discretion in choosing to reduce criminal charges against me and Jay O’Hara for our act of climate disobedience in blockading a coal ship at Brayton Point last year (“DA overboard on climate change,” Op-ed, Sept. 17). It’s “something DAs do every day,” wrote Jacoby, who apparently doesn’t object to what DA Sutter did; he just doesn’t like what he said about it.
But then Jacoby compares our peaceful protest with racially based hate crimes against African-Americans during the civil rights era, and puts Sutter in the same category as bigoted white prosecutors who refused to bring charges against violent racists. This comparison to an evil, closed system of belief, which warped science and suppressed truth in the interest of maintaining white supremacy, is marvelously revealing because of the striking parallels to climate denial and fossil fuel privilege.
I think Jacoby has painted himself into a corner, like many apologists for fossil fuels, having spent years trashing legitimate science and smearing advocates of even minimal energy reform. Faced with stark realities obvious to even a mildly observant person — record-breaking temperatures this month in California, the West Antarctic ice shelf in “unstoppable” collapse, atmospheric carbon levels over 400 parts per million — Jacoby does not appear willing to admit that he is wrong.
Perhaps climate change skepticism is still acceptable within the bounds of reasoned civic discourse, but that day is just about over. Soon, apologists for the greatest crime ever perpetrated against humanity must either recant, as did many Southern journalists who warped journalistic standards of truth in the interest of maintaining white privilege, or light out for the crackpot fringes of journalism.