A premier science museum in North Carolina has sparked some controversy by refusing to show an hour-long film about climate change and rising sea levels. “The suppression of information is not in in the spirit of what a museum ought to do,” says Charles “Pete” Peterson, a marine ecologist at the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. (1)
But museum officials deny any attempt to avoid the topic. “I have a track record of dealing with these issues head on”, says Emlyn Koster, who directs the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
The museum may be in a bit of a delicate position. It is part of a state agency, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The state government has been perceived as hostile to action on climate change; last year, the legislature passed a bill forbidding the state coastal commission from defining rates of sea-level rise for regulation before 2016. Although Koster is a state employee who is exempt from some civil service protections and serves at the pleasure of Governor Pat McCrory (R), he stresses his independence. “At no time have I been told what to do or what to think”.
Besides the obvious joke here (“define rates of sea level rise for regulation”?!? Are you serious?!?), I believe it is a matter of grave importance to define suppression and oppression here. Not allowing a specific opinion to be heard is suppression. But is it not oppression to impose the hearing of a specific opinion as well? If there are places where the opinion A can be heard, why have the need to impose everyone hosting this opinion, especially when this opinion is mutually exclusive with opinion B?