Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Convenient Debate

It's Memorial day weekend and we have the beginnings of an authentic, Laurel brouhaha. Here's what's cooking on the local grill.

Laurel City Councilmember Mike Sarich wants to show Al Gore's Oscar winning movie, " An Inconvenient Truth," at a Laurel Lakes flick and float night. Laurel City Parks Department screens free movies all summer at the Burton Memorial Stage at Gude Lake Park. Mike Sarich's idea is to tie the movie to a brief program elaborating on the condition of the Laurel Lakes and on-going efforts to improve the water quality.

Mayor Craig Moe and the Laurel City Council agreed and set the date for the screening for Friday, June 15, 2007. A brief program will begin at 7:45 p.m., followed by the film.

Sounds like a good, even educational idea, right? Not in Laurel. Maybe not anywhere.

I dutifully sent out the City's press release announcing the screening to a all the local email lists. That's when the global warming debate overheated and melted into Laurel Lakes.

Right after I sent the press release, Ken Winiecki quickly wrote back with this caution, "Sounds good, as long as it is accompanied by the BBC documentary, "The Great Global Warming swindle" I think people should always hear all sides of non definitive arguments. Unfortunately in this situation, neither side's arguments seem to lack for holes."

Mike Turner then wrote back to Ken and suggested that facts are often defined by the profit makers, "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change appears to me to be very scientifically analytical and critical in it's approach to a planet shifting climates. When we hear the large amount of science work that's gone into understanding what's happening be dismissed by naysayers, just remember to keep asking questions, like 'Who has an incentive to discredit our current rate of consumption of energy and the carbon it releases?'"

Frank Monaldo then jumped into the warming waters and returned fire as follows: "I find it a little discouraging that debates surrounding the issue of climate change reduces to questioning the motivations of those involved -- on either side. I have written on this more extensively a few months ago. See 'Open Inquiry: A Casualty of the Climate Change Debate' "

All this controversy is going to make for a very interesting movie night at the Lake on the 15th. What do you think? Should the City Council sponsor such a controversial movie? Should all sides be heard? Please share your comments here.

Personally, I fall on the side of showing the movie. Sure it's controversial, but if it generates community discussion that is good. I also think the idea of linking the movie to the local plight of Laurel Lakes is inspired. Bravo Mike Sarich. Bravo Mayor Moe and the City Council for having the courage to take on a controversial subject.

There will be a Memorial Day service to honor Laurel's fallen heroes at Ivy Hill Cemetery on Sunday at 11 am. Your afternoon cookout will taste so much better if you take a little time in the morning to remember what Memorial Day is all about.


Anonymous said...

Didn't someone once say that that you can't please all of the people even some of the time?
Jim McCeney

Anonymous said...

You know, it's only a movie. Based on some arguable facts, it's just mindless entertainment. I know I wouldn't watch it, mainly because I haven't enjoyed anything that won an Academy Award in the last 10 years, but that's just me. If the City wishes to show this movie, so be it. I just wish everything didn't have to be so political.

GregK said...

No, Laurel should not show it. It's political (helping Al Gore if he ever decides to run for president) and it's chicken little environmentalist nonsense.

Anonymous said...

How does it help Al Gore win a state that's voted Dem. in like almost every (2nd Regan term excepted) Pres. election since most can remember? It's just a movie that sparks discussion and ideas... I second Rick's kudos...

Anonymous said...

Shame on the mayor and city council for endorsing this film that is nothing but a biased political statement. Perhaps next they will endorse another political thriller, happy feet. I thought that politics in laurel are nonpartisan.

Anonymous said...

they aren't endorsing the film any more than they endorse any of the other films they show (including happy feet)... it's a bit of education and exposure to a point of view on an issue, I'm sure they aren't going to say it's the gospel...

Anonymous said...

Be careful which side you take - next thing you know someone will file a law suit to stop the screening - On the other hand, if the "swindle" movie is available let's show that one too!
Whatever happend to open-minded discussion? I was always taught to keep an open mind, gather all the information I could and then make my own decisions.

MaryBeth said...

"Mindless entertainment"?

Imagine being a movie driector and hearing that the most you can aspire to inspire is catatonia!

Movies have long been turbo-engines for communicating ideas and articulating looming societal concerns. These days, a degree in film is almost as common as a degree in literature. We're seeing the beginning of the societal realization that more and more often, movies might spearhead relevant (and, yes, political) discussions.

Let's say that Al Gore does want to brainwash us all. But we don't care. We're not going to let ourselves be brainwashed. Let's all make a committment to the thoughtful discussion that can take place once we see what he has to say.

That discussion--that act of educating ourselves and each other as a community-- is crucial. Al Gore may beckon for action to follow our discussion. That's an individual decision. But as a community, we can debate. We must debate. Because I can't debate myself. I mean, I can, but my neighbors already think I'm crazy.

Please. Do not let these differences keep us from coming together as a community and sharing our views, and our very serious concerns (whether those concerns are that Al Gore is a Level 9 on the Richter scale of nutso opportunist, or that the apocalypse will happen before I graduate). Do not let a scary word like "political" keep us from talking about what is relevant, important, and exciting! This is where politics belongs: in close quarters, in these chataquas where we hold one another to common courtesies; where the debates are governed by etiquette, not protocol. Do not let different opinions keep us from sharing stories from one porch to another.

Sorina said...

I agree with Marybeth. Discussion is what is most important in our community. As for those against screening the movie because Al Gore made it, would you have the same reaction had an unknown film student had made the movie? Or are you afraid that learning a bit about what global warning is and means for our planet might make you reconsider your way of life? The fact that there are still people that call global warming "environmentalist nonsense" is enough to grant the screening of movies like this.
Plus, we get to talk about the Lake, and our area and maybe brainstorm about solutions.

I for one appreciate the fact that we have a mayor and city council that are open minded.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Marybeth and Sorina. Regardless why global warming is happening, it is happening. When I moved to Laurel my house wasn't air conditioned and I was cool enough with open windows and fans. That is no longer true.

I've seen the movie and plan to see it again. It gives the viewer a lot to think about, regardless and talk about regardless of the cause.

Thanks Mayor Moe and City Council members

Joan Fitzgerald

Anonymous said...

I went to the screening on Friday night and it was great! Tom Dernogas aid did a great job and Mike Sarich gave a good briefing on the lake. All in all, a good show, well done!