Take heed, Albertans. The commandment from David Climenhaga and Rabble.ca's Alberta Diary blog reads like this: thou shalt not criticize Archbishop Desmond Tutu for being an uninformed celebrity. Even if he is.
"Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu presumably knew perfectly well when he made his now-famous comment about Alberta's Bitumen Sands yesterday that it doesn't much matter who you are, you’re bound to be the subject of hysterical ritual trashing if you dare to speak out in this province against the Sands' development," Climenhaga pouts. "Nor does it really matter how mild or strong your criticism is, or how nuanced or direct you happen to make it, the level and type of the vituperation you are subjected to will be pretty much the same."
Ah, yes. Shame -- shame -- on anyone who dares to criticize Tutu for his incredibly uninformed, unnuanced, and (frankly) hypocritical rhetoric.
Climenhaga spares his choices rage for Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver.
"Alberta Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver, who is running from behind and therefore must have figured he needed to get there fustest with the mostest, was quickly quoted by what used to be the daily press complaining about the churchman’s remarks," he mopes. "Nowadays, with concern about the effect on the planet’s climate by carbon emissions from Bitumen Sands mining in northern Alberta running high enough to attract criticism by prominent people, including musicians, filmmakers and religious leaders, 'celebrity' has taken on the quality of a swear word here in the New West, as all Albertans have come to understand."
Indeed, McIver did reportedly call out Archbishop Tutu as a celebrity. And certainly, Archbishop Tutu is much more than that. He is a civil rights icon. But the oilsands are not a civil rights issue. Setting that aside, what does he really have to offer? Are his views on the oilsands any less uninformed than any of the other celebrities -- individuals such as Neil Young who are nothing more than a mere celebrity -- who have chosen to wade into this issue?
Well, the "filth" that Tutu is insisting is about to usher in a climate apocalypse amount to but a fraction of Alberta's 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, Tutu's South Africa -- a country that, since the 1980s, Tutu has had a tremendous deal of influence -- has the largest carbon footprint in all of Africa. That carbon footprint, by all accounts, is growing.
No mention of any of this from Tutu. No indication that he even knows. No mention from Tutu that Alberta is one of the only jurisdictions in the entire world to price carbon emissions as a form of emission control, and no mention that as a consequence of that, Alberta is a global leader in emissions abatement technology. No indication that he even knows.
And the same from Neil Young. The same from Robert Redford. James Cameron at least made an effort to inform himself -- and no, he wasn't bankrolling a lawsuit by the Fort Chipeywan First Nations, contrary to what they claimed -- on the issue and recognized how hard the oilsands work to become sustainable.
That seems like the perfect preface to the most bizarre portion of Climenhaga's screed.
"We call this the full Neil Young Treatment, and the implication is that if you're a celebrity -- no matter how you came by your renown -- you must not know what you're talking about, at least if you're saying bad things about bitumen," Climenhaga whines. "So McIver was quick to trot down that well-worn path, sniffing that Bishop Tutu was part of a 'parade of celebrities' who need, as the Calgary Herald put it, 'to better educate themselves' about our bitumen. (The days when newspaper editors demanded their reporters educate themselves better about split infinitives are apparently long gone.)"
Well, here's the thing about that: Young was uninformed. Almost comically uninformed. So uninformed that every uninformed remark Young made was thoroughly skewered via a "Neil Young lies" campaign launched by Ethical Oil. Perhaps this was undiplomatic. Then again, Young described the oilsands as akin to Hiroshima. Lack of diplomacy sometimes begets a lack of diplomacy.
It's rather odd -- very strange indeed -- that Climenhaga actually seems to take issue with the idea that celebrities should even bother to inform themselves on the oilsands before they spout off on the issue. Perhaps that's because if they did the anti-oilsands movement -- and Climenhaga -- would have far fewer celebrity media darlings to parade before the media.
It says far more about the anti-oilsands movement that they have to rely on uninformed celebrities in order to sustain their most valuable asset: the cult of the woefully uninformed celebrity.