In a familiar sort of exercise in right-wing pseudologic, Richard Karl
Goeltz ’64 derives from a false premise the opinion that, if Brown is to
withdraw investments in coal, then Brown must be against coal in every
way, and therefore must refuse donations and grants from the coal
industry and ban recruitment and faculty consultation with the industry
(“Coal Divestment Debate,” Mail Room, March/April).
The false premise is that divestment can only be an expression of moral
disgust with the coal industry. While there can be a variety of
justifications for a given action, it seems to me much more reasonable
to justify coal divestment not by a judgment of immorality but by a
practical calculation that the time has come to reduce capital
investment in this, the worst of the fossil fuel industries, when it
comes to putting carbon into the atmosphere (not to mention a list of
old-fashioned pollutants, headed by mercury).
There is an old story about a farmer and a mule that illustrates what I
propose as the true motive of those who want to disinvest in coal. When
the farmer hits the mule between the eyes with a two-by-four, he is not
trying to kill the mule; he is just trying to get its attention.
Peter Johnson ’67