At the risk of losing the argument before it begins, let me ask you two questions. Number One: What do Adolph Hitler, Mao Tse-tung, serial killer and eater Jeffrey Dahmer, and Barack Obama all have in common? No, really. Think about it.
Answer: they all believe in gravity. They all hold (or held) the view that what goes up must come down.
Number Two: Do you, in the company of these men, also believe in gravity? No, really.
The two fallacies are blatant. Just because a man unworthy of emulation holds a truth is no reason for you not to believe that truth. All truths should be believed regardless who believes or disbelieves them. And to put Mr Obama in list implies he is just like the other vile men—although, to be fair, Mr Obama’s views on state control are said to be “evolving.”
The two fallacies would still be present if “gravity” were swapped with “bigfoot” or “equality.” A bad person holding a falsity is not an additional reason to disbelieve the falsity, though it is a good argument to further dislike the bad person. All falsities should be disbelieved regardless who disbelieves or believes in them. Plus, in Mr Obama’s defense, many good people believe wrong things; cf. atheism or diversity.
Another point, which flows from these: it is rational for you to distrust anybody who advances fallacious arguments of this (or any) type.
I fear Heartland, which had public opinion in its favor after being scammed by academic environmentalist Peter Gleick, will lose whatever goodwill it had gained. They not only ran the billboard using the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, but they aslso cycled the images of “Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant.” The career paths are tacked on in case you have forgotten who these men are. Heartland said future billboards might have included “Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).”
They did not include Barack Obama, but they used, in their non-apology (“We do not apologize for running the ad…”), in the same sentence with Kaczynski, Al Gore’s name, the inference being clear. And then they said this:
The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
Alas, this is false, unfair, unsympathetic, and, worst of all, ungentlemanly. I gather this statement is what is known in modern political terminology as “doubling down.” This is when you make an error but do not admit it. Instead, you bluster and puff out your chest and dare people to cross the second line you drew in the sand, while secretly hoping they do not.
Once more: “We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.” But this phantasmagorical billboard can scarcely be called “realist.” And it worsens the situation when they claim “what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ‘mainstream’ media, and liberal politicians say about global warming.” This is an open acknowledgement that they do not understand the fallacy they committed—and unfortunately still cling to.
Pretending they are a befuddled citizen, they ask their selves, “Are you saying anyone who believes in global warming is a mass murderer, tyrant, or terrorist?” And their answer, “Of course not.” But my dear Heartland, while you might not being saying it you have very clearly implied it. And this will certainly be the impression of nearly everybody who hears of your deed.
Yes, it’s true that the “other side” routinely calls skeptical scientists “Nazis or declare they are imposing on our children a mass death sentence”, but two wrongs, etc.
My suggestion to you is to do the manly thing. Apologize—at the least!—for being distasteful. If you do not, you will lose the public argument.