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Dover Watch - Belated Huzzah (Also Mel Gibson is a Moron)
2006.01.04 (Wed) 22:39

So, the good guys won in Dover! Yes, we know that the case was decided weeks ago, but between all of us around here celebrating the holidays, traveling, painting, and, in some cases, being sick, we haven't been posting much lately. At any rate, we didn't want to let the decision pass without comment, so we thought we'd share some of our thoughts and musings.

First, here are some of the highlights from the decision itself. We picked up many of them from various blogs (with a major supply over on Dispatches from the Culture Wars, which has a number of great posts on the Dover decision), and we'll just toss them out below:

In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.
The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial.
Moreover, ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.
As we will discuss in more detail below, the inescapable truth is that both Bonsell and Buckingham lied at their January 3, 2005 depositions about their knowledge of the source of the donation for Pandas, which likely contributed to Plaintiffs' election not to seek a temporary restraining order at that time based upon a conflicting and incomplete factual record. This mendacity was a clear and deliberate attempt to hide the source of the donations by the Board President and the Chair of the Curriculum Committee to further ensure that Dover students received a creationist alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution. We are accordingly presented with further compelling evidence that Bonsell and Buckingham sought to conceal the blatantly religious purpose behind the ID Policy.
We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom.

Basically, the judge saw through all of the silly fluff that the creationists tossed at him. He clearly stated that not only was the Dover board's motivation a religious one, but that intelligent design is, by its very nature, religious. He outlined the metamorphosis from "creationism" to "intelligent design" via the Wedge document, and agreed that there was absolutely nothing scientific about ID. In addition, he clearly called out the repeated lies told by the Dover board, which could lead to perjury charges (we hope). All in all, an outstanding decision — what more could we have asked for?

We also wanted to point out two really good posts about the case — Nick Matzke's piece on the IDist's reaction to the ruling, and Timothy Sandefur's piece on the inevitable cry of "judicial activism" (even though Judge Jones was a Bush appointee and was traditionally labeled as a "good old boy" by the GOP). Both are well worth a read, if you haven't seen them already.

And, of course, we can't discuss the conclusion of the trial without mentioning some of our absolute favorite quotes from this situation comedy. First up, our old pal, William Buckingham:

Former school board member William Buckingham, who advanced the policy, said from his new home in Mt. Airy, N.C., that he still feels the board did the right thing.

"I'm still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there's a separation of church and state," he said. "We didn't lose; we were robbed."

Wait, we thought it wasn't about religion, Willie. You mean all this time, you were just full of shit and now you're admitting that intelligent design really is religion? Who'd have thunk it? What a putz. See, folks, the Discovery Institute doesn't seem to realize that, while they're spinning their webs of deception, always mindful to avoid any mention of their religious motivations, the average evolution denier is every bit the slack-jawed moron that William Buckingham is, and is completely unaware of the battle plan. And therein lies the last line of defense for fans of actual science and educational standards.

Here's another quote that we just loved, found via Ed on Dispatches from the Culture Wars. In this one, Stephen Crampton, Chief Counsel for the AFA Center for Law & Policy, proves his stupidity beyond a shadow of a doubt:

"This case is far from over. It will be appealed. We intend to weigh in with an amicus brief, as will many similar groups around the country," Crampton said. "In the final analysis, the stranglehold evolution has on our public schools will not be settled until the Supreme Court addresses the issue," Crampton noted.

Um, moron? No, this case won't be appealed — all of the moronic board members who voted this policy in were themselves voted out and replaced by non-morons. As a result, as announced today, the policy has been formally rescinded, and there will be no appeal. The change-over of the board membership was common knowledge at the time this press release was issued, so we're left with the inescapable conclusion that Crampton is a monumental idiot. But then, that just goes back to our point above, doesn't it?

Quite honestly, it would be better for us good guys if the decision was appealed. Right now, as good as the ruling is, it is limited by the fact that it never made it any higher up the judicial ladder. But then, why would Crampton bother with facts or reason when he's got lots of emotional rhetoric to spew instead?

And finally, from an AP article from earlier today:

"This is it," new school board president Bernadette Reinking said Tuesday, indicating the vote was final and the case was closed.

For Dover, yes, this is it; but the battle against wanton ignorance and persistent stupidity continues on other fronts (Kansas, anyone?). It's the kind of thing Dick Cheney would call the "last throes" of creationism.

And speaking of wanton ignorance, we did want to mention Mel Gibson's most recent bout of lunacy. As we picked up a little while back on Jim Lippard's blog, old Mel was interviewed by Playboy and, while weaving a tale of conspiracy theories, the absolute subjectivity of good Christian moral teachings, and gender bias, had the following to say about evolution:

PLAYBOY: Do you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution or that God created man in his image?

GIBSON: The latter.

PLAYBOY: So you can't accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?

GIBSON: No, I think it's bullshit. If it isn't, why are they still around? How come apes aren't people yet? It's a nice theory, but I can't swallow it. There's a big credibility gap. The carbon dating thing that tells you how long something's been around, how accurate is that, really? I've got one of Darwin's books at home and some of that stuff is pretty damn funny. Some of his stuff is true, like that the giraffe has a long neck so it can reach the leaves. But I just don't think you can swallow the whole piece.

As some of you may know, the old mindless creationist whine of "Why are there still monkeys?" annoys us like no other mindless creationist whine ever could. Quite honestly, anyone who poses this question in such a simple and matter-of-fact manner (like Mel did) in an effort to debunk evolution falls into one of two categories: they are either incredibly stupid, or willfully deceitful. Since Mel actually seems to believe most of the insane bullshit that he spews, we're going with the former.

What's wrong with his question/argument? Well, there are two basic flaws that anyone with a brain and any understanding of evolution at all should immediately see. First, humans are not descended from monkeys. That is an incorrect statement. The correct statement would be that both humans and monkeys share a common ancestor. Second, evolution in no way mandates that one form of creature must die out and disappear when another evolves from that species over the course of generations. This insanely moronic misconception is tantamount to wondering why your third cousins are still around in the same generation into which you were born. Seriously, you uneducated, ineducable fundamentalist atavists, how hard is it to understand that more than one set of offspring can be viable, and that natural selection can favor more than one viable line of descent? Proto-monkeys and proto-humans were both successful species — the very fact of our existence and the monkeys' existence is evidence of that.

Fuck, this is such a simple concept that we're shocked every time we hear someone utter this same stupid canard with their shit-eating "gotcha" look, even when the person doing the uttering is as demonstrably fucked in the head as Mel Gibson is. Get a clue.

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Rockstar Ryan, 2006.01.05 (Thu) 10:41 [Link] »

The new whine as evidenced at Skeptico and God is for Suckers! is that science by definition excludes the "supernatural", so ID Creationism doesn't get a fair shake.

What they fail to realize is that if something produces effects we can observe and measure, it is natural, can be tested scientifically and therefore natural. There is only one thing that does not produce observable effects: NOTHING

Jesse, 2006.01.05 (Thu) 10:48 [Link] »

On the subject of the Me sectionl:

I cringed a little when I first read that chunk of interview. Not because of what Mel said, that was to be expected. But rather the "PLAYBOY: So you can't accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?" question.

As ya'll clearly pointed out, we did not descend from apes and monkeys. So a fair answer to that question is, "No, I can't."

It would be nice if they had worded that question a bit different. They certainly arn't doing anyone any favours with how its worded now.

Sporkyy, 2006.01.05 (Thu) 13:22 [Link] »

I can't remember where I picked it up, but my favourite response to the "why are there still monkeys around" problem is "if protestants descended from Catholics, why are Catholics still around".

MBains, 2006.01.05 (Thu) 15:27 [Link] »

Jesse and Sporky: ExACTly!!!

Welcome back 2%ers!

The Two Percent Company, 2006.01.05 (Thu) 18:36 [Link] »

Ryan: Silly, ain't it? Oh, woe, it's "unfair" that science excludes the supernatural by definition! Is it also unfair that the definition of a triangle states that you have to have three sides to qualify for triangularity? Really, that's hardly fair to squares and pentagons and lots of other shapes. How do these people manage to make their brains think along these absurd lines? You may be right — if we start hearing that one often enough, it certainly could become our winner for most annoying creationist (or Newage, or pseudoscience, or paranormalist...) whine.

Jesse: Absolutely right — here we were so busy bashing Mel that we missed the fact that the reporter fell into the all-too-common trap of incorrectly phrasing the question itself. In fact, this isn't the first time we've seen this error made — even those who aren't trying to defend creationism are often guilty of making this mistake. It certainly does annoy us, but not nearly as much as the people (like Mel) who smugly trot this out as "proof" of creationism when all it really proves is the ignorance of the person making the assertion.

Sporkyy: Yep, we like that one, too! Like us, you might have heard it from the Panda's Thumb, one of our favorite sites. It's an excellent retort to such creationist bullshit.

MBains: Thanks — it's good to be back!

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