Archive - Jul 11, 2005

More Fun With My Favorite Punching Bag

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Memo to the right-wing punditocracy: YOU ARE DUMB.

Or, at least, many of you can be gotten to say stupid things. I can only assume that was the sole purpose of the New Republic's recent online article, in which reporter Ben Adler called up a bunch of prominent conservatives and asked them if they believed in evolution.

It's a bit of a flawed experiment, of course. I will begrudgingly accept the shortcut-phrasing "believe in evolution", but I'm not smiling while I do it. And it's less fun than it could be, because the New Republic ended up contacting almost entirely a bunch of conservative columnists and writers. 'Cause modern journalism takes the '"write what you know" aphorism and extends it to the call list.

These people are Ye Olde School conservatives. They're educated. And I mean educated, not "plucked straight from home-school into a neo-con finishing academy where they're Stepford-groomed to talk to Bill O'Reilly". Actually went to actual schools. Many of them have done quite well. They're not, for the most part, stupid people. Frequently evil, frequently wrong, but not stupid. So most of them end up pro-evolution and anti-intelligent-design. They come from a time when the "G" in "GOP" didn't stand for GEEZUS.

Still, that doesn't stop quite a few of them from either weaseling around, or outright saying stupid shit about Intelligent Design. If you need a refresher, ID is creationism, with a thin gauze curtain draped in front of the Glorious Shining Light of God, and everyone pretends they can't see it.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, says "It's like me asking you whether you believe in the Big Bang." Which is true in the sense that the verb is inappropriate, but not true in the way he means it, conflating theoretical cosmology for which there is no clear scientific consensus with something every single person with a fucking clue knows is going on. Of course, Kristol also admits he managed to have my children go through the Fairfax, Virginia schools without ever looking at one of their science textbooks.", which he thinks is some sort of accomplishment. Good thing Daddy's rich.

Grover Norquist is an interesting case. He says he's with the ID people, and that he's "never understood how an eye evolves", but with Grover Norquist, it's probably best to take everything with an entire salt mine. Norquist is against public education entirely. This is because he needs a constantly renewable source of idiots for his plans to work out OK for him. And if we must have public schools at all, having them teach pseudoscience to malleable young minds is the next best thing. Plus, he's probably fucking with the New Republic. Of course Grover Norquist doesn't believe in evolution. Grover Norquist doesn't believe in anything.

David Frum somehow managed to create the world's first asymptotic curve graphing stupidity versus time. He starts off at zero stupidity: "Yes, I do believe in evolution." - He then moves on to a low-to-moderate level, with the qualifying statement "If intelligent design means that evolution occurs under some divine guidance, I believe that." - That's NOT what Intelligent Design means, because ID advocates wouldn't be trying to replace and denounce evolution if that's what they thought. But he used the if-then copout. Then he actually shoots to NIGH-INFINITE STUPIDITY. Hold on to your graph paper, kiddies, it's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I don't believe that anything that offends nine-tenths of the American public should be taught in public schools. ... Christianity is the faith of nine-tenths of the American public. ... I don't believe that public schools should embark on teaching anything that offends Christian principle."

First, Frum appears to be using 1990 numbers. And if he is, the motherfucker's rounding up. When you've got 86% of the 1990 sensus, you really shouldn't need to round up to make your point. And we've had a census since 1990, which Frum could have worked out without taking off his shoes. "Christianity" has got 77%. More three-quarters than nine-tenths.

Now, last year, I cited a CBS poll showing that 55% of the people surveyed didn't believe in evolution. In the interests of religious tolerance, I will assume these self-identifying Christians are the same as the general population - so only half of the 77% of Christians actually have a problem with evolution. Remember that these 77% Christians aren't just radical rednecks - these are Catholics, who don't care how animals evolve as long as they don't use condoms. You've got the Pentecostals, who believe we evolved from snakes. The Baptists and the Lutherans, both of whom have dozens of gradations of sanity, each with their own name and newsletter. And the Methodists, who I can't make a joke about because my only cultural referent is a Dead Milkmen song.

So maybe a bit over a third of the population has a serious problem with evolution - enough of a problem to harass a school board about it. In which case David Frum and his nine tenths can fuck right off.

But let's assume Frum's freakworld exists. That 90% fo the popultaion is Christian, and not just any old Christian, but the kind that finds evolution offensive. (Frum's allowed to believe in evolution - he's Jewish.) It is the job of eduction to supplant ignorance. How much you enjoy your ignorance doesn't enter into it. I'd ask Frum and the IDers to get that through their heads, but, well, I've seen their heads.

Oh, and they asked Pat Buchanan, too. He's fuckin' crazy, but we all knew that.