Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dumb But Funny

Almost as if to highlight a post on Viewpoint the other day, one of our local papers, The York Dispatch, ran an editorial Wednesday which serves as a fine illustration of why so many are growing so disappointed with so much of the media. Here's what they said:

[Sarah Palin's] candidacy plays directly to the evangelical and far-right conservative wings of the Republican Party -- a home run for anti-abortion crusaders, the National Rifle Association, heterosexual marriage-only supporters and abstinence-only sex education.

Apparently, The editor's idea of being "far-right" is to hold views that have been mainstream in this country for two hundred years. But that aside, I wonder at the choice of "anti-abortion crusaders" as a designation for those who call themselves pro-life. It's unlikely that the editor thinks it appropriate to call pro-choicers "anti-life crusaders", so why use the pejorative for pro-lifers? Why not call people what they want to be called?

It's a GOP melange designed to float undisturbed over conservative waters -- until it strikes the reefs of sheer ignorance that comprise the ridiculous tenets of creationism, also known so well to us as intelligent design.

Well, the "reefs of sheer ignorance" must extend all the way to the editorial offices of the Dispatch. Intelligent design is not creationism. Only those who are foundering on that reef of sheer ignorance, or those whose scruples don't prohibit dishonesty, continue to conflate the two.

The good governor, it seems, favors teaching it in school as a "science."

As we mentioned in our earlier post this is simply false. Either the editorialist's ignorance encompasses not only the nature of ID but also current events, or the editorialist is simply being deliberately untruthful.

What Palin said was: "...teach both. You know, don't be afraid of education. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools."

Later, Palin clarified her remark: "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

In other words, if the topic comes up it should be discussed, just like string theory should be discussed in physics classes if students show interest in it.

I will bet that if we were to survey the entire country and ask whether people agreed in principle with Palin's statement those who reply "yes" would comprise over 95% of the respondents. The other 5% would be mostly newspaper journalists.

The editorialist then embarrasses himself with this piece of incoherent pomposity:

A word to the unschooled: Science it's not. And to those who honestly believe the world was created around 6,000 years ago, another word: Fossil.

Well, shut my mouth. There's an argument for you. ID is not science because a newspaper editor says so, and if any of you yokels out there believe the earth is only 6000 years old you must have never heard of fossils. This is almost as compelling as the argument that ID isn't science because Judge Jones said it wasn't in the Dover case.

There's more:

On global warming, Ms. Palin, it seems, has yet to be convinced it's the result of human meddling. Certainly not good for polar bears in her home state and not healthy for the rest of us.

Aside from the fact that it's distressing that an editor of a newspaper seems to have difficulty writing in complete sentences, the juxtaposition of these two thoughts is difficult to decipher. If the Dispatch means that Mrs. Palin's skepticism about the cause of global warming bodes ill for polar bears and humans then it must be privy to proof that humans are causing global warming. If the editor does have such proof in hand then he's in possession of something that many in the scientific community are still looking for, and it would be helpful of him to share that proof with those of us less enlightened than he.

Gov. Palin's political merits and disabilities aside, former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, a Democrat, had this observation on Palin's nomination:

"Are we comfortable in having a VP who represents the extreme right wing, including the advocacy of creationism and a denial of any human responsibility in climate change?"

"No, we're not", cheers our editor, as though he were freshly back from a political rally.

Tom Daschle, and presumably our editor, are uncomfortable with an extremist in the vice-president's chair. So am I, but I'm not exactly clear on how it is that beliefs shared by more than half the country are "extremist". And if the Dispatch is so concerned about extremists in the White House why is it not editorializing against Barack Obama whose political views make him the most liberal member in the senate and place him clearly out of the American mainstream?

Evidently, for those like Daschle and the good folks at our newspaper there are just two kinds of people: There are those who agree with them and there is everyone else. Those who agree with them are enlightened moderates. Everyone else is a far right-wing extremist.

It's pretty funny. Dumb, but funny.