Saturday, February 11, 2006

This story made me so angry that I swore out loud while reading it.

I try not to worry too much about the diversity of religious beliefs or political opinions that other people hold in good conscience. But I don't see the good conscience here. I don't understand what kind of conscience permits doing such a thing to small children, or to the professionals who do the hard work of helping children develop their curiosity.

I'm trying to imagine the public outrage that would occur if this tactic was used by Holocaust deniers, or by the idiots who think that slavery couldn't have been all that bad. ("Were you there?") Or, maybe, by AIDS/HIV deniers. ("Did you see the virus?")

And in the meantime, 2300 kids -- some of them "voraciously curious", and all of them at an age when they should be developing a sense of what civility means in an open, democratic society -- are being taught to shout down their teachers, disrupt the education of their classmates, recoil from the wonderful adventure that is the study of natural science, and thoroughly disrespect both learning and the work that it requires.

This man isn't just misguided -- he's an evil, egotistical, obstructionist ignoramus. And teachers don't get paid enough to have to endure this crap.


At 3:54 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

Is your problem the tactic or the viewpoint being advanced? You bring up the idea of confrontational methods being used by Holocaust deniers, but would you feel the same way about it being used against Holocaust deniers? If creationists were able to gain the advantage and have their message taught in school, would you criticize these tactics being used against them as a lack of civility?

I do not hate creationists. Like most (but not all) Republicans, they are generally sincere in the beliefs, but misguided or misinformed. In fact, I pity them. Strangely, perhaps, they seem like Einstein and his opposition to quantum mechanics because its probabilistic nature upset his global vision of a fully-defined universe.

At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Ahruman said...

I, for one, would be annoyed to see this sort of thing used against Holocaust deniers. Using idiotic tactics cheapens and weakens your cause, whatever it is; Holocaust deniers seldom stand up to any sort of reasoned debate.

Teaching young children to shout at their teachers weakens the cause of creationists, but it’s also a damn stupid thing to teach kids in general. If I were a parent I’d be upset to have my children told to do that even if it were against the teacher preaching creationism. (Teaching kids how to engage in reasoned debate with their teacher would be another thing, as long as they’re warned of the consequences of appearing “too clever”.)

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Julie said...

I have absolutely nothing against the use of nonviolent public protest or civil disobedience as political acts. These acts are (or should be) principled tactics that come with acknowledged risks, and are meant to be confrontational rather than "nice". Because of the inherent risk, they require a certain amount of maturity and preparation to be done effectively.

This man is not organizing principled acts of civil disobedience among informed people. He's training children of elementary school age to mount knee-jerk verbal attacks against their classroom teachers, with the specific goal of disrupting science lessons. For what it's worth, I don't think it's generally appropriate to put picket signs into the hands of small children at demonstrations, either. I don't think there's necessarily a particular cutoff age for this -- some kids may be mature enough to understand such issues at an earlier age than others -- but sending out hundreds of 8-year-olds, on their own, with signs that they may or may not understand would be another matter entirely. And it would be equally exploitative whether the signs say SUPPORT THE WAR or PEACE NOW.

Incidentally, I don't "hate creationists" as a group (whatever that means). I do, however, for the reasons above, have an extremely low opinion of Ken Ham.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

I suppose you would think it was exploitative of the civil rights movement to intentionally send children out into situations where they would be attacked by firehoses and dogs in order to create moving pictures that would paint their opponents as evil creatures who were willing to hurt children.

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Rebecca said...

I don't think the situations are at all equivalent. I also think that the Selma protesters were not expecting dogs and firehoses.

Do those of us who support the reality based community advise children to stand up in church and demand to know if the minister was there when all that Jesus stuff happened? I doubt that would go over well.

If people fear that studying evolution will ruin their children, they can send them to private school, homeschool them, or simply remove them from biology class during that segment of the curriculum. Granted, the last suggestion would probably result in a lower biology grade, but I'm sure the good people at Bob Jones University will overlook that.

When these children take Ham's advice and disrupt class, their classmates suffer for it. Ham and his ilk have some seriously fascist characteristics. It makes me very worried for the future of this country.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

The Selma protesters were expecting dogs and firehoses. And I'm Machiavellian enough that I'd probably do the same thing and send in the kids.

The tactic is no different than the students standing on their desks, saying "O Captain My Captain" at the end of Dead Poets Society. The only difference is whether or not we agree with their aims.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Julie said...

The nice thing about all this is that whether or not we agree with either the aims or the tactics of these people, things like bird flu and HIV will still evolve.

The unfortunate thing about all this is that whether or not we agree with either the aims or the tactics of these people, things like bird flu and HIV will still evolve.


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