I got a call from someone who wanted to try out for my Improv troupe. We talked a bit, and then I asked him to send me an e-mail so I could send him directions and a handout we give to people trying out. He said, with a hint of pride in his voice, “I don't have e-mail.” "No problem," I said, "let me give you the address of a web page that has all that information, and you can stop by the library and print it out." “Oh, I don't know how to do that,” he said with a laugh, again seeming proud of his ignorance.
I wanted to ask him if he had a calendar on his wall, and what year was on it. Because if it was 1995, then it was perfectly understandable that he didn't know how to do something as simple as looking up a web page. But my calendar said 2005, and if his did too there was no excuse for his ignorance.
But it would have been rude and disrespectful to say that, so I didn't.
I have the same reaction when I see Muslim women covered from head to toe, with just enough of their eyes exposed so they don't bump into things. I want to wave a calendar at them and say “This is 2005! You don't have to do that any more!” But it would be rude and disrespectful, so I don't.
Whenever anyone proposes teaching Intelligent Design in public schools I want to whip out a calendar. Evolution is not something that's open to debate. We know the facts, and they're clear and plain and no one with a double digit IQ should even need to discuss it. Yet the ID people are not only being taken seriously, but have persuaded some school boards to teach their nonsense to kids.
ID is nothing more than Creationism in a cheap suit. And creationism is an empty suit. The fundies have taken creationism, made the references to their god a bit more fuzzy and nebulous, and presented it as something new. The scary part is that it's working, at least in a couple of school districts that evidently don't have the funding to put current calendars in their classrooms.
Of course it will be struck down by the courts, but in the mean time fighting this nonsense takes time, energy, and resources that could be put to far better use elsewhere. And we can be sure that after they're thoroughly spanked on this one, they'll wait a few years, give it yet another new name, and we'll go through this nonsense all over again.
I'd like to propose a way to avoid that. We need to create a special classification for some people, the FI classification. We'll give people a very simple test to see if they should be considered FI.
Whenever anyone wants to propose a change in school curriculum, we'll take a step back from the creationism issue, and instead ask them a very simple question. “Do you believe that the story of the flood, as told in Genesis, is the literal truth?” Before they answer, we can expound on it a bit. Noah would have had to go to the arctic to get Polar Bears, the Antarctic to get some penguins, the Galapagos islands to get samples of the unique life there, Australia for some Koala Bears, North America for some brown bears and black bears, and everywhere else in the world to get pair of everything, including more than 300,000 unique and distinct species of beetles. Then he got food for all of them, including mulberry leaves for the silkworms, the exact right eucalyptus leaves for the Koalas, etc, and put them on a 450 foot wooden boat. Then it rained 18 inches an hour for forty days and nights, enough to sink a battleship, much less Noah's ark. And when it was all over he put all the critters back where they belonged.
If they answer yes, we tell them, “I'm sorry, and I say this as politely and respectfully as possible, but you're now officially classified as a Fucking Idiot! As an FI, you don't get to suggest curricula for science class. You don't get to suggest music for the band. You're prohibited from suggesting any changes to Social Studies. You don't even get to suggest a project for shop class or a recipe for home economics.”
From that point on, any time an FI comes into an administrators' office to suggest what should be taught, the administrator can say “Excuse me, but you're an FI. That means I don't have to spend any time with you or listen to anything you have to say. So please, leave the office. But on your way out, stop by the main desk, and pick up a free calendar.”
This article is also available as a podcast. (It's #14)
© 2005 Dave Hitt