aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Of Pandas and People
Last January in Dover, PA, in the schools my two nephews attended, the school board required ninth-grade biology teachers to read an Intelligent Design statement. The teachers refused so administrators read it instead.
The statement cites “Of Pandas and People” as a reference work. In the New Republic (paid subscription required, extended excerpts in the extended entry), Jerry Coyne notes the clear religious connections to Pandas:
Pandas is published by the Haughton Publishing Company of Dallas, a publisher of agricultural books, but the copyright is held by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) in Richardson, Texas. Although the FTE website scrupulously avoids mentioning religion, its articles of incorporation note with stark clarity that its “primary purpose is both religious and educational, which includes, but is not limited to, proclaiming, preaching, teaching, promoting, broadcasting, disseminating, and otherwise making known the Christian gospel and understanding of the Bible and the light it sheds on the academic and social issues of our day.” ... Charles Thaxton, the “academic editor” of Pandas, is the director of curriculum research for FTE and a fellow of the CSC. In a proto-ID book on the origin of life, Thaxton argued that “Special Creation by a Creator beyond the cosmos is a plausible view of origin science.”
Coyne thus expects a clear win for the eleven Dover parents who brought suit. The September trial is to be held in a courtroom in Harrisburg, PA, the town in which I was raised:
Barring a miracle, the Dover Area School District will lose its case. Anyone who bothers to study ID and its evolution from earlier and more overtly religious forms of creationism will find it an unscientific, faith-based theory ultimately resting on the doctrines of fundamentalist Christianity. Its presentation in schools thus violates both the Constitution and the principles of good education. There is no secular reason why evolutionary biology, among all the sciences, should be singled out for a school-mandated disclaimer. But the real losers will be the people of Dover, who will likely be saddled with huge legal bills and either a substantial cut in the school budget or a substantial hike in property taxes. We can also expect that, if they lose, the IDers will re-group and return in a new disguise even less obviously religious. I await the formation of the Right to Teach Problems with Evolution Movement.
Emphasis mine. Details of Coyne’s arguments in the extended entry.
Flying the flag
I live in a family-oriented neighborhood. My problem is my next-door neighbor flies his gay pride flag in his front yard. Because we have a lot of families with young children who do not need to be subjected to that kind of thing, I have asked him numerous times to remove it.
His response is it’s a free country and he does not subject anybody to his lifestyle.
I strongly feel that in a neighborhood devoted to children’s morals and the way life should be, he should not be allowed to have that flag in his front yard for everyone to see. I threatened if he didn’t take it down, I’d call the police. I feel it’s harming the children to see that flag flying, especially on a busy street that everyone travels on. What should I do?—RIGHTEOUS IN NEW CASTLE, PA.
And applaud Abby’s response:
DEAR RIGHTEOUS: First of all, calm down. Your neighbor is hurting no one, and “young children” will not understand what the flag symbolizes. Unless there are codes, covenants or restrictions in your neighborhood governing the display of flags, your neighbor has a right to hoist his banner. Rather than picking a fight about something so insignificant, you should concentrate on cultivating your own garden and stop obsessing about what’s going on in his.
I fly the Rainbow flag from my house, alternating it with the American flag. My suspicion has long been that many people around here don’t know what it means. But even if they do and are in agreement with Righteous’ sentiment, I’m not sure they’d take action.
Here the Confederate flag and the old Georgia State flag are frequently flown (and Ten Commandment signs dot many yards). These people know first hand what it’s like to have others try to take down their symbols.
Put a Rainbow flag on public property and you’ll see righteous outrage, but on private property, I think they’d let it be.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Asking around, I hear disagreement. I think it’s coming from our own biases. Yes, the reflex is take it down. Thinking it through, they’ll come around.