Friday, January 12, 2007

the ignorant shall teach us

The school district in Seattle suburb Federal Way has put a moratorium on showing "An Inconvenient Truth" because a parent with the improbable name of Frostie Hardison said "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD." Frostie also said that since Al Gore isn't a teacher, he doesn't belong in school, but I suspect if it were a Billy Graham movie about God's mercy in the modern age, old Frostie wouldn't object.

The school board, suffering from a very bad case of no-spine disease, say that teachers have to show a "credible, legitimate" opposing view. One school board member, David Larson, said in his best Orwellian fashion that preventing the showing of the movie would encourage debate. Not sure how silencing one side -- the side with the vast preponderance of scientific data in its favor -- can be seen as encouraging debate.

This is all very discouraging. As a society we've really allowed this alleged journalistic requirement to treat both sides of each and every issue equally to go too far. The media is in large part to blame by setting up essentially every news story as "one view, the opposite view, gosh who could be right" with little effort to weigh the relative merits of the two views. (If it's three views, that's too complicated...)

You know, there are people who say the Founding Fathers were less motivated to throw off the shackles of Mother England by a jones for freedom, and more by the desire to protect their status as the elites of the thirteen colonies and to protect their riches (the Founding Fathers were a rather wealthy group of gentlemen, after all). I wonder if Federal Way requires both views of that story? Somehow, I doubt it. Likewise, they probably don't require a presentation by the Hollow Earth society to counteract the spherist view that the Earth is a solid globe. And they probably don't pay much attention to the American Indian view of manifest destiny, nor to those who believe in ESP.

Modern American society also holds that slavery is wrong, and that having sex with children is immoral. Shall we expose our students to the opposite point of view on these topics, too, oh school board of Federal Way?

Anyway, I think we can tell where the school board really comes out on climate change. Board President Ed Barney said that first, students should listen to global-warming skeptics. Then, distorting and oversimplifying the message of "An Inconvenient Truth" (and I'll bet you $5 Barney hasn't seen it), "if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that's fine, that's their choice." Old Ed also wants teachers to mention evolution because the theory of evolution is, after all, "only a theory."

Truly, the ignorant shall teach us.


Anonymous Possum said...

One of the "reasons" cited by Frostie for opposing Gore's film is that Al Gore is "not a teacher", therefore his film does not belong in schools. However, since he left office Gore has spent several years a visiting professor, teaching graduate level college courses at Middle Tennessee State University, UCLA, and the Columbia School of Journalism. This is not difficult information to find out, either.

11:44 AM  

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