Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

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I’d say this is at least slightly disgusting.

30 July 2008

So I imagine we’ve all had at least one bad experience with a teacher or administrator during our high school years. But I don’t think anything I’ve experienced has come close to this:

On Friday, September 21, 2007, and Monday, September 24, 2007, Davis suspended eleven students, including Gillman’s cousin, for five school days each as punishment for their involvement in the “Gay Pride” movement. As grounds for the suspensions, Davis explained that the students belonged to a “secret society” or “illegal organization” forbidden by school board policy; had threatened to walk out of an assembly; and had disrupted the school. Davis told the mother of a student whom he had suspended that he could secretly “send her [daughter] off to a private Christian school down in Tallahassee” or to the juvenile detention center and that “if there was a man in your house, your children were in church, you wouldn’t be having any of these gay issues.”

Holy, fucking, shit.

This is happening? In public fucking schools? Where does this guy get off saying that to anyone? Seriously, I don’t care what your moral compass points to, this is NOT his job. Oh, and it gets better.  They have some “gay issues” at the school, right? So what better to do than bring in a preacher to conduct a ‘morality assembly’. Seriously? What happened to good-old fashioned “Don’t Smoke” assmeblies?  I’m farily certain that our public schools are not supposed to be preaching radical Christianity, are they? And then, when the students begin to gain support for their own gay pride movement. What does this asshole decide to do?

Davis embarked on what can only be characterized as a “witch hunt” to identify students
who were homosexual and their supporters, further adding fuel to the fire.  He went
so far as to lift the shirts of female students to insure that the letters “GP” or the
words “Gay Pride” were not written on their bodies

Uh, excuse me. So we have a principal who: 1.) berates students for living differently than he himself does, 2.) brings in preachers to spew hatred against a certain group of students and 3.) lifts up girls shirts to make sure that “gay pride” isn’t written on their bodies?
I am fairly certain all of those things are wrong. Luckily, the court’s ruling seems to agree with me.  Still, this man has serious problems. None of this should ever happen in public schools, but when you let dimwitted local school boards control almost everything, you get crap like this. How did the board let this go either unnoticed or unpunished for so long? Oh, wait, they didn’t let the students form an organization, they said it would “disrupt the educational process” and that such a group was an “illegal organization” prohibited by School Board policy. Uhm, no.

I think the author of Dispatches puts it best: “Apparently the school board attorney got his degree from Billy Bob’s Law School and Bait Shop. They could sue that idiot for malpractice for being that utterly clueless of the law. There’s no point in quoting the court’s legal conclusions; if ever there was an open and shut case, this was it. The plaintiff’s brief could have just said “DUH” in big letters on it and they would have won.”

And yet these are the people in charge of educating our (future) children? We’re fucked.

Full ruling here.

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The Happening – Intelligent Design Movie of the Year?

14 June 2008

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen the movie, so I am relying upon other sources for specifics from the film.

Remember Expelled? That “documentary” by Ben Stein and Co. that sought to prove that Big Science was actively censoring anyone who had evidence of Intelligent Design. Well, while that may have been the most obviously pro-Intelligent Design movie of the year, it seems that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening demonstrates an apparently tenuous grasp of science as well as the influence of “spirituality”.

In an interview, he was asked what influence religion and spirituality had on his film. He states that “”the Native American culture and relationship with nature, the relationship with the sky, the earth, the rock the bear.” He also claimed that cast he Mark Wahlberg because of his strong faith in Jesus. But Wahlberg’s religious faith ended up causing a ton of reshoots. Whenever Shyamalan would ask Wahlberg what he was thinking about, and Wahlberg replied, “Jesus,” Shyamalan would make him reshoot the scene in question”. It turns out, as the title of the interview states the science behind The Happening is Jesus. Which of course means there is very little science at all.

Apparently, in the movie Mark “Can’t stop thinking about Jesus” Wahlberg plays a science teacher who explains to his students that “Evolution” is “just” a “theory” (They keep using that word, I do not think they know what it means). Of course, when asking why the bees are apparently disappearing, we are told that it is an “act of nature that we simply cannot understand”. This sounds suspciously close to the IDiots idea that science doesn’t really allow us to understand the world around us because of Jesus (or something of the sort).

This type of attitude in movies is annoying. The stereotype of science being something that should be taken less serious that religion and spirituality because science isn’t as “deep” as religion. Well, I call that bullshit. Science goes far deeper than religion and spirituality ever have and ever will. Scientists do not accept the answer that is so commonly peddled by pseudointellectual theologians, that is, that “God works in mysterious ways” and that we should not try to understand everything about the world around us. It’s frustrating when mysticism is placed on a pedestal and the “cold, materialistic, scientific world-view” is chastised as being too cold, when without the methods inherent to science, our lives would be far worse off than they are today.

Sure, nature can be cruel, nature can be cold and unfeeling. That doesn’t mean that we should make up fantasies instead of learning about the world around us.

Read a review of The Happening here.

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Bad Parenting

14 June 2008

Imagine that you have an 11 year old child who has been diagnosed with diabetes. Now imagine that this condition is treatable with insulin (it is). So we have a clear picture there, right?

So this child enters a coma as well as DKA. Now, DKA is a life-threatening complication of diabetes mellitus, more often type I than type II, but either way it is not a good situation for a diabetic to be in, at all. In fact, it was the major cause of death before insulin injections became available. So, if your child were suffering from such a complication, what would the correct course of action be? It’s multiple choice:

A. Give your child the insulin that would have no doubt saved her life

B. Do nothing to save her life and assume that God will rescue her

read more after you choose

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Please Let this Bill Die Somehow…

12 June 2008

Oh Louisiana. Now, I understand that most of the time many of the reputations that certain states have (like Dick Cheney’s remarks about West Virginia and incest) are not entirely fair. That said, Louisiana has confirmed that they are under the sway of the same religious-right crazies that are stereotypical of much of the South.

The Louisiana House of Representatvies has just passed a bill that, on the surface, allows teachers to “supplement school science textbooks with other materials”. Now, this sounds like a reasonable goal? Education shouldn’t be limited to text book and I don’t think that was truly the case before this bill was passed. This bill, however, sounds very similar to other bills that have been proposed in states (see here and here) like Florida.

These bills, while sounding benign, are often sponsored by groups such as the Discovery Institute and their goal of subverting science education in favor of teaching “Intelligent Design”. This of course is, despite their constant denials, simply creationism (specifically Fundamentalist Christian creationism) dressed up with a new name. Luckily, there are some organisations who recognize this bill for what it is, such as the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, as well as the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

The executive director of Americans United understands exactly what this bill is: “It’s time for Louisiana to step into the 21st century and stop trying to teach religion in public schools,” “Laws like this are an embarrassment.” Now keep in mind these are not the words of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris or other “notorious” atheists. No, these are the words of Rev. Barry Lynn. Notice the “Rev” before his name. If only there were more (perhaps there are?) sensible Christians like Lynn. His organization has stated that lawsuits will certainly follow after any attempt to bring religion into the classroom. I can’t imagine this is too far off. There’s no way this bill is going to be vetoed by Louisiana’s governor. Bobby Jindal is perfectly aligned with those who seek to replace science education with religious education. Sadly, it was not a Republican-only bill either. In fact, a member of the party I belong to, the Democrats, introduced this bill. So it seems that even my party has been infected with anti-science thinking…Wonderful.

On a more positive note, all of those who voted against the bill were Democrats. At least three of them had the sense to vote against this asinine bill.

Read more at nola.org.