NPF: BECAUSE

Posted in No Politics Friday on June 18th, 2010 by Ed

On account of an 11-hour drive late Thursday and a wedding to attend today I regret that you were not able to wake up to some NPF this morning. To make up for this failure on my part, here is a photo of the world's tallest man (Bao Xishun of China) reaching into the stomach of a bottlenose dolphin to remove a potentially fatal piece of plastic it swallowed.

I would love to have been at the meeting where Chinese veterinarians and medical professionals were trying to figure out how to save the dolphin using the latest medical technology until someone stood up and said "All we need is a guy with 50-inch arms and an economy sized tub of Vaseline!"

Fortunately for the dolphin, China has both.

Octopus-armed NBA player Cliff Ray was called upon to perform the same life-saving service for a dolphin at a California zoo in the 1970s. Whether the Chinese were aware of this incident is unclear; this may be a case of simultaneous independent discoveries of something brilliant.

ROLLING THE DICE

Posted in Rants on June 17th, 2010 by Ed

Occasionally a state legislature will pass a law so blatantly unconstitutional that even the tamest mainstream media outlets refuse to be diplomatic and pretend otherwise. It seems like a fantastic waste of time and resources to pass such legislation but it is usually an effort, driven by well-funded interest groups, to force an issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Most of the truly wacky anti-abortion legislation – say, an Oklahoma law that allows physicians to withhold ultrasounds from pregnant women if it reveals birth defects that may lead her to consider abortion – is a transparent attempt to goad the Supreme Court into rehashing Roe v. Wade.

So when Arizona's state legislature – and by the way, Arizona must be butter because it's on a ROLL lately – proposes legislation to forbid birthright citizenship to babies born in Arizona of illegal immigrant parents, we recognize their larger goal. That a state cannot pass a law altering Federal immigration and citizenship policy is so obvious that it requires no comment. That this law is bound to work its way into Federal court is equally obvious. I'm afraid, however, that anti-immigrant people may get exactly what they want from the Courts this time.

American citizenship is available through three avenues: naturalization, jus soli (literally "law of the ground" or "soil"), or jus sanguinis ("law of blood"). In other words one can apply for citizenship or be born with it either by being born on U.S. territory or being born of two American citizen parents (even if born outside of the U.S.) The Arizona law would try to redefine jus soli, which, unlike many aspects of citizenship law, rests on particularly shaky ground.

Jus soli is based on the 14th Amendment, which states that, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Like so many Constitutional provisions, there is an obvious subjective component to this language: what exactly does "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" mean? Is 'jurisdiction' being subject to the laws of the US? If so, than anyone physically present in the US meets the definition. Does 'jurisdiction' imply citizenship or legal residence? Let's just say it would not be difficult to make that argument. Not at all.

The Court ruled on that issue in one of the most important – even if not the most well known – decisions in its history: US v. Wong Kim Ark (1898). Wong was born in California to two Chinese citizens. As an adult he was denied re-entry into the US after a visit to China because he was not a citizen by virtue of his parents' Chinese citizenship. Eventually the Court ruled in Wong's favor (following the British common law application of jus soli) stating that a child born in the U.S. of two non-citizen parents is a birthright citizen as long as the following conditions exist:

1. The parents are not born of foreign diplomats.
2. The parents are not hostile forces occupying U.S. territory by force.
3. The parents have permanent residence in the U.S.

The problem is that Wong's parents were legal residents of California, hence the decision does not tell us whether or not "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" requires residence or legal residence. "Permanent" residence does not imply legal residence, hence the decision has been interpreted to mean that anyone born on U.S. soil is an American citizen. As far as defining jus soli in the United States, this case is pretty much it. The concept of birthright citizenship rests on an interpretation of the Constitution, not the Constitution itself. The language is too vague to permit the latter. It would not be difficult to make a plausible argument that the Wong decision need not automatically apply jus soli to the children of illegal immigrants depending on what constitutes jurisdiction. To be honest, I think that's a pretty good argument.

In short, I will not be even slightly shocked if the current Court – with its four vote block of ultra-conservatives – were to offer a different interpretation of "jurisdiction" that excludes illegal residents. I am personally ambivalent about this issue. I don't lie awake at night worrying about "anchor babies" and how the imm'grunts are a-comin' to take our jobs and women. The problem of illegal immigration is caused entirely by lax enforcement (or non-enforcement) of immigration law, which in turn is a function of campaign contributions from businesses that thrive off illegal workers. So I'm willing to consider "anchor babies" an externality of the elevation of profit above all other concerns. In other words, I won't shed tears over the decision either way despite my belief that the current interpretation of "jurisdiction" is correct. For people with a stronger stake in the issue, though, the Arizona bill and the potential for this issue to reach the Supreme Court should be troubling.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Posted in Rants on June 16th, 2010 by Ed

A brief tale in pictures:

Please note that this has nothing to do with our current economic problems. That is why it is never discussed in the news, during elections, or by elected officials. Our problems may be due to a lot of different things, including but not limited to:

– Outsourcing blue collar jobs
– Costly wars
– Tax cuts during costly wars
– The collapse of the dollar
– Poor monetary policy
– Lazy, entitled poor people
– Shiftless minorities
– Spanish language billboards
– Snake-handlers
– Al Worthington of Al Worthington Chevrolet in Grand Forks, ND
– Solar wind
– The death of Billy Mays
– Infrastructure destroyed by the Sasquatch, Rodan, or both
– Reckless disregard for official signage
– Jews

But not inequality. So keep moving, there's nothing to see here.

STRIKES, V.2010

Posted in Rants on June 15th, 2010 by Ed

When Thomas Frank wrote in 2000 about the decline of labor reporting in American newspapers since the 1970s, he summed up the prevailing attitude by the late 1990s as "Unions are obsolete and strikes are sad." Strikes are no longer indicative of any underlying labor dispute, and certainly not extensions of any social or class conflicts (America having magically purged itself of the concept of class in the Reagan years). They are simply sad things that happen that make people fight and end with companies losing money and people losing jobs. The most damaging change, however, was the abandonment of the idea that the interests of management and labor are – or even could be – different. The 1990s revolution of Third Wave whiz-bang techno-capitalism, complete with video montages of the crumbling Berlin Wall and other tomahawk dunks of the free market, told us all that the interests of management and labor are one and the same. Strikes, unions, and class conflict are little more than personal vendettas and grudge matches played out by New Deal era relics who are too stupid and too stubborn to accept the inevitability of progress, refusing to accept the new, improved future in which the wage-grubber and CEO join hands and stride proudly onto the broad, sunlit uplands of post-regulation capitalism. Federal law prohibits the pre-1930s practice of setting up bogus "company unions" to derail organizing drives, but that is no longer relevant: the entire country is a company union now and we're all members.

In the interceding years, news coverage of labor issues has further degraded – which is to say that it is essentially nonexistent. The coverage of the pilots' strike at Spirit Airlines has abandoned any pretense of talking about labor-versus-management. Instead it focuses on passenger inconvenience, the quintessential "What's in it for me?" angle. Don't talk about the issues, just tell me if my flight has been canceled and how I can use my iPhone to get a refund.

No matter how many coats of sugar we apply over the issue with corporate propaganda and compliant, unquestioning journalism (due in no small part to the consolidation and successful union-busting in the print journalism industry since 1990) our society and economy really haven't changed that much. Workers and their employers are in a fundamentally adversarial relationship. The Company wants to get as much work out of you as possible at the lowest cost, and if they find a way to do your job more cheaply they will do it. You want to work as little and get paid as much as possible, and if a higher-paying job comes along you will take it. They are trying to fuck you, and it is in your interest to see to it that they do not succeed. That truth is fundamentally absent from labor journalism these days, which is unsurprising given the anti-union position of the newspaper industry and the generation after generation of brainless 23 year old journalism students with little practical skill aside from writing bland, inoffensive copy and sucking up to their corporate masters.

That said, the Spirit Airlines strike is an excellent example of how 21st Century strikes are born and play out. Management is emboldened by decades of compliant legislation and judicial willingness to strip away regulatory and labor protections. Labor is endlessly frustrated by the continued degradation of the things that have always defined "good jobs" in our society – benefits, pensions, reasonable hours, and good salary. The emboldened management acts like a swaggering caricature of John Wayne; the exasperated employees dig in their heels in an effort to salvage pride if not a better deal. Basically, picture two people holding a revolver to one another's head and saying "Don't push me, or I'll…"

The end result of this dispute is most likely going to be the collapse of Spirit as a viable airline, which feeds into the "strikes are sad" storyline. But the important questions go unasked. What kind of system produces management willing to burn their company to the ground rather than pay their pilots wages in line with other bargain basement airlines? What kind of system produces employees who would rather strike and possibly lose their jobs rather than continue to work under the existing conditions? Examining the underlying issues that produce this kamikaze approach to negotiation would require not only more effort than we are willing to devote to any issue but the admission that, believe it or not, labor and management are fundamentally in opposition – not to mention that they are engaged in a death struggle over a piece of a rapidly shrinking pie.

We can probably do better than "Unions are obsolete, strikes are sad." But even good labor reporting under the current economic circumstances would probably conclude that labor-management disputes are like two bald men fighting over a comb.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Posted in Rants on June 14th, 2010 by Ed

The social sciences are a great place to be a cynic. Acquire even a passing understanding of the cumulative research in political science, sociology, psychology (I know, they resist being lumped into this group), or economics and it quickly leads to the conclusion that humanity is unfit to feed and clothe itself let alone govern or live in society with one another. However low your expectations of the "average American" may be, spend a few hours with the literature of political science and sociology and recognize how generous you were being. Americans know next to nothing, believe absolute nonsense, and lack any interest in social, political, and economic issues. There is nothing more trite or true than stating, "Americans are idiots." It isn't even controversial anymore.

So the question, and a particularly problematic one for the courts, is just what we can reasonably expect Americans to understand about the law and their rights.

Last week the Supreme Court issued a split (5-4) and controversial decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins, allegedly weakening the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. As is often the case with Supreme Court controversies, the reaction focuses on the decision and ignores the facts of the underlying case. Briefly, an individual was arrested and read his Miranda rights but he made no statement either invoking or waiving them. That is, he didn't say much of anything. For over 2.5 hours police asked him questions about a murder while he said nothing, and after 3 hours he made a self-incriminating statement.

Statements made after invoking the right to remain silent are inadmissible. The defendant's attorney claimed that he invoked his rights by remaining silent for nearly 3 hours. The lower courts agreed, but the 5-4 majority on the SC disagreed. The majority bloc (Clarence Thomas, Scalia, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy) is not one that I often side with, but in this instance I see the logic of their decision, even though the implications are troubling.

The basic question is a thorny one: what can and should police assume? Now, we know that I am not a friend of American police tactics and what we mockingly call a justice system. But this fuels my belief that asking police to assume anything is a dangerous enterprise. On the one hand, the dissenters on the Court and liberal groups are arguing that 3 hours of silence should be interpreted as invoking the right to remain silent. On the other, the majority argued that responding to any questions should be interpreted as waiving the right.

Much of the reaction has echoed Sotomayor's dissent in arguing that:

A) The burden should be on the police to prove that the rights were waived, not on the defendant to prove that they were invoked. As the original Miranda decision states, a "heavy burden rests on the government to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his privilege against self-incrimination and his right to retained or appointed counsel."

B) Our rights have been weakened because police can hypothetically pepper a silent person with questions for hours until he or she finally responds. I agree with the first part, but the second only holds if we assume that Americans have not the slightest understanding of how their rights work. That might not be a bad assumption, of course.

A person need only say "I wish to remain silent" or "I don't want to say anything" and everything beyond that point becomes inadmissible in all but a few unique situations. The real question at hand here, then, is whether it is reasonable to expect that an adult under arrest should know this. Can we expect them to know that they should affirmatively state their invocation of the right? Interrogations would be so much less effective at extracting confessions if people simply remembered what any half-decent lawyer will tell you: don't say anything and ask for a lawyer. That people don't understand this is the Cops' Best Friend. But how far do police have to go to make people understand it? After they state "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you choose to say can be used against you at trial." do they need to take out finger puppets and crayons until the point is clear?

As for silence being interpreted as invoking the 5th Amendment, that too is very problematic for the dissenters' argument. What about the rest of Miranda? Does silence also invoke the right to have an attorney present? Ideally we want police doing as little "interpretation" as possible. The fewer points of law they have to think about, the better. I for one don't want them trying to interpret the meaning of silence. ANY statement, even as simple as "I have nothing to say, asshole", will invoke the 5th. Furthermore, the suspect in this case was given the "extended" Miranda and was informed that he could choose to invoke his rights at any time before, after, or during questioning.

I'm a pretty good civil libertarian and I recognize that most people know very little about their rights under arrest. And the Court has been cognizant of that over the years with Miranda, ruling that a Miranda warning is only valid if the suspect affirmatively indicates that he understands his rights and that it must be read in a language understood by the suspect. Is it too much to ask people to state their intent to invoke their rights after those rights have been explained to them? Sadly, the answer is probably yes, so I sympathize with Sotomayor's argument about the burden resting on the state to prove that the right was waived. That said, it isn't hard to see the majority's point that there is a limit to what we should expect of the police. After informing suspects of their rights and explicitly asking them (as is near-universal in American law enforcement) ""Do you understand each of these rights? Understanding each of these rights, do you now wish to speak to the police without a lawyer being present?" I fail to see what more can reasonably be done to make individuals understand that saying "No" invokes legal rights that protect them.

CLASSIC GINANDTACOS: SOCCER

Posted in No Politics Friday on June 12th, 2010 by Ed

From the 2006 World Cup (ps HOLY CRAP I have been doing this for a long time).

This is what makes soccer so farcical and unwatchable to the average American:

1. Player One slide-tackles Player Two, making minor leg-to-leg contact

2. Player Two goes limp and crumples to the turf in a near-perfect (and no doubt well-rehearsed) re-enactment of Frame 323 of the Zapruder film

3. Player Two grabs his calf/shin/ankle and makes a grimacing face as though he is attempting to defecate a shattered beer bottle

4. Player One throws up his arms, gesturing a combination of "I'm innocent" and "This man is an enormous vagina" to the crowd, followed by "Surely you aren't buying this horseshit" to the ref (who is always from a neutral yet vaguely dislikeable country, usually Argentina)

5. A team of doctors rush over to Player Two with a stretcher, neck brace, donor kidney, gas cromatograph, and the Jaws of Life.

6. After carrying Player Two off the field on said stretcher, he waits until the crowd's attention is diverted back to the game before getting up, walking it off for about 10 feet, and then "heroically" re-joining the action moments after his near-crippling injury.

Let me add a couple of questions that continue to plague me:

Why is there a clock? It operates in the wrong direction and seemingly at random, being ignored by everyone on the field and seemingly having no effect on the game whatsoever.

Why do goaltenders wear neutral colors?

Why are fans allowed to employ whatever kind of noisemaking implement they choose? This would be like having a basketball game where everyone in the stadium had a whistle.

Why are substitutions treated like the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns?

Help me understand, soccer people. My brutish, ignorant American mind does not get it.

NPF: PRESIDENTIAL BEARDAGE

Posted in No Politics Friday on June 11th, 2010 by Ed

So I grew a 56-day playoff beard for the Blackhawks and I was not about to shave it without maximizing the entertainment potential inherent in facial hair. It seemed appropriate to honor my favorite presidential facial hair, that of Chester A. Arthur.

Please try to control yourself upon discovering how attractive I am.

Most people with a half-decent interest in presidential elections know that facial hair has mandatory between approximately 1850 and 1920 but almost nonexistent outside of that time period. HuffPo has a short slideshow refresher course on some of the more impressive instances of Executive beardage, or you could stop being a dilettante and go for the ridiculously thorough catalog of mustaches, beards, sideburns, and stray mole hairs among presidents as well as presidential candidates by Nicholas Whyte.

While Mr. Whyte does note that no "serious" candidates have had facial hair since 1948 (Thomas Dewey) there have been some quasi-serious ones. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr was nominated by the American Mustache Institute (which apparently is real) for its (I shit you not) "Robert Goulet Mustached American of the Year Award" in 2008.


This is an actual thing.

What is behind the modern aversion to facial hair? Yes, mustaches make 99.9% of their wearers look like registered sex offenders, meth dealers, or state troopers. But older men can sometimes look more stately with a beard. Something odd like bushy sideburns could also make a no-name candidate stand out from the pack. I am not holding my breath, but I hope that facial hair becomes politically acceptable again at some point in the reasonably near future. I don't want to live in a country that wouldn't elect James A. Garfield on account of his massive, bushy beard or, even worse, a political system that would scare him out of growing one in the first place.

PRICELESS

Posted in Quick Hits on June 10th, 2010 by Ed

Real post soon. But not now.

OBLIVIOUS

Posted in Rants on June 9th, 2010 by Ed

Two independent discoveries.

First, several months ago I received an email from my mother regarding Tea Parties. She does not pay much attention to politics and wanted to know what they were because she was receiving emails about them from co-workers…and she is employed by the public school district (K-8) in her town.

Second, I work for the State of Georgia at a public university. I recently discovered that a co-worker is a self-described huge fan of all things Teabagging.

It's difficult to shock me these days, as my view of human nature and the intellectual capacities of my fellow Americans can scarcely be any bleaker. But I could spend a decade meditating with monks in the mountains of Tibet and still not be able to wrap my head around the idea of people who work for the government jumping on this ridiculous bandwagon.

I could expend thousands of words explaining all of the things wrong with this picture or I could do no work at all, simply linking to Teabagger writing about how much they hate government employees ("The Recession's Fat Cats: Government Employees"). Instead I will choose a path between the two. Let's keep this simple: is your primary source of income a paycheck containing any of the following phrases?

  • (State/City/County) of ________
  • ________ Public School District #___
  • United States Department of ________
  • If so, only a superhuman amount of self-complacency can get you within 100 yards of a Tea Party event. The idea that I have co-workers (as does my mother, apparently) who cannot connect the very large, close dots between government tax collection and their own salary, benefits, retirement plan, and life savings is mind boggling. Can anyone be that dumb? Yes. Of course they can.

    How? Well, it takes some mental gymnastics to turn that kind of display of raw ignorance into (what one believes to be) a consistent worldview, but it boils down to a case of fiscal NIMBYism. They see the money the government spends on their salary and benefits as good/justified/appropriate, as is the entire annual budget of whatever government agency happens to employ them. It's all that other money the government spends that is wasteful. So Mary the Public School Secretary wants lower taxes, less spending, and a smaller deficit, all of which should be accomplished by leaving the Public School budget untouched and cutting elsewhere – usually something nonspecific and illogical like "earmarks" or "pork" or "welfare." You know, shit that amounts to peanuts in comparison to A) the budget as a whole and B) the money spent employing public servants, bureaucrats, and other people receiving government paychecks.

    "Pork" and "waste" are just code words for "Government spending that does not benefit me directly." Every member of Congress sees the projects in her district as necessary – nay, indispensable – examples of appropriate government spending whereas the other 434 districts are cesspools of waste. The average American sees every tax dollar or government service that benefits them as Good Spending and everything that does not as Bad.

    In other words, most of us stopped maturing when we turned 10 and we're oblivious to how selfish we are – not to mention how little sense our political worldviews make.

    STEVE MROCZKIEWICZ GETS THE FJM TREATMENT

    Posted in Rants on June 8th, 2010 by Ed

    Hey, I spend a lot of time in the classroom, so when I see a column entitled "Our Kids Deserve Balance in the Classroom" I perk up like an chemically stimulated prairie dog. All along I have been under the impression that Your Kids deserved to be given accurate information and taught how to process it. How wrong was I. It turns out that what kids really deserve is "balance"! You know, two sides to every story. Teach the Controversy.tm But I doubt that Steve Mroczkiewicz – scholar at the Independent Women's Foundation project Balanced Education for Everyone – would raise such an issue lightly; he's a goddamn expert on Balance. Move over, Flying Wallendas. Let's discover how Unbalanced our schools are with the ultimate goal of Balancing them like the scales of justice.

    This FJM is made possible through a generous grant from the Steve, Shut The Fuck Up Foundation. SSTFUF: A Better Tomorrow is Possible if Steve Shuts His Piehole Today.tm

    We as parents have a lot on our minds these days. Too many of us are out of work and struggling to pay the bills. While trying to pay our mortgage and prepare for retirement, we are also trying to save to help our kids go to college. Of course, we are also concerned about the quality of our children's schools, though few have the time to follow closely what goes on in those classrooms each day.

    OK, Steve isn't a professional writer. This much will be abundantly clear. Regardless, there's something inherently dangerous about opening anything other than a letter to the Penthouse Forums with this many industrial strength platitudes. And don't worry, parents who lack the time to follow what goes on in the classroom each day – Steve's on it.

    As a father of six—five of whom still attend Attica, Indiana public schools

    Remember this. It's going to be relevant in a minute.

    I know first-hand the difficulty of keeping up with all the responsibilities that parents face. Yet I also know how important it is to remain engaged in our children's schools to make sure that they get the education they need and deserve.

    This passage was nominated for the 2010 Award for Redundancy Award of 2010.

    It has been more than a month since Earth Day, and most of our children are finishing their studies for the year. One area that I would encourage all parents to pay extra attention to is what's happening at your school regarding climate change education. Ideally, it is supposed to encourage students to consider the importance of preserving our natural resources. Unfortunately, too often it's used as a platform to push a misleading, ideological brand of environmentalism.

    Ideally…according to whom? This sounds an awful lot like a segue into the classic "My kids are not being told that my beliefs are correct, so it's time to change what they're taught" argument.

    I’m a Ph.D. scientist

    And yet you can't figure out how condoms work, according to the earlier admission.

    I’m a Ph.D. scientist and work as a Field Research Scientist for a global crop protection company, so I have a special interest in how my kids are taught the subject.

    Great. You have a biology Ph.D., proving that you have mastered titration and whatnot (I don't know if titration is relevant to what biologists do, but it's one of the most phonetically pleasing hard science-y words I know). This makes you an expert on many things, including global warming. I also have a Ph.D., Steve, so when I get done writing this I'm going to draw up architectural blueprints for a skyscraper and invent a new state of matter.

    To me, teaching science properly means presenting all sides of scientific theories and helping kids develop their own critical thinking skills.

    Teaching Science Properly by Steve Mroczkiewicz is apparently the least useful book ever written. It receives serious competition for that honor only from The Encyclopedia of Phrenology, Modern British Dentistry: A Practical Guide, and On Diplomacy by Ariel Sharon.

    Steve, teaching science properly means presenting the "sides of scientific theories" that are either correct or have evidence to support them. Not "all" sides. We can, you know, skip the ones that are wrong or utterly devoid of merit. When we teach the shape of the planet, we generally do not give Round and Flat equal time.

    Regrettably, it seems that too many in our public education system see their role differently.

    Strangely and regrettably, most teachers don't see the value in teaching unsupported crackpot theories or industry-funded denialist claims. Baffling.

    I first became concerned about how my children's school was teaching global warming last year when a group of teachers orchestrated a school-wide showing of An Inconvenient Truth during class in celebration of Earth Day.

    They showed a multi-multi-award winning documentary by the former Vice President in a public school? My god. What country do we live in?

    I was alarmed that parents weren't even able to pull their kids from this assignment (fortunately, with some work, I eventually got that policy changed).

    Ooh, goodie. We're playing "I was alarmed by…" I love this game. OK Steve, I was alarmed by the suggestion that parents – parents who might be, and often are, dumber than a bag of hammers – should be able to decide what their kids are and are not exposed to.

    OK, your turn.

    The problem isn't just that the school shows An Inconvenient Truth, a movie found by a judge to be riddled with serious scientific errors and which grossly exaggerates the potential damage of man-made global warming. It also fails to provide any counterweight to this environmentalist propaganda.

    Aww, I thought we were playing. Anyway, Steve, no judge accused the film of scientific errors or "gross" exaggerations. A British judge in a civil trial agreed with an attorney's claim that the film exaggerates the potential damage of human-induced climate change – which is a pretty strange argument, by the way, given that both the judge's and the filmmaker's exercises are inherently speculative. But like any documentary, I won't argue that the film in question is strongly argued and probably includes some exaggerations by zealous True Believers. Documentaries are never "fair."

    Schools do have options. For more than a year now, I've been trying to get another film, Not Evil, Just Wrong, shown in our school to provide some balance.

    Awesome. Schools have options, like showing a straight-to-video piece of shit (funded by a wealthy Irish nutcase) that repackages every tired global warming denialism argument of the past 30 years. Do you understand how bad a movie has to be before it can't secure a theatrical release? For christ's sake, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed opened on 1000 screens and it was so bad that most people who paid to see it shot themselves.

    Maybe part of the problem is that the film begins with the tale of how hysterical environmentalists got DDT banned and caused 40 million people to die of mosquito-borne illnesses – ah, the perils of scientific Chicken Little-ism – which is a great point except that DDT is still used to kill mosquitoes and always has been. And it's uphill from there!

    Not Evil, Just Wrong thoroughly reviews the flawed science of global warming, specifically addressing the many errors and gross exaggerations in An Inconvenient Truth. Our children deserve to hear this information so they don't believe that there's only one truth about this important issue.

    Read that again. "…so they don't believe that there's only one truth about this important issue." Our goal, of course, is to have them believe that there are many, equally valid "truths" about important issues! Why, that just sounds great. What a great world we would live in if everyone thought that opposing sides of objective issues were equally valid.

    Unfortunately, getting balance into my children's school has been an uphill battle. I’ve spoken to teachers, the principal, the superintendent and the school board. I’ve loaned copies of the film so teachers could see it and make an informed decision.

    Are you getting the sense that Steve is "That Guy" in his school district? The one who harasses the administrators to an extent that verges on stalking and who rises at every board meeting to deliver the same harangue about Communist water fluoridation or free energy suppression or Noah's Ark or whatever his idiotic pet issue happens to be? I bet he's quite popular in his community.

    Yet only two teachers in the whole school bothered to view the film, and none of them would show it.

    Shocking.

    I made my case publicly during the open session of a school board meeting.

    I bet you did, Cubby.

    The only result was that a group of teachers publicly complained to the board for giving me a hearing.

    Well that could mean a few things. You've been at this for a full year, so let's assume they understand your argument. Either they are closed-minded, ideologically narrow bigots hell-bent on suppressing your Truth, or your argument is entirely without merit and no amount of explanation is sufficient to make you understand that.

    Most recently, the superintendent declared Not Evil, Just Wrong isn’t suitable because it lacks the endorsement of the National Earth Day Foundation. You can see what I’m up against.

    I more clearly see what the school district is up against, but yeah, I feel for you. Going up against reality and facts is hard.

    This isn’t just ignorance of the science behind climate change, this is an ideological position. I will continue to fight for our students to be taught rather than indoctrinated.

    Steve, your point of view as expressed here makes clear that you loathe indoctrination. You just have the very reasonable and open-minded view that your children should only be taught what you want them to be taught irrespective of its accuracy.

    I haven't been able to change the curriculum so far, but I have succeeded in raising awareness of the problem. I would urge other parent to do the same.

    "No one is listening to me. It's lonely here at the helm of the USS Batshit. I need 30 stout men for a voyage to where there be dragons."

    Ask questions about how global warming is being presented in your school. Find out if movies like An Inconvenient Truth are being used on Earth Day or as pillars of the science curriculum. Make sure that your kids are hearing the other side of the story.

    (The one with no evidence to support it.)

    We should encourage our schools and teachers to address this imbalance during the summer break.

    Once again Steve shows his keen understanding of reality by stressing that the best time to get the attention of educators is during the summer.

    I realize many of us are busy, but our children's education starts at home. You shouldn't trust that your local school is providing the balanced education your children deserve.

    "Just homeschool your kids already. That's the only way to keep them Pure of influences other than the voices in Mom and Dad's head. Isn't it about time you took dictatorial control of every piece of information that reaches your child? How else can we ensure that they will grow up creationist, heavily armed, and utterly unable to function socially?"

    Thanks Steve, whoever the hell you are, for taking the idea of scientific inquiry out behind an abandoned warehouse and fingering it. I can think of no one I'd rather have in control of the future of our educational system. Being lectured on objectivity and balance by Steve Mroczkiewicz is like having Bible study with the Pope himself.

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