The inaccuracy and spin go all the way to 11

April 22, 2008

There’s a guy who doesn’t like my comments on his blog, so he’s banned me. Every once in a while I find a headline or link to something, and it takes me over there — and I remember why he doesn’t like my comments.

Rationality and accuracy are barriers to be overcome for some bloggers, and this guy often falls into that category. Today he’s bummed that gay students and their friends and relatives protest bullying of gays with a Day of Silence. Neil Simpson wrote:

The Day of Silence (where schools encourage kids to be completely silent for a day to protest alleged discrimination against gays) is back, and students’ rights are being violated left and right. It is bad enough that they disrupt the learning process for a whole day, but now some schools aren’t permitting students to miss school that day or instituting other requirements.

Okay, that’s enough. I gotta stop the quoting and make corrections. “Where schools encourage kids to be completely silent for a day?” There is no such place. This is a fabrication of someone. Who?

The link in the quoted paragraph goes to Kevin Bussey’s blog; from there we get a link to a story in WorldNet Daily, perhaps the single greatest source of information pollution on the internet.

But read the story — even WND doesn’t claim that schools are supporting the event. WND only decries the fact that schools won’t bully kids into not supporting the anti-bullying campaign (irony drips from every serif of this story . . .).

Gay clubs and the “Day of Silence” have no purpose in schools. The GLBTX propoganda machine just uses the Trojan Horse of being anti-bullying to get them in. It is all part of the drive not just for tolerance, not just for affirmation, but to silence all critics.

But why have sex clubs and school-sponsored protest days just for that? All you need is a simple and thoroughly enforced anti-bullying policy:

If you physically or verbally harass other students on or off school grounds you will have swift and serious consequences. It doesn’t matter if you are bullying because they are gay / straight / fat / thin / smart / dumb / pretty / ugly / etc., or if it is just because you are a mean jerk. Zero tolerance. Training over. Now go to class and learn something.

Bullying is wrong. I would always protect gays if they were being bullied, but that isn’t what this issue is really about. If it was, then the kids who are picked on for all those other reasons should get a special day as well, and schools wouldn’t persecute students who wanted to opt out of this special day.

Just a stand against bullying? Maybe Simpson will take a stand against bullying, you think? Maybe Simpson would urge his friends at the Texas State Board of Education to rejoin the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Texas pulled out a few months back, protesting the anti-bullying curriculum NASB had put together. The Texas officials — speaking for themselves, not necessarily the people of Texas, let me assure you — said they didn’t like the part that said “don’t bully gays.”

When stuff like that happens, people will on occasion use their First Amendment right to petition and right to assemble and freedom of speech to protest the stupidity. In the immediate case, the protest takes the form of remaining silent.

When gays and the friends of gays don’t speak, it makes the hardcore fundies crazy. The voices in their heads seem so much louder.


San Jacinto Day in the rearview mirror

April 22, 2008

Have I been distracted by work? Here’s one way to tell: Yesterday was San Jacinto Day. And I forgot to note it here.

Fortunately, the celebration is set for April 26 — at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, near LaPorte, Texas. The battle reenactment is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. — be there early to get the benefit of all the exhibits, sideshows, and Texas cooking. (Press release on the celebration below the fold. Note the press release says admission is free, while the story from Houston’s KTRK-13 says there are admission charges.)

San Jacinto Day? April 21 is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston and the Texian Army got the drop on Gen. Santa Anna and his much larger force, and in the course of a half-hour put the well-trained Mexican regulars on the run, and won Texas independence.

It’s a time to remember — or puzzle about — the true story of the Yellow Rose of Texas, a woman to whom Texans owe a great deal, or one of the better hoaxes of history. It’s a time to fume over the way Anglo Texians pronounced the J as J in “Jacinto,” distancing Texas from a small part of its Spanish-language heritage.

Unfortunately, it’s also a day most Texas students get smothered with reviews from their teachers for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the state exam that had just ended last year on this date, and looms in the future this year. Instead of learning Texas history, Texas seventh graders spend this great day reviewing what educators are supposed to teach them. Nuts.

Hey, Texas teachers: Download the teachers’ guide to the Battle of San Jacinto right now — have it ready for next year. The kids need a break to study real history. You know they will need that break next year, too.

The late Hoyt Axton sings “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” with John Hartford and others:

Other resources:

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More “Expelled”: Origins of life research ignored by intelligent design advocates

April 22, 2008

A reader named Matt provided some incisive comments in another thread, “Cold showers for intelligent design:  ID not even fringe research,” and I bring them to the top here to highlight a major failing of the intelligent design advocates, their complete absence from participation in origins of life research.

Matt blogs at Consanguinity, which recently featured an exchange on Ben Stein’s mockumentary, “Expelled!

Matt took issue with a characterization that the intelligent design movement is not science.  He wondered if they would get a fair hearing were they to submit their research to science journals.  I pointed to the court records that show they would get a fair hearing, but that they do no research and so submit nothing for publication — which indicates the lack of science we were discussing.  Matt suggested that Francis Crick and Frederick Hoyle were sympathetic to the ID cause, and I pointed out they both specifically refuted creationism and ID.

Our discussion is below the fold.

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