Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Where's Clarence Darrow When You Need Him?

This is an old news story, but it's starting to feel like an even older one. Last month, Frosty Hardison, a father of a high school student in a Seattle suburb, managed to get "An Inconvenient Truth" barred from his daughter's district by writing a letter accusing her teacher of telling just one side of the supposedly multi-sided issue of global warming.

As if to deliberately create an aesthetic, as well as rhetorical, parallel between the creationists and global warming deniers, chew on this tasty treat:
The 43-year-old computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who says he believes that a warming planet is "one of the signs" of Jesus Christ's imminent return for Judgment Day.


"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "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."
Uh. Uh huh. Hardison is also a patriot. Check it:
"No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation -- the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet -- for global warming," Hardison wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board.


"From what I've seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of 'bad America, bad America,' I don't think it should be shown at all," [Frosty's wife] Gayle Hardison said. "If you're going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don't think the video should be shown."

Scientists say that Americans, with about 5 percent of the world's population, emit about 25 percent of the globe-warming gases.
Clearly, Al Gore hates America. He's probably emboldening terrorists as we speak.

On a more substantive note, global warming deniers have taken a cue from creationists in insisting that a "balanced" presentation of a "controversial" issue be given to public school students. Why is anyone humoring these people? Why do nincompoops continue to buy into the idea that global warming, like evolution, is "just a theory"? Since when does championing diversity of opinion mean we have to let ignorance reign supreme? Why does superstition keep beating fact? Teaching global warming and evolution already is balanced; in fact, it's better than balanced: it's correct.

Subsequent to these two articles, the Federal Way school board has lifted the ban on the film. But I can't help myself in reprinting this nugget of comedy gold:
In the end, though, the board opted for an abundance of balance.

That means that "An Inconvenient Truth" may be shown only with the written permission of a principal -- and only when it is balanced by alternative views that are approved by both a principal and the superintendent of schools.

Hardison was pleased.

"I am happy they are giving the kids as much information as possible," he said.
His daughter's science teacher, meanwhile, said she is struggling to find authoritative articles to counter the information in the Gore documentary.

"The only thing I have found so far is an article in Newsweek called 'The Cooling World,' " Walls said.

It was written 32 years ago.


Diego said...

Very awesome, but just as frightening. How does belief become implacable? I wonder if anyone has EVER managed to convert a devout Christian to even temporary, for-the-sake-of-the-argument agnosticism. I've encountered this not only among the religious. Communists and followers of LaRouche, for example, also exhibit the same absolute refusal to suspend belief or entertain even for just a few seconds non-doctrinaire ideas. Do people like this carry some special mutation for total devotion? Is it cultural? What's going on here?

Thinker said...

Diego wrote, "Do people like this carry some special mutation for total devotion? Is it cultural? What's going on here?

I think people like this burn with a zealous righteousness that blinds them to ideas or experiences other than their own. Eric Hoffer wrote about this personality type 50 years ago in his book The True Believer

Diego said...

Thanks Thinker. I'd actually come across Hoffer before, though I don't remember how. I've read his entry (censorship makes Wikipedia pretty unstable here in Beijing) and it sounds like he was really on to something. Although any phenomenon at a societal-level or more complex is in my opinion ultimately incomprehensible, I'll definitely order his stuff when I get back to the States - he seems to have had a great intuition.

Maybe we could exhange reading suggestions by email. Mine is roguenation@gmail (punkrock once, I thought. lame now). Some good contemporary stuff on zealotry is coming from Chris Hedges, formerly an NYT correspondent.

Thinker said...

Diego, thanks for pointing out the entry on Hoffer. I hadn't thought to look there before. I also saw that they have a fairly good summary of The True Believer in a separate entry. If you didn't see it, it is at

I'll try to spend some time with Chris Hedges' work later today.

Rebecca C. Brown said...

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