Friday, September 23, 2005


Orwell Comes to Dover

"While Discovery Institute opposes efforts to mandate the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it even more strongly objects to the ACLU's Orwellian efforts to shut down classroom discussions of intelligent design through government-imposed censorship," said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the Seattle-based intelligent design think tank in a news release, issued late yesterday, on the Dover intelligent design trial.

Let's clear one thing up, right away. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which is scheduled to open in federal court in Harrisburg, Penn. Sept. 26, is being brought by a group of 11 parents whose children attend school in the district, not by the ACLU.

Further, after the school board voted 6-3 to instruct teachers to tell students, falsely, there are gaps and problems in Darwin's theory of evolution, and to tell them that intelligent design was an alternative theory to evolution, the seven biology teachers at Dover High School refused to read the statement.

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District has nothing to do with government imposed censorship, and everything to do with parents who do not want their children proselytized by right-wing religious fanatics in science classrooms. Although teachers are no longer directly involved in the case, a victory for the parents will also protect teachers, who take their responsibility to teach students the difference between fact and fantasy seriously, from reprisals by the board.

The truth is, the Discovery Institute's news release amounts to something less than a convincing indictment of the ACLU. A close reading, in fact, reveals the news release, itself, to be a near perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak.

The term Orwellian is normally taken to mean the manipulation of language for political ends, usually by inverting the accepted definition of words.

So, our intelligent design "theorists" tell us that science is dogma. Scientists are priests -- this of course at least partially reflects the unconscious (let's give them the benefit of the doubt here, shall we?) anti-Catholic biases of the mostly Protestant evangelicals who make up the bulk of creationist and intelligent design activists.

Theology is science. Science is atheism. The supernatural is natural.

Nowhere is the utter contempt in which the Discovery Institute, acting as Big Brother, holds its followers more clearly revealed than in their "Evolution is only a theory" argument.

The completely conscious distortion of the meaning of the words theory, fact, hypothesis can only happen in a context where movement leaders can be utterly confident that their followers will never bother to learn the truth, or, if they do, they can be counted on to keep their mouths shut. Stalin could have learned a lesson from these guys.

If the courts swallow the intelligent design argument -- made here by attorneys for the Thomas More Law Center, the sword as shield of people of faith as their web site would have it -- we will have advanced farther toward that Brave New World than at any other point in our history.

In the first country in history to grant religious freedom to all its people, doublethink will become the order of the day. Like Discovery's benighted followers, we will be forced to learn to embrace doublespeak without dissent as a minority of right-wing fundamentalists represent themselves to the rest of us as the one, the only, true religion. Religion will take over the schools and the government, and we will worship at their altar.


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