Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Being all citizenish and junk

Typing a letterI very recently wrote about the bill making its way through my state legislature that would allow the teaching of creationism in public school science classrooms. At the time, it had only made it out of the Education Committee (sadly, by an 8-2 vote), but it has since gone on to pass the Senate 28-22.

This is simply unacceptable.

This afternoon, I got busy and wrote to my Representative (a Democrat), my Senator (a Republican), and my Governor (also a Republican). I wrote similar letters to all, but I reserved the most eloquence I could muster for Governor Daniels. After seeing some of the comments on a local station’s Facebook post about the bill, it only strengthens my belief that the last thing we need is to inject religion into our public schools, especially when it comes to science classes. It was amazing to see the misconceptions and downright perplexing ideas being voiced there, everything from “I say we let the kids decide!” to “Macro evolution hasn’t been proved, because you’ve never seen a species give birth to a new species” to that Golden Oldie “Man didn’t come from apes.” I’m happy to report that my head didn’t explode.

Anyway, here is what I wrote to Governor Daniels. I encourage my fellow Hoosiers who want to see a strong and vibrant scientific community and education in our state to write to your own legislators (if you aren’t sure who they are, you can find them here); I would even encourage anyone from out-of-state to write if you feel that this is an important issue. Who knows? Your state could be next.

Dear Governor Daniels,

I am writing in regards to SB 89, the bill under consideration in the Indiana Congress that would allow the teaching of creationism in our public school science classrooms. As I have watched the bill move out of committee and pass the Senate, I have grown increasingly appalled.

According to a study reported by Bloomberg and many others, America's schoolchildren rank 25th out of 34 countries in science education. It simply boggles my mind that Indiana's solution to this would be to inject a religious belief into our science classrooms.

Creationism has nothing to do with science. It is a creation myth that comes from a religious text, and as such has no place in a science classroom; some try to call it a theory, but it is not a scientific theory. Let me reiterate: it is a religious belief. Contrary to what some might think, most of us opposed to this bill do not wish that creationism never be mentioned. I would have no problem with it being discussed in a comparative religions class, a philosophy class, or a religious literature class. But keep it out of the science classroom.

Although we have differed on some issues lately, I truly believe that you want what is best for our state. You wish to create policies that will make us more business-friendly, and keep our best and brightest students in-state. Allowing this bill to become law will have the opposite effect. It will make us a laughingstock among the scientific community.

It will also result in an immediate challenge by organizations like the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and after millions of Indiana taxpayer dollars are spent in defense of this foolish and shortsighted bill, it will certainly be struck down by a higher court as unconstitutional. Similar cases in Louisiana and Pennsylvania have resulted in exactly that outcome. As someone who claims to be fiscally responsible, please don't force our taxpayer dollars to be spent on such a defense.

Please do not let this bill become Indiana law. As someone who spent her entire career in science, it breaks my heart that we are attempting to reverse advances in science by several decades. Veto this bill if it reaches your desk. The integrity of Indiana's science education depends upon it.

Thank you for your time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The worst kind of desecration

Atheist catYou may have seen the story about what happened with Mitt Romney’s father-in-law about a year after he died. The Romney family decided to posthumously baptize him into the Mormon faith.

No big deal, you say? What’s the harm, you ask? Well, Edward Davies was an avowed atheist for his entire adult life, and had no use for religion. But Ann Romney allowed her husband and his family to disregard her own father’s lack of beliefs and perform some bullshit ceremony claiming him for their church a year after he was in his grave.

I find this absolutely disgusting on several levels. First, there is the absurdity that after someone dies, you can actually place them into any particular faith. Screw that whole free will thing and making your own decisions about what you do and don’t believe. Then there is the unbelievable arrogance of Romney’s family deciding that they know best about how to handle Davies’ afterlife.

But what really, really burns my bacon about this is that they would so disrespect this man’s intellect, individuality, and his ability to make his own informed decision. It was a big “screw you” to the guy after he couldn’t fight back—which also strikes me as quite cowardly. I don’t doubt that they tried to preach to him while he was alive, and when he refused to buy into their silly religion, they waited until after he died and THEN they pounced on him and claimed his ‘soul’ for their own.

It would be like when my Dad died, if I went to the family and said, “Okay, I know Dad was a man of Christian faith, but I think we should say that he was a pagan and have that kind of ceremony.” No, it’s even worse than’s like if KEN had gone to my family and said that’s what he thought we should do. Either scenario is inexcusable and my family would have been right to tell us both to shut up and never dare to mention it again.

I find myself almost as appalled at the Davies family for going along with this. If anyone dared to suggest such a thing concerning my Dad, I think I would have lost it. And when I lose my temper, you’d best be afraid. Be very afraid. How the Davies family could have sat by and let this happen is beyond me. What a horrible disregard for how the man felt and how he lived his life.

Ken knows my wishes for when it’s my turn to bite the dust. If anyone tried to subjugate those wishes and force some sort of ceremony on me that I wouldn’t want, I know he’d stand up for me and make sure it doesn’t happen. If that happened to me, I’d come back and haunt whoever was responsible, and I’d do it in a really scary way. (I suppose I should point out that that is a joke. I have seen no evidence of ghosts.)

I wasn’t going to vote for Mittens, anyway...obviously. Before it was because I completely disagree with his current stances* (the universal health care and support for same sex marriage in Massachusetts was pretty cool...but he doesn’t like that stuff anymore) and find him an insincere panderer who will do and say just about anything to get elected; he’s someone who has no concept whatsoever of how average Americans are struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads, and manage to avoid bankruptcy because they didn’t have health insurance—or good enough health insurance—and couldn’t pay their medical bills after they had to deal with breast cancer or their child’s leukemia. (Just an example, of course. Nothing specific in mind, other than people I know who have had to deal with similar situations.)

No, he’s given me another reason to despise him. He didn’t care about his father-in-law’s wishes, and didn’t give a fuck about the guy’s thought processes and right to make his own decisions. All he cared about was adding another name to the roster of bogus conversions to his bogus religion. Shame on you, Mittens. You deserve a squirt with a water bottle! A really big, high-pressure water bottle.

*Current stances subject to change without notice. Candidate not responsible for any dissatisfaction experienced upon abrupt change of direction in policy. Side effects may include dizziness, heart palpitations, loss of libido, nausea, and projectile vomiting. Do not combine with teabagging. Massive quantities of alcohol can ease side effects. Please see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, or if you remain conservative longer than four years. Prolonged exposure can cause abrupt head explosion.