Saturday, March 19, 2005

Push Comes To Shove

Via Kos we see this NY Times article on the latest creationism silliness.

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.

There are so many things wrong, just in that single sentence, that it's hard to know exactly where to begin. First, the theater managers are fools for underestimating people. And even if they're correct, and idiots show up to protest, so what? They'll just be looking stupid while giving additional publicity to the film.

Second, with or without protests outside of Imax theaters, there is undeniably a sizable (and apparently growing) contingent of anti-empirical creationism nonsense, and as such, responsible scientists had better get serious about meeting it head-on. These wingnuts who are insisting that creationism should be taught -- or even mentioned -- in science classes are as serious as they are delusional. They are not just going to go away on their own; we need to slap the whole movement down before we end up having to prostrate ourselves before taxpayer-funded religious monuments in every public building.

The number of theaters rejecting such films is small, people in the industry say - perhaps a dozen or fewer, most in the South.

Naturally. This goofy shit always happens in the supposedly quaint confines of Bobo's World. They're always insisting that their beliefs are "under attack", because the rest of us don't feel like subsidizing them -- yet they're always at the ready to begin their own attack on everyone else. Mel Gibson puts out a pornographically violent film that jibes with their religious beliefs (which, coincidentally or not, are psychological projections about how they view themselves culturally and politically), and they can't get enough of it. But scientists produce limited-release documentaries on empirically-known facts and science, and they can't handle it.

Faith without reflection, contemplation -- and yes, the occasional challenge or test of faith -- is just self-affirming cult behavior, a handy vehicle for the believer to merely affirm those things he believes about himself, and vociferously insists that they not only be tolerated, but publicly acknowledged and respected as The Official One True Belief Of All Americans....and by extension, the American government and its manifestations.

There is no logical practicality to any of their arguments. Would the murder rate go up if Ten Commandments monuments were banned from courthouses? Of course not. Does the Republic stand or fall if the Pledge of Allegiance is returned to its original, secular form? No, and it's utterly stupid to even pretend otherwise.

The thing is, they know it, but the dynamic of a culture war is "push us, we'll push you back". And for some reason, which they have been completely unable to articulate in anything resembling a logical fashion, they think that things like acknowledging the scientific practicality of evolution or allowing gays to formalize their relationships will not only affect their lives, but harm them. This is a logical impossibility, yet it persists, because it is their only weapon in defending the indefensible.

Look, if people want to believe that there's a guy who looks just like them up in the sky, who created uncountable billions of galaxies, stars, and planets, and hundreds of thousands of species on this planet alone, just to center it all around a species that is scarcely worth such consideration most of the time, fine. Good luck with that. It seems like a glorified coping mechanism to us, but that's not necessarily such a bad thing.

But when you insist that your right to believe also confers you the right to make everyone else subsidize your right to indoctrinate children and fellow citizens; to make the government (of all the people, by all the people, and for all the people) bend to your particular brand of will; to basically rub everyone's noses in your bullshit because your supposedly rock-solid faith cannot withstand even minimal intellectual scrutiny; then we cry foul.

And we vow to never stop pushing back. As long you insist on the right to tell other people what to think or how to live their lives, then we are eternally hostile to such a vile philosophy, which is not truly Christian to begin with, but again, merely cult-like.

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."

Again, the theater people deserve no small measure of contempt for their sheer cowardice, as well as not giving their clientele the benefit of the doubt. It was the wrong decision, regardless of the accuracy of their assumptions. If they assumed wrong, then they underestimated the intellectual rigor of their audience, which is why everything has been so woefully dumbed-down to begin with.

And if they were right, and there would have been protests, again, so what? For every gutless weasel that opts out of seeing the film because of some placard-carrying morons, there's another (or another two, or five) who will hear about the movie and go just to see what all the fuss is about. Hell, we'd make a point of going to see such a movie, just for the express privilege of confronting these idiots and inviting them to please go fuck themselves and mind their own damned business.

We have definitely a lot more creation public than evolution public," said Lisa Buzzelli, who directs the Charleston Imax Theater in South Carolina, a commercial theater next to the Charleston Aquarium. Her theater had not ruled out ever showing "Volcanoes," Ms. Buzzelli said, "but being in the Bible Belt, the movie does have a lot to do with evolution, and we weigh that carefully."

Pietro Serapiglia, who handles distribution for the producer Stephen Low of Montreal, whose company made the film, said officials at other theaters told him they could not book the movie "for religious reasons," because it had "evolutionary overtones" or "would not go well with the Christian community" or because "the evolution stuff is a problem."

Hyman Field, who as a science foundation official had a role in the financing of "Volcanoes," said he understood that theaters must be responsive to their audiences. But Dr. Field he said he was "furious" that a science museum would decide not to show a scientifically accurate documentary like "Volcanoes" because it mentioned evolution.

"It's very alarming," he said, "all of this pressure being put on a lot of the public institutions by the fundamentalists."

One thing is axiomatic: anything in life worth having is worth fighting for. Clearly the fundamentalists believe this tenet. The rest of us had better get with the program and recognize this fact too, before it all erodes into some scientifically- and culturally-retarded Flanders-ocracy. A society that just cravenly avoids all conflict within itself, just to keep the peace with people who have no desire for such, is ultimately doomed to fail, and deservedly so.

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