Monday, October 30, 2006

On the Usefulness of Being Used: Cynical observations on the relationship between social conservatives and the Republican Party

I have not read David Kuo's book, Tempting Faith, an account of his experience as a social conservative in the Bush administration, but by all accounts the book is at least partly an expression of Kuo's shock that evangelicals are being used by national Republican Party leaders to gain and keep power.

Well, first of all, the only shocking thing is that anyone would be shocked by this. Anyone who has been around the political block knows that politics is not the place to go if you're looking for pure motives. Many in the Republican Party fought the evangelicals within their own party for years, but then the smart ones began realizing that it was stupid to fight them and much more expedient to use them to for their own political purposes.

The role of social conservatives in the Republican Party in many ways resembles the role of Blacks in the Democratic Party: they are alternatively valued and exploited, and there are people in the party who share their convictions and those who don't. Any competent social conservative leader knows this. The question social conservative leaders must ask is, given that they are being used, do the benefits of working with the party still outweigh the costs?

Is the Republican Party not only in the position of using social conservatives, but of being used by them?

The trouble social conservatives face is that that too many Republican leaders fall into one of two categories: those who don't share the convictions of social conservatives but pretend that they do, and those who do share the convictions of social conservatives and pretend that they don't. The history of the relationship between Republicans and social conservatives is a litany of demagoguery and dissembling, pandering and pusillanimity--peppered with myriad cases of genuine political courage and conservative statesmanship.

In any case, the only alternative for social conservatives is to judge their political leaders on their actions, pure and simple. Here at least there is some hope. If they concentrate on the motives of their political allies, they are in for little other than disappointment.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Herald-Leader pushes gay agenda again (...yawn).

The Lexington Herald-Leader yesterday ran an article titled, "Gay voters wary about Newberry," the upshot of which is that conservative voters should be wary about Newberry. Newberry's responses to question about "gay issues" were lackluster at best and disappointingly sycophantic at worst.

But the really interesting thing about the article was the lack of any compelling reason it should have run at all--particularly in a prominent place on the front page. Not that the Herald-Leader needs any particular provocation to run articles glorifying the gay lifestyle and portraying anyone who isn't enthusiastic about it as a neanderthal of the lowest order. It's no big secret the Herald regularly uses its news pages to push gay issues, primarily through stories that have no apparent news value which are given prominent placement.

But one interesting fact is that the day after the article (which basically assured readers Newberry was harmless on the issue) was published, the Herald-Leader endorsed Newberry over his opponent Teresa Isaac. Could the Herald have been using the article to justify an endorsement they had already decided to make in light of Isaac's incompetent tenure as Mayor? That would certainly explain the timing of the story.

Anyone willing to take odds on the Herald-Leader running a story on their front page assuring their readers that political candidates are solid on family issues?

I didn't think so.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who is losing the ability to think critically?

At Richard Dawkin's website, they have a post by Ben Hope attacking Patrick Henry College, a conservative Virginia school catering to conservative evangelicals and home school graduates.

Commenting on a documentary he had seen charting the lives of several Patrick Henry students, Hope says:
It was like watching an episode of Star Trek. You know, one of those where the crew has been taken over by a mysterious alien mind-virus. In this case, the symptoms are losing the ability to think critically, coupled with an uncontrollable urge to smile absolutely all the time, except when swaying open-palmed and shut-eyed at the sound of particularly naff, happy-clappy songs.

Sounds like like a bunch of ignorant cult members alright. But, wait a minute...

In 2005, the Oxford debate team failed to win moot court competition in England. The team they lost to? Patrick Henry College. The Patrick Henry students (you know, the ones are "losing the ability to think critically") defeated the Oxford team before a panel of distinguished British judges. Then, in 2006, the Oxford team flew to the U.S. to avenge their loss, only to lose again to the Patrick Henry team before an equally distinguished panel of American judges.

No wonder the Patrick Henry students in the documentary were smiling.

Dawkins, remember, is Charles Simyoni Professor of the Public Understanding at Oxford. So if Patrick Henry is a factory for producing mind-numbed robots, and it schooled Oxford's debate team for two years in a row, where does that leave the university that Dawkins teaches at?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pay a visit to the Crunchy Cons

Rod Dreher is the author of Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party). I haven't read it yet, although after finishing the subtitle, I feel like I have!

Dreher is a former editor with National Review Magazine who is now editor of the Sunday commentary section of The Dallas Morning News. He is what I call a "Wendell Berry conservative" (a designation I lay claim to as well). If his book is as good as his blog (as I understand it is), then it is good indeed.

He blogged my last post today over at Crunchy Cons. Check out his site, it's excellent.

If Republicans lose this fall, whose fault will it be?

Much of the talk surrounding this year's midterm elections is about whether this election constitutes a major political realignment. Ten years ago, the country went conservative and Republican. Is it now going liberal and Democrat?In the 1994 midterm elections, Republicans took control of Congress, largely based on the success of the “Contract with America,” a set of populist conservative political proposals that won widespread support among Americans. Now, some 12 years later, many pundits seem to think that Americans are poised to turn in another direction.

Are Americans disenchanted with conservatism?

If you were to ask this question of many liberal Democrats, the answer would undoubtedly be, “Yes.” And if Democrats take the field on November 8th, there will undoubtedly be those among them who will attribute the victory to a rejection of conservative rule.

But there are good reasons to reject this claim, should it come. First, the Democrats have not themselves set forth any coherent set of political principles by which they are asking voters to be judged. In other words, there is no liberal “Contract with America.” There is opposition to the Iraq war, and questions about the competence of Republicans to lead, but there is no set of positive political prescriptions they are asking voters to approve by voting Democrat, and there are legitimate questions about whether the Iraq war is the consequence of conservative policy.

The second reason to reject any claim that a Democratic victory is a victory for liberalism has to do with Republicans themselves. If voters reject Republicans at the polls, will it have been because they don’t like their conservative policies?

The answer to this question requires an answer to two other questions. First, has the Republican reign in Washington been a conservative one in the first place? The second is this: Have Republicans set forth any set of principles during this election that we can say would be rejected in a Democratic win?

If Democrats take congress on November 8th, will it have been a defeat for conservatism, or simply a defeat for the Republican Party? Will it have been because Americans are disenchanted with conservatism or simply because they are disenchanted with Republicans who claim, but may not actually act like, conservatives?

Serious conservatives need to ask themselves these questions partly because, if Republicans are sent home this fall, recriminations will come—and they will be aimed at those who Republicans think abandoned them at the polls. If a Republican defeat comes, conservatives—particularly social conservatives—will be held responsible.

The smell of blame is already in the air.

If Republicans should lose control of Congress, which now seems possible, if not likely, it should be clear to everyone, especially conservatives, why it happened. Leaders in the Republican Party need to be fully aware of why so many conservatives would not show up at the polls—and be holding their noses when they do.

How should conservatives assess the success of Republican rule in Washington since the Contract with America brought them to power? Is there a set of conservative criteria by which we can judge the success or failure of Republican dominance in Washington over the last decade?

I submit that there is, and that there are specific questions conservatives should ask themselves about foreign and domestic policy that can shed light on whether the national Republican Party, as a nominally conservative party, has failed or succeeded:

Has government become bigger or smaller? Is it more or less intrusive? Republicans will point to welfare reform legislation, probably the most significant and effective piece of conservative legislation passed in the 20th century. Disaffected conservatives, however, will point to Republican sponsored legislation implementing a costly new prescription drug entitlement as an act Lyndon Johnson would have envied. Many conservatives ask why, since Bush took office, the size of government has increase by a frightening 25 percent, and why so-called conservative Republicans cannot seem to find a voice to articulate the case against minimum wage laws. And note that the greatest success in terms of rolling back government power (welfare reform) came during the Clinton, not the Bush, administration.

Do American children stand a better or worse chance of being adequately educated? There are some good aspects to the No Child Left Behind Act, passed at the behest of President Bush. But why was it that many influential conservative groups opposed the legislation when it passed—and Ted Kennedy supported it? Many of these groups still see the bill as an egregious example of legislation that dramatically expanded a department of government (the Education Department) that many Republican leaders had vowed to downsize, and did little to practically affect what happens in the nation’s public schools. Some conservatives also want to know why, after the passage of No Child Left Behind, the administration put forth no further effort on important educational initiatives such as school choice?

Are our basic freedoms more or less secure? Liberals aren’t the only ones who have problems with the “Patriot Act,” as well as recent legislation giving the President the power to suspend habeas corpus at a whim . The questions many conservatives are asking themselves is whether the best way to protect individual freedoms is to pass laws that place limitations on those very freedoms. There are also questions as to the effectiveness of many of the policies implemented since 9/11. It is not good when your erstwhile supporters are going to the polls with images of an old lady with a walker being frisked at the airport while the next passenger, sporting a robe and turban, is whisked on through.

Has the issue of immigration been adequately dealt with? Why was it that an immigration bill took 12 years to get through Congress? And will a 700-mile fence along a border much longer than that solve the problem—if it is built at all (the bill provides the money to build the fence, but doesn’t actually require that it be built).

Are policies now more or less favorable to the traditional family? Social conservatives put Republicans in power. Have they been fully taken into account when it comes to the Republican policy agenda? Republican supporters will point to the fact that the Supreme Court has shifted significantly to the right--no mean achievement. But there are those who want to know how long it is going to take to revisit the disastrous Roe vs. Wade decision, and why, when Republicans control both the Presidency and the Congress, there appears to be no hope of passing a Constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage.

Is America more or less respected in the world? Although both Republicans and Democrats voted for the Iraq War when preparations were being made to go in, there were voices on the right warning against it. They included the likes of Pat Buchanan, whose book A Republic, Not an Empire, stated the conservative case against interventionist foreign policy with rare eloquence. But the neoconservative-dominated foreign policy establishment in Washington dismissed Buchanan’s warnings, and has lived to regret it. Now the war is the biggest drag on Republican aspirations to maintain their Congressional majority. Buchanan warned that adventurous military expeditions like that in Iraq would drain the nation’s financial coffers and hurt our prestige overseas. He was right on both counts.

Has the power of the federal judiciary over matters of policy been strengthened or weakened? This is the one area in which Republicans can claim relatively unadulterated success. Bush’s two appointments to the Supreme Court—John Roberts and Samuel Alito—are models of what conservative justices should be. In fact, many conservative voted for Bush during his second term solely because they knew the importance of replacing retiring justices with men or women who would interpret the law, not manufacture it.

But if you set the appointment of conservative judges aside, are there enough Republican successes to inspire any real enthusiasm among conservatives this election season? Should we somehow have expected more?

When liberals take office, they use their power to further their agenda with admirable aggressiveness. But to many of their conservative supporters, it seems as if Republicans have neither the courage nor the ability to articulate the case for conservative principles—nor to aggressively implement them when they get the chance. Republicans need to remind themselves what they believe in and why, and then they need to find the backbone to stand up for it.

There is no evidence that this election is about either the approval of liberal policies, since none have been proposed, or the rejection of conservative ones, since there are legitimate questions as to how aggressively they have been attempted. Americans are not disenchanted with conservatism; but many conservatives are disenchanted with the Republican Party.

If the Democrats win in November, it may well be less the result of the ascendancy of a rejuvenated liberalism than the revenge of a disenchanted conservatism.

© Martin Cothran 2006. All rights reserved. These comments are the personal opinions of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official opinion of any other persons or organizations.

Post on Dawkins discussed at Dembski's blog

My post on why Richard Dawkin's book, "The God Delusion," weakens the case for Intelligent Design was discussed over at William Dembski's blog, Uncommon Descent, in a post written by Denise O'Leary. It's an interesting post.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wall vs. Wall

As David Adams points out, Mexico's president-elect Felipe Calderon compares the 700-mile wall on the U.S. border with his country with the Berlin Wall. He has apparently forgotten that the Berlin Wall was built to keep people in, while the U.S. border wall is to keep people out.

If he doesn't like the wall, he ought to implement policies in his own country that will encourage people not to flee from it--like maybe dismantling socialism.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Educrats at play

I remember a number of years ago when Time Magazine announced that having babies had come back into fashion. Until then, I had not been aware that such things were subject to trends, and wondered what it said about our culture that we thought of perfectly natural functions as somehow equivalent in significance to the hemlines on women's skirts.

I was reminded of this when I read Gene Edward Veith's post today at his blog "Cranach" concerning the news that grammar is now "in" again. Once again, I had to ask myself, are there not some things that should just be accepted in the common course of experience, rather than subject to the whims of some kind of craze?

Ooops. Bad question to ask when it comes to education policy.

Fact is the Paris fashion industry (if they still dictate clothing design like they used to) has nothing on the education establishment, where newest fads and gimmicks drive what gets taught in the nation's public schools.

According to Veith, The National Council of Teachers of English has reversed "it's long opposition to grammar drills, which the group had condemned in 1985 as 'a deterrent to the improvement of students' speaking and writing.'"

That's right. The group that poses as the board of bishops for the teaching of English in America was opposed to grammar drills. That in itself should cause us to cover ourselves in sackloth and ashes and ask forgiveness for allowing such a group to exist in the first place.

Do people really believe this? That drilling kinds in grammar is bad for them? Unfortunately, the answer is "Yes". In Kentucky several years ago, the educational establishment found a convenient way to enforce this. Under the state's assessment system, teachers were supposed to collect a sample of the students work and include it in a "portfolio." Each school's student portfolios were then gathered together and graded by state education bureaucrats. The school's portfolio score was then used, along with other test scores to dole out rewards and punishments.

Portfolios have been a craze in education for a number of years now, and in Kentucky they were used in a high stakes testing environment.

Since any paper a student wrote could conceivably be included in the students final portfolio, any paper was considered to be, broadly speaking, a part of a "test." And since it was considered a part of the test, teachers were not allowed, in any way, to indicate the correct answers to students. Because of this, it was actually considered a breach of ethics for teachers to tell show students the right way to spell or grammatically construct a sentence when they were helping them write papers. Such activity was considered no different than telling a child which bubble to fill in on a standardized test.

But the question is why the education establishment is changing its mind on the dangers of grammar. Veith remarks on how this change is being rationalized: "'To diagram a sentence is to deconstruct it.' Sentence diagramming, when seen correctly, is not going back to a traditional approach to education that produced good writers. Rather, it is really postmodernist, and so it's OK."

And you wondered what was wrong with our schools.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My nominations for modern Christian satirists

The folks over at Worldviews, the World Magazine blog, make the observation that political satire is tres chic these days, citing such luminaries as Stephen Colbert and Ann Coulter. They then ask whether anyone has examples of contemporary Christian literature that "lampoons" the current state of the world.

Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of "contemporary", but I would think that many of the novels of G. K. Chesterton (circa. 1874-1936) would have to count, as well as much of his non-fiction, particularly books like Heretics and Orthodoxy, and many of his newspaper columns. And certainly Walker Percy's novels, particularly Love in the Ruins, and The Thanatos Syndrome, which are wildly clever send-ups of the pathologies of modern life and thought, would have to be considered.

And while we're talking about Christian satire, a web search turns up the very interesting post at "John Mark Ministries" on the subject of Christian satire.

Another modern art outrage

G. K. Chesterton once said that all art involves "drawing aline somewhere." Some art critics are wanting to draw the line somewhere this side ofa a new exhibition at the Chapter Art Centre in Cardiff, England, where, according to the Daily Mail, a new exhibition that features, well, nothing. Artist Simon Pope says visitors to the empty exhibit hall are to use the opportunity to remember exhibitions at another museum. "You are asked to summon up these remote spaces - through memory, body, speech and movement - so that they exist at two locations simultaneously, both here and there."


Pope says the exhibition is to foster a greater awareness of psychosis by putting visitors in the frame of mind of someone suffering from "reduplicative paramnesia," a "rare delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in more than one place simultaneously, or that it has been 'relocated' to another site."

This has not a few visitors accusing Pope of engaging in a practical joke. Maybe they should put stops on the checks they used to pay to enter the exhibit and ask the museum to "imagine" that the checks are good.

And museums wonder why it's so hard to find funding.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wait! There's one more booklist!

Well, discussions of book lists are sweeping evangelicaldom, and, like almost every other craze that hits it, it is being taken too far (and is this post just making the problem worse? Well, probably so). Christianity Today started it, with its list of the "50 Books that Influenced Evangelicals." Then came the lists of "50 Books that Should Have Influenced Evangelicals." Then the "50 books that You Should Leave on the Shelf."

Now evangelical publishing has come in for a lot of criticism for its trendiness and insipidity--almost all of it well deserved. But there's no better criticism than ridicule, and so you have to appreciate the folks over at Purgatorio, who have constructed the greatest evangelical booklist of them all: 50 Potential Christian Bestsellers.

Here are a few of my favorites:
  • I’m Totally Depraved, You’re Totally Depraved
  • 40 or so Days more-or-less of Purpose
  • Steal This Book- Then Repent, Bring it Back, and Confess
  • Pretty Good People in the Hands of an Ambivalent God
  • Y3K - Countdown to Armageddon
  • Raptured By Mistake - Book I of the “I Should Have Been Left Behind” series
  • For Men and Women Only - A Straightforward Guide to Stuff You Already Know
  • I Kissed Bundling Goodbye
  • Noing God: Tales from the Bible on How to Refuse God and Live to Tell About it
  • What on Earth Am I Here For and Why On Earth Do I Keep Asking Myself these Questions?
  • The Openness of God: How 5 Theologians Go to Heaven only to find it ‘Closed for the Season’
  • Reimagining Jesus Until I Like What I See
  • Capitulating: Unveiling the Mystery of Keeping Your Wife from Getting Mad at You When You Want to Run Around and Do “Wild at Heart” Kind of Guy Stuff
You gotta love it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Taking Dawkins seriously

Apparently a link to my post on the debate between crusading atheist Richard Dawkins and Catholic journalist David Quinn was displayed over at (a web address that should explain itself).

I suppose it would be good web manners to return the favor and direct readers over to their site where you can find the transcript of the Dawkins/Quinn debate. They can't be all bad over at The Raving Atheist: a G. K. Chesterton quote is prominently displayed on their home page. I'm sure G.K.C. would have found it amusing that he would be approvingly quoted in an atheist publication.

The result of the post has been quite a few hits on this blog, several, apparently, from cheerleaders for Dawkins. I thought Quinn clearly bested Dawkins, and I explained why in a comment on the earlier post. That doesn't mean atheism has been vanquished; it just means he didn't acquite himself well on that particular occasion. The cheerleaders don't see it that way, but then again, it's not the job of cheerleaders to engage in substantive critiques of their own side. They're just there to wave the pom-poms.

I thought, on the other hand, that Dawkins was smooth and competant in the exchange with Stephen Colbert. Colbert was funnier, but that's his job. Dawkins job is to be persuasive, which in that interview, I think he was.

I posted the links to the debate not because I think Dawkins is to be dismissed; quite the contrary. I posted the link precisely because Dawkins cannot be dismissed and any Christian who does so needs to have his head examined.

I think Dawkins is the most dangerous living opponent of Christianity. He is smart, articulate, and--to many people--convincing. That doesn't mean he's right; it just means he's persuasive. So when someone does as well as Quinn did against someone as formidible as Dawkins, it's an event.

It is because he is so capable at defending his position that his new book, The God Delusion, is such a great disappointment, and it is a great disappointment because Dawkins himself has failed to fully appreciate the strength and persuasiveness of the arguments he attacks. It is his fatal flaw.

I will have more to say on that in a review of the book that will be posted here next week.

Friday, October 20, 2006

NKU joins the domestic partner benefits rebellion

Another state university has put taxpayers on notice that it doesn't consider itself beholden to anyone but special interest groups. This time it is Northern Kentucky University, announcing it is considering domestic partner benefits. I was quoted in the story that appeared in the Kentucky Enquirer (which seems to be the same story the CJ ran on the front page with a little added for the local angle). You can find the story here.

Crusading atheist meets his match

Richard Dawkins, who is making the rounds of English and American radio and television talks shows promoting his new book, The God Delusion, is about as articulate as they come--which is one of the things that makes him so dangerous. But he met his match recently on a British radio program in Catholic journalist David Quinn.

The mp3 file can be found here.

Then there is the hysterically funny interview Dawkins had with Stephen Colbert at Comedy Central that you can find on YouTube here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What are humans evolving into?

Over at the SOMA Review, the weblog of the "Society of Mutual Autopsy", they are discussing recent comments by British evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry, of the London School of Economics, who says that human beings will reach their biological apex by the year 3000.

Wouldn't it be amusing if, by the year 3000, human beings all evolved into creationists?

State family group condemns threat made by domestic partner supporter

For Immediate Release
October 19, 2006 A. D.

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

Threat against conservative lawmaker condemned by state family group

LEXINGTON, KY. —The Family Foundation of Kentucky today condemned a threat made in a newspaper comment section against a state lawmaker who recently introduced legislation barring benefits for live-in sexual partners at state universities. An opponent of the legislation posted the family address of State Representative Stan Lee, the sponsor of the legislation, in the comment section of the article on the bill’s introduction in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The person posting the message called on opponents of the bill to protest outside his home “’round the clock,” and ended the message by saying, “Trick or Treat, anybody?”

“We hope this is not a sign of things to come from the supporters of domestic partner benefits,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation. “To attempt to intimidate people just because you disagree with them is hardly furthering the message of tolerance and diversity.”

Cothran pointed out that the media was quick to jump on the incident during the debate over the Marriage Protection Amendment in 2004 in which a supporter of the amendment allegedly spat on an aide of openly gay State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone at the State Capitol. “Some quarters of the media seems to have a trigger finger when it comes to pointing out the warts of conservatives, but reticent to say anything that could be conceived as reflecting badly on left-wing critics. We certainly hope that this gets the same kind of attention the media gave to the alleged incident at the Capitol two years ago.”


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Dawkins book provides ammunition for Intelligent Design advocates

Opponents of Intelligent Design can't seem to agree on why they think it is wrong. In fact, their reasons for rejecting it are completely contradictory.

The whole reason some opponents say that Intelligent Design cannot be taught in the science classroom is that it isn't science, and it isn't science, they say, because it doesn't make falsifiable claims. But other opponents say that the claims Intelligent Design makes are false claims. But if it is true to say that ID's claims are false, then ID's claims must be falsifiable. And if ID's claims are falsifiable, then they must be scientific claims. But if ID makes scientific claims, then the argument that ID cannot be taught in the science classroom because it doesn't fall within the realm of science is completely undermined.

Among those that say ID isn't science at all is the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), the leading opponent in America of teaching ID in schools. In fact, this belief was at the heart of the recent Dover court decision. Among those that say that ID is science (but bad science) is Richard Dawkins, whose new book, The God Delusion, is a frontal assault on religious belief (and the number 1 seller on

Dawkins, an Oxford scientist and the most popular contemporary defender of evolution, directs withering criticism at NCSE for wimping out in its argument with religious opponents of evolution by saying that the realms of science and religion are totally separate concerns--that scientists should stay on their side of the line and theologians on their side, and everybody can live in peace. Dawkins maintains that religious claims (and, ipso facto, the claims of Intelligent Design) are broadly scientific in character, that they make claims that are falsifiable--and that, in fact, they are false.

Dawkins calls the NCSE's position the "Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists," a reference to the British prime minister, who, before the outbreak of World War II, misguidedly tried to appease Hitler.

Not tender words, these.

The problem, then, for opponents of Intelligent Design is that these two anti-ID arguments are mutually exclusive: if one is right, the other must be wrong.

In the meantime, whenever advocates of Intelligent Design hear the argument that Intelligent Design is not science, all they need to do is point to the new book by the man who is perhaps the leading advocate of evolution today who says that this argument is not only wrong, but an example of intellectual cowardice.

Story on bill banning domestic partner benefits in CJ today

I was quoted in an article in today's Louisville Courier-Journal on domestic partner benefits at state universities. A couple of interesting things about the article:

1. Politicians on either side don't seem to want to touch it (at least not now, before the election). Mark Pitsch, the reporter who wrote the story, couldn't get any politician (other than Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington) who sponsored the bill) to comment.

2. According to the story, "U of L defines an employee's domestic partner as a person of the same or opposite gender who is at least 18 years old, in 'a long-term relationship of indefinite duration with an exclusive mutual commitment,' financially responsible for a partner's financial well-being and debts, unrelated by blood and not married or committed to any other partner." Why are we excluding people who are "unrelated by blood"? Why can't we include a live-in relative who we are taking care of? Why do they take a back seat to what are essentially live-in sexual partners?

3. And in case there was any doubt about the fact that this policy is kowtowing to special interest political groups, there was this: "Wes Wright, the [Fairness Alliance's] legislative director, said the group has been mobilizing faculty and staff at state universities in anticipation of a bill like Lee's."

According to Kyle Dippery, staff senate chairman at the University of Kentucky, the bill, "sends a message that Kentucky doesn't want ... tolerant, forward-thinking people here." Ohhhhhhhh. Tolerant, forward-thinking people. Are these "tolerant" people the ones who consider anyone who disagrees with them to be "hatemongers"? And is it forward-thinking for our taxpayer-funded public institutions to bow the knee to special interest groups and institute policies that alienate the taxpayers who support them?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bill to prohibit university domestic partner plans introduced

For Immediate Release
October 17, 2006

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

Family group supports legislation prohibiting domestic partner benefits introduced today

LEXINGTON, KY.—The Family Foundation of Kentucky said today that it was in full support of a bill designed to prohibit health care benefits for live in sexual partners of state university employees. The bill was prefiled today by Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington). “The leadership at UK and U of L needs to know how taxpayers stand on the idea of using their money to provide benefits for same sex and opposite sex partners of university employees,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky.

The legislation comes in the wake of plans at the University of Louisville to implement a domestic partner benefit plan as well as the announcement by the University of Kentucky that it is looking into implementing a similar program.
“We need our taxpayer funded institutions to support marriage, not undermine it,” said Cothran. “Parents who are looking at colleges for their children are going to start looking elsewhere if our state universities continue to undermine the values of Kentucky taxpayers.”

Cothran also criticized the universities’ priorities. “Why are these schools looking to spend taxpayer resources on their employees’ live-in sex partners when there are other issues, such as an explosion in class size, that need to be addressed?”

### Hating the hatemongers

If liberal Democrats have a conscience, it is surely political consultant Mark Nicholas of the popular weblog: The former campaign chief for Ben Chandler is the closest thing they have to a Jiminy Cricket. He says what they know they should be saying if they were being honest with themselves--but refuse to say because they know they would be sent packing if the voters discovered it.

Hence the longer-than-normal noses sported by not a few politicians.

In a blog post today, Nicholas launches into a mini-tirade against State Rep. Stan Lee, who has introduced a bill to prohibit taxpayer-funded colleges and universities in Kentucky from providing health care benefits to the live-in sexual partners of their employees:

The hate mongers are back:

Legislator Files Bill To Prohibit Partner Benefits At State Colleges
By Art Jester

A state legislator from Lexington has prefiled a bill for the 2007 General Assembly that would prohibit domestic partner benefits at Kentucky's state universities and community and technical colleges.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, would prohibit the benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex unmarried couples.

So sad that the very people who cry for the Ten Commandments to be posted in every public building and seem to have a copy of the Bible Velcro-ed to their belt are the ones that have so much hate built-up inside of them.

It's disgusting if you ask me.

I can't imagine Nicholas would advise one of his clients to take this position. In fact, ten bucks says Nicholas would advise them to say just the opposite in any political race outside of Louisville and a couple of exotic precincts in Lexington near the UK campus.

Of course, one of the things that constitutes hateful behavior is name-calling, which Nicholas seems to feel little inclination to spare in his charges of hateful behavior in others. I don't remember a single opponent of domestic partner benefits uttering an epithet against those with whom they disagree. But Nicholas, apparently oblivious to the definition of hypocrisy, sees no need to skimp on the insults.

Why is it the people who are always accusing others of being hateful seem to feel exempt from the rules they demand that others follow?

Maybe they ought to have a course on consistency at political consultants school. Or maybe they could just install a few mirrors over at

Monday, October 16, 2006

A response to the Fairness Alliance on domestic partner benefits

Paul Brown of the Bluegrass Kentucky Fairness Alliance responded in the Lexington Herald-Leader today to my piece on UK's proposal to provide domestic partner benefits. Needless to say, he didn't like the piece.

This is a great load off of my mind.

Brown makes several criticisms of my original article. He says first that I failed to back up my arguments. "[H]e fails," says Brown of my piece, "to provide much evidence to back up his arguments..."


My argument was that the University of Kentucky would make better use of its time and resources by trying to solve real problems like classes that are too big and professors' salaries that are too low. I listed the size of several freshman classes, some of which boasted over 600 students, and I pointed out that faculty salaries were 89 percent of UK's benchmark schools.

What other evidence does Brown need? Does he think these things are less important than domestic parther benefits policies?

Brown says, "Unfortunately, those issues [class sizes and staff salaries] have zero to do with domestic partner benefits." Actually they have a whole lot to do with each other if you are trying to set your priorities as an institution. The whole point of my piece was that, while Todd other supporters of this policy somehow think this is going to gain them favor with organizations that rank schools (which they won't), there are other more pressing problems that are not being dealt with that rankings agencies really do care about.

He says, "Truthfully, we don't know to what school of thought either UK President Lee Todd or the staffs of school-ranking organizations subscribe." We don't? Todd has expressed himself several times on this issue. When he first came to UK he said his own company had such a policy and that he saw no reason UK shouldn't have one as well. And we certainly know where school rankings organizations stand in regard to the relative importance of benefits for live-in sexual partners and class sizes. In fact, the U.S. News and World Report criteria include nothing about domestic partner benefits policies. They do, however, include class size as a major factor in their rankings decisions.

Brown also takes issue with my terminology. "Suggesting that domestic partners are merely 'live-in sexual partners' is reprehensible," he says. It's not reprehensible, it's accurate--and honest. The single and only qualification for receiving domestic partner benefits is that you be having sex with the person you are claiming as a domestic partner. Period. If not, then we can all sign up our best friends who happen to be rooming with us.

Is Brown really denying this?

Brown goes through laundry list of things he says domestic partners do together: "These partners own houses together. They go to work in the morning and come home to each other at night. They cook dinner together, split the household chores, divide the bills, share the yard work, watch TV together and fall asleep together." The appropriate response to which is, "So what?" None of these things qualifies you for benefits under a domestic partner program.

So let's say this clearly one more time: you can't get benefits under domestic partner programs unless you are having sex with the person who wishes to qualify.

And Brown accused me of bring up extraneous issues?

Finally, Brown says that benefits for live-in sexual partners will help UK's students. His argument? That they will "attract a more diverse, talented faculty." Well let's take these two things in turn. Let's start with "diverse". Well, if by diverse you mean that UK's faculty will have more people who are living in non-married sexual relationships with each other, then, yes, the faculty will be more diverse. But how does this help students?

Does Brown think that if we surveyed UK parents, they would agree that having more faculty living in non-married sexual relationships helps their children learn? I seriously doubt it. In fact, a good portion of them would think that UK was a less attractive place, not a more attractive one, to send their kids.

And what about "talented"? Will benefits for live-in sexual partners help UK attract a more "talented" faculty? How? Brown claimed my editorial presented no evidence for my argument (which, in fact it did). What is Brown's evidence for this claim? What study has shown that these policies do what their advocates claim? Where is it?

It doesn't exist, and Brown knows it.

There is no proof that domestic partner benefit policies will attract more talented faculty. None. There is no study. No research. Not a single solitary piece of evidence.

Where is your evidence, Mr. Brown? Don't bother getting back to me until you can produce it.

Oh, and by the way, I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Islamic Leaders Respond to the Pope

A letter in response to Pope Benedict's Regensburg comments, signed by 38 Muslim leaders, has been released. The Pope's original remarks can be found here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Gays have only themselves to blame in Foley affair, says family group

For Immediate Release
October 13, 2006 A.D.

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

State family advocacy group says Fairness Alliance "almost stumbled on the truth"

"Gay rights groups have created an environment that may very well have made the Foley situation worse," said a spokesman for The Family Foundation of Kentucky today. The comments came on the heels of the release of a statement by a state gay rights blaming congressional leadership for not dealing sooner with gay former congressman Mark Foley.

"Actually, they almost got it right," said The Family Foundation's senior policy analyst Martin Cothran. "The Fairness Alliance is dead on right in its observation that Foley's sexual orientation may have delayed action on Foley. But most likely the only homophobia involved was not fear of gays, but with fear of gay rights groups like the Fairness Alliance who do not want to talk about gays who abuse children and who don't like anyone else to talk about it either."

"House leadership's own homophobia," said the Fairness Alliance's statement, issued to the Lexington Herald-Leader, "and their desire to protect their power led them to this crisis. Their apparent eagerness to avoid talking about Foley's sexual orientation gave them impetus to look the other way."

"If the fear of accusing a gay colleague of sexually predatory behavior really prevented Congressional leaders from dealing with Foley earlier, then gay rights groups have only themselves to blame," said Cothran in response.

"The very groups who are now charging House leadership with failing to deal with the Foley affair are the same groups who have created an environment in which people like Foley are allowed to get away with sexually predatory behavior," said Cothran. "Anyone who has the temerity to suggest that there is any kind of connection between homosexuality and sexually predatory behavior is immediately and unceremoniously read out of polite society. Do you really expect people--congressional leaders or anyone else--to be enthusiastic about outing sexual predators who are gay in that kind of environment?"

The Fairness Alliance accused the House of having an informal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that enabled Mark Foley to continue his behavior uninhibited. But Cothran said gay rights groups like the Fairness Alliance have their own similar policies when it comes to sexual predators who are gay: "Let's call them 'Don't Talk About It At All' policies," said Cothran.

"If gay rights groups are going to lecture other people on how to act when it comes to sexual predators, they should get their own house in order," said Cothran. "In fact, has anyone noticed that it took a lot longer for gay rights groups to expel open advocates of pedophilia from their own midst than it did for congressional leadership to come to terms with Mark Foley?"

More troubling news about the troubling relationship between gay rights groups and troubling relationships

How gay rights groups and their friends on the political left talk out of both sides of their mouths on the issue of pedophilia from David Horowitz's Front Page magazine.

Pence on "Partners"

Lieutenant Gov. Steve Pence had this to say in yesterday's Louisville Courier-Journal on U of L's plan to provide taxpayer funded benefits for the live-in sexual partners of its staff: "I don't necessarily disagree with it."

Let's give him 10 out of 10 points for honesty, 2 out of 10 points for sentence construction (a really limp double negative to blunt the political implications of his position) and 0 out of 10 points for political acumen. This is, after all, the man who says he may run for the Republican nomination for governor against Ernie Fletcher in a state that passed a same-sex marriage ban by a politically numbing margin.

Go Steve.

Churchill Downs exempted from the rules everyone else has to live by

Louisville's metro council yesterday passed a smoking ban for every public building and workplace in Louisville--except, that is, Churchill Downs. Now how did Churchhill Downs not only convince councilmen to exempt it from the ban, but to vote down several measures that would have protected children from all that evil second hand smoke on the racetrack premises? It couldn't be because they have more political influence than the small businesses who now have to follow rules that Churchill doesn't have to follow, could it?

Perish the thought.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More on the books that influenced evangelicals

I had an earlier post with a link to Christianity Today's list of the 50 books that most shaped evangelical thought in the 20th century. Needless to say, it has started a discussion.

Erik Thoennes, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at Biola University now weighs in on the top ten books he thinks influenced evangelicals, as well as (and perhaps more importantly), the top ten books that should have influenced evangelicals.

Then there is this list (in the "should have influenced" category) from C. J. Mahaney at Sovereign Grace ministries.

And this from Jim Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Houston Campus), and this from Sam Storms of Enjoying God Ministries, and this from Philp Ryken, Senior Minister of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia... heck, just go to "Between Two Worlds," the excellent blog of Justin Taylor in Wheaton, Illinois, to see the whole discussion now going on about books and evangelicaldom.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Republicans Foley Dilemma

In a letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Dennis Stutsman of Lexington repeats the mantra of the liberals on the Foley episode: "Maybe if these conservatives would put less energy into repression and division, pedophiles like Foley could be caught much earlier."

It apparently still has not occurred to them that the very fear of accusing a gay colleague of sexually predatory behavior may have been just what prevented Congressional leaders from dealing with it earlier.

The Democrats must know they have Republicans in a dilemma: either violate the anathema issued by the priests of political correctness (Never speak ill of gays) and risk being accused of intolerance, or follow it and be accused of a cover up.

Unfortunately, rather than try to find a creative way out of it, the Republicans have proved themselves weak-kneed enough to fully impale themselves on one horn of the dilemma.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

If you're going to wave the flag, make sure it's the right one

In their zeal to show their patriotism in the form of support for American veterans, the Democratic Party posted a picture of a soldier on their official website. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the picture was of a Canadian soldier.


According to Michelle Malkin, when the error was discovered, the picture was quickly taken off the site and replaced by the flag. Fortunately, there was enough familiarity with things American at Party headquarters that the image posted was that of the American flag, not the Canadian flag--or (perhaps more popular at their offices) the United Nations flag.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Latin in the News: "Habeas Fascismus"

I'm starting a new little feature just for fun. Being a Latin teacher (among other things), it always interests me to see Latin phrases used in the media. This one, habeas fascismus was used in this article as a play on habeas corpus. Habeas corpus means "you may have the body." The article argues that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 suspends habeas corpus and weakens individual rights in the United States. Habeas fascismus means "you may have fascism."

Log Cabin Conservatives: an Oxymoron

Meanwhile, over at the "Kentucky Conservative Blogs Networks: KY Conservative Views on News and Life," there seems to be some confusion over the definition of "conservatism". There is this jewel of an observation made by "Dawn" from "ConservaChick" in response to Democratic criticisms of Republicans for not being "diverse" enough:

Um, hellooooo, Demmmmmms? Ever hear of a little organization called the Log Cabin Republicans?! (If not, fergawdsakes click on the link.) In all seriousness, Conservatism is not the sole property of the Religious Right; as a matter of fact, many of the ideas that the Religious Right tries to push through as legislation on the Hill are not Conservative ideas. Many true Conservatives fully embrace all people, regardless of their sexuality, as being an important part of the larger community of Conservatism. It is small-minded, bigotted, and ridiculous to believe otherwise about a political ideology that promotes personal responsibility and freedom.

Not all Conservatives are Evangelicals, nor are they for government endorsement of marriage. It is this Conservative's opinion that all unions should be considered "civil unions" if performed by a government authority. Marriage is a religious concept that can only be recognized as such by a church, in my opinion. Our federal government has no business defining marriage -- Civil unions, sure; marriage, no.

Apparently Dawn is under the impression that marriage as a unique societal institution recognized (and often encouraged) by government originated with the Religous Right. This is a rather curious viewpoint given the fact that marriage is as old as civilization, and the Religious Right has only been around, oh, about 40 years.

If conservatives aren't interested in conserving and promoting the institutions that are necessary for the healthy, stable functioning of society, then they're not really conservatives.

When Republicans start buying in to Democrats rhetoric on "diversity" instead of resisting it, it's time to ask whether the Republican tent has become so big that there is really no difference between being inside it and being outide it.

The best way to defeat somebody is not to become just like them.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The "Gay Pass": Were Foley's actions ignored because he was gay?

Was Mark Foley's harassment of male congressional pages allowed to continue because he was known to be a homosexual? So far, no one in the media has asked this question. They ought to.

The scandal, which involved sexual harassment through e-mail and instant messaging of young male House pages, had allegedly been reported to House leadership, who are now being accused of allowing it to continue. If House leadership did indeed know the true nature of Foley's behavior, then why would they not have done something about it?

In order to answer this question, it is necessary to ask another one: What would have happened if a man who was widely known to be gay was accused (in the absence of a media feeding frenzy) of chasing after young boys? What happens in general to anyone who says anything about any connection at all between homosexuality and sex with children--or, for that matter with any kind of sexual predation?

One of the things we know without any question is that anyone who is politically reckless enough to suggest that there is any kind of connection between homosexuality and sexually predatory behavior is immediately and unceremoniously read out of polite society. A brief survey of several past sex scandals involving children is all that is required to establish the fact.

The controversy over Boy Scout policies on scoutmasters is one recent example of the anger and outrage that can be generated by the suggestion that homosexuals might be interested in boys. Policies barring homosexuals from being scoutmasters were put in place because of actual incidents in which boys were molested by older males. But opponents of these policies have responded with spluttering indignation at the suggestion that gay men can in any way be blamed for this.

Being gay and being a male pedophile who abuses boys, the public is assured, are two entirely different and unrelated things. In fact, the Scout policy is considered so out of bounds that Scout troops all over the country face threats of defunding by corporations and municipalities because of it.

The other example, is, of course, the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. Although the secular-minded media showed little restraint in reporting the issue, and seemed content enough to see the Church's reputation marred by the scandal, how did it handle the facts of the case? Most significantly what did it do with the fact that the vast majority of the abuse was of boys rather than girls?

The answer is, it did its best to underplay it. And when it was suggested that the problem could stem from the overabundance of gay priests coming from Catholic seminaries, the response consisted mostly of shock and indignation.

Despite their protestations, gays haven't helped themselves on this issue. Homosexual rights groups have a history of supporting laws to reduce the age of consent for sexual activity. They also have a long history of relationships with groups openly supportive of pedophilia. In fact, it took a lot longer for gay rights groups to expel open advocates of pedophilia from their midst than it did for the Republican Congressional leadership to come to terms with Mark Foley.

The bottom line is this: male on male pedophilia--or any other predatory sexual behavior, because it threatens the image gays have carefully cultivated of themselves in recent years, is something you simply try to talk about as little as possible.

What does all this have to do with Foley?

When Foley's attorney spoke to reporters the day after the story broke, there were three things he said Foley wanted the public to know. The first was that he was abused by a clergyman in his youth. The second was that he was an alcoholic. The third was that he was a "gay man."

Pop quiz: What does that last of these have to do with the first two? Answer: it is an excuse that Foley perceived would somehow help mitigate the culpability of his actions. It was an implicit way of saying, "I'm gay, and therefore I can't be a sexual predator, since, as we all know, homosexuality and sexual predation have nothing to do with each other."

Politicians caught in sexual escapades know instinctively that they can latch on to the polished public perception that gays are no different from heterosexuals when it comes to pedophilia and promiscuity. When Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey resigned in the wake of revelations that he had had an affair with a former male aide, he quickly announced he was a "gay American." Why? Because he thought he could find protection in the prestige of the gay persona in the media.

Being perceived as "gay" is the last refuge of a sexual predator.

Of course, when politicians do this, they tarnish the reputation they bank on, which is why gay advocacy groups cringe every time a politician tries to cash in on their slick public persona. Just as gays tried to shun James McGreevey, they are now shunning Foley, and not so quietly grumbling that their image will be tarnished.

So, if you're in leadership in the U.S. Congress and you are faced with the decision of whether to accuse a colleague who is known to be gay of being a sexual predator, are you going to do it? The answer is that you would probably have to think about it a little longer than you otherwise would.

Let's call it "the gay pass": the idea that, if you're gay, you get extra political capital that you can spend when it is discovered that you are a sexual predator. Rep. Gerry Studds redeemed his pass in 1973 when he had an affair with a 17-year old male page. So did Rep. Barney Frank when it was discovered in 1990 that a male prostitution ring was being run out of his Washington townhouse. Both Studds and Frank were quickly forgiven and subsequently reelected.

One of the questions being asked in the wake of the Foley episode is whether Republicans should be held to a higher standard when it comes to sex scandals because of their family values rhetoric. They probably should. But it is also legitimate to ask whether gays are held to a lower standard in such circumstances, and whether the tendency to do just that was what reduced the enthusiasm around the Capitol to do something about Foley.

© 2006 by Martin Cothran. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be published without the express written consent of the author. These comments are the personal opinions of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official opinion of any other persons or organizations.

Making Fun of Foley

National Review magazine comments on the Foley episode: "Mark Foley has checked himself into rehab for alcoholism. We hope the scotch was older than the boys."

The 50 books that shaped evangelicals

Christianity Today Magazine has compiled their list of the 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. For better and worse, I think it is a fairly accurate list.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just in case you thought pedophilia was a Republican thing

This just in: hypocrisy is not limited to Republicans. Check out this very informative article on David Horowitz's webpage on "The Left's Pedophile Problem."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How to Win Friends and Influence People (and have them say nice things about you later on)

It's so seldom that people actually say nice things about me, I couldn't resist reprinting Francis Beckwith's recent remarks in one of the comment sections of the Right Reason blog. Frank is one of the most logically forceful and articulate evangelical scholars writing today. He is the author numerous books and articles, and is one of the foremost experts on the issue of the constitutionality of Intelligent Design in schools:

BTW, Martin Cothran was instrumental in my embracing of political conservativism. While in graduate school in southern California in 1983-84 (while we were both studying for our MAs at the old Simon Greenleaf Univ, which has since merged with Trinity in Deerfield IL), Martin scolded me when I called myself a "moderate." Then he bought me a subscription to the American Spectator and encouraged me to read National Review, Bill Buckley's UP FROM LIBERALISM, and Newt Gingrich's WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY. I then went on to devour Gilder's WEALTH AND POVERTY, Hazlitt's ECONOMICS IN ONE LESSON, and Schaeffer and Koop's WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE. From there I read Schlossberg's IDOLS FOR DESTRUCTION, Novak's SPIRIT OF DEMOCRATIC CAPITALISM, and Robert Cord's SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

Also, Martin's a huge Chesterton guy, having done his MA thesis on Chesterton's work. This inspired me to read ORTHODOXY and a collection of Chesterton's writings that Martin had bought me as a gift.

I am semi-literate only because of Martin Cothran.

Thanks, Martin.

Take care,

What he doesn't mention (probably because he has forgotten) is that he was also prochoice at this time. I remember many evenings debating the issue with him at JoJo's Coffee Shop. It makes my heart glow to think that I may have had a hand in bringing the author of Politically Correct Death, the best demolition job of the prochoice position ever written, over from the Dark Side.

Scientists who doubt Darwinism

I recently had a reporter express her considered opinion that there were "no scientists" who didn't accept Darwinism. I wish had had this list at my fingertips at the time. It is a statement signed by 600 scientists saying, "“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

Domestic Partner Benefits on Catholic Radio

I was on WMJR 1380, Catholic Radio, this afternoon on the issue of Domestic Partner Benefits at UK. Interest in this issue appears to be increasing.

UK's domestic partner policy on "Front Page" with Sue Wylie

I will be the guest on tomorrow's "Front Page with Sue Wylie" on Lexington's 590 WVLK-AM at the 11:00 hour on the issue of domestic partner benefits at UK and U of L.

Is Intelligent Design Science? (cont.)

My latest post over at Right Reason in response to Ed Darrell, a science teacher, on whether Intelligent Design is science:


You ask me, “Can you propose a test of science that you think ID can pass?” My answer to that question is, I don’t need to, because I have not made the claim that ID is science. I don’t know whether it is or not, and am not sure it matters a great deal, except to people who think science is the only legitimate form of inquiry. But I am curious, as a cultural observer, about the enthusiasm with which the scientific establishment has attacked ID, an enthusiasm that results in reckless assertions about what science is and isn’t that bring even theories well within its own domain into question.

You, on the other hand, have made the dogmatic claim ID is not science. Yet you have yet to produce a definition of science that excludes ID that does not at the same time exclude positions such as string theory which—whatever their actual scientific merit—are quite clearly scientific theories. In past posts you have produced several, none of which you wish to stick to when push comes to shove. As soon as it is pointed out that one criterion would exclude some commonly acknowledge scientific theory, you move on to another, and the cycle repeats itself, World Without End, Amen.

You also, I think, drastically overstate your case when you make assertions about ID such as that “there is no theory”, that “no one works in the field”, and that “there is no scientific insight.” The second one is demonstrably false, the other two are highly suspect subjective judgments.

This is coupled with an overstatement of the merits of string theory. You claim that it is “based in real observations”, yet the debate within the scientific community over string theory is centered on the very fact that it is NOT based on real observations, and because of this there are no “experimental paths” (your words)—not even any conceivable “experimental paths” that are not fairly ludicrous (see Perseus’ last post).

I’m not saying ID is science. I’m saying that, based on what scientist themselves say about string theory, that IF string theory is science, THEN ID is science—by the same criteria. I am not making a categorical assertion; I am making a condition hypothetical assertion. You keep disputing this assertion, but you cannot produce any one criterion by which ID is excluded and string theory is not. You have not produced any criterion (any one you will stick to anyway) that would result in the consequent of my conditional assertion false when the antecedent is true.

And until you can, my assertion stands.

You also ask, “Other than string theory, is there any science that comes close to being as completely vaporous as ID?” I addressed this in an earlier post when I cited Martin Gardner’s observation that atomic and molecular theory were once in the same position as string theory is now. I suppose it was fair then (as it is fair now in the case of string theory) to criticize these theories as being bad science. And, apparently, that is exactly what happened. But I have never heard that anyone said that it wasn’t science at all. My understanding (limited as it is) is that quantum mechanics was also in such a state in its early development.

These theories have since panned out—to a greater or lesser extent. But that doesn’t mean their early status excluded them from being science altogether, which is what you are saying about ID.

Finally, you have criticized ID for the lack of papers published in scientific journals. I always find this criticism highly amusing. On the one hand, say its critics, ID isn’t science. And one of the reasons it isn’t science is that it has published so little in scientific journals. But when an editor does allow the publication of an ID article in a scientific journal, he is professionally and personally vilified because he published an article on ID, when (as everyone knows) ID is not science. I’m referring to the Richard Sternburg case, of course—after which, no editor who values his professional reputation is going touch a pro-ID article with a ten-foot pole.

ID is not science because its papers don’t get published in scientific journals; and its papers don't get published in scientific journals because it isn’t science. They’ve got ID coming and they’ve got it going.

How convenient.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

C-J runs article today on Intelligent Design in the classroom

Last Friday, I was working on a comment for the "Right Reason" blog on the issue of Intelligent Design (see below) when Mark Pitsch of the Louisville Courier-Journal called to ask what I thought were the main issues involved in selecting a new state schools chief.

During the course of the conversation, he brought up the fact that outgoing Commissioner of Education Gene Wilhoit said that it would be a mistake to hire a comissioner who believes that Intelligent Design should be taught in public schools [and note here that he brought the issue up, not me]. I responded that I thought any candidate who said that, ipso facto, Intelligent Design should not be taught in schools should be automatically disqualified.

This is the comment that made its way into the story that ran in the C-J today. In fact, the story is largely about the Intelligent Design issue as it relates to schools.

My comment will obviously rankle the anti-ID crowd in the state, and will (here comes a prediction) be interpreted to mean that I believe that there should be some requirement that Intelligent Design should be taught in every science classroom in the state. But that is not what I said.

There are three possible positions you can have on the issue of teaching about Intelligent Design in schools. The first is that it should be taught; the second that teachers should be allowed to teach it or not teach it, as they see fit; and the third is that it should not be taught. My position is that it should be up to the teacher (the middle position). And my remark about candidates being automatically disqualified for taking the latter position (that it should not be taught) was based on my belief that such a position betrays an extreme secularist attitude about how schools should handle scientific and religious questions that we have had entirely too much of in our schools over the last 50 years or so.

I will have more to say on this issue in the future, but suffice it to say here that I predict this issue will become a hot one over the course of the next year. Why? Because it is already a big national issue. Add to that the fact that the state media is enthusiastic about covering it. The stars don't get any better aligned on a public issue than they are on this one.