Less Talking and More Doing
I had this wonderful philosophical blog posting on the meaning of life written this morning, and I ended up getting overrun by current events. Both events played into a change that I have wanted to see for a while – a change from 'Talking' into 'Doing'.
I have mentioned before how searches for Ben Stein's "Expelled" movie has been generating a substantial number of hits to my blog – directed at my post, “Ben Stein Expelled”. Recently, the number of hits took a significant leap, presumably as the movie draws close to opening. I had been thinking about the amount of money that they would make on this movie, and the harm that they would do with it.
And I came up with my idea to ask readers to by "Truth Tickets" to offset this investment in stupidity.
Well, the "Truth Tickets" idea took off.
Today, I got more hits from searches for Ben Stein's "Expelled" than even yesterday’s record-setting number of hits. However, they were swamped by hits from those interested in the "Truth Tickets" idea.
This was a very welcome development because, what I would really love to see is for the movie "Expelled" itself swamped by the investment people are willing to make in offsetting this stupidity.
The idea got picked up first (as far as I can tell) by Jim Lippard
And, from there to Panda’s Thumb.
Then to Pharyngula
I also received comments from people who took the idea and bought their own sets of "Truth Tickets" – usually more than one (though even one would be a help).
I can't tell what the overall result has been so far, but I do know that it will take a great deal of effort to counter the professional marketing efforts of the backers of "Expelled". I would like more to be done.
I would like the idea to spread to organizations who have a serious stake in making sure that we maintain a firm commitment to sound science in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and environmental sciences.
So, I thank everybody for the contributions they have made so far, in whatever form they took. And, please, keep up the good work.
And if you want to report your efforts, please come here and let the other readers know what you have accomplished. I hope to be hearing from you.
Forcing the Resignation of Representative Davis
The other issue that came up today concerns the appropriate reaction to comments made against atheists.
Today, a Superdelegate for Barak Obama called about a bunch of kids playing in a tree “monkeys”, and then resigned. We have had an election full of incidents where a candidate has said something derogatory (or in some cases merely taken to be derogatory) of one group or another being forced to pay some sort of cost for their remarks. Davis' comments about atheists – explicitly stating that they do not have a right to testify before Congress and that children should not even be allowed to know that their philosophy exists is orders of magnitude more bigoted than comments that have ended the careers of other politicians.
Listen to what she said.. There is no way that a person with such views is fit to be a Representative of a free people.
Whereas she almost certainly wishes to keep her job, pressure can be put on her co-workers to put pressure on her and do the right thing – leave her seat available for somebody who knows a Representatives duties.
The right to petition the government – the right of a citizen to express his opinion to the government – is not only a Constitutional right but a moral right. It is the very essence of a democracy that the free and law-abiding people can come before the government and express their views on any issue. But, to Davis, that right does not extend to atheists. She would not only deny us the right to speak to the government, she would deny us the right to speak to our fellow citizens.
[I]t's dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists.
Seriously, no atheist should have to go to the government and look up at her on the other end of the room. You are here to express your opinion to the people who are supposed to be working for the people, and she is sitting there not only tuning out what you say, but asserting that it is wrong for you to be sitting there giving an opinion at all.
And this is not something for which an apology is at all sufficient. We have every reason to believe that this was a statement of her true views – released in an unguarded moment, perhaps, but her true views nonetheless. Any statement to the effect of, "I really didn’t mean it," would be a lie, and we would be foolish to accept it.
Why is all of this slander against atheists possible?
Because when a person slanders atheists the way Davis has done, the response has been to send a polite letter saying, "Please, sir, would you mind terribly if we asked you not to say such things?"
Come, now. The only morally legitimate option is for her to leave office. If something less than that happens, it is a moral failure on the part of those who accepted that option. One thing we do not need to be saying is that this lesser option is somehow the morally legitimate option. It is not. It is, instead, a moral failure, and we should be calling it what it is.
This has got to stop. If we live in a society where this type of slander is politically rewarded, rather than politically punished, we can only expect it to grow. When we make this a society where this type of slander is politically punished as it should be, that is the only way it will ever diminish.
A commenter to my earlier post on this wrote:
I'm not against the idea of her resigning, I just greatly doubt it's going to happen. . . . A more modest endeavor would have a greater likelihood of getting her to recognize her mistake and think more carefully in the future.
If she is not forced out of office, then the thing to do is to make THIS the story. Make THIS the claim that American society itself has failed. Make THIS the shame of the legislature and even the people of the state that they will not live by the principles they claim to value. Raise the cognitive dissidence up to such a level that people can taste it.
Both of these issues are very closely linked, as it turns out.
Ben Stein’s "Expelled", as I explained in previous posts, is a propaganda piece that aims to promote hatred of atheists by linking their mention with images of Hitler, Stalin, and everything else despised. It's purpose is to create legislators like Ms. Davis, and to give them strength.
In fact, one of the things that the backers of Ben Stein's move have talked about is their efforts to influence legislators by showing their movie to legislators. The influence that "Expelled" is seeking to have on the legislature is nothing less than to sell legislators on the type of hatred that Davis has expressed, by training legislators to view the atheists among them the same way that they would view Nazis and anybody else who would defend the death camps of Germany.
Responding to these attacks with polite letters of, "Please do not say such mean things about atheists. We really aren't all that bad, you know. We hope you will find it in your heart to give us some minimum measure of respect," it itself morally deficient.
The legitimate response is to say, "Your slanderous attempt to link atheists and evolutionists to the Nazi atrocities – your declarations that anybody who does not believe in God shall not testify before a legislature of, by and for the people – are far removed from the legitimate attitudes of a fair and just people."
These two projects are very much worth doing, and very much worth seeing to a successful end. Failure to respond to these attacks – failure to respond to attempts to like atheists to Nazi atrocities and failure to remove from office legislatures who insist that atheists not be allowed to (let alone agree to listen to) their testimony will simply give license to increase the attacks against them.