OK, OK, enough people have pointed out to me that my earlier rant about the "evilutionist" site is a sham and a satire, that I feel morally obligated to admit that I was snookered and take my lumps accordingly. But, in true weblog fashion, I admit my guilt even as I defend my reasons for reacting so. 🙂
Why did I fall for it so completely? Because this is the direction our society (at least here in the US, can’t speak to the rest of the world) seems to be headed: a greater and greater polarization of people around specific hot-button topics that appeal to them. This in turn motivates them (because they are surrounded by people who are obviously "right-thinking people", namely, that think like they do) to act on their beliefs, in whatever fashion seems appropriate or "right", justifying it against some kind of "higher moral order". Look at the Ellie Nesler case of a number of years ago: a mother, whose son was sexually molested, watched as the molester went through his trial, and when it looked like he was going to be found innocent of the charges, she up and kills him. The community around her cheered her actions, because in their minds, the man was already guilty despite having not yet reached a legal verdict. This woman, this vigilante killer (whose motivations, I admit, I can completely understand) was hailed as a hero, because her moral beliefs happened to coincide with those of the community around her. What if those moral beliefs change to mean, "Anybody who wears a turban on their head must be Muslim and therefore must be allied with that stinkin’ Osama Bin Laden, so let’s round ’em all up and kill ’em all before they get to us!". Remember, it happened once before in this country, when we socked away the Japanese-Americans in "detainment camps" (leaving the German-Americans to mingle freely around us, despite FDR’s and Churchill’s agreement early in WWII that Germany was the greater threat). Think it couldn’t happen again?
The problem is, quite frankly, the greater communication we have worldwide, namely, the Internet. Believe me, I wouldn’t give it up for anything, but the Internet allows for widely-scattered people to congregate and spew their favorite brand of weirdness. Google for "white supremicist" sometime if you’re stomach is feeling strong to your stomach but you feel need to throw up. Or pick some equally ugly topic and just watch the links scroll across the page as your skin starts to crawl with them. Christian fundamentalists looking to find abortion doctors to kill off "in the name of God". Militia groups looking to meet and train against the day when the government steps on their "rights" too much (remember TerryTimothy McVeigh?). Anarchists who believe that the government needs to be destroyed so we can all go and leave in peace with nature in grass huts. Hell, there’s probably an activist Communist site out there still hawking the old Communist party line advocating violent overthrow of bourgeoisie governments. And so on, and so on, and so on.
And for that reason, I bought into the hoax, hook, line, and sinker, because to me, it’s entirely too credible that there would be a group motivated to try and shift the material taught in schools to something that’s more "right-thinking", in their mind, and the best way to do it is (still) spin the topic.
Look, this is a sensitive issue for me, particularly the material taught in schools; kids are wide-open sponges, with no filters installed, ready to absorb whatever is fed to them. And once they leave for kindergarten (home-schoolers aside), they spend more time in the company of their teachers–and the approved school curriculum–than they do their parents or family. (Which reminds me–when’s the last time you took a look at your kids’ history books? Or their reading materials lists? When’s the last time you looked into that curriculum at all?) What the school teaches them is what they will believe, until such time that they’re able to form their own opinions (assuming their schools teach critical-thinking skills at all, which some don’t). It’s our responsibility as parents and citizens to protect the material in schools from becoming politicized. If not, we risk being torn into lots of little groups that viciously cling to half-formed half-baked ideals that lead us into stupid conflict, and there’s so much we could do together if we just learned to respect others’ ideas and opinions. But that’s not going to happen if we don’t actively seek to protect against the politicization of school materials.
And that’s all I have to say about that. Next couple of posts will be technical in nature, I swear. 🙂
Update: … and if any Java or .NET commenter DARES to suggest this or this as an example of that polarization of "right-thinking people" into a rabid political action group, I swear, I will do something truly nasty to you…. 🙂
Further update: Typos corrected. 🙂