IN the Guardian of London we read Creationist claims in Northern Ireland, by Sophia Deboick. She decries the same events in Northern Ireland about which we’ve been writing (most recently here: Creationism in Northern Ireland: Institutional Insanity), but that’s not what interests us today.
We enjoy conflict, so we normally don’t bother with material that agrees with us. But in the Guardian‘s article, we found something deeper than mere opposition to the virulent outbreak of theocratic creationism in Northern Ireland. That unfortunate situation is just the literary setup for what we have to say here. If you need to understand the setup (and you really don’t), there’s background information in our earlier post on the subject. While you brush up, the rest of us will proceed.
We have frequently complained about disingenuous the way the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) attempt to frame the issue when trying to force their version of creationism into government schools and the rest of society. They demand that the schools should stop “discriminating,” and they claim that they’re for “fairness.” In promoting what is literally affirmative action for their pseudo-science, they tirelessly urge that schools should “teach both sides” of the non-existent scientific “controversy.”
In Creationism: the Unending Crusade, we said:
The creationists are under the illusion that if they could only conjure up the right verbal formula, they will somehow succeed. So they use slogans that vaguely echo the civil rights controversies, and then they promote rather obvious ploys like the Academic Freedom Act, and they complain about viewpoint discrimination and academic persecution.
Although we’ve always managed to say what was on our mind, we never found exactly the right words to express precisely what it was that bothered us about the Discoveroids’ tactics. Now, thanks to Sophia Deboick, we’ve found what we’ve been looking for. Here are the relevant excerpts from her article, with bold added by us:
The proponents of creationism in this row have used the language of balance, free speech and human rights to defend their views. The Caleb Foundation has spoken of its “campaign for equality’, while a letter to the Belfast Telegraph stated that the public were being denied the right to hear the “Christian position”. But these calls for equal treatment of views miss the point.
Science isn’t about “views”, it is about demonstrable fact. Creationism is manifestly false, perverting good scientific principles by taking a foregone conclusion (that God created the world in six days), and working backwards from it. The museum is a place where the expert-agreed consensus is represented, and faith-based ideas of history and science, with no root in the practice of those disciplines, cannot be incorporated without fundamentally undermining that principle. … This is not a denial of anyone’s rights, but a position based on the simple idea that if you want to know about natural history, ask a natural historian, not a cleric or a random person on the street.
That’s good, but we haven’t arrived at the great linguistic insight yet. It’s coming soon. Let’s read on:
We shouldn’t be complacent about attacks on humankind’s scientific achievements and the integrity of our cultural institutions, and the situation is all the more alarming when those who criticise secular values do so in its own language of hard fought-for rights.
Okay, we’re right at the end of the article, and this is it:
This is nothing more than an attempt to abuse the language of rights to go beyond the religious respect they are already accorded and secure religious privilege. It should be recognised as such.
That is, as they say, bang on! Abuse of the language of rights — yes, it’s the perfect phrase. Language abuse is exactly what it is, and that’s what we’re going to call it from now on. Thank you, Sophia Deboick.
Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.