Kentucky Newspaper Turns Against Hambo’s Ark

A week ago we wrote Kentucky TV Station Turns Against Hambo’s Ark. The tide of media opinion continues to turn against the Ark Encounter project promoted by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

In Kentucky’s second-largest newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky, which is the second-largest city in the state, we read Ark park mess should be wake-up call on economic incentives. It’s a column in their Business section By Tom Eblen, and there’s a comments feature at the end. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The dispute over tax breaks for a proposed Noah’s Ark theme park is ridiculous on many levels, but it offers a good economic development lesson for Kentucky politicians and taxpayers.

He explains what ol’ Hambo’s creationist empire is all about, and what his proposed Ark project is supposed to be. Then:

This time, though, AIG wanted taxpayer subsidies. And it got a lot. But it wants more, even as the project has been scaled back because of fundraising shortfalls. The city of Williamstown agreed to a 75 percent break on property taxes for 30 years and a $62 million bond issue. The Grant County Industrial Development Authority gave the park $200,000 plus 100 acres of land at a reduced price. The state has promised $11 million in road improvements for the park’s benefit.

That’s a lot of government goodies, but Hambo isn’t satisfied. He wants more! Let’s read on:

The state also agreed to provide $18 million in tourism tax credits, but withdrew the offer after it became clear that Ark Encounter jobs would go only to people who pass the group’s religious litmus test. You would think state officials could have seen that coming. Kentucky politicians should never have agreed to these incentives in the first place. And you have to wonder: Would they have done the same for a Wiccan World theme park? Buddha Land? Six Flags over Islam?

He mentions that Hambo is threatening to sue the state over the tax rebates, and he tells us:

The sad thing is, AIG might have a case. It doesn’t help that in 2013, the General Assembly foolishly passed a conservative feel-good law that protects religious groups from vague “burdens” imposed by state government. So don’t be surprised if AIG — a tax-exempt group with more than $19 million in annual revenue and enough extra cash to rent a billboard in Times Square — argues in court that it is “burdened” by being denied millions more in taxpayer subsidies.

We didn’t know about that 2013 law. It’ll be interesting to watch Hambo argue that he’s being “burdened” if the state doesn’t give him a sales tax kickback. The column then gives some criticism of Kentucky’s economic development strategy in general, after which it says:

Sometimes, such as with the Toyota plant in Georgetown, incentives are good investments. But Kentucky has shelled out money for far more clunkers. The ark park is a great example of a clunker. It would create mostly low-wage service jobs while reinforcing the stereotype of Kentucky as a state of ignorant people hostile to science. Think about it this way: For every low-wage job the ark park would create, how many high-wage jobs would be lost because science and technology companies simply write off Kentucky?

Good column, huh? Here’s one last excerpt:

The ark park fiasco should be a wake-up call for Kentucky politicians to raise their standards.

You know that Hambo’s gotta be furious about stuff like this. How dare they say that his glorious project is anything less than the finest of all conceivable projects? Now the question is: Will Hambo react at his blog? He didn’t react to the TV station’s editorial last week. Come on, Hambo — we want to hear from you!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Kentucky Newspaper Turns Against Hambo’s Ark

  1. Our Curmudgeon urges

    Come on, Hambo — we want to hear from you!

    There’s no danger we won’t hear from the Ayatollah on this one. But in the meantime–as another mini Curmudgeon Creative Challenge–I would bet that many of this blog’s steadfast readers could have a go at penning Ole Hambo’s response. It would be fun to see which one most closely matches Ham’s screed when he gets around to regurgitating it!

  2. Bonus points for the person who makes the best use of the word “persecution?”

  3. @Megalonyx Challenge: I’m not going to foul my keyboard writing what Ham’s going to write. Suffice to say it’ll have a line or two about atheist journalists, though.

  4. The city of Williamstown agreed to a 75 percent break on property taxes for 30 years and a $62 million bond issue. The Grant County Industrial Development Authority gave the park $200,000 plus 100 acres of land at a reduced price. The state has promised $11 million in road improvements for the park’s benefit.

    The state also agreed to provide $18 million in tourism tax credits, but withdrew the offer after it became clear that Ark Encounter jobs would go only to people who pass the group’s religious litmus test. You would think state officials could have seen that coming. Kentucky politicians should never have agreed to these incentives in the first place. And you have to wonder: Would they have done the same for a Wiccan World theme park? Buddha Land? Six Flags over Islam?

    Do you even need to ask?

    How any of this is even remotely constitutional is beyond me. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freebies for religion.

  5. @Eric Lipps: Right on! If the founding fathers had worded the amendmant that way — “Freedom of religion, not freebies for religion” — perhaps even Hambone could understand it!

  6. I lost my lunch at “Kentucky” and “raise standards.”

    What, better copper tubing for hillbilly stills?

  7. Careful, ya’ll, that’s the state, good old Kentuck’, where the new leader in the Senate comes from, Ol’ McConnell. And now Teddy Cruz will head the NASA committee with bible totin’ Inhofe heading the environmental committee.

  8. docbill, I bristle at your use of the word “hillbilly.” Please use the politically correct term: “altitude enhanced person.” I come from Arkansas, not Kentucky, but the nicer name is not just for us Ozarkers. It’s also an Appalachian appellation.

  9. doc, they’re not called “hillbilly stills” any more. The correct term is “craft microdistilleries”. Now that’s where Kentucky’s economic development dollars should be going.

  10. I dunno, Retired Prof. “Altitude enhanced person” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like “hillbilly”. Perhaps “Will o’ the hill” would work…

  11. @Megs: No need for any composition. You can save yourself a thousand words just picturing the effects of a thunderflash tossed into a tub of blistering censure and frothy spittle.

  12. @RP:

    docbill, I bristle at your use of the word “hillbilly.”

    I meant that in the respectful spirit I always show around here. Srsly.

  13. I never really noticed that the Creation Museum and the location of the Ark Park are over 50 minutes drive time apart. Seems like pseudoscience should be one stop shopping.

  14. For a mentally sane person 50 minutes is not enough yet to digest all the crap presented in one venue, before he/she is ready to stomach the other.

  15. Maybe, but Ken isn’t pitching his venues to the sane. Sane people are not in his demographic.

  16. Charles Deetz ;)

    LIBERAL BIASED MEDIA ANTI-RELIGION AGENDA ACKK!

    Do I win, Megalonyx? Added the ‘ackk’ in spirit of a recent reading of old Bloom County strips.

  17. It’s interesting that Ham didn’t react to the TV station’s editorial. Maybe he’s realized that by doing so he draws his readers attention to the editorial. This one may be too much of a provocation.

  18. Diogenes Lamp

    The comments section at that newspaper article is quite lively. The only Flintstonian creationist there to defend Ham is one Jerry Gumm, who is demanding that a column in the *business* section of the paper should present all conceivable proofs for the origin of life and the Big Bang, and if it does not, that proves the Bible is inerrant and true altogether.

  19. Diogenes Lamp

    Ham will write:

    Atheists and secularists are *attacking* Christianity… We have been denied tax rebates given to other businesses *because* we believe in Christ– unlike those other heathen businesses– *because* the Ark Park will express a Biblical *worldview*… Secularists have *lied* about Ark Encounter taking taxpayers’ money, but a tax rebate does not come from taxpayer contributions, unless they choose to spend money at our Ark Park… Christians are being *discriminated against* by *secularists* who are *hostile* to the Christian *worldview.*

    The key claim is causality: that Ham’s belief in Christ is the *cause* of the denial of tax rebates. Key words: “because, worldview, because, attacking, because, hostile, because, discriminated against, because, secularists, because because.”

  20. Diogenes Lamp

    P.S. Ham will lie as he has 1,000 times already and say that Ark Encounter has never taken a dime of taxpayer money. Of course, they actually took $200,000 as a straight gift from Grant County, and hundreds of acres of public land sold to them at a steep discount. Not to mention the $11 million freeway interchange the state will pay for, or the 75 percent reduction in property taxes. Ham will never admit the rest; he will only say “tax rebates” and lie about the rest of it.

  21. Diogenes Lamp says: “The key claim is causality: that Ham’s belief in Christ is the *cause* of the denial of tax rebates.”

    You can’t win a lawsuit by claiming to be Donald Duck. However, claiming to be Donald Duck could be a defense — i.e., insanity.