Small Indiana newspaper shows some big-league journalistic ethics 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — Hooray for small town journalism! The aptly named Elkhart Truth did its civic duty, and printed the engagement announcement of a local man now living in Iowa. So, what’s so great about that? The man’s fiancé is also a man. Of course, even that should be no big deal, since such matters are now legal in Iowa, but to a certain segment of the population, printing the engagement announcement of a gay couple was like inciting everyone in Indiana to fuck their cows and sheep and to sell their children into white slavery. You think I am joking. The backlash from groups who oppose marriage equality began 48 hours later. At first the announcement became fodder for local radio station, then the American Family Association of Indiana, according to Indiana reporter Bil Browning, e-mailed an action alert to its membership, suggesting that the paper would also soon print “anniversary announcements for polygamous marriages” and “incestuous birth announcements.” Conservative Indiana blogger Brian Sikma, citing the fact that Indiana law does not recognize same-sex marriages, encouraged readers to contact the The Elkhart Truth’s parent company, Federation Media, to launch a complaint. Rightwingers responded to the call to action in ...

Iowa justices wield impeccable logic, reiterate church-state separation 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — The decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to clear the way for same-sex marriage in that state is big news, but the masterfully clear logic of the court’s ruling is even more impressive. It is worth reading the 69-page ruling, even if you are not a student of the law, just to see how keen minds operate. In addition, the court clearly restated the premise of the separation of church and state enshrined in both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions. Christian Dominionists are bound to be unhappy about that part of the opinion, since they insist the USA is a “Christian nation” founded on Christian principles. Interestingly, the decision was unanimous. Of the seven justices, two are Republican appointees and the rest are Democratic appointees. Had the decision been split 5-2, critics could cry “liberal bias” and “activist judges.” A unanimous ruling speaks volumes for the power of the law. The issue of course was whether the civil marriage statute in Iowa’s books discriminated against same-sex couples who wish to marry. The Court carefully examined whether same-sex couples were “similar situated” as opposite-sex couples, that is, are their circumstances the same? And does the law as worded ...

Iowa ‘academic freedom’ bill dies a quiet death 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Yet another attempt to weasel creationism/Intelligent Design into public schools has died after an “academic freedom” bill failed to leave a subcommittee in the Iowa legislature yesterday. The bill purportedly would have protected instructors from punishment or job loss if they presented “scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution.” In fact, it was a ploy to enable suitably minded instructors to teach creationism or ID alongside evolutionary theory. Wording that is almost identical appears on a web page sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a pro-ID “thinktank.” Full details are at The Panda’s Thumb. Lest you think the bill might have had merit, allow me to provide a brief introduction to “creation science.” ID is just a variation of creationism, accepting an older age of the universe. Creationism holds that: The account in Genesis is literal and true. God created everything in six days, about 6,000 years ago. Before Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all animals were vegetarians, death was non-existent, and predation/parasitism were unnecessary. God got pissed at Adam and Eve, and that wily serpent in the Tree, and cursed ...

Finally, a science-related post — Iowa’s anti-evolution bill 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Since a member of my immediate family will soon be moving to Iowa, I have the perfect excuse to blog about a proposal in that fine state to ensure “academic freedom.” On the face of it, “academic freedom” would sound like a good thing, but in today’s world of newspeak, this kind of “academic freedom” is shorthand for “let’s allow the public schools to teach creationism or Intelligent Design ideas alongside the scientific theories of the Big Bang and evolution.” Similar bills have been proposed in several other — mostly Bible Belt — states, and all have the same chance of success. None — except of course in Louisiana, where one actually passed. These bills are merely a veiled attempt by Christian kooks to subvert the US Constitution (and proper science education) by suggesting that creationism and ID are really scientific theories, not religious ideas, and therefore should be taught as valid alternatives to evolution. Trouble is, the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that creationism was religious in nature, and cannot be taught in public schools, and in 2005, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that ID was also religious in nature, meaning the Dover, Pennsylvania, school ...
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