12 July, 2008

John Derbyshire Rides Again

Science and science education have a few friends on the right. Not every conservative is a demented fuckwit pandering to religious frothers, or a willfully deluded ostrich burying their head in the sand of Intelligent Design. Some, in fact, actually respect science, and don't like to see religious dogma masquerading as "scientific theory" mucking it all up.

One of those stalwarts is John Derbyshire. You might recall him from the Expelled debacle - he's the one who nearly gave me heart-failure, and brought tears to my eyes with an impassioned defense of science.

I nearly missed it, but he rose to the defense of science again when LA Gov. Bobby Jindal was about to sign that noxious "academic freedom" bill into law - and he's just turned Bobby over his knee for a sound spanking for actually putting pen to IDiot bill:

The creationists have pulled off their little stunt once again, and Bobby Jindal has been their patsy. I know there is a pro-Jindal factor among my colleagues here on The Corner, and I'm not stepping on toes for the fun of it. I must say, though, I can't see voting into national office a guy who is duped as easily as this into acting against his voters' interests.

Boy, is Bobby's butt red. And how does the bill itself fare?

Whether or not the law as signed is unconstitutional per se, I do not know. I do know, though — as the creationist Discovery Institute that helped promote the Act also surely knows — that the Act will encourage Louisiana local school boards to unconstitutional behavior. That's what it's meant to do.

Some local school board will take the Act as a permit to bring religious instruction into their science classes. That will irk some parents. Those parents will sue. There will be a noisy and expensive federal lawsuit, possibly followed by further noisy and expensive appeals. The school board will inevitably lose. The property owners of that school district will take the financial hit.

Not too good.

And now that he's brought up DIsco, let's see if they get turned over a knee:

Where will the Discovery Institute be when these legal expenses come due? Just where they were in the Dover case — nowhere! What, you were thinking that those bold warriors for truth at the Discovery Institute will help to fund the defense in these no-hope lawsuits? Ha ha ha ha ha!

Helping to defend creationist school boards in federal courts is not the Discovery Institute's game. Their game is to (a) make money from those spurious "textbooks" they put out, and (b) keep creationism in the news so that they don't run out of lecture gigs and wealthy funders. So far as those legal bills are concerned, Discovery Institute policy is: Let the dumb rubes fund their own stupid lawsuits.

And here I thought we were good at spanking DIsco. Damn!

Once more, Derbyshire earns himself a free round of drinks at the cantina. He and I don't agree on a myriad of subjects, but on this we are in perfect accord: these anti-science con artists need to be run out of town. And we do not need to be voting creationist dupes into office.

Now, where are the rest of the conservatives like him?

1 comment:

Cujo359 said...

As I wrote yesterday, conservatives aren't nearly the woodenheaded block of voters some folks on the left think they are. The really odd part of how Republican congresscritters vote is how much unanimity there is on issues that don't really fit liberal/conservative schisms:
[W]e don't need more Democrats in Congress and the White House, we need better people. If even ten Republican Senators had joined the Democrats who voted against cloture, this FISA bill would have died a well-deserved death. There should have been that many among them. Frankly, there should have been enough on both sides to defeat the bill outright. But the other guys have voted so consistently with the Administration that it's difficult to even imagine that happening today. We don't just need better Democrats, we need better Republicans, too.

Liberalism in its modern form is the idea that government should set policies and implement programs that improve society. That's actually a fairly narrow perspective. Similarly, conservatism is about not doing that. Yet things like human rights, war (and defense budgets), and abortion are cast in terms of "liberal" or "conservative" ideology.

For whatever reasons, though, that's how modern political discourse typically casts such issues. Liberals can be pro- or anti-war, depending on the war. They can, conceivably, be anti-abortion (few are), or in favor of more defense spending. That's one of the reasons I tend to use the word "progressive" when describing political views that agree with what one typically associates with liberalism - progress toward something better. Even that label has its limitations, of course.

Similarly, "conservatives" can be against particular wars or big defense budgets, and can be pro-abortion. As some have proved, they can be against FISA for their own reasons.

That's a long way of saying that I'm not in the least surprised that there are conservatives like Mr. Derbyshire out there. What I'm somewhat surprised at is how little we hear from them. And it's sad how little influence they seem to have on the Republicans in Congress.