Over at antitheism
, this little story
has folks rightfully enraged. It concerns a tee shirt the high school marching band had made for itself:
Cute, eh? As much as I dismay at the strictly hierarchical ascent model, the March of Man has become an icon and thus becomes ripe for humor. This shirt works.
Not, though, according to the local wing nuts:
Assistant band director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, band director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable.”
The band debuted the T-shirts when it marched in the Missouri State Fair parade. Summers said he was surprised when he received a direct complaint after the parade.
Although the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.
“I made the decision to have the band members turn the shirts in after several concerned parents brought the shirts to my attention,” Pollitt said.
Pollitt said the district was required by law to remain neutral on religion. . . . (Emphasis mine.)
Wait, huh? How is using a well-known scientific icon taking a position on a religious issue in any way whatsoever? Keep reading.
High School junior Adam Tilley said he understood why the shirts were repossessed.
“I can see where the parents are coming from,” he said. “Evolution has always been controversial.”
Yes, Adam, evolution (in your lifetime) has "always" been controversial. Too true, that. It has also been controversial since it was proposed way back in 1859. But it hasn't been this
controversial, Adam, in many, many years. Why? Because, I believe, many people have fallen down on the job quite literally, something Mr. Pollit can demonstrate. For further illustration, let's hear from one of your band mates:
“It’s not like we are saying God is bad,” sophomore band member Denyel Luke said. "We aren’t promoting evolution.”
And within this simple statement, we find the problem.
As long as these children have been alive, they have suffered under an imaginary, oppressive belief that Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection somehow challenges any
religious tenet. This belief enshrines the concept of a false duality, a logical fallacy that maintains if position A is right, then position/opinion B is wrong.
Note what I did right there. A is a position, while B is a position/opinion. Why did I do that? Because Darwin's theory is based upon and supported by observation and the scientific method, while the religious tenets of the faithful -- in this case, supposedly Christianity -- are based on centuries of tradition and texts dating back millenia . . . not
on observable phenomena parsed into fact.
And here's where the reporter sharing that story through the The Sedalia Democrat fails
: He or she failed to note that the comments made by Pollit and Denyel are factually inaccurate
. Promoting evolution is not
"saying God is bad."
I mean, jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, people, how hard is it to call a local university and get a correcting quote from a professor conversant in Darwin's theory? How hard is it to pull something simple from Stephen Jay Gould's writings? By not correcting that student's statement, the reporter lets the statement stand in the public record unchallenged by fact
And that unchallenged statement will stand in the eyeballs of every reader as a subtle cue -- "evolution challenges religion," it will whisper. Sometime later, perhaps in a bar, perhaps at a family gathering, someone who read that and many, many other stories like it will pipe up in the discussion, perhaps to mutter, "Yeah, evolution is fine for you
to believe; but I believe in God, and evolution challenges that."
Yes, that person will be wrong, wrong, wrong, for more reasons than I can cram into a simple LJ entry like this one. Yes, that person has every right to be wrong, that I acknowledge; but wouldn't it be better if he or she was at least presented the factually accurate position by people paid
to present factually accurate positions?!?
Christ on a rubber crutch, I am sick of these battles. They are so very, very avoidable. All we need to do in the public sphere is specify that "facts" are those nagging statements that can be supported time and time again by directed, objective observation. It's that simple.
And, I know, it's also too much to ask.
Sigh.Addendum, The Next Day: Via Pharyngula
comes a new report on how well each state teaches evolution in its schools
. Missouri's C grade might explain both the mistaken parental outrage at the shirt attacking any religion, and the fact that those complainers failed to realize how outdated the Progress of Man image really is to the science of evolution today.
How does your state rate?