Sunday, October 15, 2006

Comment on a Comment

I just noticed a comment left on one of my previous posts regarding our local paper, the Lassen County Times, and its staff. Like most bloggers, I wouldn't normally bring this up to a new post, but there were a couple of points in the message I wanted to address up front. In addition, this is someone clearly local and since more northstate residents are reading Northstate Science I thought I would answer this person's comments. Someone using the name "Prayforjes" posted the following comment:

my. my. my even the good professor has resorted to Eileen Spencer tactics to get his anti God opinion across. The managing editor may well no agree with anything you wrote but she may not agree with anyone else either.Did she not run you tripe in full and unedited. I saw it and was ashamed to be part of the education community.Are public schools the best place to educate children? Where is the proof. Why not teach the Bible as historic? Why not pray silently? Free speech is for everyone but Christians/I have talked to Ms. France when she was news editor about her coverage of the Israel story. I too was concerned but why do you not mention that the Susanville team and Dr. Baugh did help uncover the Pool of Siloam?As for covering religion, she told me that the paper will cover any religious group Christian or otherwise. Open your eyes O'Brien the fundamentalists tell the paper their story. Ms. Ashmore did a story on Muslims a few years back with the prison chaplain.People who are afraid of Christian thougt and who are almost fearful of the conservative right are also afraid of God.At least now we know where you stand and can make sure our sons and daughters who attend university can be forwarned.Thank you for adding one more nutcase to the Lassen County peanut barrell

Ok, not sure what the "Eileen Spencer tactics" are (for those not from Susanville, Eileen is a local resident who is frequently outspoken at public meetings - apparently Prayforjes doesn't think people should be outspoken???). So, once again, I'm accused of getting my "anti-God" opinion across. This person has no idea what I really believe - they know only that any version of spiritual conviction I might hold is not in line with theirs (and theirs can be the only ONE TRUE belief to have - not counting, of course, the millions of other ONE TRUE belief systems out there). Yes, the managing editor ran my "tripe" (she's referring to my editorial discussed here) in full and unedited - only after I requested that the piece be run in full or not at all. The Times has a habit of strategically editing some things.

There are two things I find interesting about this comment. The first is that the local fundamentalists are still smarting over the piece I wrote almost two years ago challenging comments made about archaeology and the Bible as presented in an article about two residents who went to Israel with Carl Baugh and the Creation Science Museum to excavate at the Pool of Siloam. The two published negative responses to my editorial on teachers also couldn't help but refer to my supposed "anti-God" position and the two year old Pool of Siloam issue (the anti-God comments are clearly in response to the two year old Pool of Siloam piece and not the piece in defense of teachers - I'm not sure how defending teachers can be interpreted as being anti-God, but remember we ARE dealing with fundamentalists, so logic isn't necessarily at play here). As for the Carl Baugh comment: if people would bother to read and not jump to conclusions they will find that I in fact did give Baugh and his team (including the two local residents) credit for being there and helping to uncover the Pool of Siloam site. I even suggested that they were probably a great help and had a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, our paper could not let it go at that and had to nuance the language of the articles (there were three) to suggest that: 1) Carl Baugh is a legitimate archaeologist (he's not - he does not have an accredited degree, he has done no professional archaeological work, his "discoveries" have been faked, and he has published nothing of any archaeological or paleontological value); 2) Carl Baugh's team directed the excavation and were responsible for discovering the Pool of Siloam (they weren't - the Israeli Department of Antiquities has no record of there involvement in a professional capacity - there were nothing more than glorified volunteers; the actual discoverers of the Pool of Siloam were not mentioned in the original articles, even in their capacity as the actual directors of the excavation) and 3) archaeology is proving the Bible correct (most of the information presented was flat false or taken out of context - typical strategy for creationists). The fact that there still appears to be local angst over that editorial is amusing. I can't help but find it gratifying that this particular burr is still chafing at the local fundamentalist horse.

Secondly, Prayforjes continues the same old whining about Christians not being allowed to voice their opinions. This is a ridiculously stupid statement to make. No one has ever denied free speech rights to Christians. Most of my editorials written locally specifically refer to the fact that not only should they have the right to speak their minds but that those ideas should be welcomed (largely because they need to be slain in public so that others can the true nature of fundamentalist propaganda). What Prayforjes and others are really objecting to is the fact that others have the ability to respond to fundamentalist opinion and question their motives. What they mean by "free speech" is that their opinions should be free from critique or comment. Their opinions should as revered in public as they are at private church services. Sorry, that's not the way free speech works. All of us believe fundamentalists are certainly free to express themselves and their ideas in public, and we appropriately defend even their freedom of expression when it is challenged. If you don't like the responses, keep it in the church and at home; when it's public, it's grist for the mill. You have every right to express your beliefs - you don't have a right to feel comfortable with them in public.

1 comment:

doylechuck said...

To say that "The Times has a habit of strategically editing some things" is an understatement; my last letter to the LCT didn't get published because I let the cat out of the bag. It- "A Few Loose Ends..." did get a short run on Eileen Spenser's kanwehelp.exec.committee@frontiernet.net blog before she went berserk because of my critical comments. She didn't have far to go. Also, I've learned that some major players on the LCT staff are Jehovah's Witnesses, which might explain why they didn't publish my set of instructions on how to access the space station transit schedule and sky chart. The strongest argument against religion is to point out that we live on just one small planet in a solar system among millions that comprise one galaxy among billions of other galaxies. The mind boggles, yet there's no reason to think that there is some entity out there who gives a rat's patootie about this planet's most vicious primate. Okay, I'll stop- thanks for letting me vent.