About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Religious Right praising freedom of inquiry and liberal education

Yup, you read correctly! This is what happened today at the opening salvo of the court proceedings in Pennsylvania, pitting parents who don't want their children to be told about intelligent design in public schools against the Dover Area school district, which has been sending administrators (not teachers!) into classrooms to read a brief statement to the effect that evolution is a "controversial" theory, and that "alternatives" such as ID should be considered.

The astounding declaration came from Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who is arguing the case for the school district: "This case is about free inquiry in education, not about a religious agenda; Dover's modest curriculum change embodies the essence of liberal education."

Wow! The guts and poker face that must have taken for a defender of the "religious freedom of Christians" (which hasn't been in danger since the edict of the Roman emperor Constantine that turned the Roman empire into a vehicle for the dissemination of the Christran faith) to actually advocate free inquiry and liberal education, which have always been anathema for any good conservative Christian.

The way things are going, President Bush will soon advocate saving gas rather than driving gigantic SUVs... Wait! That also happened today! What the heck is going on in the world?


  1. it seems that co-opting the discourse style of progressives (more complicated than that, but just to make things simple) is a favored style of the 'right'. consider for example affirmative action, which they call 'discrimination'. interesting. more interesting is that when i describe this issue to non-scientist, but evolution-friendly friends, they inevitably say 'what is wrong with discussing different sides of a controversy?' then i have to expain that this controversy was 'created' by the ID'ers themselves. it is amazing how language can be used just as easily to confuse through 'double speak' as to inform.

  2. by the way, your blog site has security measures that would be the envy of Fort Knox. i find it a bit cumbersome when just making a non-threatening comment.

  3. Sorry for the security measures, Natalie (you are referring to the word verification, right? As far as I know there isn't any other measure in place), but spam is everywhere... I hope you'll keep posting!

  4. Natalie, as far as the right co-opting traditionally progressive language, it has been an effective weapon for several years now. The New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago devoted a long article to the ability of "framing" an issue, pointing out exactly the kind of irritating consequences you have run into.

  5. In almost the same breath Bush used to tell us to conserve gas, he also said he would release gas from the national reserves to keep prices down. Apparently he is not familiar with the basic idea of increasing price to inspire decreased demand, or more likely is being rather disengenous.


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