Friday, March 25, 2005

All one piece

Say what you will about the dearth of women on Op-Ed pages, I can't wait for Frank Rich to be back on the expanded Sunday Op-Eds at the Times. His latest, The God Racket, From DeMille to DeLay, nails it so exquisitely, showing how the fights over the media, science, Terry Schiavo, etc. are all one piece:
That bullying, stoked by politicians in power, has become omnipresent, leading television stations to practice self-censorship and high school teachers to avoid mentioning "the E word," evolution, in their classrooms, lest they arouse fundamentalist rancor. The president is on record as saying that the jury is still out on evolution, so perhaps it's no surprise that The Los Angeles Times has uncovered a three-year-old "religious rights" unit in the Justice Department that investigated a biology professor at Texas Tech because he refused to write letters of recommendation for students who do not accept evolution as "the central, unifying principle of biology." Cornelia Dean of The New York Times broke the story last weekend that some Imax theaters, even those in science centers, are now refusing to show documentaries like "Galápagos" or "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" because their references to Darwin and the Big Bang theory might antagonize some audiences. Soon such films will disappear along with biology textbooks that don't give equal time to creationism.

James Cameron, producer of "Volcanoes" (and, more famously, the director of "Titanic"), called this development "obviously symptomatic of our shift away from empiricism in science to faith-based science." Faith-based science has in turn begat faith-based medicine that impedes stem-cell research, not to mention faith-based abstinence-only health policy that impedes the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and diseases like AIDS.
Let me tell you a story (this is a sick joke, so I've made it the same as the background color. Highlight it to read it):

A cowboy walks into a bar, dry as Death Valley in August, with about as much gold. He walks to the bar, and says, "I don't have any cash, but if you don't give me a drink, I'll take a swig of that spittoon."

Bartender doesn't care and goes back to the paying customers. The cowboy eyes the spittoon thoughtfully, takes a deep breath, hefts a week's worth of expectoration, and puts it to his lips.

All eyes turn to him. He tips the spittoon a bit, and starts gulping loudly. A few women blanch. He tips back a little more. Some husbands take their wives outside, and a few patrons head for the outhouse to return their rotgut to the earth.

The cowboy tips back a little further, and the gulps are a little faster.

The bartender puts a shot glass full of the good stuff in front of the man, and says, "You win."

"Gulp, gulp …"

The bartender puts the open bottle down and surrenders, as the rest of its residents flee.

"Gulp, gulp …"

A little later, the bar is empty, but for the cowpoke and the (slightly green hued) barkeep.

Clang goes the spittoon. Up comes the bottle.

"Why didn't you stop when I gave you the bottle? Why'd you drive out all my customers? Why didn't you stop?!!!!"

"I couldn't," gasped the cowboy, "it was all one piece."