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The myth of the "opposing view"

January 12, 2007

“Condoms don’t belong in school and neither does Al Gore.”

I can’t resist commenting on this article…even if no one reads it…and even though I should be working right now. Below are excerpts from the report (click on link above to see original) and then my snide remarks.

After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a computer presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists’ findings.

At least this reporter lays it out from the start the kind of person we are dealing with. I have to give them some credit for that.

Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. … The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.

Please re-read the last sentence again. That’s right…”An Inconvenient Truth” does not sufficiently cover the details of the end times, which apparently gets even warmer. Hmmm….14,000 years old, what happened to 6,500 or whatever?


Hardison’s e-mail to the School Board prompted board member David Larson to propose the moratorium Tuesday night.
“Somebody could say you’re killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we’re encouraging free speech,” said Larson, a lawyer. “The beauty of our society is we allow debate.”

What an absolute coward. What kind of school board member is swayed by someone who says that not including the details of the ‘end times’ in a documentary about climate change is cockeyed?


School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a “credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented,” that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an “opposing view.”

Okay, here’s where we start to get to the good stuff. Again…props to the reporter for putting “opposing view” in quotes. This is where the general public, or at the very least school board members, need to stop and think for a moment. I would like to know the details of the credible and legitimate opposing view. What exactly are they opposing? The fact that the climate is changing or that Al Gore made a movie. What am I missing here.


The requirement to represent another side follows district policy to represent both sides of a controversial issue, board President Ed Barney said.
“What is purported in this movie is, ‘This is what is happening. Period. That is fact,’ ” Barney said.

Okay, I see…it’s a controversial issue. What exactly is under controversy? In fact there is no controversy regarding the science. Yes, of course, there are numerous ongoing debates about the intricacies and workings of the climate system…but that would not change the foundation of this movie. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt…perhaps they are not saying that climate change itself is under question, but rather that human civilization is causing it.


Students should hear the perspective of global-warming skeptics and then make up their minds, he said. After they do, “if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that’s fine, that’s their choice.”

Again…what exactly is a ‘global warming skeptic’? What are they skeptical about!?!? Why should students hear the opposing view? Should they start bringing in people that think the Earth is flat, or that the Earth is the center of the solar system, or that gravity does not exist? Oh wait…I think there’s some opposing views about who killed JFK or who masterminded 9/11 circulating too…I wonder if this school board president would allow that. That last sentence is ridiculous…this is a school board president?


While the question of climate change has provoked intense argument in political circles in recent years, among scientists its basic tenets have become the subject of an increasingly stronger consensus.

Thank you (polite applause)


“In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations,” states a 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises policymakers. “Furthermore, it is very likely that the 20th-century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea level rise, through thermal expansion of seawater and widespread loss of land ice.”
The basics of that position are backed by the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.

Last I knew, there were a few cockeyed scientists in those organizations (nearly 50,000 in AMS and AGU alone).


The incident started when Hardison (the end times guy from above) learned that his daughter would see the movie in class. He objected. Hardison and his wife, Gayla, said they would prefer that the movie not be shown at all in schools.
“From what I’ve seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of ‘bad America, bad America,’ I don’t think it should be shown at all,” Gayle Hardison said. “If you’re going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don’t think the video should be shown.”

Bad America…sit America, sit…no, drop it….America!!
There we have it! It’s not about science or policymaking at all with the parents that are the source of the complaint! It’s about doing your patriotic duty and denying that America can do no wrong. So, I guess showing a movie with the opposing view would be…..Rocky IV!


The policy, titled “Controversial Issues, Teaching of,” says in part, “It is the teacher’s responsibility to present controversial issues that are free from prejudice and encourage students to form, hold and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination.”
“The principal reason for that is to make sure that the public schools are not used for indoctrination,” Larson said.

This is how they do it. The illusion of controversy…radio and TV talk show pundits spouting unfounded nonsense do not constitute a scientific debate. This is the myth of the opposing view. Otherwise, they would not be able to do this. It’s the same with ‘intelligent design’ … a subject for another time … the proponents launched a massive campaign about opening children’s minds to other viewpoints and “teaching the controversy”. If you create a controversy, then you can teach it….perhaps they should have a class where they teach about teaching controversy and controversial that is.

Bottom line, Mr. Hardison — this is a public school. Home-school your kids if you don’t like it. You can teach them all the ridiculous things you like about the age of the Earth, the end times, etc.

The last comment below, however, offers some hope.

“I think that a movie like that is a really great way to open people’s eyes up about what you can do and what you are doing to the planet and how that’s going to affect the human race,” said Kenna Patrick, a senior at Jefferson High School.


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