Subject: Time to pluck at duck
THAT dimwit duck on the editorial page opined one day last week in a manner that completely mystified me.
Now, sure, you could say the same thing about most days of most weeks of "Mallard Fillmore.' The delightfully drawn, quite literate, sometimes pleasingly pomp-skewering and always reactionary water fowl often says things so antediluvian that you wonder why he, or perhaps his creator, doesn't just retire to a Unabomber cabin in the woods to plot the end of the modern world.
Libertarianism, resistance to faddish change for change's sake, patriotism, free enterprise these are the conservative values worth holding on to. But like many who go beyond that into extremism, Mallard, and perhaps the fellow who conjures him up, believes that environmentalism is a cult that has nothing to do with exacting science aimed at understanding the world and everything to do with faith.
"To be consistent,' the ugly if nicely herringboned duckling said Thursday, "anybody interested in removing 'religion' from state-run institutions needs to check out the public schools on 'Earth Day.' '
I don't get it.
But people who believe that science is a kind of ritual that is too often snottily insulting to their own belief systems do get it, and are always saying such sadly silly things about a supposedly "liberal' interest in ecology.
I think that what Mallard is saying is that Earth Day, on which students and others learn about the undeniable ways that post-industrial civilization has adversely affected the air, the water, the soil and the weather, is a wrongheaded or at least suspect institution because it ... what, is in conflict with the Old Testament or the New? Because everything that man does, from painting the Sistine Chapel to dumping perchlorates into the water table, is sacred because we are all children of God?
I don't get it.
Science is science; religion, religion. They have nothing to do with each other. Those who try to force them to do so inevitably end up the worst kind of crackpots.
Crackpots on the order of the Georgia state schools superintendent who ordered the word "evolution' removed from the standard curriculum, calling it a "buzzword that causes a lot of negative reaction.'
I'm sure that at many schools the words "AP calculus' cause a lot of negative reaction among students who'd rather just watch "The OC'; it stays in the curriculum even so.
But there was a small and pleasing victory against the Mallard- aligned forces of know-nothingism last week when a court ordered a suburban Atlanta school system to remove stickers added to biology texts calling evolution "a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things.'
It was a wonderfully complicated ruling, because of course evolution is a theory. In science, a theory "implies considerable evidence in support of a formulated general principle.'
Judge Clarence Cooper rightly saw that the school system was using the word colloquially, as in "just a theory,' and was therefore casting doubt into students' minds about biological facts that are not in doubt.
Unless, perhaps, you're a common wild duck in tweed.