Saturday, February 27, 2010

America: Republic or Democracy Essay Censored in Utah

Yesterday, Friday the 26th of February, suddenly a lot more people started viewing my web sites. Not a tidal wave, but about 10x my normal rate. Looking at my web statistics, I found the site that had been sending people to my sites.

It turns out my essay America: Republic or Democracy? had been linked to from the Alpine School District web site in Utah. "Educating All Students to Ensure the Future of Our Democracy," a staff member had added the link in response to parents who have been influenced by the radical right-wing view that democracy is a bad thing.

An angry parent who does not think his children are smart enough to stand being exposed to ideas other than his own attacked the district, and the controversy went to a school board meeting. Rather than summarize that second hand, I'll let you read "District Parents Parents Angry Over Radical Web Link" at the Utah Valley Daily Herald.

The angry parents, or their leader anyway, had navigated from my site where the essay in question is posted, to As regular readers know, III Publishing began as a publisher of satire. And there is still a great deal of satire at this site. As the home page says, "This site includes a mix of serious, carefully researched factual matter, fiction, satire, and opinion, just like the major news sources." He lied to the other parents and school board (lying is a classic when the truth leans against you) saying the districts site linked directly to where I advocate "radical socialism, limiting families to two children, abortion to term, homosexuality, worshipping the sun instead of a 'dead Jesus,' saying that Mary was just an unwed pregnant teenager, and many other socialist political views." I think he must feel I advocate homosexuality because I did take a position in favor of marriage rights for gay couples, back in 2004 when that was more controversial even in California.

Since I myself served on a public school board, I know what it is like to be in a room with a potential lynch mob. Probably the board had more important things to do (like teaching kids to read, write, do math, and think critically) than spend the next year defending my essay to a lunatic who believes that Jesus rose from the dead, that God wrote the U.S. Constitution, and that democracy is a bad thing. The link had already been removed, and the Board said it had been a mistake all along. Since I am a critic of religion, they could have said (had they done some research, and been capable of critical thinking themselves) that the link violated the separation of church and state. That would have probably have put angry leader in a bit of a bind.

The story might have gotten lost, but a scientist blogger picked it up and defended me. He has a similar last name, PZ Myers, and his blog is called Pharyngula. The actual entry is I am offended! There are lots of good comments to the blog entry.

I think America: Democracy or Republic? stands up to criticism pretty well. That is why American fascists hate it. It does take a pro-democracy position, but the framework is factual. I think conservatives are correct in saying that the U.S. Constitution established an undemocratic republic. What is scary about a tiny-but-vocal minority of conservatives is that they advocate returning to a republic where only people owning substantial amounts of property (and even then not women or non-Europeans) would be allowed to vote.

There is always a danger when you use irony or write satire that you will be mistaken for the nut case, rather than the guy who is illustrating the nuttiness of other people. I accept that. Vampires or Gods? is written in the style of a serious, non-fiction book, which is why it is such a good satire.

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