The 4,000-year flap

The Missoula Independent staff did a nice take on the recent Republican-generated “kerfluffle“:

Ohs was responding to the apparent flap that Gov. Brian Schweitzer caused in Bozeman Oct. 6, while discussing global warming, the governor asked a crowd of school children and their chaperones who among them thought the planet was millions of years old. Most of the crowd raised its hands. Then he asked who thought the planet was less than a million years old. A couple of people, including Rep. Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, raised their hands. Speaking to the Bozeman Chronicle later that day, Schweitzer was quoted as saying he didn’t need people in the Legislature “who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”

Here’s what Ohs had to say:

“I think the level of intolerance and contempt that some in the Democratic Party have for people of faith is shameful…Rather than lashing out against diversity, we should be encouraging religious debate so that we might all gain a better understanding of the world around us.”

Miss Right over at “What’s Right in Montana” (find your own link) works herself up in a tizzy to elaborate on Ohs’ statement:

First of all, Schweitzer is suggesting that a religious or philosophical belief in creationism or intelligent design somehow automatically disqualifies Koopman to be a state legislator. In the words of Representative Koopman, this is “incredibly bigoted.” Every legislator in Helena has personal beliefs with which Montanans may or may not agree. Voters know that they must elect the candidate who most closely represents their political interests in government, not the candidate who aligns exactly with every political, religious, or philosophical belief they hold. Adherence to any one of those beliefs, even if they are reprehensible (although Koopman’s is not) does not automatically disqualify the candidate to be a competent and compassionate representative of Montana’s people. Schweitzer’s overwhelmingly shortsighted and disingenuous remarks not only insult those who adhere to creationism or intelligent design, but also insult the right of Montanans to elect whomever they please.

There’s about two more pages of similar ranting, but you get the idea.

First, let’s take a moment and savor the irony of Republicans calling for tolerance in opinion and ideas. (Remember these folks belong to the same pack of goons who imply disagreeing with The Decider is treason.)

Next…um…I sure as h*ll don’t want any blockhead passing laws in my state who thinks the Earth is 4,000 years old. Let’s face it: the people who persist in believing the Earth is 4,000 years old have difficulty with dealing with objectivity, evidence, and reality. If your religion overwhelms any sense of reason you might have, then it sure as h*ll is going to cloud your judgment when it comes to crafting laws and budgets and forming policy.

And as the Independent piece notices,

And while Karl Ohs and his Republican minions are rushing to the defense of the principle of diversity, it’s impossible not to notice that the party isn’t going so far as to defend Koopman’s Stone-Age beliefs about the planet’s age, which is estimated by scientific zealots at some 4.5 billion years. It is admittedly easier to storm and stomp about nonexistent religious intolerance than to take on the vast sum of mankind’s geological evidence, never mind your own party’s Neanderthal fringe.


I also like the Indy’s conclusion:

However, Schweitzer’s claim that the Legislature doesn’t need people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old is obviously wrongheaded. It would make good sense to have at least a few on hand so that when legislators next take up education funding, they’ll have a real, live exhibit of why Montana desperately needs more.

But seriously, the GOP’s defense of Koopman is an embarrassment not only to the party faithful who value education and science, it’s also an embarrassment to Christians, many of whom are quite rational. After all, rushing to defend Koopman isn’t the fight the GOP wants to get into right now. Schweitzer’s jab at Koopman didn’t seem to be a remark carefully weighed for its political content and effect, but an off-the-cuff moment of honest disdain for Koopman’s obliviousness, and rightfully so.

  1. I don’t know if Schweitzer was wise to rally the fundy’s – don’t want to make them feel persecuted. That’s when they vote en masse.

  2. You know what, we live in a state where a school board decided to allow creationism taught in public schools. It’s about damn time that our leaders start speaking out in the name of science. Thanks for thi piece Jay.

  1. 1 Intelligent Discontent | Socialists! Run for the Hills!

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