A Few Words for Joe Biden

Fox News wasted no time in going on the attack after Senator Joe Biden was selected as the vice presidential candidate by Barack Obama. And part of that attack concerns “intelligent design”.

Biden also used unusually strong language to ridicule those who believe in creationism or intelligent design.

“I refuse to believe the majority of people believe this malarkey!” the senior senator from Delaware exclaimed.

But less than six months earlier, CBS News conducted a poll that found a majority of Americans (51 percent) do believe that God created humans in their present form. Even larger majorities reject the theory of evolution, according to the poll.

After the HBO show ended, a reporter asked Biden whether his dismissal of a belief held dear by most Americans might come back to haunt him if his White House bid gained traction.

With characteristic bluntness, Biden shrugged and said yes.

Mr. Biden, I’m sure you will have noticed that Fox News falsely elevated your critique of the content of “intelligent design” creationism into alleged ridicule of those who believe in it. This sort of persistent misrepresentation is endemic to the antievolution movement. At any point, you can count on them to take criticism of the ideas as if it were criticism improperly aimed at the people involved. You will also find that while they raise concern over respect as an issue on criticism, they seem to forget that when making statements about others.

Then there is Fox News’ fixation on demographics, cherry-picking poll results that tell a story they like. Fox News fails to take up the issue of whether religious antievolution conjectures are actually malarkey. This seems to put them in the unenviable position of using the fallacy of argumentum ad populum as their sole basis of coming at you on this point. But they have a handicap, as they are not going to do well in trying to argue for any sort of legitimacy for religious antievolution based on its content. Popular malarkey is still malarkey, and does not deserve a privilege of remaining uncriticized.

Mr. Biden, please continue to be blunt. “Intelligent design creationism” is a narrow religious view that has no claim to status as science. Keeping such things out of our public schools helps maintain real respect for the diversity of religious views held by American citizens. The organized political effort to force narrow sectarian views into public schools is a large-scale expression of massive disrespect for the views of the rest of American citizens. Don’t let Fox News try to cow you into being apologetic for taking a principled stance on this matter.

PS: The Fox News bit elsewhere in the article about what testimony can tell us is also laughable:

“He said, ‘I have good instincts,’” said Biden, purporting to quote Bush. “I said, ‘Mr. President, your instincts aren’t good enough.’”

His Democratic audience cheered appreciatively, but a close Bush confidante told FOX News on Saturday: “That conversation never happened.”

Beyond the “he-said-she-said” problem of testimony in general, there is the obvious disrespect Fox News shows by acting as if it were obvious that it must be you, and not the anonymous Bush flack, who was mistaken about things.

Update: I’ve been checking for propagation of the Fox News embellishments, and the headsup blog takes a critical view of the article. “headsup” tracked down the transcript of the Bill Maher show where Joe Biden and Bill Sammon (author of the Fox News embellishments) appeared. There’s a stunning quote mine that “headsup” points out.

Sammon/Fox News quote mine:

On the same show, Biden claimed to have once told a colleague: “Were we not senators, I’d rip your goddamn Adam’s apple out.”

“headsup” provides the context that detonates the quote mine:

*** If you’re interested, here’s how the “goddamn Adam’s apple” quote appears in the transcript:
“I’ll give you a very quick story. My mother, God love her, very smart woman. Eighty-nine years old. Lives with me. Good health. My mother says a rosary every Sunday at Mass when we go to Mass, for her deceased brother Ambrose, who died in New Guinea, and the body was never recovered. I said to one of my senior – one of my colleagues who is a very sophisticated guy, when we got in an argument – I said, “Okay, Charlie, this is what my mother…what do you think of that” And he looked at me and said, “I think that’s quaint.” And I said, “Were you not – were we not senators, I’d rip your goddamn Adam’s apple out, because who the hell are you to look at my mother and say it’s ‘quaint’?” We have too many elites in our party who look down their nose on people of faith. The people of faith don’t want us to share their view. They just want to know we respect them. We respect them.”

So Bill Sammon/Fox News excoriates Joe Biden for not respecting people of faith, except for when Joe Biden gets all testy over others not respecting people of faith, in which case Biden’s temperament is questionable. Are we clear yet? Suggestion to Merriam-Webster: find a mug shot of Bill Sammon and use it to illustrate “demagogue” in your dictionary.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

4 thoughts on “A Few Words for Joe Biden

  • 2008/08/24 at 7:22 pm
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    Sheesh! Quote mining …Who would a thunk it??
    Good find!

    Stacy

  • 2008/08/25 at 6:54 am
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    Wes I look forward to reading more of your take on the upcoming election. My candidate, Bill Monroe, has been dead for too long to run.

  • 2008/08/25 at 9:11 am
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    So Biden is an elitist–instead of being an ignorant tool of the Right Wing. He must be part of “…the educated, intellectual segment of society” so feared by Rev. Mummert.

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