The Evolution of Controversy

Well, roughly 13% of Lincoln has spoken and we’re now done with the city’s primary election.  So, on this morning’s show, we decided to take a tongue-in-cheek look at “rejected campaign ads” for various candidates.  Besides goofing on the Democratic party’s trying-too-hard attacks on Ken Svoboda and the lack of public knowledge about the Lincoln Airport Authority, we also got into the mix on the creationism/evolutionism debate that seems to be the only thing giving this School Board race any discussion among the masses (hear all three parodies here).

Our satirical ‘rejected ad’ was purported to be from candidate Kevin Keller (the primary winner in his district), who, according to the LJS told one voter that “he wished creationism was taught instead of evolution“.  This statement caused us to raise our eyebrows, and it did the same for a lot of voters.  Perhaps that’s why he thought it wise to distance himself from that statement later in the article. 

After the satirical ads ran, we got virtually no response from listeners (which is pretty rare for anything that we do), but apparently it struck a chord with some of the local Republican elected officials, several of whom contacted the folks who run the Keller campaign to notify them.  There was some misunderstanding of the parody’s reference to “Black Widows” and Clint Eastwood.  Chalk that one up to Bishop’s odd love for the 1979 flick “Every Which Way But Loose“.  There was also some sentiment that this parody, as a whole, was unfair or inappropriate.  

I was a little taken aback by the criticism of the piece, which we believe was a legitimate satire on a statement  made by someone seeking public office and the attention that the statement has since received by the media (we’re looking at you, LJS).   Did it involve hyperbole?  Sure, so did our fake ad targeting the local Dems.   That’s what satire is.  We also thought that the character in the piece was pretty darn funny.   

Do you have the right to disagree with the gist of the piece?  Absolutely.  We welcome discussion on it (in fact we had a great discussion on the issue with several callers from all over the spectrum last week).

In the end, I tend to believe the importance of the creationism/evolution issue in the school board elections has been a little overblown thanks to the Journal Star’s making front page news of this conversation.  In fact, lost among the critcs was the fact that we intended that very message to be conveyed by the over-the-top tone of the parody. 

While I don’t share Mr. Keller’s stated personal desire that only creationism should be taught in schools, I do think the rift should be explained in schools and both theories should be noted and explained from a scientific point of view.  This is coming from the son of pastor and someone who, in the end, does believe in intelligent design.  It’s funny because just a week ago I was getting pointed emails from evolutionists after espousing those views on the air during our call-in segment.  Seems I can’t win. 

In the end, I have not decided who I’ll be voting for in that particular Board of Education race during the general election, but I can tell you this, my decision will be based almost completely without regard to this issue.  With a son who will be entering LPS for the first time during this board’s tenure, I’ve got what I consider bigger fish to fry with as it pertains to his education. 

It’s also probably a good time to point out that this show will never be a mouthpiece for any political movement or candidate.  That doesn’t mean we won’t and haven’t called out our leaders and candidates when we think they deserve it, no matter the side of the aisle from which they hail.  In the end, we’re two guys who have opinions that might not always fit us into neat ideological categories, and we respect that many of our listeners may agree or disagree with us on issues.  That’s the beauty of talk radio–I love that it’s a marketplace of ideas, and as long as we have anything to do with it, our show will continue to be just that.

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12 Responses to The Evolution of Controversy

  1. Gene says:

    How do you discuss Intelligent Design from a scientific point of view? To discuss things from a scientific point of view either requires some evidence or the pursuit of evidence.

    “Hey kids, there’s this theory that states that the universe is based on an elaborate plan made by a supreme being. That’s pretty much it. Your exam is on Tuesday.”

  2. JJ of Beal Slough says:

    Building on Gene’s comments. Your statements “both theories should be noted and explained from a scientific point of view” is based on the false premise that creation/intelligent is a scientific theory. It’s not. It’s a belief based strictly on faith. As is all religion. This doesn’t make these beliefs wrong or foolish.
    The point is that you’re talking about apples and oranges. It would be like discussing how to play a clarinet while you’re dissecting a frog. So, you’re not going to find any science teacher with the foundation to teach about belief.
    Furthermore, we’re talking about public schools. If creation/intelligent design doesn’t fit in science class, then you’d have to have a separate class. What would you call it? Theology class, philosophy, catechism? All completely inappropriate for public primary and secondary schools.
    So please stop contributing to the confusion surrounding this “debate.”
    Sincerely,
    JJ

  3. jackm1400 says:

    Sheesh, I clearly can’t win. I’ve got the evolutionists bitching about my “contribution to confusion” based upon the two sentences in my blog and ignoring the satire in the exact vein of their argument and the rest of the angry mob bitching about the parody and ignoring everything else I’ve been saying for the better part of a week.

    My contention is that there are plenty of people out there who either do at least portend to have scientific backing for theories of intelligent design, particularly those arising from something other than an absolute literalist interpretation of Genesis. I’ve had plenty of listeners in my ear when we discussed this in the air talking about what is a apparently a growing field of creation science. I don’t know a ton about (and don’t feel the need to) and I realize you won’t buy it, nor do many scientists, but there are competing theories.

    I don’t think it does much good to teach an issue and not at least acknowledge that there’s some sort of divergence of opinion on this issue among people our students will encounter as they become adults. Exactly how that fits in terms of presenting things as science, which theories are discussed, etc., is “above my pay grade”.

  4. Fatbrain says:

    Why this argument? I have the hotline to heaven and God told me he created man via evolution. Why can’t people get it right?

  5. Jim Goodman says:

    “I don’t think it does much good to teach an issue and not at least acknowledge that there’s some sort of divergence of opinion on this issue among people our students will encounter as they become adults.”

    That hits it on the head. Really it is bigoted if not simple indoctrination to not acknowledge the divergence on the issues in the realm of ‘education’. Intelligent Design is held by many prominent members of the scientific community as is Evolution.

    My kids had to endure Chinese Horoscopes, Discussions on World Religion (de-emphasizing positive contributions of Christianity, highlighting the inquisition and wars) while emphasizing the great contributions of peaceful Islam and the utopia of the Ottoman Empire – yet simple inclusion of the intelligent design view point in the science class is somehow an attempt to infiltrate the class room with religion.

    Lets just call it what it is – it is an anti-Christian bias.

    I am not afraid of having my Christian raised kids learn about evolutionary theory – what is there to fear? What I want to know is why are the opponents of intelligent design /creationism in fear of allowing its inclusion as a divergent viewpoint?

  6. Jim Goodman says:

    BTW – I didn’t find the spot offensive or anything.

    Political Satire is supposed to make a caricature of people and issues. I could be wrong about that too I suppose ~grin~

  7. JP Kreps says:

    Jim Goodman is correct. This is anti-Christian bias.

    John Bishop, who did the voice-over for this little skit, portrayed Keller by using an affected southern accent. When used in this way, southern accents imply low intelligence. When John Bishop’s Keller character discusses evolutionary theory within the context of the Clint Eastwood orangutan movie, he implies that Keller is uneducated and unsophisticated. So we’re all supposed to laugh at Keller, the stupid hick Christian who actually believes God created the universe. Yes, let’s all laugh at Keller, the ignorant, slackjawed, Bible thumping rube. Ha. Ha. Ha.

    Imagine if, instead of being a Christian who believes in creation, Keller was instead a Muslim. Would Jack & John have produced a satirical spoof mocking Mohammad and his seventy-two virgins blowing up a skyscraper? Suppose Keller was a Hindu. Would Jack and John have produced a satirical spoof having the character speaking with a demeaning Eastern Indian accent talking about Hare Krishna running a 7-11 convenience store with his sacred cows tied to the gasoline pumps?

    If Keller was a homosexual, would we have heard John
    Bishop spoofing him by using a character with a breathy lisp promising that if elected, he would make two semesters of interior decoration a mandatory graduation requirement and force kids to watch Judy Garland movies when sitting in detention?

    Of course not.

    Jack & John, if you really want to be brave and edgy with your humor, try your hand at satire with other groups. Bashing Christianity is so 90’s.

  8. jackm1400 says:

    JP Kreps–Given that I’m a Christian, was raised in the church where my father was a pastor, continue to be heavily involved in my local church, send my son to preschool at another local church where he gets a distinctly Christian spin on his education, I think some context would be helpful.

    There’s an incredible dearth between between poking fun at one particular rationale for an argument that some inside a certain religious group have made and mocking an entire religion or a holy figure within a religion. We were doing the former, you seem to be accusing us of the latter. I think the former is appropriate and needed at times, the latter is territory on which I’d rather not tread.

    I assume before you made the assumptions and accusations above about what we would and wouldn’t do, you’ve listened to enough of the show to have a solid foundational knowledge of how we approach issues. If that was the case, you’ve heard us critical of, arguing against, sometimes even satirizing conservatives, liberals, other cities, politicians, celebrities, criminals, etc. There’s no real agenda, nor are we a mouthpiece for any movement–if we hear someone that needs to be called out, we take them to task.

    If you want to get into what we’ve done about specific religions–no we wouldn’t spoof Mohammad. Nor did we or would we ever spoof Jesus. Based upon your comments above, it seems you haven’t heard shows in the last couple of months when we were critical, even sarcastic about the internal problems Muslims face with the perception of their faith (the NY television producer who beheaded his wife) or when we poked fun at Congress observing a Jewish holiday in the middle of near wartime-like economic discussions. You’ve also probably heard the times last December when we brought in Biblical experts to shed further insight on the scriptural accounts of Christmas.

    And about aiming our satire at other groups? Well, given that we’ve put about maybe 30-40 produced satire bits over the course of the last year, there have been a large and wide-ranging group of topics. You seem to have some perception that we’ve been a politically correct, left-leaning outfit when it comes to our commentaries and satires. That leads me to believe you just haven’t listened to this show. I’m pretty sure a small segment of those who believe in Creation (not including Jim or myself, apparently) aren’t the first group who have been upset by something we’ve said, and they likely won’t be the last.

    I can respect the fact you think this particular parody was unfair (and just to be clear, the narrator of the parody was not supposed to be Keller himself), and you’re entitled to that opinion. There were several people like you who thought it was funny. Some didn’t get it. I think perhaps our intent to satirize the over-the-top rhetoric and levels this discussion has had within the schoolboard race did not come through as we hoped it would. In any case, you’re entitled to your opinion, but when you decided to postulate what we would or would not do as it pertains to other subjects, I thought I needed to clear the air.

    Thanks for listening.

  9. JP Kreps says:

    Jack —

    Wow! Did you actually read my post? I never suggested that you were left-leaning, nor did I imply that you weren’t a Christian. Your involvement in your church, your dad’s having been a pastor, and your kids going to parochial school are all commendable. Commendable, but irrelevant.

    I AM in fact a loyal listener to KLIN in general and your show in particular. I listen to “Jack & John in the Morning” every weekday when I’m dropping my kids off at school/daycare on my way to work. I know your “Not Ready for Drive Time Players” skits have made sport of many public figures. But your defensive response only proves my point.

    So, you were sarcastic when discussing the Muslim NY TV producer who whacked his wife’s head off. Congratulations! Give yourself a medal! But what did the creationist Kevin Keller do to earn your mockery? Behead his wife? No, he simply stated his beliefs while campaigning for a spot on the LPS board.

    You don’t have to be a thin-skinned Christian fundamentalist to see that, in our popular culture, some groups must have members commit heinous acts to receive even so much as a timid, almost apologetic admonition, while others are openly mocked merely for their beliefs alone.

    Mocking creationists and/or people of devout Christian faith has become the cheap path toward intelectual credibility, especially in media and academia. You don’t have to know anything about either Intelligent Design or Darwinism. Just ridicule creationists, and you’re automatically assumed to be a member of the smart set and a defender of science. You can be a suck-up to the trend setting avante-gard crowd, all the while preening yourself in public for your fearlessness in the face of the ignorant masses.

    With respect to the creationism controversy, there are two philosophies engaged in a struggle. One philosophy believes that the universe was created by a Deity to whom man is accountable. The other believes that the universe either always existed in one form or another or spontaneously appeared out of emptiness, and man is alone and unaccountable to any higher power. Neither can claim to be scientific assertions, since neither can be falsified or tested. They are statements that must be accepted or rejected on the basis of faith. Why then is one philosophy granted the status of “scientific truth,” and its adherents’ participation in our public arena is not just accepted but lauded, while the other philosophy is dismissed as religious superstition, and its adherents are mocked when participating in the public arena?

    If the whole question of how this controversy should be addressed in our schools is really “above your pay grade” as you stated in an earlier post, what then is your qualification to mock someone like Keller for his opinions?

    The whole “let’s laugh at the creationists” shtick is what we’d expect from the arrogant, self-contented Air America/NPR crowd. We’ve heard it a million times. Their ratings are their own reward. One sank, and the other is kept afloat only by federal funds. 1400KLIN is better than that.

    And your welcome. I’ll keep listening.

  10. Jim Goodman says:

    JP Krepps – Jack can stick up for himself. However, I really think you are reading way too much into it. The caricature of Keller seemed an embodiment of the streotype being portrayed in the news nationally and even locally by opponents of creation science seeing all who believe in such as little skinny, Bible thumping fundamentalists seeking to impose religion and rule over the minds of intellegent, progressive people who believe the began in ooze, became monkeys and eventually become the intellectual dynamos of today (not bad for an single cell organism).

    I suppose I get the satire because I get stereotyped from time to time as I believe in literal 6 days of creation and a young earth. If I ran for school board, I guarentee I’d be seen as the enemy of science and a threat to the entire educational system even though I believe in inclusion of divergent viewpoints and wouldn’t seek to impose my beliefs on anyone only that they be respected and included.

  11. jackm1400 says:

    Jim: You did seem to see a large part of our intent with the piece. The piece was borne out of John and I impersonating the over-the-top caricatures that both sides were making of each other during the discussion that was ongoing for a couple of days.

    JP: I pointed out those things about my background because you accused me of having the intent “bashing Christianity”. I’d say my own background and acceptance of that faith is prima facie evidence that such bashing was absolutely not my intent. I don’t tend to make a habit of tearing down my own deeply held beliefs and family history. Thus, in the context of addressing your accusations, those items are far from irrelevant.

    I will acknowledge that the parody was ambiguous enough that different people interpreted the target of our satire in different ways (heck, John and I probably have slightly different thoughts on why we went forward with it.) It was never conceived as a way to make fun of Keller or creationists as a whole–it was parroting a stereotype of creationists that we think is funny and probably now outdated. Since Keller was at the center of the LJS’ over-hying of the issue, we picked him.

    You had a different impression of what we were saying and that’s worth our consideration when we plan these in the future. I think that probably happened with Rush Limbaugh’s popular “Barrack the Magic Negro” last year which some thought was outrageously racist and some thought was an accurate parody of Al Sharpton’s comments on then-candidate Obama. Perhaps such ambiguity of message or purpose is just a reality when we venture into the world of satire.

    I’ve had a few serious accusations hurled my way when it comes to this bit, so I certainly have become a bit defensive about it. I’ve probably beat the explanation of the intent/birth of this parody to death, and that may or may not be enough to prove to you that I don’t have some sort of anti-Christian double standard, that I didn’t intend to mock my own faith, etc.

    And as to the idea that I or we may pander to other ‘minority’ left-friendly causes, whether it be homosexual advocacy, other religions, or anything else you’d put in that group, I’d point out to you that nearly everytime we make a point that isn’t in line with our syndicated hosts (i.e. Rush, Laura, Hannity), we get calls, emails, letters telling us of the great errors in our ways. If I bash the democrats, rip Obama’s economic policies, criticize the anti-Iraq war movement, I get all kinds of love from listeners. In other words, on this station there’s no ‘path toward intellectual credibility’ avaialble by espousing evolution or any other of the Air America/NPR “Schtick” you described above. I’m honest about my beliefs–even when they’re not popular, but if i were really interested in pandering and winning favor, I think I’d do a local version of the Limbaugh show.

  12. Q says:

    Here’s my two cents. First I agree with JP Krepps. Second, I listen to you every morning while I get ready to go to work. Until I read your post above, I was of the opinion that you were a left winger trying to hold himself back enough not to get thrown off the air at 1400.

    Being a Christian, having a pastor father, etc. does not preclude you from being way left of center. Pelosi is a Catholic Christian, need I say more?

    Sorry, this is going to be 4 cents worth because I have to say one thing about evolution which is . . .

    I just have one question for anyone who believes in evolution (and I don’t mean macro evolution). I mean anyone who believes that life started in a puddle of goo, progressed into sea life, sea life grew legs and became land life, eventually lost at least two legs and walked upright, progressed from there to be apes, and eventually became man.

    Here’s the question. Since this process took millions of years and life transformed many many times from one type of creature to another, where are all the fossils? I don’t mean all the single fossil finds of ‘missing links’ that, by the way have all been debunked. I mean where are all of the millions of fossils, that would have to be here if everything that is, was something else prior, of one thing half way between the thing it is and the thing it’s becoming?

    These fossils should be all over the place. Half fish, half walking creature, etc. Come on, if EVERYTHING evolved from something else and turned into something new. REALLY? Where are the fossils?

    Instead what we find in the fossil record is exactly the opposite. Fossils of creatures, that are believed to be millions of years old, when compared to the creature still walking the earth today are the same. This is true on every level. Old and new fossils are found to be the same not different. Fossils of extinct creatures found in old layers are the same as those found in young layers. No one was there when any of this took place. In my opinion it takes a great deal more faith to believe in evolution than it does in a supreme being. If both were taught on an equal level, evolution would loose every time.

    None the less, I will continue to listen. Well at least until I get into my car where KFAB comes in better.

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