The IDists love to quote me, because I am rather militant in my opposition to their lies. They are particularly fond of one particular quote* that they’ve even used in their fund-raising literature. They think it’s damning; some of my fellow anti-creationists swoon and protest when they hear the words, but they tend to be faint-hearted anyway. But here’s what’s really amusing.
I get fan mail from people all the time who are overjoyed that someone out there on the evolution side isn’t an apologetic ditherer.
Even better, one ID-friendly conservative tried to rouse his audience with the horror of my words, and got a response that surprised him.
Perhaps the most telling moment came when I read this quote from evolutionary biologist Paul Myers of the University of Minnesota, telling us what he thinks should be done with intelligent design advocates:
The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians … I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.
The pro-ACLU crowd actually clapped in approval in response.
Poor Casey Luskin can’t comprehend it, either. It is telling; it should tell all of us that there are many people out there tired of making nice with liars and frauds.
I’m pleased to see it. You know, there are debates about tactics on the evolution side all the time — one of the messages of the movie Flock of Dodos is that scientists need to get more media-savvy, for instance — but one of the things that really annoys me about my side of the debate is that so many sit in such terror of making anyone unhappy that they avoid any vigor in the arguments; they seem to blanch in terror that whomping down hard on the stupidity of their so-called “allies” will cause them to run away. Their strategy is to toady up to creationists and fencesitters and pious twits and ignorant theologians and little old ladies who faint at the sight of monkeys, and hope that mewling softly will win them over. Well, they’re welcome to try. My belief is that those creationist-sympathizers aren’t on our side at all, but do enjoy the thought of the heathens kowtowing to them, so they’ll play along until the issues that count come up…and then they’ll break for whatever their preacher says.
I think there is a place for ferocity and partisanship, too. We do not compromise on the science, ever; that is the thin bright line that we do not cross. And we should always make that clear. Others can coddle the fools who dither and simper wishfully over gods and old myths and apologetics, but some of us have to charge forward and stake out a solid position, one that excludes altogether the ancient fairy tales.
There is a lot of support out there for that kind of fiery confidence. Let’s see more of us stand up and speak out, and devil take the milksops.
*Actually, the quote is a pastiche of two completely different comments (the IDists seem to have to mangle a quote, even one that doesn’t need twisting; it’s like a reflex with them). You can read the originals in context here and here. I stand by my words without hesitation.