Are you OK, Arizona?

You’re acting strangely. You’re carrying out a partisan, biased “recount” of an already settled election, and your deep investigation involves searching for bamboo fibers in the ballot, because that would mean they were printed in China? Why would you think they’d pre-print them in China, and go to all the trouble of shipping them across the Pacific, when — I don’t know if you’re aware of this — we have plenty of paper and printers and all that sort of thing right here in the US? This is a conspiracy theory, and it is stupid.

In which case, this makes more sense: to guarantee the future supply of stupid people who will fall for stupid conspiracy theories, the Republicans want to compel schools to teach stupid ideas.

Republican lawmakers voted Wednesday to punish teachers who don’t present both sides of controversial science or events, a move some lawmakers say could force them to seek out and present contrary views on everything from climate change and slavery to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the Holocaust — and even whether Joe Biden really won the election.

The measure approved along party lines requires any “controversial issues” discussed in the classroom must be done “from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

Well, that’s familiar: that’s the creationist “Teach the Controversy” strategy that they deployed to enable them to introduce garbage into the classroom. Now it’s just being broadened by Arizona Republicans.

I don’t know why they’re doing this. Were they jealous of Florida’s reputation? Are they hoping to get everyone else to laugh at “Arizona Man”? Because it’s not going to happen as long as Matt Gaetz lives.

Although, I do confess, this was a pretty good effort.


  1. jrkrideau says

    I was just reading something about Nicolai Gogol and his brilliant satires on Imperial Russian bureaucracy.

    He would not have believed the wealth of material coming out of the USA. He would have been totally overwhelmed.

  2. raven says

    That Donald Trump has a functioning brain is controversial.
    That the GOP are not a bunch of fascist right wingnut extremists is controversial.

    This law is going to cut both ways.

  3. Bruce says

    I’d advise all teachers to SAY they WANT to teach that Christianity is reasonable, but that state law compels them to present the other side equally.
    Gosh golly, Mr. School Superintendent, I didn’t WANT to cover atheism, but the Republican legislature darn made us do it.

  4. mnb0 says

    As a teacher math and physics I’d love to teach the Spherical Earth Controversy called Flat Earth Theory at christian schools.

  5. brucej says

    Sadly the AZ lege is stuffed full of GQP people with brainworms. There will be people demanding that teachers be fined $5k for teaching that Pi is not 3.

    Because we have a bottomless well of truly stupid people here in AZ.

    From a LTTE in my daily paper here, someone advocating for some wondrous “moderate Republican AND moderate Democrat” third party because he’s been an “Independent for 30 years” and is tired of not being represented.:

    I disagree with most of the bills being passed by the Republican- controlled Legislature, which seems to disregard voters other than the far right. I foresee a similarly unjust disregard should the Democrats gain control of both houses, even though I might agree with their proposed bills.

    Bothsides, of course! One minor hitch: Democrats haven’t had control of either house in the legislature for the last 50 years, but he’s certain, I’m sure, that the D’s would pass equally stupid laws, based entirely on the right-wing media he’s been fed his entire life.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    I don’t know about Arizona, but I’m not OK. I’m sick.

    I’m sick that I’m forced to share a universe with these fools. I’m sick of that these people get to hold back all progress, or worse, drag civilization back to our overtly racist, sexist, religious, capitalist past when they believed they were on top. I’m sick of the naïve assumptions of liberals who think that all we need to do is “educate” these clods despite the millions we’ve dumped already dumped into schools attempting to teach them the difference between reality and fantasy. I’m also sick of the liberal demand we be nice and try to “understand” this trash. I’m sick of the excuses that some on the real Left offer for these goons: That they are just being duped and “brainwashed” by the rich into being racist, gun-toting, religious kooks, that their prejudices and superstitions don’t predate capitalism and that they’ll magically go away once we’ve eliminated class. I’m sick of the Red States, I’m sick of the GOP and the entire right-wing, from Liz Cheney all the way to Nick Fuentes. I’m sick of Q-Anon. I’m sick of Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson. I’m sick of feet-dragging centrist Dems. I’m sick of theism, especially the cancer of Christianity. I’m sick of capitalism. I’m sick of America.

    Most of all, I’m sick that there is nothing (well, nothing I can suggest in polite society) we can do about it.

  7. weylguy says

    America is not only becoming more stupid, but more willfully stupid. If this trend continues, I believe it’s all over for this country. I’m so glad I’m 72 years old — I won’t have to live to see the coming disaster.

  8. davidc1 says

    @7 I feel your pain ,over here in the UK we have suffered 11 years of tory misrule ,piled on that we have the whole britshit business that hasn’t quite started to bite yet .Last week there was a minor incident involving French fishermen blockading St Helier on Jersey ,that twatfaced twat johnson sent two small Royal Navy Patrol Boats ,the way the rightit wackaloon/britshitters were going on about it ,you would have thought it was on the same scale as The Normandy Landing .
    And there is nothing Pro EU people of all political hues can do to get the dickheads to realise what a complete balls up britshit really is .

  9. says

    I mean, this is beyond dumb, but has it even been established whether bamboo fibers are commonly used in consumer-grade office paper, and if they are, does paper made in China have a higher concentration of bamboo? If bamboo is not used in paper at all in either place, up goes their hypothesis in flames. (not that these chucklefucks would care)

    Establishing whether bamboo is used, where it’s used, and if so, in what concentrations would seem a necessary first step before proceeding with this moronic plan.

  10. R. L. Foster says

    I hesitate to say this because I don’t want to give them any ideas, but it’s my understanding that many ballots are printed with soy based ink.

  11. R. L. Foster says

    @8 weylguy — I’m two years behind you. I get where you’re coming from. But, for me, the real question is, how the fuck did I get this old? I should be glad, I suppose. There’s the perspective that the three score and ten gives you. Other than that, growing old ain’t for the timid. The little ailments have a way of getting together and ganging up on you.

  12. says

    Another thing, how do they propose to detect these “bamboo fibers” anyway? Are they identifiable under light microscopy? Electron microscopy? Spectroscopic analysis?

    And are the yahoos who are undertaking this half-assed horseshit remotely qualified to do those kinds of analysis?

  13. says

    We are not ok. I’m digging into the reasons but an awful problem with error checking one’s political gossip network, combined with an inability to process outside criticism, is the most charitable interpretation. Toss in conspiracy thinking with conclusions coming before evidence (if they can see evidence and not normal procedure they don’t understand).

    After that you get the layer that includes the ones that know they are lying and keeping it going. I’m still processing it all and I just added how the dorsal column nuclei relates to how consciousness breaks down to my list of things to internalize.

  14. devnll says

    @4 But since you have to teach “both” sides of any controversy – because everyone knows there’s no such thing as a controversy with more than 2 sides – if you want to teach anything to do with Christianity you’ll need to present as equal not just atheism, but Hinduism, Islam, Greek mythology, the Sandman comics…

  15. weylguy says

    #12 R. L. Foster

    Hey, I know what you’re talking about. It seems like just yesterday I was young, and now the aches and pains are creeping in. I always believed that as one gets older, one becomes more conservative. It’s just the opposite with me, and to my anguish as I see what’s going on in this country.

  16. nematoady says

    This sounds like a job for
    And time for Arizonans to form an organization like Kansas Citizens for Science ( or New Mexicans for Science and Reason ( NCSE was incredibly useful for helping take on the “Teach the Controversy” stuff in KS in ’97 and ’05. The bozos here even tried to “teach the controversy” about the speed of light being constant (because there are stars that are more than 6000 light-years distant, don’tcha know?) If a ruby-red state like Kansas can vote out those people, Arizona should be able to, as well. Heck, even asking citizens if they want Arizona to become the “Kansas of the Southwest” may be enough to turn some votes!
    The other aspect of this issue that will change lawmakers’ minds depends on how they define “controversial.” 30% believe it and 30% don’t? 40%? Whatever the threshold is, that would likely require teaching “both sides” of firearms, and I doubt that any GOP lawmaker wants to be able to be labeled as having ordered schools to spend any time at all presenting arguments for gun control.

  17. Ridana says

    Bamboo fibers? Have these folks never seen a menu at a Chinese restaurant? If these fraudulent ballots were created and printed in China, all they need to do is look for the typos and fractured English. Oh wait, never mind. The people checking for these would necessarily have to know how to spell and be English literate, so I guess that wouldn’t work. Fibers it is then!

    Seriously, how does someone (Anthony Kern) who ran on the ballots in question legally become one of the hands-on auditors?

  18. PaulBC says

    Ridana@18 I imagine they were expecting to find bamboo slips carefully bound into scrolls like these and hand-lettered English with faux-Asian brushstrokes. That’s the first thing that popped into my mind. Those inscrutable Chinese, ya know. It would be interesting to hide a ridiculous counterfeit like that among the ballots and see how they react to it.

  19. brucegee1962 says

    I hope the sane leaders of the world have a plan for how to counter this so-called “audit,” because when the results finally come out, we should figure on a 99.99% chance that it will be accompanied by blazing headlines of “fraud discovered!!!!!!”

    Of course there will be no actual fraud discovered, but these Ninjas know perfectly well that they were hired to come up with some kind of fraud, so they will do what they were paid to do, then try to bury their utter lack of evidence under a steaming pile of nondisclosure and pseudoscience. This could seriously undermine our chances of having a successful election for years. The only way to stop them may be to drag them in front of what seems to be the sole functioning part of government left — the courts — and force them to admit their own mendacity under threat of going to jail.

  20. says

    jrkrideau @ #2:

    I was just reading something about Nicolai Gogol and his brilliant satires on Imperial Russian bureaucracy.

    He would not have believed the wealth of material coming out of the USA. He would have been totally overwhelmed.


    Oh, some Gogol Bordello.

  21. PaulBC says

    chigau@22 Yeah, maybe it was filtered out. It was nothing important, just a link to a nice picture of bamboo scrolls. It was on a Chinese language website that seemed safe to me, but maybe it’s associated with spam.

  22. says

    @#7, Akira MacKenzie:

    It’s a lot easier to keep weed trees out of your yard by uprooting them when they’re seedlings than it is to uproot them when they’re 6-foot-tall multiple-trunked actual trees with well-developed root systems, sending up suckers all across the lawn.

    It would have been a lot easier to deal with climate change decades ago. By kicking the can down the road repeatedly, we have permitted denialists to get a foothold and prevent any significant measures. Now with every passing day things get worse and the problem gets more difficult to solve, because for decades people who should have known better said it was more important to protect “the economy” than to actually ensure that humanity had a future.

    Similarly, it would have been much easier to combat Republicans years ago than it is to combat them now. But we were assured by both Clintons and Pelosi and Schumer and Obama and the whole cast of clowns on “our” side that bipartisanship was a virtue in its own right and we had to move everything to the right to humor them and chase their votes, and support their wars and their laws. It would be nice to think that they’ve finally learned their lesson and won’t do that any more, but Obama demonstrated very thoroughly that Democrats would rather let Republicans trample them than move even an inch to the left, so I’m not optimistic. It won’t be long before they get over the existential threat demonstrated on the 6th and get back to the same old excuses — hell, Manchin and Sinema are already there.

  23. outis says

    No seriously, like several posters have already pointed out: is this not a recipe for glorious chaos?
    Can you imagine a religion class where ALL perspectives are presented? From christianism to satanism to pastafarianism to… whatever?
    And science? Forget evolution and flat earth, they’ll need to reintroduce phlogiston, aether and vorticism. And a complete explanation of geocentrism ain’t no picnic, with the afferent, the epicycloids and I forget what else.
    I’ll let you imagine history and politics. Egad.
    So, either the language of this so-called law blocks it somehow weasel-like, or Arizona classes are going to look like something out of a Hyeronimus Bosch painting.
    Which should at least give some good copy for the press.

  24. brucegee1962 says

    I teach Freshman comp, and, umm, actually I already do this. The students are assigned to write an argumentative paper on a controversial topic, which takes 2/3 of the semester. As part of the buildup, I make them write an “opposite paper,” where the assignment is “Explain why someone might disagree with your thesis.”
    Kids come to college with all sorts of ideas, and I can’t control what those are, nor should I. If their thesis is something I agree with, then they will be better able to defend their point of view if they’re aware of the counterarguments. If it’s something I disagree with, like “This state should remove all restrictions on concealed-carry handguns,” at least they will be exposed to some contrary points of view, and every once in a while someone changes their stance when they find more actual data.

  25. PaulBC says

    brucegee1962@29 That is what I always heard you learn in debate. You need to prepare to argue both pro and con. It is important to look for counterarguments, though with respect to debate it worries me that some people might not even care which position is true as long as they can make a persuasive case for it.

    I think that to develop critical thinking skills, it’s useful to put more effort into refuting your preferred position than you do affirming it (applying the opposite of motivated reasoning). Even if you’re developing a mathematical proof, which should be clear cut, asking why it might be wrong can lead you to a counterexample.

    That said, this is not the same thing as presenting “all” sides to an impressionable audience. That may literally be infeasible, and will probably be confusing. There needs to be an understanding that introductory material represents a best effort at consensus and is important to grasp before working on anything more complex.

  26. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Wherever the “teach the controversy” laws happen, we on the left need to provide both parents and teachers with teaching materials that the right hates. Best part? Don’t even need to miseducate.

  27. Kagehi says

    Yeah, and it really doesn’t help Vicar, that the people “pushing” for “new ideas” and being listened to, are… “the rich”, like Elone Musk (intentional misspelled) – a recent vid by a guy that does semi-comedy news (but mostly just points out how freaking stupid and aggravating the current news often is, as comedy) pointed out that everything from his sub-par, far below the national average data rates, “satellite” internet network, to his deal with Los Vegas to build a transit system for them, amounts to, “How can I test prototypes, or con people out of money for junk, so that one day other people can go to Mars, die there making it safe, then leave me with a nice place to live, where I don’t have to deal with all the icky humans around me!” This is the guy everyone thinks is working on “saving the planet”, or at least one of them – a guy with one patent to his name (the literal design of the plug, not the wiring, the software, the electronics, etc., just the proprietary plug, which Tesla cars use to charge, instead of the nationally available version everyone else uses – and which won’t allow fast charging, unlike, again, the internationally available one, if you can find a station that supports it. Why? Maybe so that, with the push to build lots, and lots, of charging stations, for Tesla cars, you can only charge that companies cars at them? Then, talking of Vegas – non-self driving, doesn’t really have a fully working autopilot, “Teslas” drive up in his magic subway (but don’t call it that), to have live people drive you to destinations – at a capacity vastly lower than he promised, or had any way to deliver. Because, you know, he needed some place to test his “borer” machines, which, again, he plans to use on Mars. And, yeah, he really did call his joke of a satellite based “internet” alternative, “A way to get money for SpaceX.”

    This is a caliber of person that is pretending to help solve climate change, by cherry picking which technologies they give a damn about developing – and ignoring everyone else who is doing other useful shit, which might actually help “this planet”, not.. “Mars”.

    Yeah, the “party” may need to be dragged kicking and screaming more to the left, but.. the biggest bottle neck there isn’t, sadly, the party, its the fact that the right is actually successful at crap like taking a, “Almost equal amounts want gun control.”, type issue, and dragging perceived reality for 50% of the country so far into the muck that that turned into, “The majority of the right doesn’t want gun control any more!” I mean, even before the GOP decided to utterly lose its f-ing collective mind after Trump got his ass kicked out, there had to be a calculation going on in the Dems of, “How crazy do I have to pretend to be to get this passed, given the loonies that I have to convince to even consider voting for it?”