The Corpus Callosum

At the Lawrence Hall of Science, at the University of California –
Berkeley, there is a children’s playground.  On the playground,
theere is a whimsical sculture based on DNA.  Lots of people like
it.  Indeed, Dr. Stemwedel wrote a
inspired by an experience her kids had there.  That’s
where this photo comes from.  (More here.)

DNA Sculpture

So what’s the big deal?  Why are people protesting to the county,
about this very sculpture?

Unfortunately, the site with the info is down (probably overwhelmed by
Fark and Reddit hits), but the Google cache
lives on…

Sculpture is “Vile and Offensive”

DNA Sculpture exhibit at UC Berkeley playground turning
heads, sparking complaints

PTA president asks school’s parents to file complaints with the

By Richard Vernon, P.O.E.
State of Protest
July 27, 2009

EAST BERKELEY – Think of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man . . . zoomed in to an
ungodly scale.
The large, plastic and metallic sculpture parked outside UC Berkeley’s
Lawrence Hall of Science, is stoking the angry fires of parents of
children who attend nearby Claremont Park Elementary School.

“My daughter suggested that it was funny,” said John Copeland, whose
7-year-old daughter attends summer camp there. “She shouldn’t be
talking to me about this. Now I’m forced to explain genetics to her,
and why the Bible doesn’t say anything about it.”

The genetically correct structure is part of an ongoing exhibit titled
“DNA Sculpture,” created by acclaimed artist Ashe Kutchya, which
represents “genetic material from an enzyme,” according to Lawrence
Hall of Science’s website.

It depicts a DNA double helix — two congruent helices with the same
axis, differing by a translation along the axis. The structure is
larger than life, and elongated. Its genetic analogy to human life is

This is even weirder than people complaining about breastfeeding, or
any other natural phenomenon. 

Although DNA Sculpture has been on display in various
public parks and playgrounds, Jenny Garrotte, Claremont Park PTA
president, said she found it distasteful and verging on obscene, and
e-mailed parents Wednesday morning, asking them to file complaints with
Pegro and with Alameda County Code Enforcement.

“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion regarding what art is,”
said Garrotte. “If this piece weren’t visible to passersby and
available for children to play on, I would not have a problem with it.”

“Verging on obscene” !!!  Not only that, it is not in the
Bible!!!  And you have to explain to kids why it is not in the
Bible!!!  Try this: they didn’t have x-ray
back then

Cars are not in the Bible.  Are they obscene?  (Well, some
are obscene)  Really, how many kids asked about this?

Still, Terence Lythma, a teacher in the school’s summer
program, said he has not heard any of the children talking about the

“It’s the parents who have been talking about it,” he said. “The
children don’t really make an issue of it.”

So where’s the vile and offensive part?  Saved the best for last:

“There are 1000 kids in the school that are going to be
exposed to it,” he said. “It’s vile and offensive, and kids have no
business seeing what God thought fit to hide from our eyes.”

So I guess we should censor all images taken by Hubble,
and remove all microscopes from schools.  Tell me, this is even
more “hidden” (it took longer to figure out how to see it.)  Is it
obscene?  Is it vile?


The worst part of all of this, is the fact that it is a disingenuously
contrived argument; that is, it is a lie.  Kids do not care about
the DNA.  To them, it is a toy: a colorful, visually appealing
thing they can play on.  So to press some kind of pseudoreligous
agenda, they make stuff up.  What would Jesus lie about?


  1. #1 Coturnix
    August 14, 2009

    They are crazy. I was with Janet that day (keep clicking to older and older posts to see the whole series). Those parents most certainly should never actually enter the Lawrence Hall – their heads would explode.

  2. #2 Paulino
    August 14, 2009

    Before the Fall all living beings went around with their DNA hanging out.

    Didn’t you know that? It’s in the Genesis!


    Look it up!

  3. #3 mrcreosote
    August 14, 2009

    By Richard Vernon, P.O.E.

    are the last 3 letters significant?

  4. #4 Comrade PhysioProf
    August 14, 2009

    Holy crap! That takes deranged sick-fuck religious wackoloonery to new levels!!!

  5. #5 sbh
    August 14, 2009

    The author of the story is Richard Vernon, P.O.E.? This is satire.

  6. #6 Elf Eye
    August 14, 2009

    Not only is the piece attributed to Richard Vernon, P.O.E., but the supposed author lives in the “State of Protest”.

  7. #7 Joseph j7uy5
    August 14, 2009

    Satire? Could be. The more I think about it, the more I think I was taken in by this.

    They reference something I hadn’t heard about: Poe’s law.

    Poe’s Law states:
    “ Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.[1] ”

    Poe’s Law makes the clear point that it is hard to tell parodies of fundamentalism from the real thing, since they both seem equally insane. Poe’s law also functions in its converse: real fundamentalism can easily be mistaken for a parody of fundamentalism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they argue he’s a “deep cover liberal” trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes.

    What does this tell us?

  8. #8 hp
    August 14, 2009

    “Faith is the evidence of things not seen,” says the Bible. That’s practically algebra, that is.

    If Faith=Evidence/(Things!Seen), what happens to F as S increases?

  9. #9 xurxo
    August 14, 2009

    this is interesting. In the article they link to this other “depictions of human reality in art.3” … if you follow the link and read you find it very similiar to the DNA one.

    “The structure is larger than life, and elongated”

    I wonder if the real problem is with any kind of “elongated” sculpture…

  10. #10 CV
    August 14, 2009

    Wow, I do hope it’s a parody as Joseph presents.

    No good can come from acting on such insecurity, which really seems to stem from a parent’s lack of control over ideas that may become picked up by their children.

    What do you call a condition where one fears opposing thoughts? Memeophobia?

  11. #11 Rose Colored Glasses
    August 14, 2009

    The Bible (a/k/a Hermits’ Storybook) also has nothing to say about physics, chemistry, biology, botany, or algebra. There aren’t any recipes either. Nothing useful about farming, fishing, trapping, or hunting. What a useless collection of writings!

  12. #12 Tsu Dho Nimh
    August 14, 2009

    You have been POE’d and PWNED … it’s a hoax. And a well-done one.

    The sculpture exists, the sculptor’s name is wrong, and there is no school of that name.

    See comments at this site:

  13. #13 qbsmd
    August 14, 2009

    From the site itself:
    “NOTE: If you are 1 ) easily offended, 2 ) mentally challenged, 3 ) humor challenged, 4 ) challenged, 5 ) boring, 6 ) righteous, 7 ) myopic, 8 ) gullible, 9 ) boring, or 10 ) an anal-retentive omniscient non-existent being, then please read THIS either now or at minimum after you’ve read the following.”

  14. #14 rlxon
    April 14, 2011

    Poe’s Law states: “ Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.[1] ”

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