At the blog for Expelled: No Intelligence, featuring Ben Stein, the producers insist “We?ll take Lincoln Day over Darwin Day?any day.” The whole thing is a pack of lies, ably dissected by PZ Myers. I couldn’t get past the first sentence before giving up on the rest:

Until the late 1980?s when the generic ?President?s Day? became the official holiday that subsumed them, America used to celebrate the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

This sentence is grammatically, historically and factually wrong, as is everything else written by the movie’s producers or narrator.

Lincoln’s birthday was never an officially recognized holiday, so their use of the phrase “America used to celebrate” is either wrong or ambiguous. Strictly, the federal government doesn’t recognize a holiday named “Presidents’ Day” or “Presidents Day,” let alone No Intelligence’s “President’s Day.” As Wikipedia notesPresident’s Day is a misspelling when used with the intention of celebrating more than one individual.” Next Monday, the feds will celebrate “Washington’s Birthday.”
The law moving that celebration to the third Monday in February was signed into lawtook effect in 1971, during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Ben Stein was, of course, a staffer in that administration, and didn’t have to remain silent on the Lincoln snub for 37 years. He could have insisted that the day be known not as “Washington’s Birthday,” but as Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays,” or some such construction (though that wouldn’t have gone over well with Nixon’s race-baiting Southern Strategy). He didn’t.

Update: I misread the legislative history. Thanks to readers pough and Gemmell for catching the slip.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    February 13, 2008

    Well, as a fan of Big Science, and a long time Darwanista, I move that we change Feb 12 to Punch Ben Stein In The Face Day.

    I might be open for a compromise, ID IS A TOTAL LYING SCAM DAY.

  2. #2 pough
    February 13, 2008

    Looks like it was signed in ’68 but took effect in ’71. It’s got Johnson’s signature on it: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2004/winter/images/uniform-monday-holiday-law.jpg

  3. #3 Ahcuah
    February 13, 2008

    Just to confuse things further . . .

    And of course, on the day Washington was born, the calendar said February 11, not February 22.

    (I’ll say no more to give others a chance to chime in on it. For those who don’t know, and have access to a Unix box, try executing the command “cal 9 1752″ for a hint.)

  4. #4 The Ridger
    February 13, 2008

    And he bitched about the stolen days for the rest of his life.

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