After Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Faye Flam took the Discovery Institute to task for their Hitler obsession and constant violations of Godwin’s law, Disco. ‘tute fellow Richard Weikart struck back, insisting, “I have spoken with intelligent Darwinists who admit point-blank that they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler.” This is patent bullcrap, but that’s nothing new for the Seattle-based belief tank. Weikart didn’t, of course, say which scientists he’d heard say this, so there’s no way to independently verify his claim.

Flam flew to the fracas again, wondering why creationists insist on using the inaccurate and pejorative term “Darwinist,” and pointing out that Weikart is wrong about how evolutionary biologists regard human life.

In response, the Disco. ‘tute trotted out an unsigned blog post that fairly drips with misogyny. Riffing off of Flam’s blog post title, the Disco. DJ scratches his crotch and grunts:

Ms. Flam, if we had in fact spanked you, you would know it.

Let’s be grateful that he didn’t add: “Now fetch my dinner.”

How can I be so sure the unsigned post was written by a man? Because there are no active female bloggers at the DI blog (Anika Smith is still listed as a contributor, but DI’s Casey Luskin assures me that she’s moved on). Indeed, of 50 fellows and staff listed as being associated with the Disco. ‘tute’s creationist wing, only one fellow (Nancy Pearcey) and 5 staffers are women. One of the 6 women listed is Anika Smith, again, who is no longer at the ‘tute. One of the women is their education coordinator, two are involved in fundraising, another is involved in sales and marketing. Perhaps their positions don’t require them to deal with whichever misogynist penned this latest screed, or maybe they’ve just bought into the evangelical notion of wifely submission.

Since no one signed the piece, it’s fair to assume that all the ENV authors endorse this sort of casual humor about sexual assault. If not, I’d urge them to publicly distance themselves from this boorish behavior, and tell us which of their cowardly colleagues was willing to post this, but not put his name on it.

Comments

  1. #1 Steve Greene
    October 29, 2011

    While it’s certainly true that creationists like those at the Discovery Institute love to make things up that just ain’t so (“I have spoken with intelligent Darwinists who admit point-blank that they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler”) in order to misrepresent what they don’t like, in the case of using the terminology of “spanking” Faye Flam it is Flam herself who brought up the metaphor in the first place, so obviously a DI writer echoing the term back does not imply anything about misogyny.

  2. #2 JG
    October 29, 2011

    ‘Fraid I agree with Steve Greene on that aspect; both Flam and the creationist are using the term in a nonsexist sense and, anyway, the creationist is merely echoing Flam’s own headline.

    I don’t know if you saw the creationist’s UPDATE at the foot of his piece. It’s a fine and wonderful example of idiocy:

    Only Darwinists put a Darwin fish on their car. No one ever puts an Einstein or Hubble fish on his car. …

  3. #3 Pierce R. Butler
    October 29, 2011

    Hey, if my car pickup truck could reach relativistic speeds, I’d have Albert & Edwin fish all over the tailgate!

  4. #4 John Pieret
    October 29, 2011

    Ms. Flam, if we had in fact spanked you, you would know it.

    Well, given the the quality of Discoist reasoning, especially from the likes of Casey Lumpkin, they could hardly have been referring to an intellectual “spanking.”

  5. #5 flegmbot
    October 29, 2011

    Your attack here is pretty silly and low, Mr. Rosenau. Just because some DI blogger calls the “Dinosaurs” video trailer racist, and you don’t like it, doesn’t mean the DI is “sexist” for what they wrote in response to Flam. After all…

    Wasn’t it Flam herself who titled her rebuttal to Weikart something like “I got spanked by Discovery Institute”…so wasn’t it Flam herself who first brought “spanking” into the dialogue? Seems like DI is just playing off that theme…methinks you’re reading things that aren’t there.

    Your attacks are also wrong. You wrote: “there are no active female bloggers at the DI blog”

    Mr. Rosenau: Didn’t Ann Gauger just post a response to PZ Myers a couple days ago on the DI blog?

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/10/on_protein_evolution_pz_myers052251.html

    There’s no evidence that this has anything to do with “wifely submission” of “evangelical” whatever. For all you know, that post was written by David Klinghoffer, who is Jewish.

    Discovery has affiliated female scientists and bloggers.

    ScienceBlogs does too.

    Guess what: In both cases females are in the minority.

    Obviously that’s an unfortunate thing, but whatever the cause is, I doubt that the cause has anything to do with sexism, in either case. At the very least, you haven’t provided evidence that sexism has anything to do with this.

  6. #6 flegmbot
    October 29, 2011

    Wanted to clarify one thing.

    When I wrote “For all you know, that post was written by David Klinghoffer, who is Jewish”, by “that post” I was referring to the Di response to Flam, not the Ann Gauger post.

  7. #7 Marion Delgado
    October 30, 2011

    I think the fact that Hitler didn’t literally imprison people for teaching random mutation and natural selection, as Stalin did, must be firm proof indeed that they were in cahoots. At the very least it’s suspicious. So is the fact that Hitler, Darwin and Stalin have 6, 6, 6 letters!

  8. #8 Jim Ramsey
    October 30, 2011

    Have you considered that the reason there are so few women at the DI is that women are so much smarter than men?

    My wife, who should know, claims that “adult male” is an oxymoron.

  9. #9 Faye Flam
    October 30, 2011

    I introduced the word “spank” into the conversation by using it in the title of one of my own blog posts. I don’t see why this word is sexist. As far as I know anyone of any gender can spank anyone of any gender. This kind of thing trivializes real sexism.
    As for the Discovery Institute’s threat that I’ll feel it if they really spank me, I say bring it on guys. Or gals.

  10. #10 Vince Whirlwind
    October 30, 2011

    There’s no such thing as “violations of Goswin’s Law”, only “illustrations of Godwin’s Law”.

  11. #11 Josh Rosenau
    October 30, 2011

    Faye Flam: I know that you brought the word “spank” into the discussion, but I think that the way the Disco. ‘tute used the term smacks of the casual sexism of the Mad Men era, the fanny-pinching, domestic-abuse excusing era. I think they shifted the idiomatic context from a neutral “I got spanked,” which you see in sports and other non-sexual contexts, to a more sexual and frankly threatening context, but others are free to see other things in it.

    flegmbot: Yes, Ann Gauger did post an item there, but she’s not on the masthead as an author in the page’s “authors” tab, and does not post frequently. I wouldn’t call her an “active blogger.”

  12. #12 Ender
    October 31, 2011

    I agree that this does not seem like a slam dunk case of sexism. I wouldn’t be surprised if the anonymous person who wrote that was sexist but if you can’t reply to someone’s use of spanking as a metaphor with your own use of it as a metaphor without becoming instantly suspect it would be unfair.

    And Faye Flam may not be in any special position to know any better than anyone else whether it was intended sexistly, but she’s not bothered and that’s one more reason this can get a pass.

  13. #13 Crowhill
    October 31, 2011

    How can you say …

    >This is patent bullcrap,

    and then say …

    >Weikart didn’t, of course, say which scientists he’d heard
    >say this, so there’s no way to independently verify his
    >claim.

    IOW, he might very well have spoken to Darwinists who believe that.

    You can always find an X to say Y.

  14. #14 Crowhill
    October 31, 2011

    You know, it’s this kind of nasty, dismissive, ignorant stuff that discredits so-called “science” blogs with many people. Why should we believe your critiques of “intelligent design” if you so clearly hate the people who hold to it?

    Try getting rid of some of the attitude.

  15. #15 Ender
    November 1, 2011

    WTF are you talking about Crowhill?

  16. #16 Wow
    November 1, 2011

    “IOW, he might very well have spoken to Darwinists who believe that. ”

    False.

    It isn’t *impossible*, but it’s HIGHLY unlikely to the extent of virtual impossibility.

    Why? Because despite having millions of “Darwinists” who have been asked, not one has been found who will say they believe that.

  17. #17 Orac
    November 3, 2011

    I think they shifted the idiomatic context from a neutral “I got spanked,” which you see in sports and other non-sexual contexts, to a more sexual and frankly threatening context, but others are free to see other things in it.

    Gonna have to side with the critics here, Josh, as much as it pains me to do so. I think you went way, way overboard on this one in your eagerness to find “sexism.” I didn’t see a sexual context or subtext in the Disco’tute post at all, and “spanked” is used in all sorts of contexts to mean “defeated badly” or “made to look like a fool.” Seriously, you basically undermined other valid criticisms of the DI’s nonsense by slathering yours in highly dubious charges of “sexism.”

Current ye@r *