Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Republican Anti-Science Sex Panic

Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama proposes: "[I]t's the right thing to do, to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools."

Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney responds: "Senator Obama is wrong if he thinks science-based sex education has any place in kindergarten. We should be working to clean up the filthy waters our kids are swimming in."

Rick Perlstein points out that Romney is "framing science as inherently a bad thing" here, rather than lodging his complaint, as is more usual with his crowd, in a distinction of "sound science as against junk science" or in a debate about what are the proper standards of "appropriateness" to invoke in this case.

This matters, because by stripping his rhetoric of such qualifications Romney has nudged mainstream Movement Republicanism into an even balder extremity in its public antipathy to proper scientific practices and especially the role of science in democratic cultures. Romney is not just cynically undermining the role of warranted consensus science in government regulation, advice, and oversight to pander to social conservatives or moneyed interests in the usual corrupt and opportunistic Republican manner here, but actually calculating that his campaign will benefit from a blanket expression of hostility to science as such.

I believe that Romney, like most Movement Republicans, has failed to learn the lesson of the Terri Schiavo debacle, he has bought the spin of the "values voter" through which Rovian Republicans sought to distract our attention from a second stolen Election in 2004. I believe that Romney has misread America which, whatever the professed Christianity of a majority of its citizens, remains in my view absolutely a secular nation forming, even now in the midst of our great present distress, an emerging technoprogressive majority.

1 comment:

Jose said...

I suspect that these are tactics he's employing during the primaries and that he'd tone down this rhetoric if he secured the nomination. He's obviously playing to the reactionary social conservative vote.

Judging by comments on the far right blogs there is a lot of naked hostility towards science right now. Global Warming and Evolution are big bugbears with that crowd at the moment. The concept of human rights are as well although they resort to talking in code on that subject.

Their concern is understandable they sense that "secularism" is stealing religion's thunder and they're right.