Friday, June 10, 2005

Welcome to Tulsa

s27First, the Smithsonian embarrasses itself by renting out its space at the Museum of Natural History for a private screening of "The Privileged Planet," a documentary that endorses the faux-scientific "Intelligent Design" account of life. Now, the Tulsa Zoo has announced plans to create an exhibit highlighting the Biblical account of creation. Evidently, the process for this followed the usual dramatic course: (1) wingnut local activist (Dan Hicks) approaches public institution with suggestion that religious fantasy be granted the sort of respect usually reserved for actual ideas; (2) local buffoons flock to sign petitions on a topic about which they know utterly nothing; (3) public supervisory body supplicates itself before the the ignorant petitioners; (4) employees of the affected institution protests helplessly as their expertise is hijacked for theological purposes; (5) the victors celebrate the conquest of folly with speeches about "discirimination," "minority rights," and the virtues of "fairness" and "tolerance."

As USA Today reports:

But those who favored the creationist exhibit, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, argued that the zoo already displayed religious items, including the statue of the Hindu god, Ganesh, outside the elephant exhibit and a marble globe inscribed with an American Indian saying, "The earth is our mother. The sky is our father."

"I see this as a big victory," said Dan Hicks, the Tulsa resident who approached the Tulsa Zoo with the idea for the exhibit. "It's a matter of fairness. To not include the creationist view would be discrimination."

Hundreds of people had signed a petition supporting a biblically based creation exhibit.

The new display will include a disclaimer that says it represents one view of origins. City attorneys also advised it be placed alongside other cultures' views of creation.

Tulsa Zoo exhibit curator Kathleen Buck-Miser estimated it would take about six months to research and organize the creationist exhibit. She expressed qualms about the zoo delving into theological debate.

Two questions here.

First, does anyone actually believe that "other cultures' views of creation" are going to be represented at the Tulsa Zoo anytime soon? Can anyone think of another religious group on the planet — much less in the United States — whose proponents are so fanatically committed to revising scientific knowledge and mandating the inclusion of its own creation narratives in the public sphere? Set aside the question of whether the presence of a fucking elephant statue amounts to some sort of pronouncement on the origins of elephants; is Tulsa's Hindu community going to care enough about this to request a revised and expanded exhibit dealing more fully with Hindu creation stories? Probably not.

Second, how on earth is Kathleen Buck-Miser planning to spend six months researching and organizing an exhibit on this fatuous topic?