Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A followup: Letter to the Cincinnati Zoo

If you remember, a few days ago I posted a letter I had written to the Cincinnati Zoo pleading with them to stop selling 'combo tickets' to the zoo and the crackhouse - uh, I mean, creation "museum". Anyway, they decided to cancel the deal and now Ken Ham is sad. So here is PZ Myers' take on the whole deal and so of my comments on the issue (The first part consists of quotes from Ken Ham on the whole issue):

"We are disappointed with the zoo's decision and its impact on the families and visitors to the region who would have enjoyed taking advantage of this opportunity to make this a truly memorable Christmas," said Answers in Genesis and Creation Museum founder and president Ken Ham. "Both the Creation Museum and the Cincinnati Zoo have put together spectacular Christmas displays, and we were excited to partner with them to promote these events in a combination package that would have been of great value to the community." "My family and I have been Cincinnati Zoo members for more than 10 years now, so I am also personally saddened that this organization I esteem so highly would find it necessary to back out of this relationship. At the same time, I have learned that the zoo received hundreds of complaints from what appear to be some very intolerant people, and so I understand the zoo's perspective. Frankly, we are used to this kind of criticism from our opponents, and so being 'expelled' like this is not a huge surprise," Ham continued.

"Our museum will continue to promote this excellent zoo on our website and also in the printed material we pass out inside the museum. We are committed to promoting regional tourism. It's a pity that intolerant people have pushed for our expulsion simply because of our Christian faith. Some of their comments on blogs reveal great intolerance for anything having to do with Christianity," Ham added.

Awww, Ken just wanted to promote regional tourism. It wasn't about trying to get validation from a legitimate research and educational institution, then. Right.
Let's deal with some of his other claims.

They were not attacked for their Christian faith — that is one of the most common dodges of liars and con men and other scoundrels, to hide behind the petticoats of generic 'faith', when what they're actually being criticized for is lying and cheating. Ken Ham's Creation 'Museum' is despised because it is a temple to falsehood.

My Comment: Yep, that's exactly right. If this was a museum about the History of Christianity which did not affirm or deny the truth of Christianity and taught children real historical facts (maybe had an ancient scroll on display or something) no one would have cared. But that isn't what it is: It is a pseudoscientific display which also attempts to drive its sick fundamentalist mentality into everyone who walks through (For instance, it has display in which a former theistic evolutionist is shoveling a grave with a tombstone that says 'God is Dead'). I also want to point out that in my letter to the Zoo I emphasized just what bothered me:

"[T]he Cincinatti Zoo has disgraced itself by associating with a pseudoscientific, deceptive, and ludicrous organization. Any biologist worth his or her salt will recognize the hogwash and misinformation which permeates the Creation Museum. I have written about this in article you may access here:

Ask yourselves: Is this type of nonsensical, propaganda-spewing organization that a reputable center of science should be associating itself with?"

He keeps talking about expulsion and being expelled. Were we more successful than I could have imagined? Is the Creation 'Museum' closed? Are people hindered from visiting it? Have we blocked all ticket sales? No, unfortunately: all we've done is prevented a fraud from acquiring an entirely false veneer of authority by association. Save the martyr's lament for a time when you haven't been caught faking your credibility, Ken.

My comment: Is it bigotry to ask, as a tax-paying citizen, that the Cincinnati Zoo not associate with the Creation 'Museum'? No, just as it would not be bigotry for Christians to ask that nude art stay out of museums (Reguardless of your opinion of that, if enough people protested for it I think it would be reasonable for an art gallery to comply).

I haven't been to the Cincinnati Zoo myself, but I'm willing to accept Ham's claim that it is an excellent organization (I shouldn't, really. Plaudits from Ken Ham is like a good restaurant review from Jeffrey Dahmer.) The zoo's reputation is precisely what Ham was trying to trade on by linking his awful little collection of lies to them. We have successfully defending that good reputation by exposing a tie that would have undermined it.

The only intolerance here is an expectation of rigor, good science, and evidence-based reasoning from an educational institution. It's what we'll continue to promote, as long as hucksters like Ken Ham are out there trying to dilute our standards to allow biblical hogwash to stand on an equal footing with legitimate biology.

Speaking for this blog, I don't have intolerance for Christianity — I simply lack any respect at all for that grand hodge-podge of delusions. We leave the intolerance to Christians, who are historically expert at practicing it.

There's more! Ken Ham has a long whiny blog post up today, complaining about those intolerant evolutionists, and making the same tired complaints I dealt with above.
I can tell that Ham is a bit peeved that we squelched his attempt to ride on the coattails of the zoo.

"While we are saddened"…"These people basically worship Darwin--they worship evolution and cannot tolerate anyone who doesn't agree with them!"…"Sad that someone with an atheistic agenda can cause a business relationship to be dissolved"…"they resort to censorship and underhanded campaigns"…"we are used to such integrity bashing."

But he can't let it slide without trying to pretend it was all alright.

"Thank you, P.Z. Myers, for thousands of dollars' worth of media promotion for our Bible-upholding museum! Actually, this will benefit the Creation Museum much more in the long run."

For the right effect, you have to imagine Ken Ham blubbering that out through his tears. Sure, he got media attention — all of it pointing out that he failed, that he'd tried to sneak in a link to a legitimate educational institution, and that a few people with blogs were able to put a stop to him. He looks rather pathetic, don't you think?

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