February 9, 2008 - Matthew Chapman, Darwin's Great-Great Grandson
February 12th is Charles Darwin's birthday. More American's believe in the devil (62%) than accept Darwin's theory of evolution (42%) as revealed in a recent Harris poll. The good news is that the people in the US who do not believe in a god has gone up to 18%. Here's hoping for that trend to continue. The episode also mentions Darwin's restored autobiography and quotes from Inherit the Wind. (I really need to watch that film)
Matthew Chapman discussed his books Trials of the Monkey and 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania. I was quite moved by Chapman's frank ability to get past the contentiousness of the issue, and to strike up friendships with people on both sides of the trial, and then discuss his insights in the interview.
It's that kind of level-headed ability that I see in others that I most admire, because I'm probably never going to have a moment of it myself. Being able to have a discussion with William Jennings Bryan College students about how Charles Darwin is only slightly less hated than the devil. Nope, I don't think I would be capable of keeping my temper in that sort of climate.
He finished up with a discussion of the need to inject more reason into seeking the next President of the United States, to which I heartily agree.
"No Gods, no masters." -Margaret Sanger
2007 Archive episode.
February 10, 2007 - Matthew LaClair: Exposing Teacher-Preacher
Theocracy alert discussion of Mary Cheney and her pregnancy; and how the religious right friends of her father all roundly denounced her for her actions.
Matthew LeClair is the student who recorded his American History teacher proselytizing during classtime. His interview is a rather enlightening journey into how a story morphs from the events that create it, to the time it breaks onto the news. This would not have been in the news at all if the teacher in question had simply admitted to his errors when confronted with them. Instead he denied it, and Matthew was forced to produce the recordings in order to defend himself. Luckily he was in the habit of carrying a recorder for the purpose of clear note taking, and had the forethought to turn the machine on when the preaching continued over several days.
National news stories reported on how this was an incident of baiting or entrapment, or how Matthew set out to get the christian teacher. None of which is true.
The sad footnote to the story? They banned the use of recording devices in classrooms, not disciplining the teacher. Matthew did eventually win his case.
A lengthy Freethinker's Almanac finishes up this episode, including a mention of local Texas celebrity Molly Ivins, Who had died the week before.