People in e-mail have been asking me what I think of the whole thing about fundamentalist Muslims getting stupid over a dozen cartoons of Muhammed, but aside from the rote observation that being a religious fundamentalist of any stripe means you are rather more liable to get stupid than not, I find I’m rather more concerned that some 24-year-old press officer (and Bush political appointee) at NASA named George Deutsch has been taking it on himself to screen that organization’s materials from a religious point of view, and to ride herd on scientists whose talking points, in his opinion, make the president look bad.
The good news is it looks like the little twit has gotten a slap down from NASA’s administrator, who released an e-mail saying “It is not the job of public-affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA’s technical staff.” The bad news is that apparently the twit is still hanging out at NASA, probably stewing at how such a slap is bad for his career and plotting against all those who oppose him, and also, of course, the administration that installed this moron in this position is still in office, and will continue to get all puckered and testy when science — as it frequently will — flies in the face of whatever damn fool thing the administration wants to say. As long as this jackass is around, the Bush-pucker view will have a proponent at the agency.
Look. I’m not terribly surprised that thousands of largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists were manipulated by their mullahs and governments to pitch a fit about pictures of their prophet that they haven’t even seen, printed in newspapers in countries they don’t live in. I prefer not to disrespect Muhammed, not to avoid turmoil but simply because it’s polite, but at the same time I’m foursquare behind the idea that a free press doesn’t need to be polite, and if largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists don’t like that, they can suck it, as can any largely ignorant fundamentalist of any stripe who doesn’t like when his god or prophet or preacher or president gets a healthy slam.
Of course the largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists will pitch a fit. That’s what they do. As far as their mullahs and governments are concerned, that’s all they’re actually good for. It’s not as if these folks would allow them to think on their own, otherwise they wouldn’t have been out protesting, they would have just shrugged it off and gotten on with life (which would have meant, incidentally, that the dozen cartoons wouldn’t have been commissioned at all). Naturally, I think the attempts of largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists to shut down anyone who promotes a world view that opposes their own should be met with defiance, possibly with cartoons of Muhammed cavorting with beer-bearing babes in bacon bikinis. That’ll really spin them up.
People with the right to free speech are not obliged to cave to people who demand that the world has to be their way and their way only, even as they are obliged to be respectful of those who are respectful of those freedoms. The ideal world is one in which one can print a picture of Muhammed without incident, but generally chooses not to because it’s not nice to those who see him as their prophet. Basically, the entire world as Minnesota. It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but we can strive. In the meantime, I’ll continue not to be surprised at the idiocy of largely ignorant fundamentalists of any sort.
I don’t expect much out of largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists, but I do expect more out of NASA and of my government, which is why I am rather more distressed that some damn fool political apparatchik has the unearned ego to assume that his 24-year-old flatly ignorant self is an arbiter of what scientists can or cannot say, and what is science and what is not. While I have over the years become resigned to the fact that the way to tell if a government spokesperson is lying and/or evading is ask whether he is a Bush appointee and whether his lips are moving, it’s depressing to realize just how saturated the government is with these yahoos, even down to the lowly level of NASA press flack, and just how entitled they feel they are to their “truthiness” at the expense of truth. I mean, for God’s sake: a 24-year-old press officer for NASA who sees it as his primary mission to “make the president look good”? Gag me. Can’t we throw him to the largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists? Then all our problems will be solved.
I don’t expect I can do anything to solve the problem of largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists, especially when their mullahs and governments are actively working to keep them that way. However, I do feel I can do something about post-adolescent pinhead political appointees smearing their gummy little paws all over science in an attempt to look good to a president who couldn’t possibly give a crap about them. I’ll let someone else worry about the largely ignorant Muslim fundamentalists for now. But if George Deutsch ever Googles himself, as no doubt he will, he’ll eventually come across this entry. So he’ll read this: George Deutsch, you’re a idiot. It’s one thing to stick your own head up your ass; it’s another thing to try to stuff the rest of our heads up in there with you. You’re so obviously full of shit that it’s really an unpleasant experience for the rest of us. Please refrain from doing so in the future. Thank you.