So, I dunno if you heard about this or not, but we have our second case of a GOP Representative and member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology saying something completely in disregard for any one of those subjects. First was our good friend Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin. But, hey. It’s okay. It’s not the House Committee on Women and How Do They Work Anyway. For Akin, I would assume that would be covered by the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Or perhaps the Ways and Means Committee.
This time, though, we get a special treat. This isn’t a member of the committee showing off his massive gap of knowledge and his immense ignorance on a specific subject, though I’m certain there’s some of that waiting in line to be mentioned next. No, this time we have a member outright stating his severe animosity toward the entire subject the committee is meant to cover. Georgia Rep. Paul Broun stated that “evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory” are all “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”
We’ve got a beauty over here.
Now, first, let’s talk about what the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology actually covers. According to Wikipedia, it has jurisdiction over non-defense federal funding for scientific research and development. In specific, the committee has jurisdiction over: NASA, the Department of Energy, EPA, ATSDR, NSF, FAA, NOAA, National Institute of Standards and Technology, FEMA, the U.S. Fire Administration and United States Geological Survey. In particular, funding for NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey are the most disturbing to me.
See, those are organizations that do things like, say, research on global warming, or look into the history of the earth, or even look into the history of the universe. NASA searches for proof of the Big Bang, making telescopes that see further and further into the universe’s past. And considering he told the crowd, “You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says,” my faith in his belief of global warming is a bit shaky. Not to mention, my faith on his ability to comprehend scientific data.
Look, I don’t begrudge someone their religious beliefs. I have some, too. I’m one of those crazy cooks that believe in both science AND the Bible. It’s actually possible to believe the Big Bang and evolution occurred as part of God’s plan of creation. If you want to ignore how science works and be a young earth creationist, however, (which, by the way, I thought they believed earth was only 6000 years old or so…) that’s fine. Go ahead. But don’t be one of the people in charge of funding scientific research and discovery in this country.
To put it one way, having Broun on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is like having a white guy in the black caucus. Or, in non-racial terms, it’s like having a known child molester lead the National Children’s Advocacy Center. It’s an awful idea where fundamentals clash massively in an irredeemable way.
Which brings me to my initial question… how are committee members picked, anyhow? As I think throughout the past, say, decade or so that I’ve been vaguely politically aware, I recall all sorts of hilariously stupid things said or done by House and Senate committee members. For example, Rep. Mark Foley, chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, was found sexually propositioning young men (though not necessarily minors when the propositions occurred). Sen. Ted Stevens, once chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, referred to the internet as a “series of tubes,” to much ridicule by people that understand how the internet works. And, of course, during the SOPA and PIPA debacles, there were defenders of the bill (that I believe may have been members of either the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology or the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation) saying they didn’t understand the language of the bill and suggesting the “nerds” be called in.
I’ve railed against the ignorance of our Congresspeople before. It’s appalling that these people are the ones getting elected. It shows a desperate need for intelligent young people, not part of the political system and legacy, to start throwing their hats into the political ring. But beyond that, it’d be great if we started at least TRYING to pick people that are not intensely ignorant on certain subjects to be in charge of funding for those subjects. A Bible-hating atheist shouldn’t preach, and a science-hating Christian shouldn’t be on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Maybe Americans should vote on committee membership, too. Just vote people directly into committees. I dunno. Seems like it’d have to be better than what’s happening now, right? You’d think anything would be.