Censoring science with a list of who’s naughty and nice

Censoring science with a list of who’s naughty and nice
By JOSH FERRIS
Columnist

November 20, 2003

It’s the holiday season, and many of us are sending out our lists. And the return on them depends on how naughty or nice we have been. The Traditional Values Coalition has also made a list – checking it twice- and has given it to their Congresspersons. It’s a list that even Joseph McCarthy would have been proud of.

Pitt professors Emilia Lombardi and Melanie Gold are on a list circulating in the halls of Congress that says their research money should be revoked because they do not promote traditional values. Gold is working on a project to help prevent unwanted pregnancies in teenage girls, and Lombardi is researching substance abuse in transgendered people.

It does not shock me that the Traditional Values Coalition has a hit list of scientists they do not like. Right-wing fanatics have been making these for as long as there has been writing, but the more bothersome thing is that Republicans in Congress are considering these quite seriously.

Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh, has more than once moved to withdraw National Institute of Health funding from research projects that were considered a waste. These include projects from the TVC’s list. The fact that our representatives are even considering this list seriously is shocking and disturbing. A wave of concern has erupted in the scientific community about the politicizing of research.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Ca., has stood up to defend the people on this list. Researchers depend on federal money to develop scientific solutions to better all walks of life. Waxman cannot stand alone in his defense. The leaders of all the world-class research institutions need to pledge their full support to the people who bring them so much fame.

Are we in the midst of scientific McCarthyism? Many people believe that the TVC is just a bunch of powerless nuts. But why do we hear only one voice of opposition? And isn’t it odd that the list contains information on research projects not available to the public record? The government has denied lending any support to the TVC hit list, but no one can explain how they gained access to this information. Could there be far more support than we realize for the TVC?

I like what these researchers are doing, so I began questioning myself. Do I have traditional values? The only way I could find out was to go straight to the source. I went to the TVC’s Web site in search of common ground. Lo and behold, we have a lot in common. The TVC and I both do not like Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for different reasons of course, but hey, what is a road wrongly taken between friends?

And, oh my goodness – we are both hooked on homosexuals! Their Web site talks about queer people A LOT, and I also talk about and to queer people all the time. Now, of course, they think homosexuals are child molesters and that gay people are destroying the country. So maybe this time the TVC and I are not on the same page, but the short time I was on their page, I was highly entertained by great reports like “Homosexual Urban Legends: The Series.”

I enjoy living by the statement that, if everyone hates you, than you must be doing something right. Lombardi and Gold sit on the list with 155 other public health luminaries, and when the TVC updates their list, I am sure we will see more Pitt faculty on it. The green-eyed monster has definitely started to entice me. I need to be on a hit list.

I do not want to be on some low-level list. I want the big boys to list me. You know who I am talking about: Falwell, Dobson, Aschroft. The REALLY powerful lunatics. How do I get on a right-wing hit list? Well, I guess I need everyone, including you, to start hating me. I am going to care about things like health care and art, and not about corporate securities or the benefits of free trade. Yeah, those types of people are always hated, so I guess I am bound to be an activist forever.

With all of this negative discussion of lists, I will let all of you return to the happy holiday wish-list making. Mine is not really a hit list though, just a list of hot celebrities I want for myself. If you haven’t been naughty (in the bad way), I am sure you will do fine.

Josh’s Xmas list has a boyfriend and an iPod on it. So if there are any cute men who own an iPod, e-mail him.
Posted on 11.20.2003 at 9:18 PM

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