"...no fossils have ever been found to substantiate evolution, which would certainly be strange if evolution was true, because a lot of fossils have been found, and more every day."
--Jennie Whitmer, the Democrat News, October 10, 2012
The above editorial appeared in the Democrat News, a Lee Enterprises newspaper, published in Fredericktown, Missouri, in the October 10th issue. That's October 10, 2012, for those who might be wondering.
I only mention it because amazingly there were no outraged comments left on the newspaper's site (one mild one), no scandalized townspeople rose up to demand that the paper be shut down, that its editors be fired. No one threatened to spit in the publisher's face, show 'em the county line, send them back to Iowa. No science teachers either from the public school system or the community college extension organized to confront the Democrat News' advertisers, to threaten boycott and otherwise hold them responsible for this outrage to common sense, the public good, and most especially their own job security.
No one started a thread on Topix or called the publisher a dumb bitch. No wives of scientists rushed to science's side regretting they or science itself had ever been previously mentioned in the newspaper. Nine days later the paper's points of distribution seem to have remained unperturbed. No reports of vandalizing the newspaper as a result of publishing Jennie Whitmer's column have reached my ears and certainly no bellicose shouts of “Burn It!” or “Shut it Down.” No one on the Democrat News' writing team has resigned from fear of negative association, boycott or other retribution, as unfortunately was the case with several quislings on The Crier's masthead. As far as I can tell the Ad Rep hasn't cut his ties and slithered away. No one has attacked Ms. Whitmer's sanity, questioned her motives, tried to shame her for her disrespect to human intelligence, or crowed about wanting to put her happy ass on a plane to Afghanistan. Letters to the Editors did not pour over the paper's transom on South Main; no abusive phone calls were received by the DN's local staff or at corporate headquarters in Davenport.
Even with no sidebar attributing this woman's point of view to a wishful fantasy in an alternative universe, no local loudmouth boutique owners, renowned slumlords, or other disagreeable members of prominent Fredericktown families have distanced themselves from the newspaper. Nor have they risen to the defense of human reason, or publicly apologized to their children for allowing outside influences to confuse them momentarily with an anti-science viewpoint. No self-appointed town leaders have gone on their Facebook spewing vitriol towards those that allowed Lee Enterprises to set up shop in Madison County in the first place. No reporters from Cape Girardeau have schlepped up to Fredericktown to get the "convoluted story" straight and "demand answers." No seasoned corporate media columnist from Chicago has devoted his column and a supplemental blogpost to analysis of its content. No astonishingly lazy reporter from the Riverfront Times in St. Louis has spiced up a rehash of something she gleaned secondhand from the Chicago media columnist, getting numerous details flat out wrong.
The city's Zoning and Planning Commission has not put it to a vote not to allow interviews to go forward with the Democrat News about its citizen survey and 20-year plan as a result of the scandalous ignorance demonstrated by Ms. Whitmer (assuming they would trouble themselves to report on it). The corporate newspaper has not been craftily banned from having a table at a community business event. Local county and city elected officials are not stonewalling, refusing interviews, hanging up on DN personnel when contacted for interviews, etc.
Why not? I mean fair is fair. From what I can tell Jennie Whitmer attended a program somewhere called “Stories of Evolution” and then presented the stories not as they were presented to her, but without asking anyone's permission, offered her own take on those stories. How "unimaginably disrespectful" to the accomplishments of the stories' originators, some of who may have been marines or who may know a marine or may have at one time talked to a marine! So why the difference in response, why is the one met with apoplectic hysteria and another with calm resignation, even amusement or a perverse pride ("only in Fredericktown!")?
I really hadn't planned or desired to devote even one more pixel on this blog to my newspaper's encounter with mob rule in Fredericktown, Missouri. But when God (*greater ontological dignity) hands you a joke so rich, it's downright heretical not to publish the punch line.