12.21.2005

timing

Transit strike! I can't believe it! There's a transit strike in New York City and I'm not there!

During the last transit strike, in 1980 - legendary at 12 long days - I was in school in Philadelphia. Twenty-five years later, I leave the city, and they strike four months later.

This makes me homesick.

Yes, I wish I were there. It's exciting. It's a little extra insanity added to the everyday insanity. It's New York City history. Damn, I wish I were there.

It's interesting to see how the local media and most - although definitely not all - New Yorkers descend on the Transit Workers Union in a feeding frenzy of blame. To a person, New Yorkers loathe the MTA, the incompetent and corrupt agency that runs the city's otherwise amazing transit system. "I hate the MTA," is the shared language of all New Yorkers. Yet so few of them imagine having that hateful agency as an employer, and automatically blame the union for the strike. Self over solidarity every time.

Damn. Checking it out over the internet is just not the same.

* * * *

In other news from the Old Country, a Pennsylvania judge - a conservative Bush appointee - has rejected the "breathtaking inanity" of the anti-evolutionists in public schools.
Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school district to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in high school biology courses because it is a religious viewpoint that advances "a particular version of Christianity."

In the nation's first case to test the legal merits of intelligent design, the judge, John E. Jones III, issued a broad, stinging rebuke to its advocates and provided strong support for scientists who have fought to bar intelligent design from the science curriculum.

Judge Jones also excoriated members of the Dover, Pa., school board, who he said lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of "breathtaking inanity" and "dragged" their community into "this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."

Eleven parents in Dover, a growing suburb about 20 miles south of Harrisburg, sued their school board a year ago after it voted to have teachers read students a brief statement introducing intelligent design in ninth-grade biology class.

The statement said that there were "gaps in the theory" of evolution and that intelligent design was another explanation they should examine.

Judge Jones, a Republican appointed by President Bush, concluded that intelligent design was not science, and that in order to claim that it is, its proponents admit they must change the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations.

Judge Jones said that teaching intelligent design as science in public school violated the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits public officials from using their positions to impose or establish a particular religion.

"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect," Judge Jones wrote. "However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions."

The six-week trial in Federal District Court in Harrisburg gave intelligent design the most thorough academic and legal airing since the movement's inception about 15 years ago, and was often likened to the momentous Scopes case that put evolution on trial 80 years earlier.

Intelligent design posits that biological life is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligent source. Its adherents say that they refrain from identifying the designer, and that it could even be aliens or a time traveler.

But Judge Jones said the evidence in the trial proved that intelligent design was "creationism relabeled."

The Supreme Court has already ruled that creationism, which relies on the biblical account of the creation of life, cannot be taught as science in a public school.
This decision is legally binding only for school districts in one area of one state. However, it will likely serve as both precedent and deterrent to other religious fanatics trying to impose their brand of superstition on everyone else's children. At least for a while.

29 comments:

FUNKYBROWNCHICK said...

Love your blog. Love Canada. Now, about this strike ...

Not every New Yorker hates the MTA; I'm a huge fan of public transport and the MTA is probably the best system in the US. :)

I don't enough details (more come out every day) about the current strike to come to a final decision about on which side I stand. But, in general, I'm strongly in favor of workers' rights and collective action ...

James said...

PK Myers at Pharyngula has some good posts on the Dover ruling, including an excellent one on just how bad the self-satisfied Michael Behe's testimony was for his own side.

Oh, and contrary to at least one badly-written news report I've seen, the judge did not forbid the mention of ID in schools; he forbade the requirement to teach ID, which is very different.

L-girl said...

Not every New Yorker hates the MTA; I'm a huge fan of public transport and the MTA is probably the best system in the US. :)

I am also a huge public transit fan, and I love the NYC subway. But that's different from hating the MTA! I'm talking about the people who run the subway, not the system itself.

You are a New Yorker - seriously? - and you don't hate the MTA?

The corruption, the waste, the ineptitude, the anti-rider policies... the moronic ads????

Wow.

Breathtaking.

I don't enough details (more come out every day) about the current strike to come to a final decision about on which side I stand. But, in general, I'm strongly in favor of workers' rights and collective action ...

I'm glad to hear it! Thanks for stopping by.

L-girl said...

the judge did not forbid the mention of ID in schools; he forbade the requirement to teach ID, which is very different.

Different, but correct. We do not want judges ruling that something can't be mentioned in school! The requirement to teach is the central issue.

M@ said...

I read an opinion that the ruling had far-reaching opinions, because it was in a federal district court. Something about other states in the district having to abide by the ruling, and the ruling being available as precedent in every other district in the country.

I'm far too ignorant of the US legal system to know, but I hope this person was correct. That would make it as important as the creationism ruling in 1987. We can hope!

L-girl said...

The ruling is available as precedent, as are all rulings. But no, other states do not have to abide by it. It's still a very important ruling.

redsock said...

"breathtaking inanity"

A perfect description of the MTA as well.

James said...

Different, but correct. We do not want judges ruling that something can't be mentioned in school!

Definitely correct. But the article's misrepresentation of the ruling really bugs me, because it's sympomatic of a huge problem in US church/state politics.

The anti-separation crowd makes a big deal of how praying is "banned" in schools and public spaces, for example. But it isn't banned. What's banned is the schools making people pray. Again, it's a huge difference, of the same type that the badly-written news report ignored.

I read an opinion that the ruling had far-reaching opinions, because it was in a federal district court.

BTW, an important point for when the IDers start whining about "activist judges": as mentioned in the article quoted, Judge John Jones is a Bush appointee.

Beausejour said...

Wow -- I lived in NYC for 5 years and never really had a strong opion one way or another about the MTA. It seemed to be as good or better than STCUM and the Toronto Transit authorities -- with a much tougher and older system to run and a lot more users. I do NOT miss taking the 1 train to midtown in the summer in suit though, i'll tell you...

I think unions have their place, but this strike mostly affects the people who have the fewest alternatives. Wall Street people will have all kinds of cars, cab, buses hired for them and it'll be paid for. It'll be the little guys who live way out in Queens that will get screwed -- and who will read the NY Post and see that these MTA employees get paid better than they do for what they'll consider to be very little work and they'll take it out on the strikers.

I have little sympathy for either the union or the MTA in this thing.
They have a process they can use and both chose not to be honest about using it.

Now, if they had said they were striking on worker safety (I think about a year or so ago there had been 2-3 employees killed by bad signals, etc) then I would be all for the union. That was simply unacceptable and the MTA should be accountable, as they should be for the now-you-see-now-you-don't nature of this surplus. But 2 wrongs don't make a right, and holding a city hostage to prove the point makes no sense.

re: the PA ruling. Wasn't the judge in this a judge appointed by Bush too? Perhaps the legions are beginning fade into the woods instead of marching back to a rotten Rome....

teflonjedi said...

The court decision was a pretty good one...and long, at 139 pages. I read through the whole thing last night. The judge went through a lot of effort to establish as a part of his ruling that ID is actually creationism, and that it is not science. He also spent a lot of time pointing out how disingenuous many of the school board members were on the subject; they testified that they didn't go through all this effort so as to get creationist views into the schools, when at the same time much evidence was introduced that these same members expressed creationist, anti-evolution views at the school board meetings during the implementation process. (Anyone wanting the read the whole ruling can find it many places, including off of my blog.)

I'm very pleased with the outcome; this is a "hot button issue" with me.

L-girl said...

Here's a good post on the transit strike from a workers' perspective.

L-girl said...

I lived in NYC for 5 years and never really had a strong opion one way or another about the MTA.

This is mind-boggling. Maybe five years isn't enough time, although I doubt that.

Yes, huge system. Yes, hard to run. No excuse for any of their lies and corruption.

Maybe you aren't into transit issues?

I think unions have their place, but this strike mostly affects the people who have the fewest alternatives.

This is ridiculous. It affects nearly everyone. Everyone takes the subway, not just people with few alternatives. Some people can afford cabs better than others, sure - but everyone rides the subway and buses. If you lived in New York, you must know this!

L-girl said...

The anti-separation crowd makes a big deal of how praying is "banned" in schools and public spaces, for example. But it isn't banned. What's banned is the schools making people pray. Again, it's a huge difference, of the same type that the badly-written news report ignored.

Ah, I see what you mean. Yes, that bit of right-wing propaganda is so irritating - and so omnipresent.

BTW, an important point for when the IDers start whining about "activist judges": as mentioned in the article quoted, Judge John Jones is a Bush appointee.

And as mentioned by me in my post. :)

L-girl said...

The court decision was a pretty good one...and long, at 139 pages. I read through the whole thing last night.

Wow, good for you teflonjedi. So few folks can even read an article or a column carefully, never mind a whole judicial opinion. Impressive.

this is a "hot button issue" with me.

Yes, I could see how it would be, for a scientist. The re-emergence of these anti-evolutionists is so disturbing on so many levels!

L-girl said...

I think unions have their place, but

A sure sign an anti-labor statement is coming.

File next to "I'm not racist, but...", the sign bigotry is on the way.

Beausejour said...

Well, maybe 5 years wasn't long enough.

"A sure sign an anti-labor statement is coming.

File next to "I'm not racist, but...", the sign bigotry is on the way."

Wow -- come on! In the history of organized labor there have never been any excesses, corruption or lying on the behalf of union officials? They are big organzations themselves, like the MTA, or big business or whatever -- run by human beings who are just as flawed as anyone. I am pro-union on some strikes and anti-union on others -- which is pretty fair, I think. I grew up in a city hollowed out by a large single employer (one which employed a grat number of my family too). 7 unions made a deal to keep the operation running, 1 did not and decided to bring everyone down with it. To me, that's unfair. Economics change, industries change, such is the way of the world. Nothing stays as it was yesterday, last year, last decade. Which isn't such a bad thing overall.

Now, I'm sure it was really their employer's fault, and the 7 unions were just toadying to them. :)

L-girl said...

In the history of organized labor there have never been any excesses, corruption or lying on the behalf of union officials?

I didn't say or imply anything like this. What a ludricous non-argument.

Economics change, industries change,

But workers' need for collective bargaining to get a fair deal from their employers will never change.

Nor does consumers' concern for their own comfort over other people's livelihoods.

Beausejour said...

It does affect everyone (and yes, I lived in NY and used the subway at least twice a day every day) -- but this time of year, all it will be is another inconvenience at a busy time - THAT's what i meant about affecting people. For those with means, it's still an inconvenience -- but one their employers will likely help them overcome. For those with fewer means, all they will see is a big pain in the ass -- brought to them by people who they may think have cushy jobs and already better paid than they are. For the union to call people "Sheeple" on their website and say "It's erosion of EVERYONE's benefits we're fighting for here!" and that - surprise, surprise, the politicians they negotiate with may be slimy or non-altruistic.

You may as well tell us all to stop shopping at WalMart or buying cheap meat. (And I really wish they would).

You lived in NY for 20 years -- do you think even a unionzed construction worker on Staten Island who's faced with a $30 cab fare to his job today will really want to listen today to the union's fight for new employees? New Yorkers are amazing, and the most adaptable people I know -- but they don't suffer fools gladly. It's not a rude place, but it is a direct one.

L-girl said...

MTA workers have cushy jobs? MTA officials have cushy jobs. No one I know envies token booth clerks.

Re "Sheeple" and "erosion of benefits", are you quoting the site I linked to? Because that's not the union's website. It's someone's blog. He's not even a transit worker. Just a guy who supports the union.

I have no wish to argue about unions with you or anyone else. You're welcome to voice your opinions elsewhere.

teflonjedi said...

Wow, good for you teflonjedi. So few folks can even read an article or a column carefully, never mind a whole judicial opinion. Impressive.


Well, um, *cough*, you embarrass me!

Besides, it was well written, and I found it entertaining. In many places the judge more or less said something effectively like "Didn't you think I'd tell you were lying on the stand?" The judge also recounted how the district's own legal counsel advised, up front, that their policy would lose out in court.

Yes, I could see how it would be, for a scientist. The re-emergence of these anti-evolutionists is so disturbing on so many levels!

Yeah, it's one of those few political things I do write about on my blog...

Now, to work!

Beausejour said...

The only opinion i have is that sometimes i side with the strikers, sometimes with the strikees. Really!

Echo Mouse said...

I'm sorry the strike is making you homesick :(

If it helps, the TTC goes on strike fairly regularly it seems LOL So now, you can join in and say "I hate the TTC!" ;)

Actually, the TTC is pretty good. But when I lived in Toronto, there was a fair amount of bitching about it. Course I always drove a car so it rarely bothered me! lol

L-girl said...

If it helps, the TTC goes on strike fairly regularly it seems LOL So now, you can join in and say "I hate the TTC!" ;)

LOL, that's a good one. I rarely take the TTC, only once in a while. I live outside the city, and also drive.

The TTC is so much smaller than the MTA, and most New Yorkers don't have cars, they are utterly dependent on public transit. There's almost no comparison.

Lone Primate said...

Speaking of court rulings, here's the next thing for Stephen Harper to get his shorts in a rhetorical knot over...

James said...

File next to "I'm not racist, but...", the sign bigotry is on the way.

This is not at all related to the union argument, but Xoverboard has a great, if slightly crude (and very violent), cartoon on this matter.

L-girl said...

Speaking of court rulings, here's the next thing for Stephen Harper to get his shorts in a rhetorical knot over...

What, you mean we won't all be forced to go to sex clubs? But isn't that the sex-club agenda? :)

Xoverboard has a great, if slightly crude (and very violent), cartoon on this matter.

Ooo, good one - despite the violence.

I don't know this site at all. I'll take a look...

L-girl said...

Here's a good post on the transit strike from a workers' perspective.

And by the way, this blog linked to above is written by a New Yorker seriously inconvenienced by the strike - but still in sympathy with the workers.

Wrye said...

I really enjoyed reading the Dover ruling too. It's very accessible if you've been following the story, and the judge is entertaining, candid, and sharp as a razor. Words like "sham", "ludicrous", "disanalogous", and "canard" appear, along with the phrase "flagrant and insulting falsehoods", and the statement "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID policy".

Some days, the wheels of justice grind exceedingly fine...

L-girl said...

"It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID policy".

Oh yeah. That is brilliant.