“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Monday, February 19, 2007

here be dragons

Blogarillo informs us that Pampa wingnut Warren Chisum's latest wingnuttery has attracted kos's attention. Josh Marshall has also weighed in with a less sensationalistic, more truth-based post than kos's. Kos's post, titled "Texas Republicans are anti-Copernicus," claims that Chisum, who "doesn't even believe that the earth revolves around the sun" may be "the craziest winger in all of elected politics".

Marshall, on the other hand, also includes Chisum's guilty thrashing about after he gets caught with his hand down the anti-Semetic fundies' pants:

The ADL caught wind of the Bridges memo and now Chisum says he's "willing to apologize if I've offended anyone" if anyone got their big nose bent out of shape.

Reports the Dallas Morning News: "Mr. Chisum said he hadn't looked at the Web site and didn't realize that he was distributing that type of material. He expressed chagrin that he didn't vet the material more carefully."

To understand the full extent of the problem with kos's post, we need to look no further than the Daily Kos FAQ. Under Controversial Diary Topics, the FAQ read:

The rule for posting such diaries is "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". The more extreme the claim, the higher the burden of proof that commenters will demand. If you can't provide evidence to back up your claim, it is best not to post the diary. This guideline also applies to recommending extraordinary-claims diaries. If a diary makes an extreme claim with little or no evidence to back up that claim, it shouldn't be recommended, no matter what that claim is.

You see, I've lived an hour away from Chisum's home town of Pampa for some time. I've known a number of Texas Panhandle fundies and wingnuts. You can't throw a rock down here without hitting a half-dozen creationists, an experiment which I have tried many times. But the claim that an elected official "doesn't even believe that the earth revolves around the sun" is an extraordinary claim.

There are several possibilities here, only one of which is "Warren Chisum is a savagely racist flat-earther who believes that evolution is a Jewish conspiracy". It is possible that Chisum is being truthful when he says that he passed along this memo as a favor to a friend. It's possible that he didn't really review it. Chisum-- unlike most Texas state Representatives and Senators-- doesn't maintain a staff of handlers, which is why so many of his idiot opinions get out unfiltered. Maybe this is just another example why politicians need people to tell them when they're about to do something stupid. Maybe Chisum's just the legislative equivalent of my co-workers who forward all those unSnopsed e-mails.

Word on the Panhandle street has always been that Chisum's a W-esque incurious dim bulb, so it's entirely possible that he really hasn't thought all that deeply about cosmology at all, as suggested by my post.

Maybe Chisum really does believe that it's turtles all the way down. But we should be sure of that before we accuse. None of the possibilities here look good for Chisum. It would be a shame to let an opportunity to humiliate a Texas Republican go to waste just because an A-list blogger wants to score a cheap shot.