Documentary Recommendation

When I told my mother about my all time favorite film she thought I might like a PBS Nova episode from 2007 called Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial which had some very similar themes to the film. She was right. I loved watching Nova whenever I could catch an episode and this episode was a nice companion to the film.

The episode is about a small town divided by the belief that evolution should or shouldn’t be taught in public school. When a creationist gets elected to the school board he triggers events that snowball into what I can only describe as a fiasco. The school board latches on to a theory called “Intelligent Design” and try to have it be taught in schools alongside evolution. The thing is I remember this incident because I was a freshmen in high-school when the court case happened and I remember my parents talking about it.

The case itself is interesting. For the episode Nova did dramatic reenactments based off of the court transcripts and spliced interviews from the residents in between the court clips. The sound bite that left the deepest impression on me was a local woman saying that because she believed that God created everything she didn’t need to know anything else. I logically understand that she has the right to believe whatever she wants, but she and the other creationists do not have the right to impose that belief on everyone else. The court case came about when 11 parents sued the school district saying that teaching intelligent design violated the separation of church and state.

As the case took place in the U.S. the burden of proof is on the accusers. The parents assembled a team of experts to prove that a) Intelligent Design was not a science or scientific theory and therefore was no appropriate to be taught in public school; and b) that the purpose behind Intelligent Design was to promote a religious agenda. The defense argued that Intelligent Design was a scientific theory and that evolution, which they argued was flawed, shouldn’t have a monopoly in education and that students should be given access to alternative theories.

My interest in both the film Denial (2016) and Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial (2007) leans more towards the idea of free speech and what both cases mean for the right of free speech. If I ever wanted to do a collage paper on them I would pick that at my topic.

The case is also interesting to me because I’m not Christian. I wasn’t raised Christian because my parents stopped going to church for the same reason I still don’t; Organized religion is too political for me. I’m a agender. I can’t find a local religious group that will accept this. Gender roles play a part in many religions and I don’t fit into those gender roles. I’m missing out on the community aspect of  religious gatherings, but I would rather be my own intelligent person, not someone else’s design.

I won’t go into too many details about the court case, but the Nova episode was really interesting to watch and there are full versions of it available on Youtube.

 

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Just for Fun: TEA!

I’ve been an avid tea drinker since giving up soda pop and my latest obsession is blooming tea. I got a random batch of tea balls from China so it was a surprise what kind I would get. They were mostly a green and jasmine mix, but very good and well made. I had hoped to get a video of the blooming in action but I don’t have a good enough set up for it, but I did get some pictures of the final product.

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I ordered some more tea, but there was a mix up and I was sent a phone charger instead! The vendor said they would resend the tea, but it might take a few weeks.

My Favorite Movie of All Time

The holiday season is finally over and classes will be starting up soon, but as a gift to myself I preordered a copy of my all time favorite movie which incidentally just came out last fall and was released on DVD earlier this month. I was so shocked by how much I loved the movie that I went through a mini-identity crisis for a week asking everybody I knew what their favorite movie was and why.

The movie is a British film and I had seen the trailer for it on Youtube. It was one of the trailers that popped up before the actual video I wanted to see so my first reaction was to roll my eyes and think, “Great. Here’s another movie I’m never going to see,” but the trailer turned out to be different. It was a “behind the scenes” trailer where they had clips of the actual woman the film was based on talking about the film and the actors talking about making the film and I realized I recognized most of the cast. My dad has a weird thing about actors that I’ve kind of picked up on; he won’t recognize any big name folks, but he’ll recognize all the “character actors”, he calls them. He says it comes from being a cop. He’ll recognize one of the background characters and list off other movies they’ve appeared in. He says the best actors are character actors because they can play any role.So I knew as soon as I saw these^ folks, I just HAD to see the film even if it meant driving all the way across town. Fortunately my brother had seen the same trailer so we went and saw the movie together. The name of the film is Denial (2016).

The story is about Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt (portrayed by Weisz), a Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta and author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Dr. Lipstadt comes under fire when she is sued by the well known David Irving, a British “Hitler historian” and well known Holocaust denier, for libel when her book describes him as a “Hitler partisan” who “…distorted evidence, manipulated documents, and misrepresented data to reach historically untenable conclusions”. However, in the British legal system at the time the burden of proof fell on the defense (unlike in the U.S. legal system) so it was up to Dr. Lipstadt and her legal team to prove that Irving was indeed a Holocaust denier.


(Rachel Weisz and Dr. Lipstadt)

I liked the film because it’s a court room drama (meaning the screen writer had to pour over four weeks worth of court transcripts, YIKES!) and it’s structurally different from what a classic Hollywood film would be. I like that it’s different from what I’m used to. Instead of the protagonist rising up, becoming stronger and more articulate we already have a strong, articulate female protagonist finding the strength to step back and letting teamwork prevail. As part of the defense strategy her legal team had ordered that there would be no witness testimony and that Dr. Lipstadt would not do any interviews or take the stand. For Dr. Lipstadt’s character staying silent was the hardest thing she ever had to do, but it was an act of “self denial” (which I think is the actual meaning behind the title) for the greater good and winning the case. It’s exactly a “how-to” guide when it comes to facing prejudice, but it brings up some really good points.

There’s also a lot of subtle blink-and-you-miss-it references to important things going on at the time, but the point is this case was a BIG win for historians and freedom of speech in the U.K. I like the movie’s point that we’re living in what the film calls a “post-fact society” where politicians or public figures can say whatever they want, even blatantly LIE, and then when they get called out on distorting the truth they shrug it off as “well, it’s just my opinion.”

The message of the movie for me is that while everyone has the right to their own opinion, not all opinions are equal. For three weeks my coworker was buying into flat-earth theory. In his opinion, the earth was flat. I believe the earth is round. In fact I love watching the live stream from the NASA ISS space station. My “opinion” is based on fact. My coworker’s is not. I don’t believe that this is the greatest film every made, however, like any good story it doesn’t just tell us that deniers exist, but that they can be beaten.

The film is based off of Dr. Lipstadt’s book, History on Trial: My day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (which I’m currently reading) if anyone is looking for more information about the case or information that isn’t apparent in the film.

Carnival of Aces December 2016 Round Up

Happy New Year everyone! Here is the Carnival of Aces Round Up for December 2016. The topic was “Asexuality and Privacy

Ettina  made an awesome post about how Asexuality and Privacy related to their autism and being a survivor of CSA (child sexual abuse) in their post “Privacy, Sexuality and Shame

Kasey talked about the process of opening up about Asexuality through years of blogging and slowly coming out to people in their life and how that creates a confusing dynamic when it comes to privacy in their post “Am I a Private Person? I Can’t Even Tell Anymore

Sara talked about how being an aromantic asexual affected their view on privacy and how that affected what they shared with others in their post “I Do No Need More Privacy as an Asexual, but The Privacy I want is a Bit Different

A big thank you to everyone who made a submission! The next Carnival of Aces for January 2017 will be hosted by Ace Advice!  Happy blogging!