Monday, January 10, 2005

Great Argument against DNA

Writer David F, a PD from a very red state (well, a very red part of a purple state) where creationism is all the vogue wrote to me about something I just had to share. Apparently, some of the jurors in that area are so conservative, they don't believe in evolution and believe the earth is 10,000 years old and we created in 7 days (thus - creationism). Well, some of the lawyers in that area have taken to portraying DNA as being part of evolution, and hence against creationism and God's own word. This has, apparently, caused some confusion, maybe even hung juries(?), in DNA cases where their clients are dead to rights guilty.

You have to love it, right wing politicians (generally) pass more and more laws to put people in prison longer and longer, and yet, they're caught in their own idiotic far-right ideology when it gets on their jury and refuses to accept science (also a far right ideology) to convict.

13 comments:

Golda Rochel said...

That's the dumbest argument I have heard. Watson and Crick, the scientists who did critical research with regard to DNA felt that the design of DNA itself pointed to the fact that humans must have a creator. Of course they posited that it was aliens (a creation race) that created humans, not G-d. But DNA and creationist ideas are far from contradictory.

John Jenkins said...

As a conservative who volunteered at the Public
Defender's office over the summer (and am now a paid employee there), I just want to point out that criminal laws generally are passed with OVERWHELMING majorities from both the left and the right, and even if not have nothing to do with your argument whatsoever, except so you can paint people with whom you disagree as "idiotic".

Anti-science isn't just a right-wing thing, either, not that you seem to care. Nice to know you spent all that money and three years in law school so you could continue to be unable to analyze and draw distinctions.

PD Dude said...

John, you make a good point that anti-crime laws are frequently passed by large majorities on both sides of the aisle, but you have to acknowledge that the laws emanate from a conservative world-view, and they generally are passed by liberals only after they are painted into the corner and afraid of being tarred as "soft on crime." I don't credit them for being weak and unable to stand up based on principle, but I don't buy it that these laws exist because of their ideology.

As to right wingers and science, it is clear that the war that exists on science right now exists from the right. I'm not saying there aren't liberals willing to bend science in order to further their political (usually environmental) goals, but the Bush administration has turned science on its head, so that huge groups of scientists have decried it. Our president does not believe in evolution, he has pooh-pooed important scientific things such as global warming, stem cell research (everyone who knows anything about the subject concedes that his "compromise" was a fraud that has stymied research into the area) and pollution. He has handed over the regulation of our country's most precious resources to businesses who would exploit them to ruin for profit.

But, the largest right wing attack on science has to be creationism. This, of course, is not a theory, but a nitpicking of another theory to a point that, they say, the other theory cannot be supported. They offer no alternative SCIENTIFIC theory, but rather a faith based theory. That's fine, I have no quarrell with people believing what they want, but don't force it into the schools. If you're not comfortable with your kids learning a secular based education based on critical thought and scientific inquiry, homeschool your kids or send them to a school that rejects those approaches. But don't try and turn it into a national policy, because it is a religious based policy.

All I was pointing out in my post is that it is pretty humerous how some public defenders have managed to turn that conservative (since I consider most prosecutors generally conservative) sword - use of DNA to obtain criminal convictions - into their own shield. I'm sure it hasn't been all that successful, and I'm sure that it's probably not going to win any cases, but I love the creativity of the defense lawyer. I have always considered defense lawyers among the more creative lawyers (as the more liberal lawyers, we tend to be more artistic in that sense than the conservative lawyers). I think we come up with some of the most creative manners of defending our clients. Let's face it though, most of them are guilty - very guilty - and we're not likely to change things. All we can do is try to be as big a speedbump as possible on the prosecution's road to conviction.

Brian said...

What I can never understand is that conservatives are bashed for being heartless on crime yet California has some of the harshest criminal laws you'd ever see.

As for that risiculous DNA defense, it sounds to me that this is nothing more than gratuitous "Jesusland" bashing, similar to what we all heard after Bush was re-elected. I would not be surprised if there was other evidence that helped get the jury away from convicting.

I may only be a 1L, but I know enough to know that I would not bet the rest of my client's life on such a ridiculous defense unless he was stone cold guilty and I was beyond desperate. And, even if this story is 100% accurate, as the guy who invented the "Twinkie defense" can attest to, once in a while you can get a jury to believe anything.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I wish I believed as you do, PD Dude, that liberals want to do the right thing but are just scared. Instead, the major monied interests in law-enforcement related politics -- primarily the pollice unions, prison builders, vendors, and private prison firms -- historically have Democratic, or at least bipartisan ties. Check out the endorsement from the state PAC (pdf) of Texas' largest association of police unions. Even though Texas is the reddest of red states, a LOT of money flowed to Democrats. When that union goes, e.g., to demand that laws punishing police misconduct aren't enforced, those liberals listen up.

To the last commenter, prison is the ultimate nanny state, and there's no ideological contradiction with thinking that government can solve every problem and thinking that building more prisons will help reduce crime. We're talking here about an actual bipartisan consensus, sad to say, not something liberals were scared into doing.

I gave this post a little plug here. Best,

Anonymous said...

There is no way you could describe the Dems as left wing folks! Liberal is probably a bit strong too.I love it how the american right will leap out to defend any part of itself no matter how indefensible. If people in 'jesusland' are prepared to acquit someone because the evidence interferes with the fairy stories they believe in well, they need to be laughed at
Rob (too lazy to set up a blogger account)

Anonymous said...

I would really like to see some sort of news coverage of this; does any exist?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. Fucking. Amazing.

Hey, Public Defender, take a look at all the green/voodoo pseudoscience we're being deluged with. Remember Silent Spring? Shockingly sloppy science, verging on an outright hoax, wasn't it? Yep, sure was. It and the rest of its genre.

How about "global warming", er, wait, no, they're marketing it as "climate change" now... "New, Improved!" Anybody got around to peer-reviewing the "hockey stick" yet? No? Heh heh heh. Didn't think so. The lunatic end of the environmental movement has been making up one fairy story after another for forty years now, and they've been wrong hilariously often. Yet their parishioners still believe every word of every new fable they invent.

Then there's the near-total blackout on broad areas of science regarding gender differences... except for the ones (e.g. Asperger's) which look disadvantageous to men. What kind of lunacy is that? I'm serious here: Why is it acceptable to do studies about areas where women are better than men, but not the reverse? Is this science, or not? If it's science, let the numbers talk and keep politics out of it.

But lefties can't keep politics out of anything, can they?

Oh, and the Terrible Dangers of GM Foods! Pure superstition. They'll be burning witches next. Where's it coming from? The left, of course.

For every idiot on the right who believes in the literal truth of the Bible, I'll show you an idiot on the left who believes just as fanatically in the literal truth of some kind of equally anti-rational, anti-scientific fashionable nonsense of the left, as long as it fits the usual template (by Lysenko out of Ed Wood, with set designs by John the Revelator).

"Critical thought"?! Are you hallucinating? You adhere to a rigid system of orthodoxies. One of those orthodoxies is the belief that to memorize your dogma is to engage in "critical thought", while to memorize any other dogma is of course very different... and God help you if you start really thinking critically. Another element of your dogma is that, since you like to use the word "science" a lot, that all your random prejudices, blind fears, received assumptions, etc. are all somehow "scientific". Wrong. You are a lawyer, not a "scientist". Even being a real scientist is no guard against irrational beliefs: Look at William Shockley. One hell of a physicist, but a drooling idiot outside his field.

I'm not the slightest bit worried about evolution: If it's good science, it'll win out. Good science always does. I happen to believe that "intelligent design" is doomed because it's bullshit. If I've got faith in anything, it's that, in the long run, the Galileos will always be vindicated and the frauds like Paul Erlich will be unmasked. I doubt that Erlich's bullshit fairy-tales will reign as long as Ptolemy's did. I certainly hope not.


Hey, Gritsforbreakfast, you seem to have noticed that government employees vote for the government to... hire more employees! Good catch there. But "liberals" aren't exactly innocent of it. In fact, it's their entire political philosophy in a nutshell.


I love it how the american right will leap out to defend any part of itself no matter how indefensibleYou, Rob, need to get out of the house more. You've got two (now three) examples right before your eyes, on this very page, of conservatives calling out fools on their own "side". Bounces right off you, doesn't it? Have you ever seen Derbyshire clobbering "intelligent design"? You're not complaining about actual conservatives; you're complaining about a fictional cartoon of conservatives invented as a straw-man by ideologues of the left.

Listen, rational people on the left (they do exist) would rightly resent it if I went around pretending that fools like you are representative of all lefties. Think about it.

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Anonymous said...

DNA itself pointed to the fact that humans must have a creator,
Who must obviously be greater.
As a conservative who volunteered,
My comments are not greatly feared.
Nice to know you spent all that money and three years in law school,
But what you say is definitely uncool.
All I was pointing out in my post,
Is what I say is bread and not toast.
What I can never understand,
Is what makes you call yourself a man.
I wish I believed as you do,
But for such stupidity I have the right to sue.
I would really like to see some sort of news coverage of this,
But hold on now, I have to piss.
I love your information on dna testing!
But it's still not the best thing.
By the way,
Watson & Crick
Are welcome to suck my prick!