Monday, July 24, 2017

#1875: Robert Lattimer & COPE

Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) is a Kansas-based group whose name suggests a corollary of Badger’s Law. COPE “promotes the religious rights of parents, children, and taxpayers” and claims that public schools “promote a ‘non-theistic religious worldview’ by allowing only ‘materialistic’ or ‘atheistic’ explanations to scientific questions,” which is false (if anyone could offer a genuine non-materialistic explanation for anything in science – “and then a miracle happened” is not an explanation – it would be allowed). In particular, the group filed a suit (details here) in 2013 challenging Kansas’s science standards because they include the teaching of evolution, which COPE claims is a religion and therefore should be excluded from science classes: by teaching evolution “the state would be ‘indoctrinating’ impressionable students in violation of the First Amendment.” COPE’s mission, by contrast, is to create “religious[ly] neutral” schools won’t promote “pantheistic and materialistic religions, including Atheism and Religious (‘Secular’) Humanism” – a category that includes “Darwinian evolution” and apparently the Big Bang.

COPE was founded in 2012, with young-earth creationist Jorge Fernandez as president (Fernandez has published articles in Journal of Creation and on the True.Origin Archive website). He was later replaced by Robert P. Lattimer, the current president. Lattimer has previously been involved with Science Excellence for All Ohioans, a creationist group that – backed by the hate-group The American Family Association and strongly supported by Governor Taft’s chief of staff, Brian Hicks – tried to undermine the treatment of evolution in Ohio’s state science standards in 2002 (Lattimer himself was, for some reason, appointed to the Ohio science standard writing committee). Back then, the goal was to lobby the Ohio Board of Education to give intelligent design creationism (ID) equal time with evolution in science classes; after the Dover trial that goal has become unrealistic (to Lattimer’s intense dismay), so in Kansas the goal was modified to rather banning science in general from science classes.

Lattimer has said, concerning his support of ID, that “[a]mong scientists, we’re a distinct minority. Among the public, I’d say I’m easily in the majority,” which was apparently intended as an argument for the scientific legitimacy of ID. Apparently, he used to be a standard Biblical creationist, but switched to Intelligent Design for political reasons, and has for more than a decade been pushing ID to various congregations, schoolboards, and others willing to listen. Of course, it is all about marketing – Lattimer hasn’t even considered trying to support ID by research or science. He is, however, a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.

The other board members of COPE are:
  • Anne Lassey, vice-president, who has served as “teacher, principal and Superintendent of Schools in several locations in Kansas,” which is dismaying.
  • Debra Marks, vice-president, whose “passion in life is to help educate people regarding the value of family and life and how to avoid the often tragic and painful consequences of not making wise choices;” this passion is not further detailed, but it sounds ominous enough for us to recommend that you stay well away from her.
  • Greg Lassey, treasurer, who has “taught Advanced Biology at the high school level,” clearly without having minimal understanding of central parts of the subject.
  • Albert Gotch, who has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and is therefore a major catch for an anti-science group like COPE (even though the education is unrelated to evolution); he has also been Director of the Stark County Home School Association, and the Executive Director of the Akron Fossils & Science Center, a small, Ohio-based creation museum.
  • Christy Hooley, a homeschooler who runs the “Wyoming Against Common Core” blog.
  • Joseph Renick, who is “Executive Director of the Intelligent Design network of New Mexico, where he advocates for objective science education”. That group has a history of supporting antievolution legislation in NM: in 2011, for example, it paid for a full-page advertisement in the Albuquerque Journal in support of a (failed) “academic freedom” bill.

The lawyers representing COPE in 2013, by the way, were celebrity creationist lawyer John Calvert (founder of the Intelligent Design Network and chief strategist behind the Kansas kangaroo court hearings on evolution in 2005) and Kevin T. Snider of the Pacific Justice Institute, who helped represent Jeanne Caldwell in her (failed) 2005 lawsuit alleging that the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s Understanding Evolution website was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Diagnosis: Anti-science religious fundie – and apparently a resourceful (if utterly deluded) one. Dangerous.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#1874: Steve Lashuk

So, ok: the Lesbian Studies Institute might be a parody (or have been – it seems to have gone AWOL sometime in 2010), but at least it won an Encouragement Award in the 2006 Millenium Awards for its attempt to spread hatred. No, it’s not an institute or a think-tank, but a website devoted to warning the world about the imminent takeover of society by lesbians (and Jews), or – in their own words – to “track, synthesize and expose the secret, social and political corruption of America’s powerful, government financed Lesbian Mafia”. It consists of Steve Lashuk, who calls himself “chairman”, and whose qualifications include having “devoted over nine arduous years and thousands upon thousands of dollars towards the study of this topic. I have accumulated a mini-library of books from both sides, subjective and objective [?]. I subscribe and have access to many periodical publications, subjective and objective. I have on files thousands of news articles all corroborating as evidence of a sinister force working to destroy America’s existing culture.”

Apparently the Lesbian Mafia is out to criminalize heterosexuality – and make no mistake, “[f]eminism is lesbianism.” What is their motive? “VERY SIMPLE, THE SAME REASON Adolph Hitler spread hate between the Jews and German people. It’s a clinical fact, lesbianism is a sickness, they suffer with an extreme form of paranoia and persecution complex [wheee]; and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You see it’s a medical proven fact [now he’s asserted that it’s a fact twice, which obviates the need to cite evidence], lesbianism is a developmental disorder which progresses into psychotic paranoia. Hence causing extreme fear of all men, otherwise associated with heterophobia. It’s common practice for lesbians to call all heterosexuals, homophobes, but clinical studies have confirmed [I guess asserting it three times makes it even more conclusively established] that all lesbians have a dreadful fear of heterosexuals and especially men.” In more detail, “as clinical studies verify, in their early childhood developmental stage (one to three years) their childhood conflicts caused their minds to short circuit into averse thoughts about men, hence, creating an imbalance for relationships with men, and creating the dynamics for bursts of aggression towards all society and even themselves […. therefore] Unbeknown by most, lesbians have a grandiose plan in effect to overthrow the heterosexual culture in the U. S. and replace with a Lesbo Amazon Nation.” They don’t fool Steve Lashuk, though: “I broke their code, I unlocked their secrets, I deciphered their manifesto …” Apparently there are also secret Lesbian Breeding Programs.

The studies mentioned seems to be articles by our old friend Texe Marrs, for instance about how John Kerry is secretly a Jew and a communist raised by the Illuminati to destroy America, or how the evil Jews control everything.

Lashuk also has a self-published dissertation that he apparently mailed to numerous people in the 90s. It doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact, even though he warned, referring to a genocide he expects to happen after his death, that although “I’m not going to see 50 million people die, when this thing starts mushrooming, you're going to see people shot.” At least he doesn’t “have any problem with the homosexual gay man per se – it’s the lesbians that are creating all the problems.”

Diagnosis: (With the caveat that he might be a parody, Lashuk is) one of the craziest fellows on the whole, wide Internet, which is no mean feat. Probably harmless, though.

Friday, July 21, 2017

#1873: Joseph La Rue

Joseph La Rue is a wingnut and legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and he is – of course – most famous for being virulently anti-gay. La Rue thinks for instance that Christians will be “treated as second class citizens by their government” if they are not allowed to treat gay people as second-class citizens, which I think is as good a definition of “bigotry” as any, even though La Rue probably doesn’t like being called “bigot”. La Rue made the claim in connection with the 2014 Arizona gay segregation bill that ADF helped craft, and said that the bill “is not about denying service,” which it rather emphatically is.

Apart from fighting against gay rights, La Rue is a bitter and aggressive combatant in the imaginary War on Christmas.

Diagnosis: Bigot.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#1872: Don Larsen

Don Larsen is – or used to be (we can’t quite find the relevant information) – chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party. In 2007 Larsen gained a bit of attention after he apparently submitted a resolution warning that Satan’s minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention where he proposed the resolution, Larsen told those willing to listen that illegal immigrants “hate American people” and “are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won’t do.” They are apparently in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats to “destroy Christian America” and replace it with “a godless new world order – and that is not extremism, that is fact.” It is, of course, extremism, not fact, and that Larsen felt the need to explicitly claim the opposite should perhaps have been a clue. At the end of his speech, Larsen apparently began crying, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. “by self invasion.”

According to his resolution, in order for Satan to establish his “New World Order and destroy the freedom of all people, as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.” The resolution then proposed to “prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion” by closing the borders, thus trapping everyone in there with Larsen.

Diagnosis: This is not an exception. The voter base for a significant proportion of wingnut politicians consists precisely of people who respond to such public displays of deranged lunacy by voting for them. We haven’t heard about Larsen since this, but there are plenty of likeminded people out there running for office and receiving the support from morons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#1871: Jack "Kewaunee" Lapseritis

Ah, yes: Bigfoot. Now, Bigfoot is a pretty silly myth, and bigfoot cryptozoology is pitifully ridiculous, but even tinfoil hat groups like the Bigfoot hunters have their own radical fringes. The late paranormal investigator Jon-Erik Beckjord (called “perhaps the most colorful character in the history of the Internet”) theorized that the lack of hard evidence for Bigfoot’s existence is due to the creature being an interdimensional being that slips in and out of dimensions (rather than, you know, the fact that it doesn’t exist), and many – starting with B. Ann Slate and Alan Berry in 1976 – have linked bigfoot to UFOs, telepathic experiences and incoherent mumbo-jumbo.

Despite a distinct lack of empirical data to back up such hypotheses, people have picked up the thread; Jack “Kewaunee” Lapseritis, for instance, argues in his book The Sasquatch People and Their Interdimensional Connection (2011) that 187 documented cases have “objectified the reality of dimensional bigfoot creatures”. It seems that bigfoot, according to Kewaunee (it’s a bit hard to tell), utilize the multiverse to jump dimensions. Kewaunee’s grasp of the multiverse hypothesis is, needless to say, tenuous and rudimentary. There is also quantum: “[q]uantum physics describes the reality of mental telepathy, invisibility, inter-dimensionalism, and other PSI phenomena, and is actually juxtaposed with psychic Sasquatch and ET behavior,” as Lapseritis sees it. It does not.

Apparently Lapseritis’s work consists mostly of telepathic field work – according to himself, “Kewaunee has been successful in his research because of his benign, spiritual, field methodology (no guns or cameras) – not unlike Dr. Jane Goodall’s approach with chimpanzees, except the Sasquatch are highly evolved nature people. They are terrestrial extraterrestrials, living inside giants’ bodies.” Using senses unavailable to most humans, Lapseritis has apparently intuited for instance that the Bigfoot race was brought to Earth (“seeded”) by the Star People long before humans, ostensibly to provide us with psychic guidance: in 2012, for instance (The Sasquatch People was published in 2011) “there will be a huge shift in human consciousness that most earthlings are ill prepared to face. The Sasquatch people, who are the ultimate environmentalists, want to share their ancient wisdom with the human, but few are listening.” Lapseritis has also written The Psychic Sasquatch and Their UFO Connection.

You can read more about it all on his strikingly designed website (embellished with random capitalizations and lots of different fonts). According to the book blurb for The Sasquatch People, Lapseritis himself is “a Holistic Health Consultant, as well as a Master Herbalist and Wellness Educator with 37 years of training and service in this field. Among many other resources for training, Kewaunee studied Herbalogy/Botany with the Ojibwa traditional shaman, Keewaydinoquay, PhD in Ethno-Botany; he is also a Master Dowser and a Sasquatch and ET contactee. Kewaunee is a world-traveled/trained herbalist who twice healed himself of cancer by natural herbal remedies and formulas.” Right.

In September 2017 Kewaunee and “spiritual teacher” Kelly Lapseritis (probably related) will host the second annual Spiritual and Psychic Sasquatch Conference, where they will apparently speak “on behalf of the Sasquatch People, Mother Earth and all of Humanity” and “propose a spiritual and ecological approach to healing our planet and our own collective soul consciousness.” Apparently their “speakers will share their own personal encounters with these sentient beings as well as the messages that have been shared with them to assist in improving and healing ourselves, relationships, and perspective realities,” and they include, in addition to the Lapseritises:

- SunBôw, author of The Sasquatch Message to Humanity Part 1 and 2.
- Andrew Robson, author of Sasquatch Revelations and Symbols from Beyond the Veil.
- Garrett Duncan, Navajo Shaman.
- Su Walker, Clairvoyant and Medical Intuitive.
- White Otter, Shamanic Practitioner.

Diagnosis: Completely harmless, of course, and probably of limited influence. And one cannot, in all honesty, help feeling a bit of sympathy with how special he is and his possession of all these unique, magic abilities that few seem to take seriously.