Letters to the Editor 9/30

Lecture did not provide all aspects of study on language

Again, my attention was riveted to the age-old debate over clashing faiths. This time, however, I thought that in Dean Falkís message (Baby talk more than nonsense, the Sept. 18 edition of The Oracle), I might find some new revelations since I am a theoretical linguist and scientist.
As I read the account, expectations grew dimmer with each sentence. It is not my intention to delve into the argument and debate between various cliques of secular humanism versus Judeo-Christian ìcreationism,î as the latter is often called, with semi-contempt by the former group to characterize those of faith in ìcreationistî faith. Universities are supposedly given to open, reasonable debate. However, there is no room in my letter to expound on either side, let alone both. Books on apology appear on all sides.
My point is that the protection of society by protection against the establishment of a religion for the early government, as envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, often brings out the hypocrisy of many involved in conflicts today. I say conflict because that is what it is. The element of faith is involved in Judeo-Christian religions (faith in the inerrant words of both covenants), as well as faith in ìthat which is unseen and unprovableî within the rubric of Darwinism.
It is, for me, interesting that the dualism here is matched by that of government versus religion. In nearly every case of conflict, government seems to bully religion; yet, the second two-thirds of the amendment for separation also speaks of proscribing any move to ìprohibit [or abridge] freedom of speech,î etc. When conflicts of faith arise, so do various forms of hypocrisy. In the last months, drives to eradicate ìunder god,î tamper with prayer for sports games and other venues for hypocrisy have sprung up over the ìfruited plain.î As a young man, I remember seeing the Ten Commandments on the wall opposing the nine-seat bench of the Supreme Court Building; yet, many judgments have come to present dangers to our republic in the long run. Hence, the major reason for my letter.
Specifically, the case of Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) would appear to have regarded, considered or established secular humanism (of which ìDarwinismî is a proper subset) to be a religion by definition. If this is so, and the federal government encourages non-sectarian, non-parochial schools to support this rubric with tax monies, then one can argue that our government recognizes and even has established a religion, ergo a faith called ìsecular humanism,î along with any proper subset belief systems that accrue. Thus, a Humanist Manifesto is encroaching into schools and especially in the science areas.
As a scientist of language, I am wondering whether Dean Falk has read widely in especially A. Noam Chomskyís works to realize that the momentum against Skinnerian behaviorism and the stimulus-response rubric for language has been debunked. In addition, all the chimps, orangutans and gorillas are unable to speak a human language, including those named in the lecture, Nim Chimpsky and Sarah. Sorry, Ms. Falk, the case is hopeless.

Jacob Caflisch is a professor in the division of languages and linguistics.

Reflections on docudrama were misinformed opinion

My first letter to the editor is a needed clarification to Mr. Thad Kennedyís letter detailing his appalled attitude against the documentary Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election. This filmís showing at University of Tampaís Falk Theater last week was sponsored by WMNF radio and attended by more than 500 viewers from all factions in the Tampa Bay area.
I purchased and reviewed this film and as a result, found many inconsistencies in Mr. Kennedyís letter. Mr. Kennedy refuses to accept the fact that two years is quite a short time to accumulate sufficient data to make any documentary. This was two years without the aid of prominent financial backing that could have influenced the material content and sped up the production as most ìdocudramasî are designed.
No, these professional writers, directors, producers, photographers, musicians and more put their homes up for mortgage, used lifelong savings and relied on family commitment to get through this time of inspired poverty.
Also, in reply to Mr. Kennedyís complaint that ì(Mr.) Palast claims to have his own theory of a rigged election by way of unregistered felons (and) what Palast said was not journalism, it was propagandaî deserves the propaganda label itself. The fact is that Jeb Bush lied to Mr. Palast about the letter he denied sending to Katherine Harris telling her to take away the voting rights of people who moved to Florida. But when Mr. Palast asked Mrs. Harris about the letter, she gave him a copy of it. This is just one of dozens of examples (like Jeb Bush lying to Suzanne Bozler about using the death penalty as a campaign tool ó but that is another story).
Also, Mr. Kennedyís assumption that ìwe know that most Brits right now are opposed to our situation with Saddamî in response to Mr. Palastís continuing objection to an unsubstantiated impending war ó well, Mr. Palast isnít a Brit (hesí American). I understand that there is a sound reason why most British citizens, along with the majority of humanity, are against the United Statesí position … because weíre in the wrong.
I holiday every summer in the United Kingdom and this is the second year I have been questioned at numerous functions about the state of affairs in the United States. I flinch at the word ìunstable,î yet this is the kindest word I can recall any ìBritî using in a conversation about U.S. policies. This is too sad.
For those who do wish to view this film and form their own opinions about the status of United Statesí political realities, please attend the showing Monday at 8 p.m. in the University Lecture Hall. I will be there.

Alaine Procko-Oliveri is a senior majoring in international studies.