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Kathleen left for Arizona at 6:30 yesterday morning. For some reason, I didn't feel like getting back into bed - I was probably too tired - so I made myself a nice breakfast and tidied up the kitchen, all the while watching Henry Hathaway's 1953 classic, Niagara, which may be the best Hitchcock film not made by Alfred Hitchcock.

Then I went back to bed. It was 8:15, and the Times hadn't yet arrived. It's not supposed to until about 9:30. When I came to, there it was. I reached for the Book Review. "Holiday Books"! Goody! Expecting lots of group summaries - the year's best gardening books, and so on - with few full reviews, I was disconcerted by the issue's thickness. What's this? More reviews than ever? The very opposite of "Goody!" By the time I was finished reading the damned thing, I was sick of books. So I read the paper itself and finished Margaret Talbot's excellent article on the Dover Area School District case.

At issue in this case is the legitimacy of proposing Intelligent Design as a scientific theory. I've been so scattered that it has taken all week to read the piece, but that has also kept the problem fresh in mind. Dover presents a veritable Problem of Democracy. If a majority decides that Intelligent Design is science, then that's that, at least so far as public schools are concerned. Scientists and other leaders can insist that the majority is mistaken, but the majority has the right to be mistaken. Until the Enlightenment, it was generally assumed that, given a broad franchise - "mob rule" as it was contemptuously described - the majority would be mistaken as a matter of course.

Regular readers will know that I trace Dover, as I do so many outcroppings of inappropriate sectarianism, to the civic upset of the 1960s. Where federal legislation enacting broader civil rights stopped, "activist" courts were willing to pick up. Apparently, there are a lot of people my age who, as teenagers, witnessed their parents' anger at and humiliation by "elitists," and many of them have devoted their mature efforts to fighting back - whether against evolution, women's rights, gay marriage, abortion, stem-cell research, or the ban on prayer in public schools. Call it the "Revenge of the Patriarchs" if you're drawn to exciting catchphrases. Or you can call me simplistic. I don't say that tectonic shifts occurring forty years ago are the cause of today's reaction. But I do trace its energy back to them.

In the evening, there was Orpheus at Carnegie Hall. As Kathleen was in Arizona, Ms NOLA stepped in to take her place, and M le Neveu met us at the Brooklyn Diner USA afterward.


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