Joined: Oct. 2006
BarryA, AKA Colorado attorney Barry K. Arrington, is responsible for some of the more offensive posts seen on UD in some time. The occasions for these posts have been the murders perpetrated by eighteen year old Finnish student Pekka Eric Auvinen, who shot and killed eight people in his school earlier this year, and more recently the murder of four persons in Colorado by the troubled adolescent Matthew Murray.
In the first instance BarryA used the Finnish shootings as an occasion to attribute the Columbine murders of 1999 to Darwinism. He noted that he was connected to Columbine in that he represented the families of six slain students as they pursued lawsuits against Harris' and Klebold's parents and other parties. Darwinism, he opined, was in some measure to blame for these incidents: "I am not suggesting that Auvinen’s and Harris’ actions are the inevitable consequences of believing in Darwinism. It is, however, clear that at least some of Darwin’s followers understand 'survival of the fittest' and the attendant amorality at the bottom of Darwinism as a license to kill those whom they consider 'inferior.' Nothing could be more obvious."
The second instance was the more recent shootings of four persons in Arvada, Colorado on December 9th this year. Again, BarryA reported that he was obliquely connected to this event, stating, “I live in Arvada, Colorado, and for many years I attended the church associated with the YWAM shooting on Sunday.” He concluded his post by musing, “One wonders if Murray has been reading Dawkins or Dennett. By blaming the world’s ills on religious people do Dawkins and Dennett incite to hatred and make it more likely that tragedies of this sort can occur?” Barry claimed not to have an answer for his own question, but he did find it interesting.
I asked myself a more interesting question. “Who is Barry Arrington?” Some poking around the internet reveals some interesting data, and indeed some intriguing ironies, in light of his UD posts. Of course, there are limitations to research conducted in this way, but much to be learned just the same. I’ve included links to some of the materials I found. Perhaps you may correct any errors I have made.
BarryA notes in his UD biography that he is a CPA who became an attorney. In some respects he presents an impressive resume: In addition to his professional attainment as attorney and litigator in state and federal courts, he was co-founder of one charter school and has been on boards of directors of others. He also served one term as a Colorado State Representative beginning in 1997 and ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1998 (although he finished fourth in a field of four in the primary). He did indeed represent several families subsequent to the Columbine shootings, and has represented schools and charter schools on other matters.
He is also a contributor to Uncommon Descent.
There are some very pointed ironies, however. For example, BarryA recently advocated compromise on “relational matters” while rejecting compromise respect to “scientific truths.” However, his rejection of compromise appears to be rather more complete. His brief political career rose and fell on his advocacy of conservative, even extremist positions of the evangelical Christian right. For example, his successful campaign to become a state representative revolved, in part, around his promise to legislate against “partial birth abortions,” a promise he later attempted to keep. He was described in the Denver Westword News in this way: “There's no doubt that 35-year-old Barry Arrington is combative. Coming from what he describes as modest circumstances, he worked his way through law school at the University of Texas, acquired a black belt in the martial arts and developed a reputation for throwing his views right in your face. In the early Nineties he splashed his name on billboards advertising his services to women "injured" by abortion. He helped found the Rocky Mountain Family Council, a political arm of Focus on the Family. While crusading against pornography in the unsuccessful campaign for pro-censorship Amendment 16 in 1994, he denied being a censor but sounded like this century's version of Anthony Comstock: ‘A woman having oral sex with a dog and persons inserting small rodents into the rectum--don't tell me that's in the same category as Catcher in the Rye.’ Well-spoken and full of righteous indignation about the state of the world, he utters opinions with the confidence of someone who just knows the truth...Arrington's zeal strikes his critics as smug self-righteousness, but it's intoxicating to many other evangelical Christians.”
Mr. Compromise, there.
One of Barry’s actions as state representative was to help kill a proposed needle exchange program designed to prevent the communication of HIV, and among legislation he promulgated was a bill designed to prevent the exposure of minors to sexually explicit materials (see link to legislation above) - although among his most recent professional roles has been legal counsel to a charter school which recently experienced three scandals within a very brief period involving sexual contact by school personnel with minor students.
But it is BarryA's positions on gun laws, as well as some of the actions he pursued as he represented several Columbine families, that create the most potent ironies in light of his recent comments on UD. Perhaps these facts help us to understand the urgency with which he blames Darwin, Dennett and Dawkins for the shootings that have occurred in his, and other, communities.
- In 1998 Barry attempted to amend Colorado’s 1985 “Make My Day” legislation, which gave immunity to dwellers who kill or wound anyone who unlawfully enters their premises if the dweller reasonably believes the intruder will commit a crime and will use physical force, no matter how slight. Arrington advocated an amendment such that it didn't matter HOW the victim got on the defendant's premises (knowingly or unknowingly). Shoot first, don’t bother with questions at all. It also extended the law to stores, businesses and even to one’s vehicle. This would no doubt have encouraged compromise during road rage incidents. (The amendments did not pass.)
- Barry later ran for the U.S. House of Representatives (claiming James Dobson’s endorsement) on a rabidly pro-gun platform. A last minute bid for funds for his campaign issued by the Arrington for Congress Committee was entitled “Please Help GOA-PVF [Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund] Get a Pro-Gun Champion to Congress.” In the text we find, “If you and I want to stop the gun-grabbers in Washington, we’ve got to elect a hard-charging, no apologies pro-2nd Amendment candidates like Barry Arrington to Congress…That is why this race is such a tremendous opportunity to elect a strong, unflinching pro-gun candidate to Congress. And it would be such a wasted opportunity if one of Arrington's liberal, gun-grabbing opponents takes this solidly Republican seat.”
- In his recent posts, Barry attributed to Darwin, Dennett, and Dawkins responsibility for the Columbine, Finnish, and recent Colorado shootings. It does not occur to him to connect his gun advocacy to such events. Moreover, while representing anguished Columbine parents he did not attempt to sue Charles Darwin, Daniel Dennett, or Richard Dawkins. Nor did he rest upon attributing Columbine to Darwinism. Rather, he sued the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. He also blamed deaths upon the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department, stating on CNN, “As you can see from the video, the shooters walked through the halls of that school with impunity. You have to keep in mind, as they were walking through the halls of the school, there were police officers, sheriff's deputies just on the other side of the walls, not doing anything.” He pressed the accusation that one of the Columbine victims was shot by a police officer, an allegation later proved to be to be false. He even pressed a suit on behalf of these Columbine parents against Solvay Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of the antidepressant medication Luvox, which was found in Harris’ bloodstream at therapeutic levels. Other targets included the gun show where friends of Eric Harris purchased some of the weapons used at Columbine, as well as the a young woman who made that purchase (having trouble finding the links I had on these…I'll supply when I dig them up.)
So, apparently, Barry’s conviction that Darwinism, Dennett, and Dawkins are in some sense responsible for the Columbine murders and similar shootings has not always been as firm as it is today. During the years he represented these Columbine families he instead assigned responsibility to Harris' and Klebold’s parents, to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, to a police officer who responded to the Columbine shootings, to Solvay Pharmaceuticals, and to many others. These parties may indeed bear responsbility for those events to varying degrees. Somehow, however, Barry managed to omit mention of anyone other than his favorite ideological targets in his recent posts, the better to exploit these tragic events in an attempt to smear contemporary evolutionary biology and support the worthless pseudoscience that is ID.
I'm not sure I find that admirable.
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.
"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace