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Gore film sparks anger in Wash. school district

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Frosty Hardiman is neither impressed nor surprised that "An Inconvenient Truth," the globalwarming movie narrated by former vice president Al Gore, received an Oscar nomination this week for best documentary.

"Liberal left is all over Hollywood," he grumbled a few hours after the nomination was announced.

Hardiman, a parent of seven in the southern suburbs of Seattle, has roiled the global-warming waters.

It happened early this month when he learned that one of his daughters would be watching "An Inconvenient Truth" in her seventh-grade science class.

"No, you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation -- the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet -- for global warming," Hardiman wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board.

The 43-year-old computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who said he believes that a warming planet is "one of the signs" of Jesus Christ's imminent return for Judgment Day.

His angry e-mail, along with complaints from a few other parents, stopped the film from being shown.

The teacher in that science class, Kay Walls, said that after Hardiman's e-mail her principal told her she would receive a disciplinary letter for not following school board rules that require her to seek written permission to present "controversial" materials in class.

The e-mail also pressured the school board to impose a ban on screenings of the film for the district's 22,500 students.

The ban, which the school board said was merely a "moratorium," was lifted Tuesday night, subject to conditions. Still, the action has appalled the film's producers and triggered a national backlash.

Members of the school board said they have been bombarded by thousands of e-mails and phone calls, many of them hurtful and obscene, accusing them of scientific ignorance, pandering to religion, and imposing prior restraint on free speech.

In comments at the board meeting, several angry residents argued that "An Inconvenient Truth" was, indeed, scientifically true and that saying otherwise is "deliberate obfuscation."

In the end, though, the board opted for balance. That means that "An Inconvenient Truth" may be shown only with the written permission of a principal and only when it is balanced by alternative views that are approved by both a principal and the superintendent of schools.

"I am happy they are giving the kids as much information as possible," Hardiman said.