Texas’s First Creationism Bill for 2011

You knew that Texas would show signs of lunacy this year, and you were right. We learn from our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) that there is “Intelligent design” legislation in Texas. NCSE says:

House Bill 2454, introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on March 8, 2011, would, if enacted, provide, “An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.” The sole sponsor of HB 2454 is Bill Zedler (R-District 96).

Isn’t that sweet? Here’s the official page at the Texas Legislature’s website for Bill Zedler, the man responsible for this legal wonder. We already know that he’s a flaming ignoramus, but what else can we learn? His work career was in the healthcare industry, although the specifics aren’t described. He served in Vietnam as a hospital personnel officer, and he has five grandchildren. His photograph, however, looks like that of a 22-year old. Except for that Dorian Gray picture, he actually seems normal. But we’ll judge him by his legislative work.

Here’s a link to all the information on Zedler’s HB 2454 . It was filed on 08 March 2011, and nothing has been done with it yet. Zedler is the sole author, and apparently it has attracted no other sponsors. The bill’s text is blessedly brief. It says, with some bold font added by us for emphasis:

AN ACT relating to prohibiting discrimination by public institutions of higher education against faculty members and students based on their conduct of research relating to intelligent design.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS

SECTION 1. Subchapter Z, Chapter 51, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 51.979 to read as follows:

Sec. 51.979. PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RESEARCH RELATED TO INTELLIGENT DESIGN.

An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.

SECTION 2. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2011.

The legislative session convened on 11 January, and is scheduled to adjourn on 30 May. There’s plenty of time for all sorts of craziness. If the lawmakers are willing to pass this thing, we have no doubt that Governor Rick Perry would eagerly sign it into law.

Looking on the bright side, we can say this: Zedler’s bill isn’t one of those sneaky “academic freedom” jobs that claim to promote “critical thinking” by teaching the “strengths and [alleged] weaknesses” of evolution. No, this bill is a splendid example of straightforward, full-frontal idiocy. It forthrightly says exactly what it means — and nobody needs to lie about the bill’s purpose. For that, Zedler is to be commended. He is one of the rarest of all creatures on this earth — an honest creationist politician. He’s also hopelessly ignorant and possibly insane, but at least he isn’t trying to fool anyone.

It’s going to be interesting to watch this one work its way through the legislative process.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Texas’s First Creationism Bill for 2011

  1. retiredsciguy

    Gee, if I were in Texas politics, I’d offer an amendment to extend the scope in the following manner:
    Sec. 51.979. PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RESEARCH RELATED TO INTELLIGENT DESIGN, ASTROLOGY, WITCHCRAFT, VOODOO, OR ANY OTHER EVIDENCE OF SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEF.

    On the other hand, this act as written probably wouldn’t be valid if it were passed. Any institution charged with discriminating “against … a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design …” could simply state that there is no such thing as a *theory* of intelligent design.

  2. Time for my letter… how much do you want to bet I don’t hear anything at all ever?

  3. Texas universities no longer able to fire professors based on the ‘conduct of their research?’ Yeah, that’s workable.

  4. I wonder what prompted this? It’s much too direct and honest to be written by the Discoveroids. Maybe he’s thinking of Martin Gaskell at UT? Maybe a reaction to the Dembski situation at Baylor?

    I assume a university will fund and authorize whatever research is done with university money, so it seems the intent of this bill is to prevent action against a professor for work done elsewhere that might bring embarrassment to the university… If so, it’s very odd that the legislature would need to pass a bill protecting this one particular subject unless Zedler has a specific situation in mind.

  5. Ed asks: “I wonder what prompted this?”

    You’re right, it’s not the work of the Discoveroids. I suspect that it’s an independent effort. The legislative genius was shown a copy of “Expelled!” and he figured he’d fix the problem. It’s probably no more complicated than that.

  6. They really are doubling down on the ignorance, aren’t they? “Research related to intelligent design?” I’d say take it to the religion or philosophy department, but that implies that ID is something more than a PR campaign.

  7. I put down “oogity-boogity” in my last grant proposal as an explanation of the mechanism of some unusual biological effects that we were seeing in our lab. Despite my incredible honesty in describing this mechanism, the proposal got turned down. Time to sue.

  8. SY, make sure you make it clear you were hypothesizing some form of intelligent oogity boogity and not natural, non-sentient oogity boogity. Sounds like the law won’t protect you if you hypothesize Miracle of Dog.

  9. I’m not sure it would be such a bad thing if this bill did pass. Once students are exposed to the “reality” of creationism, most all would totally reject it.