Tennessee Creationism Bill: Will Haslam Sign It?

You already know the news that the Tennessee Creationism Bill Passed Both Houses of the Legislature. All that remains for that idiocy to become law is for it to be signed by the Governor, Bill Haslam

Back in 2008 we had the same issue in Louisiana, and we were naive enough to think that their Governor, Bobby Jindal, who had been a biology major in college, might actually have the fortitude to veto it. It was hoped that he would follow the example set by Oklahoma’s Governor Brad Henry that same year, when he vetoed a similar bill which his legislature had passed. But Jindal turned out to be a pandering fool.

What of Tennessee’s Governor Haslam? In the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee we read Scientists lobby for governor to veto Tennessee evolution bill. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Scientists, including a world-renown influenza expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and leaders of the National Center for Science Education, are pushing Gov. Bill Haslam for a veto, saying the bill will take Tennessee back to the laughingstock days of the Scopes trial.

And what is the Governor’s expected reaction? Let’s read on:

Haslam spokesman David Smith expects Haslam will sign it. “Like all bills on the way to his desk, he’ll review it when it gets there, but I anticipate he’ll sign it,” Smith said in an e-mail Tuesday.

One can always hope, but it doesn’t look good. We continue:

David Fowler, head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, says the scientists are grandstanding because the bill applies only to state-approved science curriculum, which excludes creationism and intelligent design. “It reflects either that they are not capable of reading English or that they don’t care what the bill says because they have a political agenda,” he said.

Ah yes, Fowler. As we wrote last year, he’s the genius behind the whole mess. It seems that the bill was drafted for him by the Discovery Institute, and he passed it on to the legislature (see Lauri Lebo on Tennessee in “Scientific American”). Here’s more from the Commercial Appeal:

Fowler brought the bill to Watson last year after receiving complaints that a teacher’s presentation of evolution “was extremely unbalanced” and that a textbook called the Genesis story was a “creation myth.”

“The purpose of the bill is to let those teachers know it is OK for you and your students to engage in critical analysis of scientific theories. That is how the scientific process works,” Fowler said.

They’re referring to Bo Watson, a physical therapist, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

At the moment, it looks like Tennessee is going to get exactly what it deserves. We hope they enjoy the results.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “Tennessee Creationism Bill: Will Haslam Sign It?

  1. Reason will not prevail because “somebody has to stand up to the experts!” doncha see. Yep, damned liberal ivory tower experts, we’ll show ‘em!

    My bet is on the Gov simply letting the bill become law without signature. That way if things go south rather than southern he can claim he never signed it.

    The Gov will not veto the bill because that would reveal him as a godless commie nazi tree-hugging hippie.

  2. “The purpose of the bill is to let those teachers know it is OK for you and your students to engage in critical analysis of scientific theories. That is how the scientific process works.”
    Continuing a theme from the previous page- you’re right, Mr Fowler. So, allowing your bible story, at your insistence, undeserved status as a “scientific theory,” the “scientific process” has decided, after the “critical analysis” YOU insist on, that it’s a myth. What’s the problem? Could it be you who has the political agenda?

  3. Its a shame that they could only find three prominent in-state scientists to support the veto. I admire NCSE and I think they do good work, but the veto effort would’ve been a lot stronger if the biology professors across TN had supported it en masse. C’mon Vanderbilt, U.Tenn, etc… where are you?

  4. Looks like Tennessee joins Louisiana in the Axis of Ignorance.

  5. the bill will take Tennessee back to the laughingstock days of the Scopes trial.

    Also known to creationists as The Good Ol’ Days, back when it was illegal to teach Godless Darwinism in public schools.

  6. Holding the line in Florida

    And now Gov Scott has signed the “Inspirational Message” law down here Florida. I reckon we will get another round of anti-science bills popping up. The insanity continues to grow!

  7. Axis of Ignorance!! I resemble that remark. It looks like Jindal and the LA Legislature are going to cut higher ed even more this spring. I guess they are going to privatize state schools eventually. State support is now less than student tuition for schools. Jindal went to a private college (Brown University), so I guess what was good for him is good for everybody. Oh well, that’s the way it is in LA LA Land. It’s not just California any more.

  8. State support is now less than student tuition for schools. Jindal went to a private college (Brown University), so I guess what was good for him is good for everybody. Oh well, that’s the way it is in LA LA Land. It’s not just California any more.

    That’s pretty common. Another example would be VA; I believe the “State” schools UVa, W&M, and VaTech only actually receive ~10% of their operating funds from the state. The rest is tuitions and private donations. Economically speaking, they’ve been private in all but name for a while now.

    These trends towards private funding of public universities, however, are (1) a decade or two older than the current crop of creationism-supporting legislators, and (2) much wider than just the creationist states. So blaming it on those folks is not realistic.

  9. Gabriel Hanna

    I don’t see why privatizing the state universities is automatically a bad thing. After all the top ones ARE private.

    The university at which I teach derives only a fraction of its funding from the state budget. Wisconsin is not known as a stronghold of conservatism or creationism.

  10. Gabriel Hanna

    At any rate, as deeply involved in higher education as the Federal and state governments are, I’d say hardly any school counts as “private”. If government isn’t funding the universities directly through budgets and research grants, they fund it indirectly through financial aid and student loans.

  11. If we assume that public schools ought to exist – and I’m getting less confident every year that that’s the case – people with the authority to pass such legislation are essentially saying that one does not have to earn the right to say what is taught in science class, but can steal it, and be protected under the law. So even if these pandering politicians truly are clueless that what conservative, Christian, GWB-appointed Judge Jones called “breathtaking inanity” is what would be taught in nearly all cases, they are knowingly, and willingly, sending a message that one does not need to do the work to be rewarded. And if they are not 100% clueless of what will be peddled to mislead students, they are knowingly and willingly pretending that they know the science better than the the 99+% of scientists who do the actual work.

  12. retiredsciguy

    Gabriel Hanna says, “I don’t see why privatizing the state universities is automatically a bad thing.”

    This opens up the whole question of whether government should fund education at all. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that it is much less expensive for the government to educate the public than to pay out welfare. Funding education is truly an investment, whether it is primary, secondary, or higher education. I think that we, the taxpayers and society, get more in return than what it costs us.

    Moreover, do we really want a society where only the children of the very rich can acquire an education?

  13. Tomato Addict

    Gabriel HannaThe university at which I teach derives only a fraction of its funding from the state budget. Wisconsin is not known as a stronghold of conservatism or creationism.

    Gabriel’s a fellow Cheesehead? It’s a shame I’m not closer (near Milwaukee), we could meet for a beer.

  14. Gabriel Hanna

    @retiredsciguy My opinion, for what it is worth, is that it is much less expensive for the government to educate the public than to pay out welfare.

    History would seem to belie that, since the government didn’t pay out welfare when it didn’t pay higher education. Victorian England had levels of literacy arguably higher than today.

    Moreover, do we really want a society where only the children of the very rich can acquire an education?

    How you get from private universities to “no education except for the very rich” is astonishing to me. Nobody is proposing that it be illegal for poor people to get an education. If I did to you what you did to me, I would ask you “do we need to live in a society where everyone is entitled to a Ph.D. at government expense?”

    The question is, as always, how much education and how much of a role the government should play in providing it. If the government got out of education altogether, someone would provide education to poor people at a price some of them could afford in order to make money, because that is historically what happened. Would it be Harvard-level? No. Should it be? That’s the point under contention isn’t it? To continue the welfare analogy, the government doesn’t allow food stamps to be used in restaurants. Nor does it have government grocery stores that you have to pay for regardless of whether you shop in them, but if you do go to the one in your district everything they have in there is “free”.

    @Tomato Addict:Gabriel’s a fellow Cheesehead? I live here but I’m not a Cheesehead; I’m not from here. I plan on sticking around just long enough to cancel your vote to recall Walker. :)

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    If I had to boil down “what’s wrong with education in America” into two sentences, it would be these:

    1. We assume education is an end in itself, and more is necessarily better.
    2. We insist on everyone having the same kind of education and considering it a failure when that doesn’t happen.

    1 is of course a failure to apply any sort of a cost-benefit analysis to the question, prefering to treat education as virtue and ignorance as vice. Cost-effectiveness does not come out of that approach, and so we see per-pupil funding, in real dollars, tripling over 40 years with no discernable change in outcome.

    2 is the opposite of what goes on in Europe and Asia, where students of varying ability are tracked, will they or nill they, into different educational systems. So we complain that we don’t do as well as Europe and Asia, when we compare the average output of our schools to their elite.

    No one, it seems, is willing to sit down and try to figure out what we want to accomplish versus what we want to spend, because education is always good and everyone has an equal right to the same education. And then we wonder why no one is happy with how well it performs or what it costs.

  16. Tomato Addict

    Gabriel :I live here but I’m not a Cheesehead; I’m not from here. I plan on sticking around just long enough to cancel your vote to recall Walker.

    I’m not really from here either, but I try to adapt. I count myself fortunate to have my vote cancelled by such a worthy commentator, but not to worry: all us Dems vote twice anyway. ;-) I’ll still buy you a beer should the opportunity present itself.

  17. Beer? In Milwaukee? Get out.

    I live a few miles from the Leinenkuegel Brewery–let me know when you’re in the Chippewa Valley. Beer won’t be on me, it’ll be on them: the brewery tour includes free beer.

  18. Tomato Addict

    Deal. But are you sure you don’t want some Milwaukee’s Best?

    {**ducks**}

  19. retiredsciguy

    Gabriel, I’d much rather be enjoying a beer with you guys than debating the funding of education. Even a Milwaukee’s Best would be better than an argument.

  20. Tomato Addict

    >Even a Milwaukee’s Best would be better than an argument.

    @RSG: I’m tempted to argue to with you about that, but I’m afraid of the proof. ;-)

  21. RSG said:

    Even a Milwaukee’s Best would be better than an argument.

    Depends. Were you thinking of only a 5 minute argument, or the full half-hour?

  22. retiredsciguy

    I’m a slow typist, so any argument would be longer than 5 minutes. Besides, what’s the point? Regardless of whether Gabriel’s is the better position or mine, it’s not going to change the way higher education is funded.

    And really, Milwaukee’s Best doesn’t taste that bad. It just doesn’t have much taste. May as well just drink a glass of water. It’s free.

  23. Tomato Addict

    Gary> “Depends. Were you thinking of only a 5 minute argument, or the full half-hour?”

    I know, I know, but I just posted a link to that one in another thread.

  24. @RSG: In case you missed it, it’s a line from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. It’s from a sketch called “Argument Clinic”, that Tomato Addict linked to in another thread.
    @TA: Sorry. I know you did. But… I couldn’t resist. RetiredSciGuy’s set-up was just too good to pass up. Besides, considering that my wife’s family were (and are!) all huge Monty Python fans, it’s become kinda ingrained. I imagine a DNA test now would find probably find a “CCIGJP” (Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, Palin) sequence.