Monthly Archives: November 2012

Louisiana Voucher Program Ruled Unconstitutional

We’ve written a few times before about Louisiana’s state-financed school voucher program, which is being used to fund creationist schools. See Louisiana Creationism Is National News.

While we weren’t paying attention, some litigation has been started. In the UK’s Guardian, this story appeared a few days ago: Louisiana education case highlights Bobby Jindal’s creationism state. It says, with bold font added by us:

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is rapidly emerging as a new “moderate” Republican voice, but a court case beginning Wednesday is set to shine light on a controversial policy in his state which sees government funding given to schools that teach creationism. The case has been brought by a Louisiana teachers’ union and is aimed at a voucher scheme whereby some parents can take their children out of poor state schools and get vouchers to use at private schools.

The Guardian article is dated 28 November, which was a Wednesday, so presumably the case started two days ago. The article continues:

One of the most controversial aspects of the programme is that some of the schools included on it are conservative Christian organisations that teach creationism in their science classes. When parents use the vouchers at such establishments they are effectively giving state money to teach children lessons that can include alternatives to the theory of evolution or questioning the widely accepted age of the Earth.

We already knew about that. Let’s read on:

One of the main Louisiana voices against the scheme is student activist Zack Kopplin. He began protesting the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act – a law that allowed public funds to be used at schools that teach creationism – as a high school project.

Right. We’ve written about that too. See Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program. The Guardian article is a long one, and a lot of it is about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Here’s an example:

Jindal, who will next year hold the high-profile position of head of the Republican Governors’ Association, has made numerous criticisms of Republican extremism in recent weeks. He even told one interviewer that the GOP should “stop being the stupid party”.

The case is just getting started and we didn’t think we had missed much by not posting about it earlier, but look what we just found at the website of Fox News: State judge rules Louisiana school voucher program unconstitutional. Here’s what it says:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s private school tuition voucher program has been ruled unconstitutional by a state judge. State Judge Tim Kelley said Friday that the program improperly diverts money allocated through the state’s public school funding formula to private schools. He also said it unconstitutionally diverts local tax dollars to private schools.

Wow — that was fast! Oops — we just noticed that it’s an Associated Press story, so we’ve probably copied all we can. You’ll have to click over there to read the rest. No doubt there will be more on this soon from other sources, so that’s all we’ve got at the moment.

Addendum: We found this at the MSNBC website: Jindal’s private tuition voucher program ruled unconstitutional. It says:

Mother Jones compiled a list of some of the “facts” students would learn in one of the 119 schools participating in the state’s program — from claiming that “God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ,” to globalization being a precursor to the Rapture.

[...]

There’s no word yet on how this ruling could affect similar programs in other states, including Indiana, whose state private tuition voucher program headed to the state’s Supreme Court last week.

Update: Louisiana Creationist Voucher Funding — Dead.

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

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WorldNetDaily Reviews a Broadway Play

Buffoon Award

The afternoon tranquility was shattered by blaring sirens and lights flashing on the wall display of our Retard-o-tron™. The blinking letters on the wall said WorldNetDaily.

WorldNetDaily (WND) is the flamingly creationist, absolutely execrable, moronic, and incurably crazed journalistic organ that believes in and enthusiastically promotes every conspiracy theory that ever existed. WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus that jolly logo displayed above this post.

The Retard-o-tron™ directed us to this article: ‘Grace’ insufficient. At first we were puzzled, because it’s a review of a play on Broadway — not our usual material at all. But as we scanned it, we understood what had tripped the alarm.

The reviewer is Tom Flannery, and his article is a WND exclusive. If it hadn’t been for the Retard-o-tron™ we would have missed it. Most of this thing doesn’t interest us, but we’ll excerpt the parts we found amusing, adding a bit of bold font for emphasis.

Flannery begins by complaining about “the version of Christianity that is continually offered up by Hollywood and the arts community/entertainment industry at large,” which he describes like this:

Christianity is a pernicious religious philosophy that requires such mind-altering faith that it ultimately ends up twisting the minds of those who blindly embrace and profess it. And the end result is always the same, as the Christian is at some point forced to confront all of the insoluble contradictions of his belief system, which in turn triggers a descent into madness and violence.

We haven’t seen too many movies or plays like that (our taste runs to Clint Eastwood westerns), but apparently Flannery has. Anyway, he’s all worked up over a new Broadway play named “Grace.” He says:

“Grace” tells the story of Steve (played by Paul Rudd), who apparently views his evangelical Christian faith as little more than a merchandising opportunity. He has a get-rich-quick scheme to develop gospel-themed hotels that offer such amenities as “Promise Keepers strength training” and answer the fundamental question: “Where would Jesus stay?”

We might care if it were a play about the promoter of a creationism museum, but it’s not. We’ll skip to the good part. Here it comes:

But the two main lines of attack in the play against Christian faith, as in life, are first of all the matter of evil, suffering and death, and secondly the challenge of science.

As you know, the problem of evil has been a serious concern for theologians through the centuries. Flannery disposes of it in a few sentences:

In Genesis 1 and 2, we read that God created this world in perfection, but then in Genesis 3 man ruined it all by rebelling against God and opening the door for sin to invade this world. Consequently, since we are all Adam and Eve’s descendants, we are born with a sin nature …

You know how that goes. Okay, one problem down. Now lets get to the play’s second line of attack against Christian faith:

As for the challenge of science, it’s really the challenge of pseudo-science that Christians face.

What’s he talking about? Let’s read on:

True science contradicts Darwinian evolution across the board, whether it’s the fossil record and the absence of intermediate links; the fact that life at the most basic, cellular level is encoded with a literally mind-boggling amount of information which is expressed in language (DNA); modern discoveries like irreducible complexity (as outlined in Dr. Michael Behe’s seminal book “Darwin’s Black Box”), which shows certain life systems must be fully formed from the start to function properly – and therefore never could have evolved – and so much more.

Wow — Flannery has not only brushed aside the problem of evil, but also the challenge of science. It’s all bunk! No problems!

Let’s see now … is there anything else in Flannery’s review that’s worth our attention? [*Scanning*] Not really. Well, in the final paragraph he says this:

Because, truth be told, a reasonable, rational, scientific exploration of the overwhelming evidence is actually the last thing that the creators of these caricatures and complete works of fiction want.

That’s about it. So there you are, dear reader — another first from your Curmudgeon: a creationist Broadway review! Now we’ve seen it all.

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

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Discoveroids & Indiana’s 2013 Creationism Bill

The state of Indiana seems doomed to experience a legislative struggle over creationism soon. As recently reported by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), there is Antievolution legislation on the horizon in Indiana. NCSE says:

Efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution are likely to be revived in the Indiana legislature, according to a columnist for the Lafayette Journal and Courier (November 10, 2012). At the center of the efforts is state senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), who told the newspaper that he plans to introduce a bill drafted by the Discovery Institute, presumably along the lines of the bills adopted, despite the protests of the scientific and educational communities, in Tennessee in 2012 and Louisiana in 2008.

This is the brilliant legislator’s page at the Indiana Senate’s website: Dennis Kruse. He pulled the same stunt in 2012, and of course we wrote about it. That adventure starts here: Creationist Legislation for Indiana in 2012? and ends here: Indiana’s 2012 Creationism Bill: It’s Dead. But the bill passed in the Senate before dying in the House.

We weren’t going to write about the 2013 effort until it got introduced into the legislature, but the Discoveroids are already climbing on board (they’re described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page). They have this new article at their blog: In Indiana, Academic Freedom on the Horizon, and it’s by David Klinghoffer. Note his oh-so-clever title, which is intended as a spoof of NCSE’s title (Antievolution legislation on the horizon). Here are some excerpts, with his links omitted and bold font added by us:

Joshua Youngkin, Center for Science & Culture program officer in public policy and legal affairs [i.e., he's a Discoveroid lobbyist], has an excellent op-ed in the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Indiana (“The case for academic freedom on evolution and in science class”). The Darwin Brigade is gearing up for a fight in the state, hoping to stamp out interest in academic freedom before it gets out of control and a kid happens to learn something dangerous.

Then he quotes what the Discoveroid lobbyist wrote in that newspaper:

You’ll hear that Discovery Institute, the education policy think tank where I’m a staff attorney, and its local allies seek to introduce “creationism” and “religion” in the science classroom. You will hear that this would cripple science education in the state — if it weren’t for the certainty that the law, if passed, would be struck down as unconstitutional.

I know you’ll hear these things because that is always what opponents of academic freedom say when the issue comes before state lawmakers.

Did you get that? We’re the “opponents of academic freedom.” The Discoveroids’ use of “academic freedom” as a propaganda phrase is a clever tactic because everyone is for freedom. But the word can be abused. For example, the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) uses the word “freedom” in defense of their policies. Their website says: “Our membership is open to all individuals sympathetic to man/boy love in particular and sexual freedom in general.”

To be fair, even though the Discoveroids sling the most outrageous slurs and constantly blame Darwin for Hitler, Mao, Manson, etc., using NAMBLA in this context is a bit rough. Nevertheless, our point is that the word “freedom” can be abused, and the Discoveroids are abusing it. That point is more politely expressed in this old post: Creationism: Abuse of the Language of Rights.

Okay, back to the Discoveroid article. Klinghoffer is still quoting from what the lobbyist wrote:

What’s the truth? Discovery and innovation, in scientific and other fields, depend on academic freedom.

[...]

Such a policy, protecting teachers who introduce cutting-edge science — not religion — in their teaching, may come up for a vote by Indiana lawmakers in 2013. If the law passes, Indiana would join other states that have taken legislative action to guarantee academic freedom in public schools.

Ah yes, “cutting-edge science” — like the Discoveroids’ “theory” of a magic designer. That’s right on the cutting-edge of the flat Earth. Then the lobbyist’s article mentions what he considers two educationally-advanced states that are on that scientific cutting-edge — Louisiana and Tennessee. The educational excellence of those two states is generally unnoticed, but the Discoveroids claim they’re way ahead of the other states because they’ve passed versions of the Discoveroids’ Academic Freedom Act.

That’s all there is to the Discoveroid blog article. It isn’t much, but it informs us that the Discoveroids are committed to the madness in Indiana, so 2013 should be an interesting year. The state’s legislature is scheduled to convene on 07 January. We’ll be watching as they flirt with that cutting edge.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #284: Life Is No Accident

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Naples Daily News of Naples, Florida. It’s titled Brainwashed. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do, we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:

Re: Stanley Tralins’ letter, “Humble Beginnings,” quoting chapter and verse from Charles Darwin’s evolution theory. Tralins thinks we evolved from a simple cell in the primordial oceans and our ancestors swing from trees. Maybe him, but not me.

Today’s letter-writer ain’t no kin to no monkey. This is the earlier letter he’s talking about: Humble beginnings. It’s not much, but it was sufficient to provoke today’s letter, so it served its purpose. We continue:

Don’t blame Tralins. Our education system brainwashed him into believing evolution theory was the only option for origins. It held back vast amounts of information supporting special creation by God.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Great start! And it keeps on coming:

Evolution theory assumes God doesn’t exist; natural processes created something from nothing then it exploded; life came from non-life; order came from disorder; beauty evolved by accident, universal laws just somehow existed.

The whole letter is like that. Let’s read on:

Don’t blame Darwin either. Darwin couldn’t know the complexity of the simplest cell. He had never heard of DNA. He didn’t know all living things were made from non-living parts, similar to a plane made from non-flying parts, but “designed” to fly.

Hey — the analogy to a plane made from non-flying parts is new to us. We were impressed until we Googled it and learned that it’s not original with the letter-writer. Look what we found from 1994 at the website of Answers in Genesis: The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein. It says:

Did you ever wonder what makes an airplane fly? Try a few thought experiments. Take the wings off and study them; they don’t fly. Take the engines off, study them; they don’t fly. Take the little man out of the cockpit, study him; he doesn’t fly. Don’t dwell on this the next time you’re on an airplane, but an airplane is a collection of non-flying parts! Not a single part of it flies!

What does it take to make an airplane fly? The answer is something every scientist can understand and appreciate, something every scientist can work with and use to frame hypotheses and conduct experiments. What does it take to make an airplane fly? Creative design and organization.

It’s probably not original with AIG either. We continue with today’s letter:

Evolution theory is a “belief system” that simply doesn’t fit the observable evidence.

Yeah, okay. Here’s more:

We are all to blame. DNA screams out God’s design. Metamorphosis of the butterfly demonstrates the creation miracle in days, not millions of years. Our bodies are composed of unique “interdependent” organs and systems that don’t exist on their own.

Organs don’t exist on their own? Egad — he’s right! When was the last time you saw a pancreas walking down the street? And now we come to the end:

Only God can create something from nothing, life from non-life, irreducibly complex eyes, bodies with unique, interdependent organs. Mr. Tralins, come into the light.

Great letter! Worthy of re-reading, over and over. No doubt about it.

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

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