WE HAVE yet another episode of creationist legislation, this time in New Mexico. Like the others, notably in Louisiana (where such a bill became law), this anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill is modeled after the misleadingly-named Academic Freedom Act, promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).
As reported in this article: Antievolution legislation in New Mexico at the site of the National Center for Science Education, Senate Bill 433 was introduced into the New Mexico state Senate by Kent L. Cravens.
We’ve read the bill. It’s typical Discoveroid material. In particular, it says, with bold font from us:
The department, school district governing authorities and school administrators shall not prohibit any teacher, when biological evolution or chemical evolution is being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula, from informing students about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses pertaining to biological evolution or chemical evolution. A teacher who chooses to provide such information shall be protected from reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so.
At least for the moment, this link will track the bill’s progress through the state Senate: SB 433: USE OF SCIENCE IN TEACHING BIOLOGICAL ORIGINS . The codes “SEC” and “SJC-SEC” seem to indicate that the bill has been referred to both the Education committee and the Judiciary committee, but we’re not certain of that. It may be only in the Education committee. Also, that  in the code line appears to mean that the bill was introduced on the 6th day of the legislative session.
Who is the New Mexico creationist who has introduced this embarrassingly foolish bill? Here’s his page at the legislature’s website: Senator Kent L. Cravens – (R). At the site of Project Vote Smart there’s some biographical information about Cravens. He has a high school diploma, and it seems that he owns a print shop and what appears to be a grocery store. He’s qualified to be a creation scientist.
New Mexico is fortunate in having a citizens group which is organized to oppose measures like this — New Mexicans for Science and Reason . Their website indicates that they’re well aware of the situation.
So where does that leave us? We’re not experts on New Mexico’s legislative process, but we’ve seen this movie before. Someone will have to introduce a similar measure in the state House. Then both chambers need to have their respective committees approve the bills. The committees may have hearings, with “expert” witnesses, and the game may be rigged (as it was in Louisiana) to give the false impression that a scientific controversy exists. When the bills are reported favorably out of the committees, they’ll be put up for vote. If the bills pass in each chamber, but with differences, the House and Senate versions will need to be reconciled. If they work it all out and pass a bill, it goes to the governor for his signature, or possibly his veto.
You’ve seen how these things played out in other states. The creationists who favor the bill will all make statements to the effect that their only concern is to have “good science” taught in their state’s schools. But everyone will understand what they really mean.
Unless this thing dies in committee, it’s going to be a long road, and we’re in for a bumpy ride. If the creationists are strong in both chambers, everything will be done for show, and the bill will pass. That’s how life is.
However, your humble Curmudgeon may have a solution. We’re not joking.
If there are any clear-headed members of the New Mexico legislature, we recommend that they give serious consideration to The Curmudgeon’s Amendment. It’s designed to nullify legislation like this. Look it over. We think it’ll work just fine.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
Sorry OT … ( mai intertoobs are broken, but sometimes if I hurry, I can post a comment)
Thought u might want to see this –
Stacy, very interesting. I recall a couple of years ago that the creationists made a big deal out of some atheist who changed his mind. I wonder how they’ll handle this one.
I don’t see this bill getting anywhere. Let’s suppose that, unlike the majority of S&W bills, it makes it out of committee. Here is the composition of the New Mexico legislature:
House of Representatives: 45 Democrats, 25 Republicans
Senate: 27 Democrats, 15 Republicans
If, as in Florida, the vote is along party lines, the bill is sunk (yes, it shouldn’t be just Democrats supporting science, it’s just that the GOP has a nasty religious right infestation). If it somehow passes, I can’t see Gov. Richardson signing it into law.
James, good analysis. But just to make sure, I’d like to see The Curmudgeon’s Amendment added to it, and then watch the bill’s supporters lose all interest. If that were done in one state, all the others will see how it’s done. That’s my dream scenario.
I live in New Mexico, I do not know if you do,and I am not surprised that you would feel the need to resort to ad hominums on Sen Craven. He is not my senator, and I disagree with him more often than not, but he is well respected member of the community, whose methods and ethics have never been questioned. So sorry you needed to attack him and instead of his proposition. But this is typical of those who travel in your circles.(How’s that for ad hominem.) My question would be, if you maintain there is no scientific evidence that refutes your concept of biological origins, what are you afraid of? The teachers should obviously have nothing to offer, then, within the parameters of the bill. The problem is, isn’t it, that you don’t want anyone to even dare oppose what you believe to be truth. How sad. I bet you believe in global warming too.