Mississippi has the dubious honor of being the first state this year to have a creationism bill introduced in its legislature. They went through this exercise last year, as we reported here: Mississippi Creationism: Textbook Sticker Law.
Last year’s bill was introduced by Representative Gary Chism. Here’s his official page at the legislature’s website: Gary Chism, District 37, Republican. In addition to seeing his handsome photograph, we learn that Chism is an insurance agent. It’s an honorable trade, but an unlikely background for directing how science should be taught in the state’s schools.
Last year Chism’s bill died in committee. We reported that here. But creationists never learn and they never give up.
To no one’s surprise, Chism is back with another creationism bill. We learned of this from an article posted at the National Center for Science Education: Antievolution legislation in Mississippi. They say:
A bill in Mississippi is apparently the first antievolution bill of 2010. House Bill 586, introduced on January 12, 2010, and referred to the House Education Committee, would, if enacted, require local school boards to include a lesson on human evolution at the beginning of their high school biology classes. The catch: “The lesson provided to students … shall have proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution.”
Let’s take a look at Chism’s legislative abomination. It’s not very long. The underlined language is in the original; it’s what would be added to existing law by Chism’s bill. We provided some bold for emphasis:
Very impressive: The bill mandates “proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution.” Chism assumes that the antagonists have such arguments.
There’s not much else to be said at this stage, except to point out that Chism’s bill is nothing new; it’s an old story for the courts. In 1987 the US Supreme Court ruled against Louisiana’s “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act.” See: Edwards v. Aguillard.
With this link you can follow the progress of Chism’s bill through the House. So far, the only action is that it’s been referred to the House Education committee.
Perhaps Chism’s new bill, like his effort last year, will also die in committee. One can hope.
In closing, as we’ve done with our posts about other states, we recommend that the rational members of the legislature should give serious consideration to The Curmudgeon’s Amendment. It’s designed to nullify legislation like this.
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