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:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, each local school board shall require that an instructional lesson on the evolution of humanity be included in its high school biology curriculum, which shall be taught at the beginning of the biology course. The curriculum must be based on the relevant evidentiary facts and scientific data on the subject of evolution. The lesson provided to students shall not evidence bias through selective instruction on the theory of evolution, but rather, shall have proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution.
SECTION 2. Section 37-11-63, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-11-63. No local school board, school superintendent or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing and answering questions from individual students on the origin of life, except that any discussion of the evolution of humanity shall be required to be given by a biology teacher, as required by Section 1 of this act.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2010.
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.
Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
Sigh…another year, same old sh–
What the heck is “proportionately equal instruction”?
It means really really equal.
“The bill mandates “proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution.” ”
Since the antagonists of evolution have no such materials, it appears that they will be banned from the classrooms. Ah — but who is to decide whether the material is “scientifically sound”? I would suggest it must be certified by the National Center for Science Education, or by the AAAS.
retiredsciguy says: “I would suggest it must be certified by the National Center for Science Education, or by the AAAS.”
But if you let Darwinists decide, that wouldn’t be “proportionately equal.”
It shouldn’t really need to be pointed out, but I’ll do so anyway: if “antagonists of the theory of evolution” actually did have any “scientifically sound arguments,” scientists would not only welcome their discussion in classrooms but would be actively studying them in the field and lab — precisely in the manner of particle physicists working on known limitations of the Standard Model of physics.
But the “antagonists” (and the use in the Bill of this term is telling) have no science, instead merely offer an assertion about complexity which they are required to believe, by a priori religious dogma, is “irreducible,” and/or a raft of socially conservative ‘moral’ arguments from the supposed consequences of the theory of evolution. None of this is the stuff of the lab or the science classroom.
Curmudgeon: “…we learn that Chism is an insurance agent. It’s an honorable trade…”
I’ll resist the urge to state my opinion about salesmen in general, and insurance salesmen in particular. I’ll just say that most of them probably honestly think they are contributing to the economy, and leave it at that. But I must note that “insurance salesman” is the perfect background for a peddler of pseudoscience, especially a pseudoscience that promises eternal salvation and a planet free of “Darwinist” Hitlers.
Frank J noted:
I had to resist the same urge about Curmy’s comment here. I did so by silently amending it to, …an insurance agent — it can be an honorable trade…”
Chiropractors, not so much…
Great Claw, your typos are keeping us both alert this morning. As for selling insurance, hey — it’s financial product that often serves a purpose. It’s voluntarily bought and sold. The industry has some bad players, and also its share of idiots, but so does everything else.
It’s worth noting that Chism’s first anti-evolution bill was co-authored by Democrat Chuck Espy.
I’m a resident of the state and an evolutionary biologist. I wrote to the chair of the MS House education committee this morning (and all of the other members of the committee and got the following responses:
from the chair: “Thanks for your email. The bill will not make it out of committee. I will not bring it forward.”
from a member of the committee: “Thank you for your input. Although I didn’t know about Chism’s bill, I’m not surprised such tripe came from him. It’s just the usual repuglican crap.
I don’t think you have to worry about this bill getting out of the Education Committee. But on the slim chance that it does, its “evolution” will certainly end on the House floor.
Again, thank you for your input. Please continue to “educate” me about any and all matter in which you are interested.”
Looks like it won’t go anywhere.
David says: “Looks like it won’t go anywhere.”
Excellent news. Thank you.
A friend of mine has a connection with the Education Committee Chairman. Here is the Chairman’s response:
“This bill isn’t going anywhere. Any House member can introduce any measure they wish and thousands are introduced every year. I asked our House Education chair, Cecil Brown, last year about this; and he told me as long as he’s education chair, any measure like this is
dead on arrival.”
Even in Mississippi there are some voices of reason.
This is great news! Missouri has also had a good record of antievolution bills dying quietly. Care to make a gentlemen’s bet about where the next bills will pop up this year, S.C.? I’ll bet on Michigan, and of course it will go nowhere.
James F says: “Care to make a gentlemen’s bet about where the next bills will pop up this year, S.C.?”
That’s too easy. It’ll be the same states as last year, because the same people keep doing this over and over. The only exception would be Louisiana, where the creationists already accomplished their mission.
The real question is what new states will join the kook parade? I can’t predict that.