Monthly Archives: April 2010

School Board #69 Election in Montana

IN the West Yellowstone News of West Yellowstone, Montana we read Meet the candidates: School board election guide. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

West Yellowstone School District No. 69 is holding an election at the school library from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, to fill one seat on its board of trustees, as well as a levy increase proposition.

Incumbent Brad Loomis is running for a third term, along with candidates David Arnado, Rachael Burden, Clint Fowler and Sandi Peppler.

Why do we care about such a minor event — even if it is in School District 69? It’s because The Controversy between evolution and creationism often manifests itself in such situations. Most voters don’t pay attention to such elections, and many boards end up populated by ostensibly civic-minded people who are utterly unqualified to make decisions about science curricula and texts, but who often imagine themselves to be on a divinely ordained mission to teach creationism in government schools.

So let’s read on:

The News posed the following four questions to each of the five candidates: … Do you believe that creationism or intelligent design should be taught public schools? Please explain.

That’s the only question we care about, and we’ll skip the answers of three candidates that were acceptable. Here are the answers of the two creationists. The first of those is the incumbent:

Brad Loomis: In my opinion, creationism or intelligent design should be taught in public schools as an option. I find it strange that schools can teach the evolution theory or the big bang theory but not teach intelligent design as an option. This great nation was built acknowledging God.

Obviously a brilliant man, and he’s already been on the board for two terms. We continue now with the answer of one of his challengers:

Sandi Peppler: Both theories should be explored in school. Scientifically there are many mysteries of the universe that have not been explained or have “yet” to be explained. Religion/God is a great part of an individual’s heritage & should not be discriminated against. God should be allowed in school as an individual’s heritage. Our country’s beliefs were founded on God and I still believe in those beliefs.

So there you are. The people of West Yellowstone already have a fine, flaming creationist on the board. They can choose to keep him, replace him with one of three competent challengers, or they can swap him for the lone creationist challenger. No doubt, the wisdom of the electorate in School District No. 69 will prevail.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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John Freshwater Update (30 Apr ‘10)

WOULD ya believe it? The Freshwater hearing isn’t over yet. Our last post on this creationist teaching mess was at the end of last year: Freshwater Hearing Halts in Chaos.

This is an administrative hearing to determine whether John Freshwater will be fired as an 8th-grade science teacher in Ohio. He’s accused of burning a cross on a student with a Tesla coil, teaching religion in his science class, and failing to follow the school district’s orders. Freshwater says the district wants to fire him only because he refused to remove a Bible from his desk.

We haven’t been writing much about this case because the best coverage has been provided by Richard B. Hoppe at Panda’s Thumb. His last article, from a few days ago, is Two Freshwater attorneys ask to withdraw.

But we’ve found something new and Richard hasn’t posted about it yet so we’ll jump in. The Columbus Dispatch of Columbus, Ohio has this story: Science teacher’s hearing resumes. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Participants hope to wrap up a hearing on whether John Freshwater should keep his teaching job by sometime in June, but sessions could resume next fall, they said yesterday.

There’s no end to it. Let’s read on:

The administrative hearing started almost two years ago after Mount Vernon school board members voted that they intended to fire the eighth-grade science teacher for teaching creationism and intelligent design, failing to remove religious materials from his classroom after being told to do so, and burning crosses on students’ arms.

The hearing appeared to end three months ago, but Freshwater’s attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton, never closed his case.

This is like one of those mummy movies, the kind that endlessly spawn sequel after sequel. Just when you think they’ve finally burned the thing, it rises from the ashes and starts stalking again. We continue:

The hearing resumed yesterday and is to continue today. At least three additional dates are scheduled for early June, and both sides have agreed not to hold any sessions during the summer school break, because witnesses will be difficult to schedule.

Once the hearing is concluded, the referee will make a recommendation to the board, which can take final action. Freshwater has been suspended without pay.

At least he’s not getting paid while this thing is dragging on. Here’s more:

Hamilton has subpoenaed 16 additional witnesses since Jan. 15, when Freshwater and the school board received an anonymous letter telling them about materials allegedly taken from his classroom that might exonerate him. The items include textbooks with handwritten notes that Freshwater testified would illustrate his science-teaching techniques at Mount Vernon Middle School.

Oooooh! An anonymous letter. Hidden evidence! It’s a Darwinist plot! Or maybe the Illuminati. Moving along:

David Millstone, attorney for the school district, said the items have always been available. “Had they asked for it, I could care less,” he said. “There’s nothing there.”

That’s about it. They’re still going at it. We’ll leave the details to Richard B. Hoppe. He sits in on these hearings and then posts about them. We don’t know how he can stand it, but he does a great job.

If any significant news comes out, we’ll post about it. Or maybe we won’t. After two years, this one has become rather wearisome.

Update: John Freshwater Case Is Winding Down.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #136: Don’t Need No Time

WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Christians don’t doubt science, just ‘theories’, which appears in the Free Lance-Star, a daily newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

In reviewing our Creationist Wisdom series, we see that we’ve discussed letters published in that newspaper in #71, #51, #44, and #35. Fredericksburg is either a peculiar place, or the editor has a strange sense of humor. Anyway, we’ll copy most of today’s letter, omitting the writer’s name and city, adding some bold for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. Here we go:

Christians have no problem with pure science pronouncements as reported by scientists of the past, such as Newton and Kepler.

“Pure science pronouncements”? We’re in for a bumpy ride. Let’s read on:

What some of us have a problem with are “scientific theories,” such as Darwinian evolution, that are taught as science in our public schools.

We’ve heard this tune before, haven’t we? Let’s stay with it a bit longer to see if there’s anything different here:

This so called “molecule-to-man” theory is without solid scientific basis. It cannot pass the test of being pure science.

At times like this, we think we know what it’s like to work as an attendant in the bed-ridden ward of the Alzheimer’s clinic — walking from patient to patient and taking note of which ones have soiled the sheets. This one has definitely done so. His letter continues:

Science is “observation and classification of facts, especially with the establishment of verifiable general laws.” Darwin’s theory doesn’t pass this test.

Yet another genius with a dictionary. Here’s more:

Evolution or changes within species are not at issue. They are observable and are considered fact. Changes from one species to another are the issue. The fossil record does not support the theory of one species changing to another, such as reptile to bird. If Darwin’s theory were true, the world should be full of “transitional” fossils, but there aren’t any.

O Lordy, it’s the micro-yes, macro-no mantra again. Moving along:

Darwin noted the lack of this evidence himself, and this lack remains today. A problem has been identified with every transitional fossil that has ever been proposed.

Yes, yes — not even Darwin was a Darwinist. Please, letter-writer, can’t you give us something that’s even marginally new? We’ll give this letter one more chance:

God does not need billions of years to create things. He speaks, and it happens. The concept of time is for us.

Aha! Our suffering has been rewarded. Now we’re getting some solid creation science. Here’s another excerpt:

When Adam and Eve first saw each other, they each might have appeared to be about 20 years old, even though they were only a few days old. When God first created them, they appeared to be thousands of times older than they really were.

This sounds like some kind of Garden of Eden porn for creationists, so they can lustfully imagine the newly-created Adam & Eve examining each other with — ahem! — growing curiosity. But perhaps we’re being judgmental. Maybe it’s just our old friend, the Omphalos hypothesis. On with the letter:

By the same logic, the Earth could appear to be many times older than it really is. We don’t need billions of years to support creation as described in the book of Genesis. All we need is faith.

Yeah! We don’ need no stinkin’ billions of years. All we need is faith!

Well spoken. And now we come to the letter’s end:

We don’t claim religion to be science; and Darwinian evolution, with its requirement for billions of years, is not science, either.

[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]

We need to make a note to ourselves: Stay away from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Mark Souder, Creationist: Election 04 May

Buffoon Award

Our last post about Mark Souder, Creationist Congressman, the only member of Congress (so far) who has won your Curmudgeon’s coveted Buffoon Award, was here: Mark Souder, Creationist: Two GOP Challengers.

Surely you remember Souder. He’s famous for saying: “I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design.”

Anyway, our last post about him was back in November of last year. It’s time for an update on his Republican congressional primary. In the Journal Gazette, one of two major newspapers serving Fort Wayne, Indiana we read Souder, Thomas lead House field in poll. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, and his main rival, Bob Thomas, lead the field in a poll conducted of northeast Indiana residents likely to vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Tuesday? That’s 04 May — just a few days away. We’ll be watching for it.

Thomas wasn’t one of the two challengers we wrote about in our earlier post; we assume he entered later. Here’s his website: Bob Thomas for Congress. He’s very Republican, but we didn’t see anything there that seems anti-science. Let’s read on:

Thirty-five percent of GOP voters said they would vote for Souder, 29 percent for Thomas. The margin of error of the poll is plus-or-minus 5 percentage points, meaning Souder could be more than 6 points ahead or Thomas may be leading.

But with a week before the election, 16 percent said they were undecided.

In other words, Souder could lose. Or he could win. We continue:

According to Andy Downs, the director of the [nonpartisan Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne], the poll found that Souder has strong leads over Thomas among young people, people who say they are “strong” Republicans, college graduates and Republicans who identify with the Tea Party movement.

Good grief! Here’s more:

Thomas fares better than Souder among voters ages 35 to 49, people who say they are Republicans (but not strong Republicans or independents who lean Republican), voters with graduate degrees and high school graduates.

Interesting demographics. So now what? That congressional district is nowhere near our location, so we’ll sit back and wait for the election. We’ve been scanning for “Souder” news from time to time, but we never found any stories that mentioned his extremely crazy position on creationism. Maybe it was in the campaign, but we missed it. Anyway, the election is this Tuesday, so we won’t have long to wait.

In closing, we once again paraphrase Cato the Elder’s famous postscript, which he added to all his speeches in the Roman senate before the Third Punic War: Souder delenda est. Souder must be defeated!

UPDATE: See Congressman Mark Souder: 04 May Election Results.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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