Decision on Tennessee Biology Book Ban Demand

Board of Education Book Ban Results

No vote today. At the website of TV station volunteer TV in Knoxville we read School board doesn’t vote on budget or controversial textbook. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Another item, not voted on, but that got very heated, was the recommendation to keep a controversial biology textbook in the classroom. We talked to representatives on both sides of the issue.


[T]hey did not accept or deny the findings, they tabled the topic.


Librarian Karyn Storts-brinks spoke in favor of the text book remaining like it is. … “I really believed that because there’s procedures in place. It’s specific, it’s logical. Everybody got to attribute an opinion. It spiraled out of control.”

Now the board will wait 30 days to decide if the textbooks will be shelved or not.

The Knox County school board has been meeting today in Knoxville, Tennessee to decide on whether to ban a biology textbook. One parent, Kurt Zimmermann, had complained that the book was disrespectful to creationists. We recently posted about this here: Biology Book Banning in Tennessee?

The allegedly blasphemous book is Asking about Life by Allan J. Tobin.

If you want to dig deeply into this issue, here’s a 54-page pdf file — it’s the memorandum prepared for the school board’s meeting: Appeal to Textbook Review Committee Decision Regarding “Asking About Life”. On page 6 is the complaint that Zimmermann filed on what appears to be a school board form. After identifying the book, in response to the question: “To what material do you object?” his answer was this:

Page 319: “Creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days.” See below*

* Page [illegible] “Creationism: The view of the origin of life that says that the Earth was created very recently and that each species was created individually.”

In response to the question: “What do you feel might be the result of using this material?” his answer was:

Mislead, belittle, and discourage students in believing in creationism and pointedly calls the Bible a myth.

This is serious business in Tennessee. Knoxville is only 67 miles from Dayton, the site of the infamous Scopes Trial. Dayton is also the home of Bryan College, which proudly describes itself as:

Founded in 1930, Bryan College is named after William Jennings Bryan: statesman, orator, and renowned prosecuting attorney in the famous Scopes Evolution Trial.

William Jennings Bryan, as you know, was one of the most loathsome creatures in American history — populist, opponent of banks and railroads, creationist, advocate of the income tax, prohibition, debased currency, popular election of US Senators, and numerous other follies. Bryan was once a giant in American politics who always enjoyed the support of the Klan — and of course he was a Democrat. Hey, the Great Populist Blowhard was born 19 March 1860, so last month was his 150th birthday.

But enough about Bryan. Let’s keep our attention on the biology textbook controversy started by what we assume is one of Bryan’s followers. We know you’ve been anxiously awaiting the results.

Addendum: As you can see in the updated red box, the matter has been postponed 30 days. We’ll be waiting. Stay tuned to this blog!

Update: See Tennessee Biology Book Ban (03 May ’10).

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4 responses to “Decision on Tennessee Biology Book Ban Demand

  1. Why would it be wrong to call a myth a myth?

  2. I’ve revised the post for the news which just came in. The school board tabled the matter for 30 days. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    @G.E. — because most people think a “myth” is necessarily false, like in all the newsmagazine sidebars that are titled “Facts and Myths about X”.

    A myth is a traditional story about history or the nature of the world; that’s how the Greeks used the word. A myth, in that sense, can be true. If Mr. Zimmermann spent more time with the OED and less time with creationism, he’d know that, and he could put his offendometer on standby.

  4. But the quoted text doesn’t say the bible is a myth. It says there is a myth in the bible. Two quite different things. To illustrate, consider a parallel statement: “Song of Solomon, the biblical poem that…”