Florida is back in the creationism game! Near the end of last year we wrote Florida Creationism: Signs and Portents. There we briefly reviewed that state’s recent history with creationist legislation, and we mentioned that some of the familiar players will be back in the legislature this year — particularly Rapturous Ronda Storms, Chairman of the Senate’s Children, Family and Elder Affairs committee, and her creationist ally, Senator Stephen Wise, chairman of the Senate’s Education and Pre K-12 Committee.
[Addendum: In mentioning that Ronda Storms and Stephen Wise were back in the state Senate, we neglected to point out another veteran of the creationism wars who is also in that esteemed body. Alan Hays, the creationist dentist (retired), is now a member of the Senate. You may remember him from 2008 when he was a member of the House and sponsored a companion bill to go along with the Senate’s creationism bill sponsored by Rapturous Ronda Storms. So keep an eye on Hayes. Florida, like Texas, has its own creationist dentist.]
Now we learn from our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) that there is once again the threat of Antievolution legislation in Florida. NCSE always says “antievolution,” which strikes us as a bit bland; we prefer “anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism.” Anyway, NCSE says:
Senate Bill 1854, introduced in the Florida Senate on March 5, 2011, would, if enacted, amend a section of Florida law to require “[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution” in the state’s public schools. The bill is sponsored by Stephen R. Wise (R-District 5), who in February 2009 introduced SB 2396 (PDF), which would have amended the same section of Florida law in the same way.
Wise’s unsuccessful bill from 2009 is the one we discussed here: Florida Creationism: Stealth Bill Filed. This is a link to his new bill: SB 1854: Required Instruction in the Public Schools. The legislature’s website mentions that there are two “related bills” which are HB 419: Required Instruction in the Public Schools, introduced into the House by Bileca; and also SB 1952: Required Instruction in the Public Schools, introduced in the Senate by Garcia.
The two related bills don’t even hint at creationism. They don’t mention evolution at all, so for for the moment we can disregard them (but they might be amended to conform to Wise’s bill). We assume they’re treated as related bills only because they’re proposed amendments of the same section of existing law — Florida Statutes 1003.42, about subjects required to be included in the curriculum. The bills to worry about are “companion” bills — essentially identical legislation introduced into the other chamber.
Wise’s new bill, like his 2009 effort, requires “A thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.” Everyone knows what that means, although the creationists can be counted on to lie about it. That one goofy line is inexplicably tossed in with a bunch of otherwise unobjectionable mom and apple pie items that the bill requires be taught. Maybe Wise thinks that if he hides his creationism behind the Statue of Liberty, no one will notice what he’s doing.
Hey, Senator: It was noticed the last time and it’s been noticed now! You’re not fooling anyone by using the Constitution as a fish-wrapper — creationism is still a dead fish. And when your bill is opposed, don’t accuse its opponents of lacking patriotism. Look in the mirror, Wisey baby — everyone knows that you’re trying to use the flag as camouflage to conceal your creationism. By dumping creationism in with all those other topics, you’re the one who is desecrating the nation’s symbols.
So where are we? Florida’s legislative session convenes today, 08 March, and is scheduled to adjourn on 06 May. Anything can happen. For the moment, Wise’s bill has no “companion” bill filed in the House. Nor was there a companion bill when he tried the same thing in 2009.
As we always do, your humble Curmudgeon offers his own solution to this problem. If there are any clear-headed members of the legislature, we recommend that they give serious consideration to The Curmudgeon’s Amendment. It’s designed to nullify legislation like this. In a nutshell, our amendment says only that the bill doesn’t authorize teaching creationism or intelligent design. Period. If the amendment gets adopted, we win. And if it’s defeated we win anyway, because rejecting the amendment creates a record of legislative intent (to permit creationism) which the courts will use to declare the law unconstitutional.
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