Louisiana’s HB 580: The Flat-Earth Option, #3

We have two news items from Louisiana — the only state deranged enough to enact a creationism-friendly “academic freedom” bill. Both articles appear in the Advocate, the major newspaper in Louisiana’s capitol city of Baton Rouge. We learned about the first from our clandestine operative, “Bayou Boy,” and the second from operative “Gumbo Girl.”

As our title suggests, the first item is about legislation now pending in the state Senate that would allow local schools to use taxpayers’ money to buy books that haven’t been approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). For background, see our last post: The Flat-Earth Option, #2.

The article is titled Critics: Bill ‘stealth creationism’. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Legislation nearing final approval is a “stealth creationism” measure that would undermine science education in public schools, critics said Tuesday.

“There doesn’t appear to be any real need for the bill,” said Barbara Forrest, co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

We don’t recall disagreeing with Barbara Forrest before, but she’s somewhat off here. There really is a need for this bill — but only if you want creationism taught in the public schools. Let’s read on:

Forrest and others contend the bill would damage the quality of science textbooks, and open the way for those who promote the view that life began about 6,000 years ago in a process described in the Book of Genesis — creationism.

That’s true, but it’s what the good people of Louisiana want. We say, let ’em have it! Okay, that’s enough jocularity. This is important:

The proposal is House Bill 580, which passed the House 87-5 on June 8 and is expected to get a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. The session ends on June 23.

There’s plenty of time for this thing to become law. Here’s the bill’s text: HOUSE BILL NO. 580 (10-page pdf file). It was sponsored in the House by Frank Hoffmann. We continue:

Local school districts face restrictions on the use of state funds they can use to purchase books not on the state list. Hoffmann’s bill would lift those book-buying restrictions on local districts, regardless of whether they are on the state-approved list. Under his plan, BESE would only recommend textbooks.

What’s wrong with that? Here’s your answer:

“This will gut the board’s power to protect the quality of science textbooks and learning materials,” Forrest’s group said in a prepared statement. “Students could end up using substandard materials that teach pseudoscience,” it says.

There’s more in the article, but here’s one last excerpt:

Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum, said Tuesday his group mostly agrees with Hoffmann’s bill … .

Wow, what a surprise! Okay, here’s the second news article: Senate panel kills 10 commandments monument bill. It reminds us of what we wrote about a couple of weeks ago: Tennessee and the Ten Commandments. Here are a few excerpts from the Advocate:

A state Senate committee Wednesday rejected legislation that would erect a 10 Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds. Some members of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee expressed concerns that House Bill 277 would lead to litigation.

Litigation? Yes. See Americans United Urges Louisiana Legislators To Reject Ten Commandments Display At State Capitol. And here’s a copy of a letter, threatening expensive litigation, that they sent to state Senator Robert W. “Bob” Kostelka. He’s the Chairman of the Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs: OPPOSE HB 277: PLACEMENT OF TEN COMMANDMENTS WOULD BE CONSTITUTIONALLY SUSPECT (3-page pdf file). This is an excerpt from that letter:

Passage of HB 277 could result in a costly lawsuit, for which Louisiana taxpayers would be forced to pay. These costs would not be insignificant. In Glassroth v. Moore, the case holding Judge Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Supreme Court unconstitutional, defendants paid around $850,000 to plaintiffs for attorneys’ fees.

Sometimes a strong letter has an effect. Here’s what the Advocate news story says happened:

The committee voted 5-2 to defer the legislation, effectively killing it.

Sanity prevailed — a rarity in the Louisiana legislature. But the “display the Ten Commandments” bill is probably going to pass in Tennessee. Creationist legislators have no limits on their desire to impose theocracy on everyone.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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3 responses to “Louisiana’s HB 580: The Flat-Earth Option, #3

  1. The Loosey-anna legislature is adding to the already-passed creationism law? I’d have to add, “No duh!” Of course they are. This is part of their wedge strategy. Now they’re just digging the wedge in as deep as possible, making it all the more difficult to pull out.
    I’m wondering how much you’re hearing (publicly) from the likes of the DI. I’m wondering if you’re not hearing much, then its probable to me that they know they’ve won this one and they don’t want to dance on it. Instead, they want it to fester and metastasize throughout other parts of the country. All the better to gain the theocracy they so desperately want.

  2. For those of us who live in LA LA Land, the Looney-anna legislature has been an embarrassment for a long time. Add to that a “born again” governor and you have a potent mix to create havoc. Higher education (the last bastion of critical thinking and evolutionary thought) is taking a beating. Unfortunately, most Looney-annians just don’t care.

  3. The heck? I didn’t know about this one.