Last year we were kept busy writing about creationist legislation in Oklahoma, including Sally Kern’s creationism bill. That one didn’t get very far (see Sally Kern’s Oklahoma Creationism Bill — It’s Dead). After that, we couldn’t resist writing one last post about her: Sally Kern: Theocrat in Oklahoma’s Legislature?
Now it seems that her bill is back again. In Tulsa World we read Bill to let students consider alternative theories advances, which reports that:
A House committee on Tuesday approved a measure that would allow students to explore alternative theories on controversial areas such as evolution and global warming.
House Bill 1551 would still require that students learn required material on those topics, but would allow them to look at alternative scientific explanation, said Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell. Although the bill was originally introduced last year by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, Blackwell is managing it this year. The measure passed the Education Committee on a 9-7 vote and head on to the House floor.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has an article about it: A second Oklahoma bill attacks evolution and climate change. Second bill? That’s right. The first is Josh Brecheen’s 2012 Creationism Bill. NCSE says, with bold font added by us:
A bill in Oklahoma that would, if enacted, encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution” and “global warming” is back from the dead. … [O]n February 20, 2012, Gus Blackwell (R-District 61) resurrected the bill in the House Common Education Committee.
The only significant difference is that where the original version specified,
The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects,
the new version specifies,
the Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics and physics can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on some subjects such as, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.
The bill will now presumably proceed to the House of Representatives for a floor vote; it will have to be accepted by the House by March 15, 2012, in order to proceed to the Senate.
We also have a report from one of our clandestine operatives, code name “OO,” who says:
The bill may go to the House floor for a vote, but hopefully the leadership will decide not to allow a vote, as they did last year with Kern’s HB 1001 (‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimnation Act’) which also passed 9-7, but the bill remains on the list and could come up again, but not likely. Should HB 1551 go to the floor for a vote, where it would likely pass, it would then normally go to the Senate Education Committee, where the Chair, Sen. Halligan is believed to oppose and would not hear the bill, since it very similar to SB 1742 (Brecheen), which Halligan has said he opposes.
But wait — there’s more! The Discoveroids have a post about this: Oklahoma House Common Education Committee Approves Academic Freedom Bill. It’s by Casey Luskin and he’s thrilled. Casey says, with our bold font:
An academic freedom bill in the Oklahoma State Legislature was approved by the House Common Education Committee today by a vote of 9-7. The legislation, HB 1551, is similar to a bill filed last year in Oklahoma, but is now lead-sponsored by Representative Gus Blackwell, and co-sponsored by Rep. Sally Kern.
Then he starts to really sling it:
As is common in academic freedom legislation, this bill contains an express provision that makes it clear it only protects the teaching of scientific information, and does not protect the teaching of religion:
[Casey quotes the bill:] The provisions of the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act shall only protect the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion. The intent of the provisions of the act is to create an environment in which both the teacher and students can openly and objectively discuss the facts and observations of science, and the assumptions that underlie their interpretation.
Does Casey think that clause is fooling anyone? Yes, he probably does. Creationists not only think that they understand science better than we do, but they somehow imagine that they have the capacity to be clever. Kern’s bill — if it were sincerely concerned with teaching science — could easily prohibit teaching creationism or intelligent design in class, but it doesn’t do that. Why? Because it’s intended to encourage that nonsense. Instead it has a “shall not be construed” clause, to pretend that the legislature somehow really isn’t doing what it’s doing, and they think we can’t figure it out.
That clause comes from the Discoveroids’ own Academic Freedom Act — intended as a model to be adopted by deranged legislatures. That ridiculous “Hey, Judge: Here’s how to construe this law” section of such bills is comparable to a suicide-bomber’s explosive-laden vest being sewn with a tag saying: “Attention Bomb Squad Coroner: The deceased wearer of this garment should not be construed to be a suicide bomber.” (Yeah, we’ve said that a few times before, but we like it.)
So there you are. Oklahoma now has not one but two creationism bills to consider, just as it did last year. Who knows? One of them may become law. The legislature is scheduled to stay in session until 25 May.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.