Tennessee Creationism Bill: Any Moment Now

The last look we had at Tennessee’s continuing descent into madness was a week ago. See Tennessee Creationism Bill: Will Haslam Sign It?

We’re speaking, of course, about an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism piece of legislative insanity that was literally drafted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

After that ignoble origin, the bill was handed to a genius named David Fowler, a lawyer and former Tennessee state Senator, who also taught for a few years at Bryan College in Dayton Tennessee — site of the Scopes Trial. The college is named after William Jennings Bryan.

Fowler is the president of an organization called Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which is affiliated with Focus on the Family — that’s James Dobson‘s outfit. In other words, FACT is deep into the social conservative movement — very deep.

The bill was then passed on by Fowler to the legislature (see Lauri Lebo on Tennessee in “Scientific American”). From there it’s had clear sailing. The bill now sits on Governor Bill Haslam‘s desk, where it’s been languishing all week. What now?

In the Knoxville News Sentinel we find a column by Hedy Weinberg — the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. It’s titled Gov. Bill Haslam should veto ‘Monkey Bill’ . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Tennessee is dangerously close to enacting a law that would gut science education in public schools. The “Monkey Bill” sailed through the Legislature and is now on Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk awaiting his review. The bill is adapted from a template offered by the conservative, Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design. As a force for moderation, Haslam should veto this legislation.

Hedy seems to understand the situation — except for one thing: the Discoveroids aren’t conservative. Your Curmudgeon is conservative. The Discoveroids are anti-Enlightenment throwbacks to the Dark Ages — creationists and theocrats who only claim to be conservative. Here’s more from Hedy’s column:

Under the pretext of fostering critical thinking, this legislation states that teachers must be allowed to discuss “weaknesses” in scientific theories such as evolution and other scientific subjects that “cause debate and disputation” — calling their validity into question.

[…]

Terms such as “strengths and weaknesses” and “critical thinking” are frequently used by those seeking to introduce nonscientific ideas such as creationism and intelligent design into the science curriculum.

Well said. Hedy then mentions some of the science organizations that oppose the legislation, after which she reminds her readers of the disgrace Tennessee suffered as a result of the Scopes Trial back in 1925. Alas, for many in Tennessee, their perverse “conservatism” consists of a longing to return to that era. But aside from those afflicted with that peculiar dementia — sort of a retardate’s version of Gone with the Wind — the Scopes trial seems to mostly have negative connotations.

Even the Discoveroids are cagy enough to distance themselves from the persecution of Scopes, for now anyway. Instead, they take a breathtakingly bold propaganda approach which is so utterly bizarre that if we didn’t actually link to it you wouldn’t believe it. Casey Luskin — a leading Discoveroid intellect — recently posted Tennessee Darwin Lobbyists Really Pushing the State Back Towards Scopes.

Then Hedy warns about the perils of adopting creationist idiocy as state policy:

By allowing teachers to deviate from the established science curriculum, we take the risk that our students will be unprepared for advanced college work and at a disadvantage in our increasingly global economy. Tennessee may also be less appealing to employers offering science-based jobs. This bill could have serious consequences for the future well-being of our children and our economy and our state overall.

To you, dear reader, Hedy’s warning probably makes sense. But to the Discoveroids, who authored this impending catastrophe, it’s quite the opposite. Casey recently wrote: Academic Freedom Bills Don’t Kill Jobs; People Who Oppose Academic Freedom Do. Amazing, isn’t it?

Hedy’s column ends by urging the Governor to veto the bill. Interestingly, she doesn’t threaten litigation, at least not overtly. That would be tasteless. But her column did mention that the ACLU (which she heads in Tennessee) was involved in the Scopes Trial, so the implication is clear.

The Discoveroids have a response to that one too. Casey recently posted: With Empty Threats of Lawsuits, the Tennessee Darwin Lobby Is Just Fearmongering.

So there you are. The script is already written. The actors have it memorized and rehearsed. The stage is set. The orchestra is warming up. The audience is in their seats and the curtain is about to rise. All we’re waiting for is the Governor’s signature.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “Tennessee Creationism Bill: Any Moment Now

  1. From the article: “Terms such as ‘strengths and weaknesses’ and ‘critical thinking’ are frequently used by those seeking to introduce nonscientific ideas such as creationism and intelligent design into the science curriculum.”

    Disregarding both the religious issue and the inappropriateness for science class, almost no teacher who will teach them will have students critically analyze them. Either the appropriate way, as evolution is already critically analyzed (though mostly at the college level, as high school barely covers the basics), or the bogus way in which they will direct students to “critically analyze” evolution exclusively to promote unreasonable doubt.

  2. Hedy seems to understand the situation — except for one thing: the Discoveroids aren’t conservative. Your Curmudgeon is conservative.

    I’m left wondering just how many conservatives are professed atheists? After all, we know all about the godless liberals, who are in fact almost 90% theistic.

  3. I’d wager atheists are just as common on the right as the left, only you don’t hear about them as much because conservative atheists acknowledge the usefulness of religion and stability of tradition and the “danger of exposing an old superstition to the contempt of the blind and fanatic multitude”.

    Of course not all of these conservative atheists are SC’s type of conservative. Small government, pro-capitalist, ‘liberal’ (in the original sense), GOP/Republican Reagan-style conservatives are not the only kind of conservatives out there.

    Fear of “the danger of exposing an old superstition to the contempt of the blind and fanatic multitude” is an aristocratic fear and doesn’t translate well into modern democratic politics, which is all about encouraging said “blind and fanatic multitude”, in one way or another.

  4. Erik John Bertel: “After all, we know all about the godless liberals, who are in fact almost 90% theistic.”

    And almost half evolution-deniers to boot. And more than half who think it’s fair to let the scam artists dictate the science currculum.

    In fairness I should say that rank-and-file liberals and conservatives who form those opinions rarely give it 5 minutes’ thought beyond the common misleading sound bites.

  5. let’s say the bill gets signed, and then a TN public school science teacher somewhere decides to proselytize in the form of pushing Intel Design in the classroom. actually, this situation might ultimately be a healthy thing because it would open the “debate”. the only reason there IS any controversy is because we Americans are so remarkably careful to avoid appearing as tho we’re attacking someone’s (Judeo-Christian) religious beliefs.

    as a result, American biblical literalists are never forced to rigorously defend their views when they clash with long-established scientific observations. perhaps if we give creationist pseudo-science enough rope in public, they’ll make good use of it.