Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws

This is a summary of our earlier comments criticizing state legislation based on the anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discoveroids — who are described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. In the future, we’ll refer to this post whenever we’re commenting on some crazed state legislative activity. Yes, we’ve said these things before, but now we can link to this and we won’t need to keep repeating ourselves.

The first thing to know is that such laws are not about improving science education. Quite the opposite. See Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science. Legislation based on the Discoveroids’ model act is intended to push Intelligent Design creationism into the public schools, destroy science education, and ultimately repeal the hard-won benefits of the Enlightenment. That’s the goal of the Discoveroids’ insidious Wedge strategy, their blueprint for establishing theocracy in America.

Laws based on the Discoveroids’ model act are loaded with creationist code-words, chosen to conceal the purpose of such legislation. We will now translate some of the most common phrases.

Academic Freedom

The Discoveroids’ use of “academic freedom” as a propaganda phrase is a clever tactic because everyone is for freedom. But the word can be abused, and sometimes — as here — it can mean something utterly unrelated to freedom. For example, the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) uses the word “freedom” in defense of their policies. Their website says: “Our membership is open to all individuals sympathetic to man/boy love in particular and sexual freedom in general.”

To be fair, even though the Discoveroids sling the most outrageous slurs and constantly blame Darwin for Hitler, Mao, Manson, etc., using NAMBLA in this context is a bit rough. Nevertheless, our point is that the word “freedom” can be abused, and the Discoveroids are abusing it. That point is more politely expressed in this old post: Creationism: Abuse of the Language of Rights. That sums it up rather well.

The Discoveroids are intentionally abusing the language of rights — in this case the word “freedom” — and they also abuse words like “fairness,” and “discrimination.” Let’s be clear: There is nothing unfair about “discriminating” against pseudo-scientific nonsense in a science class. The truth is that such laws aren’t about freedom at all — they’re a call for creationist affirmative action.

Critical Thinking

That’s another misleading phrase. It sounds nice, but it’s being abused by the Discoveroids. In the case of creationism it means not thinking at all. See What Is “Critical Thinking”? There we concluded that to a creationist:

Critical thinking (or critical analysis) means starting with a desired conclusion (or worldview, or presupposition) and then criticizing (that’s the “critical” part) any unwanted conclusion that was obtained with another worldview — scientific materialism, inductive reasoning, logical thinking, or whatever term one might prefer.

Strengths and Weaknesses

They (reluctantly) want to teach not only the strengths of the theory evolution (which schools already do), but also its alleged weaknesses. We covered this topic a few years ago in Texas Creationism: Strengths and Weaknesses. It was about Don McLeroy‘s list of evolution’s “weaknesses,” which is pure creationist rubbish. Except for the young-Earth part it’s also the Discoveroids’ list. There are no other weaknesses they talk about, so McLeroy’s description will do. We quoted a newspaper article about him that said:

First weakness: the fossil record. “There are gaps,” said McLeroy, that do not include enough transitional forms of life to support evolution. Second, McLeroy says there has simply not been enough time on Earth for the minute changes required by evolution to have taken place. Thirdly, McLeroy says the incredible complexity of cells proves divine design. Information contained in the genetic code is just too mind-blowing to have come from anywhere but an intelligent creator. “Where did this information come from?” McLeroy mused.

The simple fact is that the only “weakness” of evolution is that it doesn’t rely on Oogity Boogity to explain things. Science never does, which is why the Discoveroids hate it.

Shall Not Be Construed

The Discoveroids’ model act provides:

Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

All state bills based upon the Discoveroids’ model say more or less the same thing. It’s a clause that presumes to instruct the courts how to construe the law by claiming that it isn’t what it obviously is. It’s a contradictory self-referential statement, rather like “This sentence is false,” an example of the Liar paradox.

That “shall not be construed” clause is a “cloaking device” designed to make the law’s religious purpose invisible to the courts. It falsely suggests that the bill’s purpose is entirely secular — the exact opposite of its actual purpose. It’s doubtful that any judge — especially a Federal judge — would be confused by such legalistic gyrations.

As we’ve said a few times before, 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.”

Does that self-serving disclaimer have any meaning? No, and neither does the Discoveroids’ clause. There would be no confusion over how the law should be construed if it simply said that it doesn’t authorize the teaching of creationism or intelligent design — but that’s never going to be found in any bill supported by the Discoveroids. If such bills really had a secular scientific purpose, the Discoveroids and their useful idiots in various legislatures wouldn’t be promoting them.


The only cure for this kind of junk legislation is The Curmudgeon’s Amendment. That’s our legislative doomsday machine, but no state has deployed it yet.

And while we’re summarizing our previous thoughts, see also Discovery Institute’s “Academic Freedom Act” — Presumptively Void.

See also: The Reality of Creationist “Academic Freedom”.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2 responses to “Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws

  1. [A]s the evolution-as-fact dogma has reached saturation point in education and the public arena, so suicide has increased exponentially throughout the world.

    This from…

    Of course, they didn’t take Allah into account and at least our public schools underside are safe (there is the odd skirmish or two though) from a subversive “Academic Freedom” push by those lunatics here. Note that our Prime Minister is an atheist. Whew!

    Julia Gillard on the god issue

  2. “Each religion believes that it’s god created the universe and all that’s in it.” That would cover it and that’s not going to happen. If they complain about science and scientists, why do they make use of what science and scientists have done for us? Is it so HARD for them to live according to their beliefs?