We have all been wondering how the Discoveroids would respond to the news we wrote about here: Jindal Betrays the Discovery Institute. As you recall, during an interview by NBC News, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was asked about teaching creationism and he said:
We have what’s called the Science Education Act that says that if a teacher wants to supplement those materials, if the school board is okay with that, if the state school board is okay with that, they can supplement those materials. … Let’s teach them — I’ve got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism, that people, some people, have these beliefs as well, let’s teach them about ‘intelligent design. What are we scared of?
You can see that interview here. The subject comes up near the end, about nine minutes into the video.
As you also know, the Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA) was based on the Discovery Institute’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act. In 2008, the Louisiana legislature passed it almost unanimously. The bill was promoted by the Louisiana Family Forum, run by Rev. Gene Mills, and it was signed by the state’s ambition-crazed governor, Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist.
There was a big campaign back in 2008 urging Jindal to veto the bill. Numerous science organizations urged him to veto. But Jindal signed the thing, thus revealing that either: (1) he’s a worthless, unprincipled, pandering dirtbag; or (2) that he himself, although a biology major at Brown University, is a creationist.
The LSEA is the Discovery Institute’s crown jewel, so this admission by Jindal is one of the biggest public relations crises they’ve ever faced. Everyone has always known the real purpose of the LSEA (that’s why it was supported by all those Louisiana legislators who don’t know the difference between science and Voodoo), but the Discoveroids and their useful idiots have always claimed that the law is all about teaching science and it has nothing to do with creationism. Now, to the horror of the Discoveroids, Jindal has flat-out admitted that the law permits teaching creationism. Okay, what are the Discoveroids going to do about it?
At the creationist blog of the Discoveroids, they’ve finally confronted the issue. The delicate task was given to one of their professional lobbyists, Joshua Youngkin, a lawyer whose job is euphemistically described as “Program Officer, Public Policy and Legal Affairs.” His article is Gotcha! Governor Jindal Avoids Lawyering on TV. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) into law in 2008. The purpose of the law, stated in the text of the law itself, is to “promote students’ critical thinking skills and open discussion of scientific theories.” The law achieves this by granting teachers a conditional right to supplement textbook treatment of evolution, climate change, and other science controversy.
Yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard that before. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it. For our Curmudgeonly translation of all the slick language drafted by the Discoveroids, see the Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws. Let’s see what else Youngkin says:
Free up teachers to do what they do best? What’s not to like about that? Well, not everyone is pleased. State senator Karen Carter Peterson recently filed SB 26 to repeal the LSEA, which has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for potential hearings.
As part of the anti-LSEA public messaging campaign, activist Zack Kopplin has taken to the Bill Moyer and Bill Maher shows, and to Twitter, to argue that despite the plain language of the law, which also disclaims protection for religion, the secret purpose of the LSEA is to put creationist religion into public school science class.
If you need background on that, see Zack Kopplin on the Bill Moyers Show, and also Zack Kopplin on Bill Maher Show, and for the latest repeal effort, see Zack’s Third Campaign. After brushing all that aside, Youngkin gets around to Jindal’s catastrophic news interview:
Amidst media chatter over secret purposes and threats of repeal, NBC’s Hoda Kotb sat down with Governor Jindal before a live studio audience to talk about education reform in Louisiana. As luck would have it, that talk turned to the subject of the LSEA.
As luck would have it? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. He then mentions the posting by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): Jindal connects the dots and the James Gill column we wrote about (see Bobby Jindal Spills the Beans, Part 2). All of that mess is what Youngkin now has to deal with. In what follows, his talent as a propagandist and lobbyist is on display:
The non-lawyers of the repeal camp are constantly giving in the media their legal opinion of the LSEA. And for whatever reason the press just can’t get enough of that. Now in strange unison the repealers publicly chime in on the legal significance of a post-enactment TV interview.
This wasn’t pre-enactment floor debate, a conference report or a gubernatorial signing statement. The TV interview is not legislative history. It can’t be used by courts to construct the legislative intent behind the statute, for good or bad. Nor does it reveal how the law is actually being implemented.
Nice try. Youngkin is saying two things here. First, he says the opinions of non-lawyers are irrelevant. That’s not exactly true. If everyone who considers the situation agrees that the LSEA permits the teaching of creationism (and that’s the reality, despite the denials of the law’s creationist promoters), then what would a court conclude? How many of the expert witnesses in the Kitzmiller case were lawyers? None that we can recall. Youngkin’s second point is that Jindal’s after-the-fact statement is irrelevant. That’s absurd. If the Governor of the state signed the bill into law, and he thinks the bill allows creationism to be taught, it may not technically be legislative history, but it’s relevant nevertheless. Youngkin continues:
What did the Governor actually say during that interview? What words are the critics of the LSEA trying to interpret, exactly? NBC has not yet provided a transcript, so I’ve done the other side a solid by transcribing the key parts of the interview below.
Then, despite claiming that Jindal’s remarks are irrelevant, Youngkin does a song and dance to parse the Governor’s words, in an effort to put a favorable spin on them. Nice try, but it doesn’t work. That eats up a few paragraphs. You can read it for yourself if you like. Here’s more:
Note that Jindal speaks for himself (“I’ve got no problem …”), as a matter of personal preference, not for the executive branch, the judiciary, the legislature, or any other arm of the state of Louisiana on what the LSEA does as a matter of law.
As chief executives in every field are prone to do, Jindal sets detail aside to cast a vision before his constituents. He is talking about what he’d like to see one day in his state, that he has no problem with local school districts deciding for themselves how best to teach local students.
Oh, so that’s it. Jindal is just an irrelevant observer, speaking only for himself. Yeah, right. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Another nice try, Youngkin. Moving along:
Like the critics of the LSEA, Governor Jindal is not a lawyer. He delivers no legal memo. However, unlike the critics of the LSEA, Governor Jindal is a Rhodes Scholar with a degree in biology, an experienced politician who knows what his role is and when to stick to it.
Can you believe this? Jindal is the Governor. He signed the law — despite the urging of science organizations that he veto it. He says it allows the teaching of creationism. He says he has no problem with that. And Youngkin would have you believe that doesn’t mean anything. Well, the Discoveroids can always hope. Here’s another excerpt:
Teaching actual creationism in public schools is not constitutionally acceptable, if that’s even what he meant. It seems more likely that Jindal, like a lot of other people, used the term “creationism” imprecisely. If he did speak loosely, Darwinists share responsibility for confusing the public, even including a thoughtful guy like Jindal, and taking advantage of a term rendered strategically ambiguous.
Uh huh. Now Youngkin says that although Jindal’s post-enactment confession means nothing, even if he did mean creationism, it’s the Darwinists’ fault for confusing him. Isn’t this great? Actually, it’s tragic, but it’s the best the Discoveroids can do. On with the article:
Creationism aside, trying to introduce intelligent design in public school science classes, at this stage in the theory’s development, would be unwise, as we’ve often said in the past.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! These people have no idea how funny they are. “Creationism aside” pretty much takes the whole topic off the table. Youngkin — like all the Discoveroids — maintains the pathetic fiction that intelligent design is science, not Oogity Boogity stuff. But then he says that even as science, “at this stage in the theory’s development” there’s nothing to teach in the public schools. There’s plenty to teach in private religious schools, but that’s not good enough for the Discoveroids. Like Fredo Corleone in The Godfather, they were passed over and they want respect! But in the case of intelligent design, what is there to respect?
Youngkin isn’t done yet. There’s more to his dismissal of Jindal’s confession:
In brief, Jindal was speaking as a politician with an agenda, not as an interpreter of presently existing law. Still, it’s not hard for laymen to read the LSEA right. As far as statutes and regulations go, the LSEA is clear as crystal.
We won’t bother with the torturous linguistic games the Discoveroids play in such matters. Regardless of their slippery phrases and code words, all the law’s promoters had to do to avoid problems like Jindal’s blundering confession — if they were serious about science education — would have been to add one unambiguous, no-nonsense sentence to their law, saying something like: “Nothing herein authorizes or permits the teaching of creationism or intelligent design.” But a bill with such language would never be supported by the Discoveroids.
Youngkin isn’t done yet. He spends a bit of time babbling about the joys of “critical analysis.” We know all about it. We discussed it in connection with a similar bill (see The Meaning of “Critical Analysis” in Florida). As James Gill said in his recent newspaper column: “It is for science to encourage critical thought, and for religion to suspend it.” To that we can add: It’s for creationist lobbyists to destroy it.
We’re getting near the end now. Here’s where Youngkin attempts to be funny. As with all creationist humor, it never gets better than: “Darwinist falls into an open manhole. Har-de-har-har!” Here’s Youngkin’s joke:
The problem, then, is not the language of the LSEA or with the lawmakers who passed it into law. The problem is with those who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t read right. Fortunately there is professional help for those who struggle with sentences.
His phrase, “professional help,” links to the Amazon listing for a book titled “How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.” Youngkin is a funny guy. Oh yeah — that was a real side-splitter!
There’s a wee bit more to Youngkin’s article, but we’ll quit here. Like the old vaudevillian says: “Always leave ’em laughing.” But we have to sum his argument up, so here goes: (1) Jindal is not a lawyer, so he’s not qualified to interpret the law. He’s basically nobody. He’s just a politician expressing his private vision; and besides, all the admissions he blurts out now don’t matter, although they would have if he said such things before he signed the bill. (2) The law is wonderful, especially if, in court, a judge is stupid enough to interpret all its slimy phrases the way we want him to for litigation purposes, and not the way creationist teachers are going to for classroom purposes. (3) Zack Kopplin is a snot-nosed kid.
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