We haven’t written about legislative activity in South Dakota since we posted South Dakota: America’s Dumbest State?, which was back in 2010. They were trying to pass a resolution against teaching global warming, and their resolution said, among other things, that “astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena.” You need to read that sentence a couple of times before you can fully appreciate it.
Having already stunned the world with their brilliance, the lawmakers of that state are deploying their formidable talents in the arena of creationism. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reports that there is now an “Intelligent design” bill in South Dakota. They say:
Senate Bill 112, introduced in the South Dakota Senate and referred to the Senate Education Committee on January 29, 2014, would, if enacted, provide that “[n]o school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.”
Let’s take a look at that bill. It’s not very long:
Short and sweet. And incredibly stupid. But it has the virtue of originality. You can see a kind of perverted evolution going on here. Back in the Scopes trial days, the Tennessee law prohibited the teaching of evolution. Then the creationists tried laws giving equal time to evolution and creationism. When that didn’t work they invented the pseudoscience of intelligent design, which proclaims the same supernaturally-caused old-Earth creationism that was believed in by William Jennings Bryan, but they imagine it’s disguised as science because it doesn’t mention the bible.
With their phoney theory and their nonsensical books, the promoters of intelligent design “theory” at the Discovery Institute righteously demand “academic freedom” and an end to “censorship.” To that end, they’ve been promoting legislation aimed at allowing ignorant teachers to preach creationism — disguised as teaching the “strengths and [alleged] weaknesses” of evolution — while presenting intelligent design as an alternative scientific theory.
But this new bill in South Dakota is a tactic we’ve never seen before. It seems a throwback to the Scopes trial days, and it says, in effect: “If we can’t ban evolution, then you can’t ban intelligent design. Nya, nya, nyaaaaaah!!”
Who’s doing this? In the state’s Senate, the sponsors are Monroe, Jensen, Lederman, Otten (Ernie), Rampelberg, and Van Gerpen. There are a also several members of the House of Representatives listed as sponsors, but NCSE notes that there is no comparable bill in the House yet. South Dakota apparently lets House members sponsor Senate bills.
We don’t expect any of that state’s venerable legislators to take our advice, but they ought to read the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. We wrote about one aspect of the judge’s opinion that is relevant here — see Kitzmiller v. Dover: Is ID Science?
This is a link to where you can follow the bill’s progress. Nothing has happened since the bill was introduced on 29 January, except that it’s been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Education. Two of the bill’s sponsors are members of that committee — Jensen and Rampelberg. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on 31 March.
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