We’ve been writing about creationist legislation for a few years now, but this is the funniest thing we’ve ever seen.
Yesterday we wrote Mississippi Creationism: New Bill for 2016. It’s one of those typical attempts to sneak creationism into the public schools, based on the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom bill. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.
The legislative genius who gets credit for being the lead author of the bill is real estate salesman Mark Formby. That’s his page at the Mississippi legislature’s website. Formby probably doesn’t realize it yet, but he has already destroyed his bill with a single press interview.
We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Bill would allow teachers to promote creationism, which appears in the Hattiesburg American, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The bold font was added by us:
Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, said a constituent told him a teacher had been questioned after bringing up the theory of creationism, or the religious belief that the universe originated from acts of divine creation.
“I just don’t want my teachers punished in any form or fashion for bringing creationism into the debate. Lots of us believe in creationism,” Formby, the chairman of the House Revenue and Expenditure committee, said. “To say that creationism as a theory is any less valuable than any other theory that nobody can scientifically prove I just think is being close-minded.”
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Formby’s version of the Discoveroid bill has the same misleading language we’ve seen so many times before, about teaching “critical thinking skills” and the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of theories like evolution. And it has the foolish cover-language that despite its obvious purpose — which Formby has just admitted — it “shall not be construed” to promote any religious doctrine.
Those bills have never fooled anyone. Even Formby knows what it is, but creationism is such a common belief in Mississippi that it doesn’t occur to him that he’s supposed to lie about it. The newspaper says:
While the bill states objective debates should be allowed, Formby said he hopes the bill would allow teachers to express their opinions as well.
Hey — why not? Who needs objectivity in a science class? Let’s read on:
“If a teacher believes in global warming, she should be able to say ‘I believe in global warming,’ then if she believes the Earth was created by a Supreme Being, that maybe there are other theories than the big bang theory where there was nothing, then nothing exploded and created something.”
Yeah — anything goes! We continue:
There are no punishments laid out in the bill for administrators or school board members who interfere with a teacher’s discussion of these topics, but Formby’s hope is that if the bill becomes law, teachers could point to it to challenge any complaints.
Right — creationist teachers need academic freedom.
Aside from Formby’s catastrophically honest interview — which will surely kill his creationist legislation — his bill may have other problems: The Hattiesburg American tells us:
The bill was referred to the House Education Committee, which Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, chairs. Moore, who is listed as a co-author on the bill but has not carefully reviewed it, said it is unlikely he will bring it up. “We’re very limited on the amount of legislation we move forward,” Moore said. “This has a long way to go to make it through the process, if I even bring it up.”
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The bill is likely to die in committee, even without Formby’s interview. Then the newspaper quotes some remarks by Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education. That’s good stuff, and you’ll want to click over there to read it. Well, here’s one quote. He said that under Formby’s proposal:
“There’s no reason a teacher couldn’t say that women or blacks are inferior, or … that the Earth was flat or the sun goes around the Earth, and then couldn’t be shut down by the administration.”
Glenn can probably stop worrying about Mississippi — at least this time around. But there’s always next year.
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