It was the kind of creationist bill promoted by the Discoveroids, authorizing teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, about which see Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws. As we said there, the only “weakness” of evolution is that it doesn’t rely on Oogity Boogity.
To no one’s surprise, the Discoveroids are upset. They just posted In South Dakota, More Groundless Alarm about Academic Freedom. It was written by Sarah Chaffee, whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
South Dakota’s HB 1270, proposed this year, was a simple, straightforward academic freedom bill. [Hee hee!] Unfortunately, it did not pass, but I would like to correct some misconceptions that came up in the House.
She’s going to “correct some misconceptions”? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Discoveroids — like all creationists — thrive on misconceptions. She says:
The House Education Committee discussed the bill at length. I will address part of the dialogue, which I transcribed from the state’s audio of the hearing:
Most of what follows is boring. Savvy Sarah dismisses the possibility that such legislation could cause lawsuits — but there’s no mention in her post of cases like Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District or any other cases creationists have lost. Instead she quotes some Committee discussion and then tells us:
Contrary to his assertion that school districts should expect “a number of lawsuits,” Louisiana has had an academic freedom law similar to HB 1270 on the books since 2008, and Tennessee since 2012. Neither state has been subjected to lawsuits because of these laws.
True, there’s been no litigation about those laws in those states. Not yet. Maybe they’re populated by creationists. She also dismisses some other issues that were raised in the Committee and concludes with this:
In sum, academic freedom bills like South Dakota’s HB 1270 are limited, proven legislation. [Proven?] The alarm that is habitually raised is groundless.
So what do we learn from this? Regardless of what Savvy Sarah says, we definitely don’t come away assured that such a law wouldn’t result in litigation. If history is any guide in such matters — and it is — take a look at the National Center for Science Education’s list of major court cases holding that teaching creationism in public schools is Unconstitutional.
Anyway, the Discoveroids are still promoting these laws, and that’s the key lesson of Savvy Sarah’s post. Any state foolish enough to pass such a thing is deserving of the consequences. And if, as with Louisiana and Tennessee, there have been no consequences yet, they are nevertheless deserving of our ridicule.
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