Archive - Mar 2011


March 28th

Can't Teach A Young Earth New Tricks

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Memo to Bill Zedler: YOU ARE DUMB.

As I've noted in the column recently, creationists have been slowly getting to their feet after what should have been a knockout punch in Dover, PA. Dover established that intelligent design was in fact creationism, and since teaching creationism is unconstitutional, so is teaching ID. But like dumber versions of bedbugs, creationists are persistent.

Mother Jones recently assembled a list of attempts to re-establish a toehold for the God Did It crowd. Now, many of these are the product of wingnut state legislators who don't give a shit about the actual constitutionality issue, and many of them died in committee, but a few of them, and the thinking behind them, are pretty telling about both the current state of the dumbest battle in America, and the tactics conservatives use to dodge their losses.

In Florida, for example, a bill that would require "thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" is about to go before the committee of a man who thinks we can't have come from apes because there are still apes. They, of course, don't mean an actual thorough presentation. Or an actual critical analysis. They just think that no presentation is thorough and no analysis is critical unless is puts forth the 6,000 year, Adam and Eve earth as a possible alternative.

Tennessee takes a cue from Louisiana, because they're not smart enough to have ideas of their own beyond "BURN THE HERETIC MONKEY MAN!" Their bill, winding its way through the sausage grinder, would require that educators "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies". Which, in case you were wondering, does in fact cover global warming and human cloning as well as evolution.

I'd point out all the code words in that phrasing, but it'd be faster to just say that the only one that ISN'T a code word for teaching creationism is "to", and only the first one.

But the clear winner has to be Texas, where state Rep. Bill Zedler has mustered every last bit of brainpower he has at his disposal, and instead of learning science, has decided to frame teaching creationism as a civil right. Which may be the single cleverest thing a creationist has ever done. I mean, still not a high bar for him to barely clear, but damning where faint praise is due and all that.

Basically, it makes it a crime to discriminate or penalize any teacher or student based on their "research" into Intelligent Design. It's essentially a carte blanche, "get out of the principal's office free" card for classroom proselytizing. So what if the teacher's "intelligent design research" consists of bringing a bible into science class and setting fire to On The Origin Of Species? It's research! Can't penalize them for it!

Now, Zedler's creationist shibboleths aren't particularly new or interesting, but it's always fun to revisit them every once in a while to stay aware of the microscopic mindset in play. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Evolutionists will go 'Oh, it just happened by chance.' Today we know that’s false. Today we know that even a single-celled organism is hugely complex. When was the last time we’ve seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say 'Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch."

The usual awful fucking analogies aside, I love how he just states outright that we've recently learned that life didn't happen by chance. "Today, we know that's false." That's a hell of an assertion. That's a lie so bald-faced there's no skin or muscle on the face either. It's just a grinning skull telling you that the legions of ID researchers out there have made tremendous discoveries - like the fact that cells have STUFF IN THEM.

When the Mother Jones reporter points out to him that Texas doesn't actually outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, Zedler dodges and changes the subject in a fascinating way:

"Here’s the deal: We have college professors that will defend Hugo Chavez, ok? You have college professors that will espouse communism despite all the evidence of its overwhelming failure. And yet they are tolerated, but someone who even dares to mention intelligent design or who questions the idea that life could begin by chance, they are kicked out, lose their tenure, all kinds of discrimination working against them. I think that flies in the face of academic freedom."

I know how Texan conservatives think. Professors "defending" communism are, if I had to guess, merely insufficiently demonizing it. And by "insufficiently", I mean they're not putting on an Uncle Sam costume and a Ronald Reagan mask, and punch out someone dressed like a Cossack. Plus, comparing a college-level political science class to a junior high science classroom would be intellectually dishonest if creationists had any inkling of the concepts "intellectual" and "honesty".

Creationists don't want academic freedom, they just want freedom. Academia is not a consequence-free environment where you can sit around all day being COMPLETELY FUCKING WRONG without the slightest hint of repercussion.

That's called "politics".