On Friday, Florida State Senator Ronda Storms introduced an anti-evolution bill to the legislature. She did so quietly, and without fanfare. No press release was issued, and so far the legislation has not received any attention in the press. It also doesn’t seem to have attracted any attention from the Discovery Institute or any of the other major anti-evolution websites, either. That’s actually a bit of a surprise, since the bill in question is remarkably similar to a “Model Academic Freedom Statute” that the Discovery Institute posted on a website that they (and a media company) set up to promote a movie.
This whole thing raises so many issues that it’s hard to decide where to start. There’s the Orwellian language of the act itself. There’s the egregious misunderstanding of the concept of academic freedom that’s contained in the bill. There’s the remarkable similarity between the bill before the Florida legislature and the Discovery Institute’s “model statute.” There’s the narrow focus of the law. There’s the lack of concern shown for “academic freedom” as it relates to anything but teachers and students who want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that evolution’s not a real, solid scientific concept. And that’s just scratching the surface. There’s just no way that I can address all of this in a single post. Fortunately, I’m confident that between the comments section for this post and whatever other bloggers may decide to write on this topic, most of the things I miss will be covered in short order.
Right now, I’m going to focus on the mockery that the circumstances surrounding this bill make of the Discovery Institute’s frequent assertions that religious beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with this sort of thing. (Yes, I know it’s hard to make a mockery of a mockery, but they’ve managed it. Again.)