A School Board’s Education

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There is a certain sequence that is common to flare-ups involving religious antievolution advocacy. First, there is some starting event, where people raise some form of antievolution as appropriate to insert into a science curriculum in some manner. Second, there is some notice of this. Third, other parties bring those involved up to speed on the state of religious antievolution. Fourth, the initially enthusiastic advocates of religious antievolution desist or are overruled.

Note that I said common. Most of the cases of religious antievolution intersecting with public K-12 education resolve fairly shortly. If they do follow this common pathway, one usually has no more notice of it than that initially given to the problem. It is when a case goes pathological that it may become well-known, as in the cyclical antievolution of the Kansas state school board, the long-term antievolution advocacy of the Tangipahoa Parish school board, or the spectacular self-destruction of the Dover Area School District. Even intermediate cases demonstrate how readily our attention passes on to extreme cases, as shown by the flirtation the Darby, Montana school board had with “intelligent design” creationism a few years back. Darby was set to provide that first lawsuit over “intelligent design” creationism that it seemed the Discovery Institute was spoiling for, but the community had its elections for the school board before a policy was implemented, and the voters elected people who were not amenable to the IDC program.

In North Carolina, the Brunswick County School Board recently demonstrated steps 1 through 3 of the common sequence of religious antievolution advocacy. A speaker before a school board meeting suggested that creationism should be taught in the public school science classes. The members of the school board showed a certain initial enthusiasm for the suggestion. A reporter filed an article laying out how those events happened, plus the useful information that all the school board members favored including creationism in the science curriculum, and that even their legal counsel initially thought that they might do so legally if creationism supplemented but did not displace evolutionary science there. Shortly thereafter, another article reported on the response to those events at the state level, where it was noted that various legal precedents said that the course of action contemplated by the Brunswick County School Board was plainly unconstitutional.

What we don’t know yet is whether the Brunswick County School Board case will follow the common sequence and give up the idea of explicit inclusion of religious antievolution in the public schools, or whether this case will progress in a pathological way toward giving certain religious doctrines privilege by government authority.

I go into some of the possible outcomes at the Austringer.

57 Comments

The comments sections of the two newspaper articles contain some scary stuff (especially the post from “pastor_donald_smith”). They serve as chilling reminders to me that red states have much power in this upcoming national election, and it is voters like the pastor who fuel much of that power. They will vote for the ticket which is friendly to their world view and we know which one that is. I live in Tennessee and it is just like North Carolina. I become more discouraged and doubtful the longer I live here - I fear that logic and education will succumb to the dangerous world views of the religious right. There is no convincing these people.

Having been born and raised in North Carolina I can say that School Board and education should never appear in the same sentence.

There were a lot of good pro-science comments there too. Probably not local tho. What one wants to know, however, is how do the pro-science types avoid school board duties? Do these luddites get elected by default? Do all those who support the separation of church and state and believe that science only education should occur in science classes also think that someone ELSE will run for the board? Recently, in Texas I think, a friggin’ KNOWN creationist was elected to be president of the State text book board. Mainly because no one else wanted the job? Get a life people. You can’t just stand by in this Democracy, you have to be a part of it.

It’s always good to see school boards openly questioning the way the topic of origins is being taught in their science classes. Good to see them move away from mere spoonfeeding of canned Darwin Dogma Dogfood.

However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

Slightly OT, but having a new highschooler in the house taking biology, I was very impressed to see a full treatment of evolution, and not a trace of creationism, in his textbook. Far from anything that could be described as spoonfeeding of dogfood, it covered the science in as much detail as one could expect in multiple chapters. I was quie surprised, and very glad, that they won’t be wasting his time with any contrived “teach the controversy” nonsense. And this is in Texas no less.

I like the comments about the semi-humorous “script” that school boards follow when they start walking down the Darwin-basher path.

There was a time before the 1960s when the public schools were at best indifferent to evo science and at worst blatantly hostile to it, but these days with the “culture wars”, except in the most conservative localities school boards who give the green light to Darwin-bashing are GUARANTEED bad press and, if they continue down the path, a legal challenge.

And they have to think twice before they (a) get themselves involved in a controversy that makes them look bad to the public, even to the many who don’t care about evo science, simply because it comes across as a focus on troublemaking instead of doing the job and (b) find themselves in a FEDERAL court case that will be expensive, exhausting, and likely (given the uniformly bad track record of Darwin-bashers in court) doomed to defeat.

The other amusing thing is that the leadership among the Darwin-bashers on school boards are never the sort to be playing DI-style “don’t ask don’t tell” games. Nope, they’re straight unconcealed outspoken Biblical creationists, and it’s a very good bet they are YECs.

Of course, if we MUST have such controversies, I wouldn’t prefer them to be anything else.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Science Avenger said:

And this is in Texas no less.

Rural Texas? Now if it was Austin … it wouldn’t count.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

FL said:

It’s always good to see school boards openly questioning the way the topic of origins is being taught in their science classes. Good to see them move away from mere spoonfeeding of canned Darwin Dogma Dogfood.

However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

It failed in Dover, it will fail in Louisiana. There is no controversy and you know it.

…the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

And just as dishonest. (Dishonest? sounds like something certain candidates might be interested in.)

FL said:However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

And what is that controversy?

iml8 said: Nope, they’re straight unconcealed outspoken Biblical creationists, and it’s a very good bet they are YECs.

Yeah, this seems to be a classic example of ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ In this case, Brunswick County appears ready to refight Edwards vs Aguillard.

The only surprising thing about this story is the County lawyer. Even as a pro-ID, solid supporter he should have warned his clients about the precedent cases. That’s not being disloyal to the cause, its just competent lawyering.

Wheels said:

FL said:However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

And what is that controversy?

Fundie wingnuts want their fairy tale taught in science class. That is the only controversy.

FL said: However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

“already-successful, already-legally-powerful” What does that mean? Nothing has happened yet, so there haven’t been any lawsuits. Sheesh, you’re as dumb as a, … creationist, yeah, that’s it, dumb as a creationist.

Considering that Governor Bobby Jindal openly admitted in his recent NYT interview that the law is all about getting God and Genesis 1 into the classrooms, it’s probably not going to be much of a court fight. (It was the front-matter one-page interview, in a recent Sunday Magazine, the one with the cover article about how President Bush is so lonely nowadays.)

For general info, here’s the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/m[…]l&st=cse

If that doesn’t work, go to the NYT home page and search for “Questions for Bobby Jindal.”

While I agree with you about Jindal’s likely motivation, the actual interview is a bit more circumspect. At best he doesn’t deny that the bill is for teaching biblical creationism.

william e emba said:

FL said: However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

“already-successful, already-legally-powerful” What does that mean? Nothing has happened yet, so there haven’t been any lawsuits. Sheesh, you’re as dumb as a, … creationist, yeah, that’s it, dumb as a creationist.

Considering that Governor Bobby Jindal openly admitted in his recent NYT interview that the law is all about getting God and Genesis 1 into the classrooms, it’s probably not going to be much of a court fight. (It was the front-matter one-page interview, in a recent Sunday Magazine, the one with the cover article about how President Bush is so lonely nowadays.)

Eric said: While I agree with you about Jindal’s likely motivation, the actual interview is a bit more circumspect. At best he doesn’t deny that the bill is for teaching biblical creationism.

Thanks for the link. Here is the relevant Q&A from the interview:

Wow. Why would someone with so much knowledge of biology sign a bill allowing the biblical story of Creation to be taught in science class?

I don’t think that schools should be run by bureaucrats. I think these decisions need to be made by local school boards. In terms of teaching my own kids at home, I do believe there is a Creator. Catholicism doesn’t teach authoritatively on evolution or the origins of life, but we do believe that God is our Creator.

Jindal was given a loaded question. Rather than objecting, “no, no, it’s meant to enhance science education by teaching the controversy” or some such boilerplate creationist lie, he point-blank agreed with the question’s assertion about the bill’s Genesis 1 motivation and ran with it. What’s he going to do at the trial, pull a Buckingham and claim he was ambushed by the NYT?

Eric said:

The only surprising thing about this story is the County lawyer. Even as a pro-ID, solid supporter he should have warned his clients about the precedent cases. That’s not being disloyal to the cause, its just competent lawyering.

I tend to ASTOUNDED by the actions of lawyers in some of these cases. I expect the lunatic fringe to be operating on the basis of concepts that not only contradict reality but even themselves, but it would seem to me that a good lawyer would have both the training and mental horsepower to notice such self-constructed “ACME” boobytraps. However, you get these HIGH-CLASS lawyers from the likes of the Thomas More Law Center who honestly think they have a good case.

I think the trap they fall into is a confidence in their cleverness as lawyers that doesn’t take into account their ignorance of the sciences – never realizing that scientists trying to plead a bigtime court case would be hopelessly out of their depth and that the same scenario applies in reverse to lawyers. The lawyers are used to an environment where realities tend to be what you can argue them to be. In the natural sciences and engineering they are not … we might argue about our understanding of reality, but there’s only one “ground truth”, one reality out there.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

iml8 said:

Science Avenger said:

And this is in Texas no less.

Rural Texas? Now if it was Austin … it wouldn’t count.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Suburb of Dallas. Yeah, Austin, my favorite home, doesn’t count. It’s more a part of California.

Science Avenger said:

Suburb of Dallas. Yeah, Austin, my favorite home, doesn’t count. It’s more a part of California.

Sort of like Boulder here in CO – Berkeley transplanted to the Rockies, “a hundred square miles of hallucinations surrounded by reality”. And then there’s Aspen, a chunk of relocated Hollywood …

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

iml8 said:

I tend to ASTOUNDED by the actions of lawyers in some of these cases. I expect the lunatic fringe to be operating on the basis of concepts that not only contradict reality but even themselves, but it would seem to me that a good lawyer would have both the training and mental horsepower to notice such self-constructed “ACME” boobytraps. However, you get these HIGH-CLASS lawyers from the likes of the Thomas More Law Center who honestly think they have a good case.

Don’t forget, ID “godfather” Phillip E. Johnson isn’t a scientist, he’s a retired law professor. It’s an entire movement based on incredulity and religious fundamentalism.

The only surprising thing about this story is the County lawyer. Even as a pro-ID, solid supporter he should have warned his clients about the precedent cases… its just competent lawyering

Maybe we need to send each of the board members a photocopy of last page of the Kitzmiller verdict, maybe with some highlighter action on the last paragraph. You know, the one that starts with…

“This court finds for the Plaintiffs”

and ends with…

“Hereby awards fees in the amount of $2,200,000”

iml8 said: I tend to ASTOUNDED by the actions of lawyers in some of these cases.

The lawyers are used to an environment where realities tend to be what you can argue them to be.

Amen.

Fortunately, one thing Kitzmiller amply demonstrated was that Judges still seem to like rational witnesses who bring boxes of hard evidence to back up their testimony, don’t evade, and admit it when they don’t know the answer.

That’s not really surprising. I suspect judges probably spend half their professional lives sitting up there on the bench thinking to the themselves “Just answer the frickin’ question already…”

Fortunately, as ably demonstrated in Dover by Kevin Padian, real science is really good at calm, rational, answers. As ably demonstrated by Michael Behe, ID is really good at evasion.

In the federal court system of 2008, I’m not so sure that we can still count on “Know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, but I think it’s a pretty good bet that “Lie to the judge and the judge will not be happy” still applies.

Slightly OT, but I believe this could be used to sum up the scientific perspective:

Lunatic fringe I know you’re out there You’re in hiding And you hold your meetings We can hear you coming We know what you’re after We’re wise to you this time We won’t let you kill the laughter.

Lunatic fringe In the twilight’s last gleaming This is open season But you won’t get too far We know you’ve got to blame someone For your own confusion But we’re on guard this time Against your final solution

We can hear you coming (We can hear you coming) No you’re not going to win this time We can hear the footsteps (We can hear the footsteps) Way out along the walkway Lunatic fringe We know you’re out there But in these new dark ages There will still be light

An eye for an eye; Well before you go under… Can you feel the resistance? Can you feel the thunder?

stevaroni said: I suspect judges probably spend half their professional lives sitting up there on the bench thinking to the themselves “Just answer the frickin’ question already…”

In the federal court system of 2008, I’m not so sure that we can still count on “Know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, but I think it’s a pretty good bet that “Lie to the judge and the judge will not be happy” still applies.

That’s exactly what I was thinking. Judges are professionally used to people trying to snow them, they’re far more wise to it than average, and it makes them angry.

The tapdancing of the Darwin-bashers works very well as a propaganda measure, but the “mass public” is a creature with a short attention span. It’s the worst thing you can do in front of a judge. I keep hoping for “contempt of court” charges but it appears that the judges don’t generally hit people with them without giving multiple and increasingly dire warnings.

Steve Jay Gould had some comments along the same lines for his testimony in MCLEAN V ARKANSAS, concluding: “On the second day of a one-week trial, we held our victory party.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Oldfart said:

There were a lot of good pro-science comments there too. Probably not local tho. What one wants to know, however, is how do the pro-science types avoid school board duties? Do these luddites get elected by default? Do all those who support the separation of church and state and believe that science only education should occur in science classes also think that someone ELSE will run for the board? Recently, in Texas I think, a friggin’ KNOWN creationist was elected to be president of the State text book board. Mainly because no one else wanted the job? Get a life people. You can’t just stand by in this Democracy, you have to be a part of it.

On the subject of pro-science types populating school boards, are school board members not voted into their positions? If I knew I had a chance I would consider trying out for a school board position, but the rub is that so many of these right wing zealots on school boards in this part of the country are strongly supported by the people they represent. I think I would lose an election badly.

iml8 said: The lawyers are used to an environment where realities tend to be what you can argue them to be. In the natural sciences and engineering they are not … we might argue about our understanding of reality, but there’s only one “ground truth”, one reality out there.

Or, as Feynman put it: “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

For ID we should substitute “theology” for “public relations,” but its still apt.

stevaroni said: In the federal court system of 2008, I’m not so sure that we can still count on “Know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, but I think it’s a pretty good bet that “Lie to the judge and the judge will not be happy” still applies.

Add it to the list of things one should never do: get involved in a land war in Asia; go against a Sicilian when death is on the line; lie to a Judge in a bench trial.

:)

“already-successful, already-legally-powerful” What does that mean? Nothing has happened yet, so there haven’t been any lawsuits.

Hey, you know why “nothing has happened yet”? Because the Exec. Director of the Louisiana ACLU has ALREADY publicly conceded on New Orleans TV (WWLTV News), that there’s nothing they can do about the Louisiana Science Education Act as currently worded. Just…plain…flat…Nuthin.

In fact, as Discovery Institute’s John West has pointed out, you gotta violate that LSEA law (and it IS law, btw) even for anybody to go to court over it. It’s just that good baby!!

********

So yeah, you DO know what “already successful” means. You know what “already-legally-powerful” means. You already know that “teach the controversy” is not “dumb”, but instead the most wise approach to the whole thing.

We just have to spread the word to all the school boards that “slow and steady wins the race.” Don’t need big headlines, don’t need big battles, don’t have to bite off more than you can legally chew; just follow the successful “teach the controversy” examples already on the table (with Louisiana being the primo example).

FL

FL said:

So yeah, you DO know what “already successful” means. You know what “already-legally-powerful” means. You already know that “teach the controversy” is not “dumb”, but instead the most wise approach to the whole thing.

We just have to spread the word to all the school boards that “slow and steady wins the race.” Don’t need big headlines, don’t need big battles, don’t have to bite off more than you can legally chew; just follow the successful “teach the controversy” examples already on the table (with Louisiana being the primo example).

FL

Hang on, FL. When you say “‘teach the controversy’ is the most approach to the whole thing,” what is “the whole thing?” The goal of teaching creationist pseudoscience (YEC, ID, etc.) as real science in public school science classrooms? We already know there’s no scientific controversy (not a single piece of data in peer-reviewed scientific research papers supports ID, let alone more traditional forms of creationist pseudoscience). Some clarification is in order.

Robin said:

Slightly OT, but I believe this could be used to sum up the scientific perspective:

Lunatic fringe (snip)

Fellow Canadian Tom “Life is a Highway” Cochrane. That song always makes me think of skinheads, the Klan, and OK City, but you’re right, it goes for the fundie nutjobs, too.

FL said:

“already-successful, already-legally-powerful” What does that mean? Nothing has happened yet, so there haven’t been any lawsuits.

Hey, you know why “nothing has happened yet”? Because the Exec. Director of the Louisiana ACLU has ALREADY publicly conceded on New Orleans TV (WWLTV News), that there’s nothing they can do about the Louisiana Science Education Act as currently worded. Just…plain…flat…Nuthin.

In fact, as Discovery Institute’s John West has pointed out, you gotta violate that LSEA law (and it IS law, btw) even for anybody to go to court over it. It’s just that good baby!!

********

So yeah, you DO know what “already successful” means. You know what “already-legally-powerful” means. You already know that “teach the controversy” is not “dumb”, but instead the most wise approach to the whole thing.

We just have to spread the word to all the school boards that “slow and steady wins the race.” Don’t need big headlines, don’t need big battles, don’t have to bite off more than you can legally chew; just follow the successful “teach the controversy” examples already on the table (with Louisiana being the primo example).

FL

Since FL often seems engaged in unrestrained hyperbole, I indulged myself with the joys of research.

Checking the WWLTV site, http://www.wwltv.com/ , I searched for “Louisiana Science Education Act” and found no matches. Searching for “ACLU” got 61 matches, going back to last year. None of the matches had anything to to do with Louisiana Science Education Act, the only match mentioning the Chapter President was one about his retirement, http://www.wwltv.com/topstories/sto[…]52c7fc6.html .

I then checked the Louisiana ACLU site, http://www.laaclu.org/ . A search for Louisiana Science Education Act got this: http://www.laaclu.org/News/2008/Cre[…]_061208.html . I think the following quote is sufficient:

Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana said: “The ACLU will continue to protect the rights of all Louisianians to receive quality public educations without the intrusion of religious dogma,” said Esman. “If necessary, we will file appropriate lawsuits to ensure that the children of Louisiana are educated in the way that they deserve and that the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Louisiana require.”

Given this, FL, the onus is upon you to cite your source. If you cannot, I fear I must conclude you are lying.

Given this, FL, the onus is upon you to cite your source. If you cannot, I fear I must conclude you are lying.

Of course you must. But fear not; your requested domino is already prepared for the hand.

“ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said that if the Act is utilized as written, it should be fine; though she is not sure it will be handled that way.”

—WWLTV News Online (New Orleans), June 24, 2008

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/[…]7767059.html

FL :)

FL said:

Given this, FL, the onus is upon you to cite your source. If you cannot, I fear I must conclude you are lying.

Of course you must. But fear not; your requested domino is already prepared for the hand.

“ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said that if the Act is utilized as written, it should be fine; though she is not sure it will be handled that way.”

—WWLTV News Online (New Orleans), June 24, 2008

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/[…]7767059.html

FL :)

Sorry to say, I have to conclude that you are in fact lying by omission, that is, by quote-mining. Here is the full article:

ACLU plans to keep eye on Science bill

10:34 PM CDT on Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WWLTV.com

The ACLU says it will be keeping a close eye on a bill called the Louisiana Science Education Act should it become law.

The measure passed the legislature and is awaiting Governor Jindal’s signature, though it would become law as long as he doesn’t directly veto it.

The bill would allow teachers and school officials to create, “open and objective discussion of scientific theories, not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

Its proponents say the bill is good for everyone.

“It’s pro science, pro education, pro control and pro teacher,” said Gene Mills, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Family Forum. “We think it’s going to be good for the classroom.”

ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said that if the Act is utilized as written, it should be fine; though she is not sure it will be handled that way.

“I think there’s a lot of room for things to get sneaked into the classrooms that shouldn’t be there,” she said.

But those in favor of the bill point to the wording, which says, “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or promote discrimination against religion or non-religion.”

Esman said the wording walks a fine line. “It does not say it prohibits the introduction of religion, and there’s a difference,” she noted.

The legislation does allow for teachers to use supplemental resources in the classroom to take on the new topics. And while it doesn’t specifically define what those resources will be it does give school districts the power to regulate them.

Political analyst Clancy DuBos said the legislation’s wording may keep it from being challenged legally, but depending on how school systems use it, it could be challenged in its application.

“We’re known for suing school boards when we need to do so and we won’t shy away from doing that if that’s what we need to do this case,” said Esman.

DuBos said it’s possible some lawmakers voted for the measure with the knowledge that it could be challenged legally, a move that could cost the state a lot of money. DuBos said some lawmakers may have done that to please a vocal constituency.

“Sometimes lawmakers will do that they just don’t want to antagonize that block of voters out there, so they pass it and quietly cross their fingers and hope that the courts toss it out.”

(Emphasis added by DPR)

Now, if we take your original claim:

FL said:

Hey, you know why “nothing has happened yet”? Because the Exec. Director of the Louisiana ACLU has ALREADY publicly conceded on New Orleans TV (WWLTV News), that there’s nothing they can do about the Louisiana Science Education Act as currently worded. Just…plain…flat…Nuthin.

I can see plainly that your cited article does not say that which you’ve claimed it said. You were lying.

FL yammers…

In fact, as Discovery Institute’s John West has pointed out, you gotta violate that LSEA law (and it IS law, btw) even for anybody to go to court over it.

Not exactly.

IANAL, but as I understand it, since the law is a state statute, yes, you’d typically have to violate it, and be charged, in order to get into court, because if you weren’t in a criminal case, you’d lack standing.

Of course, in cases with constitutional issues it’s not quite so cut and dried.

Since being required to teach teach religion (or avoid ruffling it) as part of your job can be construed as a first amendment issue, anybody subjected to such a law can petition for declaratory relief under federal statutes, ending up in federal courts.

This is exactly what happened in Epperson vs Arkansas.

After the Scopes monkey trial, Arkansas kept a “no evolution” law on the books, and used it to discipline teachers, but never actually prosecuted anyone for violating it, thus avoiding a precedent-setting trial.

(from wikipedia)

During the forty years the Arkansas law was in effect, no one was ever prosecuted for violating it.

In the mid-1960s, Forrest Rozzell, the secretary of the Arkansas Education Association, sought someone to challenge the law as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. Rather than have someone break the law as in the Scopes case, the AEA’s lawyers instead tried to find a person to request a declaratory judgment on the law. Susan Epperson, a Little Rock high school teacher and theistic evolutionist, agreed to be that person.

… and the rest is history.

Of course, the plantiff still has to be a member of the small subset of “biology teachers who don’t care if they piss off their boss”, but…

In many circumstances, a guardian whose child is subjected to such law, has standing to challenge it (as happened in Dover). And I dare say that any high school principal will tell you that “angry parent” is a much bigger set of possible litigants than “teachers looking to rock the boat”.

And that’s the big problem, FL. For these laws to work, it’s absolutely essential to keep them out of the courts.

But sooner or later, someone with enough motivation gets standing to sue, and once they get to trial, these laws are dead-solid losers.

They have something like a 20-0 record at this point. I’ll put it in perspective, that’s worse than Tampa Bay in the 80’s.

The only reason they keep coming back, like zombies that don’t know they’re dead, is because shysters like the Discovery Institute convince stupid politicians that they are novel ideas, not old retreads that have been tried, publicly flogged, and discarded many times over.

Of course, the DI is never around to clean up the mess when some rural school district that’s having trouble paying for chalk relies on a “lawyer” like Joseph “Case law? What case law?” Causey, and finds itself stuck with a 2.2 million dollar tab.

I can see plainly that your cited article does not say that which you’ve claimed it said. You were lying.

I suspected that you might reach just such a conclusion. But that still leaves a couple important questions unanswered.

Since I’m quote-mining and lying and all such abominations thereof:

—how is it that (1) the Louisiana ACLU executive director plainly stated that the LSEA wording is “FINE”, and

—how is it that (2) the Louisiana ACLU is doing FLAT NOTHING, unto this very hour, to challenge the LSEA law in the courts?

FL

FL apparently does not understand the difference between “is fine” and “walks a fine line.”

FL said: —how is it that (2) the Louisiana ACLU is doing FLAT NOTHING, unto this very hour, to challenge the LSEA law in the courts?

Do you actually bother to READ what people post? I swear your eyes must skip over any words that don’t match your preconcieved notions, because its right there in the article you quoted. Robin even put it in bold for you. Then Stevaroni explained it to you. Do you need to sit on someone’s lap and have them read it to you?

THE REASON THE ACLU HASN’T DONE ANYTHING IS BECAUSE THEY ARE WAITING FOR LSEA TO BE USED TO SNEAK RELIGION INTO THE CLASSROOM. It hasn’t yet. Until that happens, they’re waiting.

FL said:

It’s always good to see school boards openly questioning the way the topic of origins is being taught in their science classes. Good to see them move away from mere spoonfeeding of canned Darwin Dogma Dogfood.

However, right now, the best school board approach is to adopt an already-successful, already-legally-powerful “teach the controversy” gig like the Louisiana Science Education Act.

In a way, I agree - providing that the teacher is compenent in biology and can actually discuss the subject, as opposed to being a bible-thumping shill for the DI like Lavake or that cross-burning moron.

For example, were I in such a position, I would teach the creation controversey - that the IDcreationists cannot decide whether the bible indicates a 6000 year old earth of a billions year old earth, I would point out all the fake-degrees creationists give themselves. I would explain how Meyer’s paper should never have been published - by coincidence, we recently hauled a guy before the honor board for copy and pasting his own material without indicating that it had happened, which means Meyer should have suffered the same fate.

I would point out how IDCreationists spend far mor emoney on public relations propaganda than they do on research. I would point out that the majority of creationist activists are not even scientists and those that are most have expertise in areas unrelated to evolution in any way. I would point out examples of how creation/ID ‘scientists’ embellish, twist, distort, and co-opt real research for their own purposes, like one can read on creationsafaris.com or AiG or the DI.

So, good idea. Teach the REAL controversey!

People are replying to that FL shit again. Just tell him to FO once and ignore him. I can’t be bothered to scroll past anything he might say or anything said in reply. Bye.

FL said:

I can see plainly that your cited article does not say that which you’ve claimed it said. You were lying.

I suspected that you might reach just such a conclusion. But that still leaves a couple important questions unanswered.

Since I’m quote-mining and lying and all such abominations thereof:

—how is it that (1) the Louisiana ACLU executive director plainly stated that the LSEA wording is “FINE”, and

—how is it that (2) the Louisiana ACLU is doing FLAT NOTHING, unto this very hour, to challenge the LSEA law in the courts?

FL

I suspect that you already know what I’m going to say, but I’d hate not to live up to your expectations 8^) .

1. You act as if “fine” is a declarative statement, it is not, it is conditional, on the law being uses as written. she further goes on to note the law opens itself up for abuses, and further that if the law is abused, the ACLU shall act.

2. For the second, see above. Should there be a reaqson to challenge the law, the ACLU shall do so. Until then, they are watching. (Please note that I’m not going to repeat the article, the entire text lies above).

I am neither a lawyer nor a seer, but I feel safe to predict (based on prior history):

1. We’ll find that LA has a number of Freshwater types and there will be a number of cases in the next few years.

2. Those cases will allow a challenge to the law in court and the law will be struck down.

Finally: Thrice I say it and done–you have lied.

D. P. Robin said: Since FL often seems engaged in unrestrained hyperbole, I indulged myself with the joys of research.

That ain’t the half of it.

He also has a tendency to employ ‘source mongering’ - you can trot out 20 people that agree on a subject, but if he can track down one chap who says something else, THAT person is the ultimate authority and THAT person’s claims are irrefutable, even if that person is a quack.

For example, he once declared that the coccyx cannot be vestigial because it is functional, and to support this actually cited a fringe chiroprater who mentioned in an online essay that the coccyx acts like a “neurological anchor”.

I know, don’t bother - he simply wouldn’t budge cuz’ if he found it on the iinternet, and it supports his position, it is TRUE TRUE TRUE.

Bill Gascoyne said:

FL apparently does not understand the difference between “is fine” and “walks a fine line.”

But see, he uses the BOLD AND CAPS style of discourse - if he has BOLDED something and put it ALL IN CAPS he really really really means it! And it thus MUST be absolutely true! Even if it isn’t.

Apparently, Mellotron/FL also doesn’t understadn that the ACLU cannot just bring lawsuits all on their own - someone else has to bring the suit.

OK, that’s enough playing with the troll.

In the second linked article discussing the Brunswick County School Board it was stated:

“The Brunswick County school system offers a Bible as Literature course in high school, but it’s not being taught this year because no students signed up for it, according to administrators.”

Followed by:

“School board member Jimmy Hobbs expressed outrage on Tuesday about the restriction on Bibles in schools and the teaching of evolution, a concept he deems atheistic, without including creationism.”

First, what does it say when the school does offer a Bible as Literature course but NO students sign up for it. Second, someone should ask J. Hobbs how they can teach a Bible as Literature Course without having bibles in the classroom.

MWN

School boards may get educated, but some people never do. Including FL, short for Foolish Liar.

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

OK, that’s enough playing with the troll.

Understood. Thrice I spoke and am done.

The Bible is also taught in Church schools here as a literary text, (so is the Koran, in Islamic schools) but not in State schools. The suggestion that it is literally inerrant is not found even in Church schools, officially, although I have no doubt that there are invincibly ignorant whackaloons in fundamentalist conventicles who’d like to so teach it. We, too, have our share of them, alas.

But the State is rather well aware that teaching one holy book would mean having to teach all of them. A proposed curriculum for a State school unit in “comparative religion” was quietly dropped, probably for lack of qualified teachers.

And I have to tell you that there is no controversy at all about any of that here, any more than exists in science over evolution itself. Having a few crazies of our own doesn’t amount to anything like the problems Americans have. Private schools and even home “schools” here are required to teach the State science curriculum, which is non-elective and assessed, at least to a tenth grade level. That curriculum includes a coverage - light, but accurate - of the Theory of Evolution and the lines of evidence supporting it. You learn this, you answer questions about it, and goddidit isn’t acceptable in those answers. Period. End of story. You don’t like it, go to Arabia or Alabama, and attend an academy for loons and losers there.

Watching Americans having to wrestle with problems like this - and gun crime, and comprehensive State health care, and capital punishment, and lack of political parties as the rest of the world understands them - keeps on reminding me that the US has a different culture to mine. It’s more different from mine than continental European cultures are, despite their different languages and histories. It’s fascinating, and dreadful.

Why dreadful? Well, it means that the only superpower thinks in terms that I can’t fathom about controversies that are moot to me and to my culture. I don’t understand where it might go with them, because I don’t understand the process. Is it conceivably possible that its political system might throw up people in high executive office who believe that God will create miracles for them? Or who want the world to end? I can’t tell. Not being able to tell bothers me.

No offence, but it bothers many people outside America, I think.

No offence, but it bothers many people outside America, I think.

It bothers more than a few of us inside America, too!

Dave Luckett said:

…lack of political parties as the rest of the world understands them

I hate to derail the thread, but could you expound on that a bit for me please. I am always interested in nonAmerican commentary on our politics.

Dave Luckett said:

Is it conceivably possible that its political system might throw up people in high executive office who believe that God will create miracles for them? Or who want the world to end? I can’t tell. Not being able to tell bothers me.

No offence, but it bothers many people outside America, I think.

A lot of us on the inside are hoping that this political season will mark a big shift in the cultural tide, as the beginning of the end of the dominance of the fundamentalists in our politics.

Science Avenger, I too am reluctant to derail the thread. But essentially, political parties as we understand them in the other English-speaking democracies are tightly-disciplined bodies with specific policies approved by majority in the party room, which must be accepted by all their candidates for election. Members of Parliament must therefore vote in the Parliament as required by their party organisers, or “whips”. “Conscience” or “free” votes are rare, and any MP who “crossed the floor” to vote against the advice of the party “whip” would face automatic expulsion from the party. This means, essentially, political oblivion. “Crossing the floor” is very rare at the State level, and almost unheard-of at the National level.

The spectacle of the US primary election, where one party’s possible candidates must spend months campaigning against each other in public, thereby making it in practice impossible for them to work effectively together afterwards, seems very strange to most outside the US. Even stranger is the idea, apparently the norm in the US, that quite often legislators will vote against most of their own party colleagues, as arranged by “horse-trading” among themselves across the aisle, often on an ad-hoc basis. Speaking personally, I cannot see how this can have any other result than to make US government policy on any issue unpredictable, inconsistent and even incoherent.

Dave Luckett said:

The spectacle of the US primary election, where one party’s possible candidates must spend months campaigning against each other in public, thereby making it in practice impossible for them to work effectively together afterwards, seems very strange to most outside the US.

That is somewhat a historical anomaly. There was a time when senators from across the aisle would bitterly attack each other in the Senate and then go play racketball with each other. Unfortunately we live in a more polarized time and that isn’t the norm these days.

Even stranger is the idea, apparently the norm in the US, that quite often legislators will vote against most of their own party colleagues, as arranged by “horse-trading” among themselves across the aisle, often on an ad-hoc basis. Speaking personally, I cannot see how this can have any other result than to make US government policy on any issue unpredictable, inconsistent and even incoherent.

“Huh?” All it amounts to is a little diffusion at the sides of the party blocs, and indeed I wonder why anyone would find it preferable that their representatives were forced to follow the party line whether it really served the interests of their constituency or not. Any US representative who consistently went against the party line ends up either crossing the aisle or declaring as an independent.

As far as claiming this reduces the political system to incoherence, one could just as well claim that a parliamentary system, where an administration can be toppled at any old irregular time by a vote of no confidence, was of course an invitation to chaos and calamity. Of course it isn’t – but one contrived argument tends to inspire another.

Besides, although many criticisms of the US are perfectly valid, at least for myself the comment that “we don’t have problems with Darwin-bashers in the school system in the UK” has its own dark side, at least as far as I’m concerned. According to the Beeb Online, some educators say that one out of every 10 secondary schools students in the UK comes from a creationist-sympathetic background. So why no problem? “Because the state forbids the teaching of these doctrines even in their private schools and home schooling.”

From the point of view of a libertarian sympathizer this would be unacceptable in the USA. I defend the right of private groups to teach their own doctrines (within certain broad limits such as advocating violence) no matter how entirely backwards they are. If that is a problem, the cure, saying they can’t, is worse. I’m not picking on the UK, I’m an Anglophile, but I think the view from across the Pond can be parochial itself at times.

To be sure, US freedoms of belief also imply the right to denounce such teachings, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they should be accredited by mainstream components in the school system. But the point is that to an extent the US has a problem in this regard simply because it grants the freedom to make such problems.

Also to be sure, don’t think I am going to defend the policies of the Bush II Administration – though I would comment that the view from overseas sometimes fails to take into account that even the current administration has learned from mistakes to a degree. And to the extent it hasn’t, it has proven a useful object lesson in how not to do things for the next administration.

Which, being challenged by many of the same ugly issues that the current administration, is going to end up doing a number of things that will also be unpopular with the rest of the world. The administration’s job is to serve US interests, which may or may not be in line with the attitudes of others. I think it was Palmerston who said, in a different context: “We have no permanent friends, only permanent interests.”

On the Bush II Administration – see the entry in the blog below on CREDIT WHERE DUE:

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Anyone wishing to continue playing with the troll can do so on the Bathroom Wall, where post-caution comments were shifted.

Greg:

You say “I wonder why anyone would find it preferable that their representatives were forced to follow the party line whether it really served the interests of their constituency or not.” For my part, I wonder why anyone would think that legislators in the national legislature should place sectional or parochial interests first. Surely that would imply placing them above the national interest? I can only ascribe my bewilderment with that idea to cultural difference.

As to the teaching of evolution in all schools, not only State schools:

Someone once remarked to the effect that opinion is free, but facts are not. Creationists, as we are woefully aware, are almost impervious to fact. But that is not an argument for not teaching the facts, or allowing schools (or home tuition) not to teach them. You seem to be arguing that creationists, or creationist communities, have the right to shield their children from the facts. I regret to say that if that is your intent, I disagree. Nobody should be shielded from fact. By education, a little progress may be made. And if education is not effective, I have no idea of what the solution might be.

Generally: the essence of trolling is to inject heat where there was none before. There was no heat before you began your post with an inarticulate exclamation of annoyance and followed it up with words like “contrived” to describe an argument you didn’t like, then reduced a nuanced statement in favour of compulsory education to “we don’t have problems with Darwin-bashers in the school system in the UK”.

Perhaps they don’t, in the UK. I’m not from there - I’m Australian. I know we have problems with them, and said so, but I also know that it’s nothing like the problems you have in the US. I ascribe this, as I ascribe the difference in our attitudes to electing a legislature, to cultural differences. To return to my original point, I think there is more cultural difference between my nation and the US than either of us realises. But perhaps we can contemplate those differences without getting off our bikes about it, as we say in my country.

Dave Luckett said:

For my part, I wonder why anyone would think that legislators in the national legislature should place sectional or parochial interests first. Surely that would imply placing them above the national interest?

Yes. They were elected to defend the interests of their constituency. Now obviously there’s going to be a consideration of rational self-interest that will involve the bigger picture, but a rational self-interest is still self-interest.

Creationists, as we are woefully aware, are almost impervious to fact. But that is not an argument for not teaching the facts, or allowing schools (or home tuition) not to teach them. You seem to be arguing that creationists, or creationist communities, have the right to shield their children from the facts. I regret to say that if that is your intent, I disagree.

Yes. That is precisely what I am arguing. The state does not have the right to tell noncomformists what they may or may not believe in the privacy of their own institutions. I may not like the idea of them teaching it to their kids, but that comes with the territory.

There are of course limits on this in that they don’t get to introduce such doctrines into public education and they won’t be accredited by mainstream institutions. And the worry over “brainwashing” kids is excessive … I know from personal experience (12 years of formal Catholic school education) how ineffectual and even counterproductive such partisan activities could be.

We have a Bill of Rights that was carefully and specifically designed to protect the rights of minorities against the will of the majority. It does so even if the minorities in question have beliefs that are disagreeable or even grossly ignorant.

There was no heat before you began your post with an inarticulate exclamation of annoyance and followed it up with words like “contrived” to describe an argument you didn’t like …

Oh, I was actually quite amused. Occasional crossing of the aisles in Congress reduces a politicial system to incoherence? Huh? Where did that come from? No apologies matey, the idea was silly.

What causes the incoherence is the abrupt change from left-leaning to right-leaning administrations on some multiple of every four years. But this is effectively same in any democracy.

Perhaps they don’t, in the UK. I’m not from there - I’m Australian.

OK, my bad. It just sounded like typical UK Yankie-bashing.

But perhaps we can contemplate those differences without getting off our bikes about it, as we say in my country.

Ahh … the original posting didn’t exactly sound balanced and nuanced to begin with.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

“Teach the controversy” news from Texas.…

From the front page of today’s Austin American-Statesman (the big daily down here in Austin).

Plan bans supernatural ideas from biology

Committee recommends removal of “strengths and weaknesses” from science curriculum The State Board of Education is expected to make a final decision on changes in March.

The full article is here: http://www.statesman.com/news/conte[…]science.html

On the one hand, this is progress, and shows that common sense still prevails somewhere in the Lone Star State.

On the other hand, only in Texas could a headline like “Plan bans supernatural ideas from biology” be so ground-breaking that it warrants an above-the-fold spot on the front page.

Bet O’Weary’s gonna go full throttle on that one.

We have a new article and post up now. I’ve already blogged about it at Forms Most Beautiful.

One of the speakers identified only as a concerned parent who offered to teach the course in ID is really a fundamentalist preacher with a 501C3 religious nonprofit. Also, the schoolboard members involved have made several pro ID remarks to the public and press. Lots more going on here than the press is picking up on the surface.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on September 19, 2008 3:31 AM.

Self-deception as a coping strategy for Christians was the previous entry in this blog.

Luskin and the ID movement on immunology: immune to evidence is the next entry in this blog.

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