Posts Tagged ‘SB 733’

Some quickies

June 28, 2008

It’s just busy, busy, busy this week! Yesterday I made it home from the Washington State LASER Strategic Planning Institute, and in just about an hour I’ll be on my way to West Yellowstone, Montana, to serve as a groomsman in my father’s wedding. There will be family from much of the United States there, most of whom I haven’t seen in a very long while, so I’m very excited. The downside, of course, is that I have less time to make posts.

Because I have little time, I’ll just post some links to interesting (and perhaps disturbing) things that have happened in the last 24 hours.

First, the bad, though unsurprising, news: SB 733 has been signed into law. Governor Bobby Jindal (with a name like that, how can you stay mad at him?) signed the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act into law, handing creationists a license to attack sound scientific theory in the classroom on frivolous religious bases.

Of course, the Discovery Institute, which has been instrumental in enacting these “academic freedom” bills around the country, is trying to distance itself from SB 733’s success. They’re claiming the bill isn’t about intelligent design, but simply about exposing students to the debates scientists themselves undertake. This is bullshit, because the Louisiana science standards, and those of every other state I’ve ever heard of, already hold that students should be exposed to legitimate issues in science. What the Discovery Institute really wants is for students to be opposed to illegitimate issues, such as global warming, and the perennial favorite, evolution.

In other news, Pharyngula writes on a frightening ruling in the Texas Supreme Court. A church which had been prosecuted for torturing a 17-year-old girl was found innocent by the high court, because they were conducting an exorcism. Apparently, in the great state of Texas, you’re allowed to horribly traumatize a child if you think she has demons in her head. Read the Pharyngula piece, and mourn our nation’s sanity.

After all that gloom, here’s something to cheer you up! I’ve been meaning to link to this webcomic for a long time. It’s called Kawaii Not, and I love it, because it perverts the saccharine cuteness that pervades so much of design these days. This particular comic is my favorite.

Hope that helps!


Another great blog post

June 20, 2008

Please read this excellent blog post on the Louisiana academic freedom fiasco. I think it sums up all the issues nicely.

It’s starting to seem to me that the only light at the end of this tunnel is the courts. As soon as some witless teacher uses the law (assuming it becomes so, and it seems likely) as a pretext to teach intelligent design, the courts will swat the school down like a housefly on a birthday cake. Sure, Louisiana will be humiliated and the school district will be out hundreds of thousands of dollars, but science education in the state will finally be safe.

Until the next loony bill comes around.

Some fun with Gov. Jindal

June 20, 2008

Gov. Jindal, of course, is the governor of the fair state of Louisiana, which is currently poised to explode in a barrage of litigation and international ridicule because of this bill. A campaign is underway to petition Gov. Jindal to veto the bill, but that outcome seems unlikely, as pointed out by a pointed and hilarious post at a blog called Rational Soapbox.

I won’t attempt to recreate the funny here. Follow the link, and laugh heartily, even as your faith in humanity dissolves.

Louisiana Senate sends SB 733 to the governor

June 18, 2008

The news from Louisiana just keeps getting worse.

SB 733, the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, has cleared both houses of the state legislature and is on its way to Governor Jindal’s desk. If he signs it, it will become law. If it becomes law, some witless science teacher will present ID as a legitimate theory, the school district will be sued, and millions of dollars will be thrown into the judicial toilet. It’s hard to imagine a worse outcome for public science education.

Thankfully, the Louisiana Coalition for Science hasn’t given up. Their website now bears a press release enumerating their objections to the bill, and information on how to contact Bobby Jindal and make clear your concerns. If enough people e-mail him, he just might veto the bill and save his state the already impending embarassment, ridicule, and litigation. It seems like a long shot to me, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. I’ve already done so.

Please, gentle reader, add your voice to the tumult. The forces of anti-science thrive on our silence, but they will wither when we raise our voices against them.

Some more on “academic freedom” in Louisiana

June 13, 2008

Bad Astronomy has an excellent post on the fiasco in Louisiana. It centers around a local news segment on SB 733, in which Barbara Forrest, the pillar of undiluted awesome whose testimony was instrumental in the Dover verdict, and a supporter of creation science are interviewed alongside Senator Nevers, who endorsed the bill. The creationist interviewed, Dominique Magee, claims that evolution is controversial. As the post points out, it is not. There is no serious scientific controversy in evolution, yet the Louisiana legislature found it necessary to flout the state’s education standards by singling out evolution in the bill’s language. Unbelievable.

Whew! Deep breath. There is another excellent video from local news before the bill passed the House, in which Barbara Forrest is interviewed alongside a representative from the LA Family Forum, a religious right organization. Ms. Forrest points out that the LFF has pushed creationism for a decade, and so their motive in endorsing SB 733 is highly suspect. In a telling move, the LFF rep then attacks Ms. Forrest personally. The video must be watched to be believed. There must not be an honest bone in these creationists’ bodies.

Louisiana House swallows SB 733, hook, line, and sinker

June 12, 2008

My hackles are duly raised. The Louisiana House passed the underhanded “academic freedom” bill SB 733 yesterday. Not only that, but they passed it 94-3.

So much for my optimistic tone yesterday. Apparenty Barbara Forrest’s analysis had no effect at all, as this Fox News article claims that there was no vocal opposition. The article also carries this quote from the head of the bullshit factory known as the Discovery Institute:

“This bill promotes good science education by protecting the academic freedom of science teachers,” said Dr. John West, Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute. “Critics who claim the bill promotes religion instead of science either haven’t read the bill or are putting up a smokescreen to divert attention from the censorship that has been going on.”

Actually, I have read the bill, and I agree with Barbara Forrest’s assessment: if the bill was truly about science, it would not need a passage claiming that it was not intended to promote religion.

The bill still has to go before the Louisiana Senate, because the language was changed by a House comittee. But seeing as the Senate passed the original bill 35-0, that’s probably not going to be a problem. And seeing as the governor is apparently a right-wing nutcase, a veto is probably out of the question.

Looks like another time-consuming, tax-dollar-wasting court case is in the future. The liars at the Discovery Institute must be as happy as pigs in filth.

Louisiana creationism bill analyzed

June 11, 2008

Barbara Forrest, member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Science Education and devastating expert witness for Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, has written a wonderful analysis of Louisiana’s SB 733, otherwise known as the “Lousiana Science Education Act,” otherwise known as another attempt to sneak intelligent design creationism into public classrooms.

Ms. Forrest exposes the shift in strategy of the Discovery Institute from promoting intelligent design to pushing “academic freedom” bills in state legislatures. She further exposes the hypocrisy of this shift, going so far as to quote DI attorney Casey Luskin as saying that such bills will allow the teaching of ID in the classroom, because, according to an article from Baptist Press quoted in the analysis, “he considers ID to be ‘scientific information’ that the FL bill would have permitted teachers to present in their criticism of evolution.” In other words, as much as these people try to say that these bills are not about forcing ID in the classrooms, that’s exactly their intent.

The highlight of the analysis is the last few pages, in which Ms. Forrest breaks down each of the measures called for by the bill, and why each one is either unnecessary or unconstitutional. Some highlights:

[In response to the bill’s call to “promote students’ critical thinking skills and open discussion of scientific theories”]

There is no need for this bill precisely because the LA science standards already include sufficient provision for critical thinking in science instruction. The term “open discussion of scientific theories” is code language meant to permit the discussion of ID creationist criticisms of evolution.

[In response to the bill’s call to change the role of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education]

The BESE should not have the role of enabling school boards to allow teachers to introduce creationist discussions into science classes. There is no doubt that this legislation is intended to permit that.

[In response to the bill’s assertion that it does not promote any religious doctrine]

If SB 733 were truly about teaching science, such a disclaimer would be unnecessary. It is in the bill only because its supporters know that creationism is a religious belief and therefore that teaching it in public schools is unconstitutional. THey are hoping that any judge who might have to rule on such legislation will be either naive enough not to see through this disclaimer or biased enough to accept it at face value.

Barbara Forrest’s testimony in the Dover trial was instrumental because she was able to turn the ID crowd’s own words and actions against them. She has done that again with this analysis. The bill is scheduled for debate today: let’s hope the members of the House see reason!

The war on science enters the Louisiana House

May 28, 2008

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reports on a bill that was approved unanimously by the Louisiana House Education Committee, was passed by the Lousiana Senate, and will soon move before the Lousiana House of Representatives. Senate Bill 733, the slyly named “Lousiana Science Education Act”, would require that teachers be allowed to “use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.” The problems with this are twofold.

First, the Louisiana education standards already encourage teachers to instill critical thinking in their students, and to use that skill in every class, including science.

Second, the bill specifically names those sciences that the religious right in the US seems to get so riled about: evolution, abiogenesis, and the climate science behind global warming.

This bill is clearly intended to allow teachers to sneak intelligent design materials into their classrooms, a tactic which has already been stricken down in a federal court. It is meant to encourage the laughable idea that evolution and intelligent design are somehow on equal footing, that ID somehow deserves time in science classrooms despite its utter lack of theory, research, and resemblence to real science. Teachers who do so are only misleading their students about the success of modern evolutionary theory, and about the nature of science.

There is only one possible outcome if this bill passes. A teacher will introduce ID materials in his/her class. A parent or other concerned citizen will sue. The ACLU, or some equivalent organization, will take charge of the case. The school district will lose, because precedent has been set in federal court for regarding intelligent design as creationism in sheep’s clothing. The school district will then have to pay millions of dollars out of the taxpayers’ own pockets. All of this, just because some Louisiana House committee didn’t bother to look up “science” in the dictionary.

How many more millions will taxpayers have to spend before the religious right stops trying to peddle religion in public school classrooms? If you live in Louisiana, please let your representative know how you feel about the war on science being waged in your legislature.