“Stop the World! I Want to Get Off!” won a Tony Award on Broadway in 1963. It was a musical play about a fellow who overreached. With book and lyrics by Leslie Bricuse and Anthony Newly, it spawned a string of hit popular songs: “What Kind of Fool Am I?” “Gonna Climb a Mountain,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Mumbo Jumbo” among them.
Oh, why not: Update, here’s Sammy Davis, Jr., singing “What Kind of Fool Am I?”:
How can one know that history and not think of it, when looking at the current Louisiana legislature? What kind of fools are they, indeed? Louisiana would like the world to stop, so they can get off.
Progress and science so much offend the Louisiana legislature that they have carved out what they hope is an exception so teachers can avoid hard science on issues like reproduction (cloning), evolution, and that pesky weather stuff that ransacked New Orleans, global warming. Sitting on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk right now is the enrolled version of S. B. 733, the misnamed “Science Education Act,” which gives teachers and local school districts the right to deviate from state curriculum and science texts in those three areas.
Why not the Big Bang and other cosmology? Why not gravity? Why not algebra? It may be that Louisiana’s preachers don’t know about those areas of science. Shhhhh! Don’t tell them!
A few observations.
First, having been slapped down by federal courts repeatedly when they’ve tried to introduce religion into science classes before, the legislature seems to have learned not to say much, in hopes that federal courts will have difficulty determining the religious intentions behind the bill. In 1987, in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard, federal courts didn’t even get to trial. They simply took the statements of the legislators as to their religious intentions.
This time around, the bill is being passed without debate at all. Legislators obviously hope that if they say nothing, they can’t be held responsible for anything. Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubts — and obviously, there is hope among Louisiana creationists that federal courts won’t be able to use their closed-mouthedness as to evidence their foolishness. Well, they may want to consider that intelligent design has been ruled religious dogma by a federal court, already.
Second, the legislature’s learnings seem limited to bellicose speeches. The courts have repeatedly struck down Louisiana’s yearnings to teach creationism, both statewide, and repeatedly in the Tangipahoa Parish schools, which tried warning labels on textbooks and a variety of other methods, losing in court each time. It’s not just the ravings of the legislators that get up the dander of the courts. When the laws that come out of the ravings offend the Constitution, especially the First Amendment, the courts have struck them down. It’s not enough to just play at being non-offensive: The actions of the legislature must also not violate the Constitution. They appear not to have figured that one out. (More remedial con law courses coming up? Perhaps.)
The state should just let science be taught. Sneaking religion in does no good for the students, and it’s no secret that’s what they’re doing.
Third, the bill wasn’t drafted by people with much experience drafting legislation, running schools, or defending the Constitution. The bill could be used in some districts to teach nothing but evolution. It opens the door for anything a local school board decides might be science in three specific areas, cloning, evolution and global warming. Fruitcake groups like Ken Ham’s “Answers in Genesis” will rush to produce materials noting the accuracy of Hanna-Barbera’s “Flintstones.” Kids could be allowed to watch cartoons and call it science. In contrast, teachers who don’t understand the science in the first place will probably have few sources to turn to for good science information. Maybe one way to kill the law would be to point out that this thing opens the door wide for the theology of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (may his noodly appendage . . . well, you know).
You can send e-mail here.
You can mail, or telephone, here:
Governor Bobby Jindal
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004
Phone: 225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121 (Toll Free)
- Press release from the anti-science Discovery Institute
- Article from the Baton Rouge Advocate on the bill’s passage
- Amicus Curiae brief of 72 Nobel Prize winners against Louisiana’s 1987 creationism law
- Baton Rouge Advocate story noting lawsuits are likely from the bill
- Religious freedom defenders wary of S.B. 733
- Story at Pharyngula
- Louisiana Coalition for Science
- Don’t lose hope, but see this video: Blue Ollie finds Bobby Jindal ignoring the Constitution, forgetting science, and generally making hash of the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” — Jindal’s caving in, doing the “politically correct” thing for Louisiana, pandering for votes. Louisiana’s kids don’t have a chance.
Text of the bill below the fold.
Regular Session, 2008 – ENROLLED
SENATE BILL NO. 733 (Substitute of Senate Bill No. 561 by Senator Nevers)
BY SENATORS NEVERS, ADLEY, AMEDEE, BROOME, CASSIDY, CHEEK, CRAVINS, CROWE,
DONAHUE, DORSEY, DUPLESSIS, ERDEY, B. GAUTREAUX, N. GAUTREAUX, GRAY, HEBERT, KOSTELKA, LONG, MARTINY, MOUNT, MURRAY, RISER, SHAW, SHEPHERD, THOMPSON AND WALSWORTH AND REPRESENTATIVES ANDERS, ARMES, ARNOLD, AUBERT, AUSTIN BADON, BARROW, BURFORD, HENRY BURNS, TIM BURNS, BURRELL, CARMODY, CARTER, CHANDLER, CHANEY, CORTEZ, DANAHAY, DIXON, DOERGE, DOWNS, EDWARDS, ELLINGTON, FANNIN, FRANKLIN, GEYMANN, GISCLAIR, GREENE, ELBERT GUILLORY, MICKEY GUILLORY, GUINN, HARDY, HARRISON, HAZEL, HENDERSON, HENRY, HILL, HINES, HOFFMANN, HOWARD, HUTTER, KATZ, KLECKLEY, LABRUZZO, LAMBERT, LIGI, LITTLE, LOPINTO, MCVEA, MILLS, MONICA, NORTON, PEARSON, PERRY, PUGH, RICHARD, RICHARDSON, RITCHIE, SCHRODER, SIMON, SMILEY, GARY SMITH, JANE SMITH, TUCKER, WHITE AND WILLIAMS
To enact R.S. 17:285.1, relative to curriculum and instruction; to provide relative to the teaching of scientific subjects in public elementary and secondary schools; to promote students’ critical thinking skills and open discussion of scientific theories; to provide relative to support and guidance for teachers; to provide relative to textbooks and instructional materials; to provide for rules and regulations; to provide for effectiveness; and to provide for related matters.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:
Section 1. R.S. 17:285.1 is hereby enacted to read as follows:
§285.1. Science education; development of critical thinking skills
A. This Section shall be known and may be cited as the “Louisiana Science Education Act.”
B.(1) The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.
(2) Such assistance shall include support and guidance for teachers regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review scientific theories being studied, including those enumerated in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.
C. A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board unless otherwise prohibited by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.
E. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and each city, parish, or other local public school board shall adopt and promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Section prior to the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.
Section 2. This Act shall become effective upon signature by the governor or, if not signed by the governor, upon expiration of the time for bills to become law without signature by the governor, as provided by Article III, Section 18 of the Constitution of Louisiana. If vetoed by the governor and subsequently approved by the legislature, this Act shall become effective on the day following such approval.