Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ACLU admits Louisiana Science Education Act not a problem as written

The group that brought the suit that ended up as Dover v. Kitzmiller says the Louisiana Science Act, which anti-Intelligent Design groups predicted would bring about a scientific apocalypse in the state is okay as written.

Word has it, however, that Barbara Forrest can still be seen carrying a sign saying, "The End of Science is Near."

Oh, and then there is this: atheist Jason Streitfield, in the American Chronicle, defends the act, saying:
Ultimately, by reacting negatively to this bill, atheists and supporters of Darwinian evolutionary theory are proving their opponents right: they are acting like reason and the facts are not on their side. This could be enormously damaging to their cause.
You can say that again. Count me in with those who will be reminding the opponents of ID repeatedly that we now have them on record against critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and objectivity.


Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate, that for whatever reason(s), Mr Cothran did not read or include the entire ACLU position.

"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."

If the ACLU is satisfied, how does Mr Cothran explain the very first sentence? "The ACLU says it will be keeping a close eye on a bill called the Louisiana Science Education Act should it become law."
And later on: "“I think there’s a lot of room for things to get sneaked into the classrooms that shouldn’t be there,” she said."

Yes, technically, there is nothing wrong with the law as written. However, it allows local control of what is considered science. Note that the bill specifically mentions "evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning" and not atomic theory, gravity, or other major areas of science. Is Mr Cothran suggesting that it is mere coincidence that topics which might be discussed with external materials just happen to be areas in which conservative religious fundamentalists disagree with mainstream science? And all of this in the state of Louisiana, where the state, Terrebonne and Tangipohoa parishes, etc repeatedly get slapped down by the courts for trying to introduce religion where it doesn't belong?

Keep an eye on Jason Streitfield and see if he becomes sadly disillusioned in the near future.

PS What sort of non-religious "open and objective scientific discussion" does "human cloning" require?

PPS The last thing Louisiana needs is to waste more of its meagre resources in these doomed battles.

PPPS Is Mr Cothran aware that this is the same area in which there is a movement to ban the use of Latin in commencement speeches? [No language but English.]


ACLU plans to keep eye on Science bill

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


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."

Anonymous said...

No comments on this interpretation of the bill?


Chuck Norris wrote:
Flying under the legislative radar this past week was potential McCain running mate and governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal's signing into law of Senate Bill 733, which allows " local school systems to approve the use of supplemental instructional materials for teaching science classes." What opponents are up in arms about is that, with SB 733, teachers could supplement evolutionary teachings with materials on Creationism or Intelligent Design.

SB 733 was signed into law as I was completing some research on our founders' view of education for my upcoming (September) book release, "Black Belt Patriotism" – it is my critique of what is destroying our country and our founders' prescription of how we can rebuild it and restore the American dream. I've already written a column on how our founders would have endorsed a pro-creationist education in taxpayer schools – something they would not have seen as a breach between church and state relations.

What many might not realize is that our founders were familiar with naturalistic and evolutionary views of the sciences. Evolution has been around a lot longer than Darwin. And criticism for it has also been around a lot longer than Ben Stein’s movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." The Founding Fathers were familiar with the arguments for and against theism and naturalism from well before the time of Christ. I'm not citing them here as an irrefutable argument for Intelligent Design in the classroom, but as a congruent historical voice with SB 733 that demonstrates science and theism are not mutually exclusive.


Anonymous said...

THE Chuck Norris? Wow, but don't they have some super scholars on their side!

Martin Cothran said...

I'm not sure what exactly Norris is saying here, but at least he hasn't come out against critical thinking, logical analysis, and objectivity.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Norris is saying (in part) that SB733 can be used to teach creationism/scientific creationism/intelligent design etc in the classroom, which Mr Cothran's original post implied was not possible.