Sunday, June 14, 2015

The LSEA is still a terrible law

Lamar White and Scott Eric Kaufman writing in Salon:
For Klinghoffer and his colleagues at the Discovery Institute, the Louisiana statute is crystal clear — it cannot be used to promote religion, only to allow public school science teachers the ability to facilitate an “open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

To do so, the law allows teachers the ability to introduce supplementary materials. That all may sound perfectly reasonable, until you consider that “the origins of life” and “human cloning” aren’t scientific theories. This should probably cause concern: The statute misdefines the very thing it seeks to regulate. And that’s because this law, the first of its kind passed in the nation, is not and was never about science education.

It is a law written and promoted by a narrow sect of Christian conservatives, new earth creationists, folks who believe that the universe is only 6,000 years old, that Noah saved every species on the planet by building a floating zoo, and that the apocalypse may occur within their lifetimes. To be sure, the statute does include a section recapitulating federal law about prohibiting the promotion of religion, but despite the Discovery Institute’s best propaganda, that particular section is meaningless.

In the early 1980s, Louisiana enacted the Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, which required that any public school teaching evolution must also teach creationism. That law contained the same exact prohibition against promoting religion. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Edwards v. Aguillard, saw through the charade and invalidated the law — there’s no such thing as “creation-science;” it’s just creationism. In fact, in later opinions, courts have said the same thing about “intelligent design” — it too is the same thing as creationism.
The legislative session just ended on Thursday and our terrible creationist law survived another year. When he launches his Presidential campaign in ten days, Bobby Jindal is going to talk about how great he has been for education in Louisiana.  

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