There are two kinds of Texans: those who are born here and stay, and those who are born here and get the hell out as fast as they can. Count me in with the latter.
Before I get started, I believe a couple of acknowledgments are in order.
First I would like to thank Mike, author of The Odd Blog, for his dedication to exposing fools and liars who insist on promoting creationist propaganda. Ben Stein’s Expelled! is but one example of the kind of garbage that Mike refuses to tolerate.
Upon checking in at The Odd Blog, as I routinely do, I found Mike’s latest entry, Ouchies. I do not share Mike’s talent for slicing and dicing these creationist fools, so I was delighted to learn of a way that I, too, can help expose at least one.
I would also like to thank PZ Myers, author of Pharyngula, one of the best science blogs I’ve seen. Professor Myers recently made a blog post calling for other bloggers to help promote a counter-site to Ben Stein’s “hideous little propaganda film” Expelled!. For instructions on how to participate, please see Professor Myers’s post, Bloggers, you have a job to do. While you’re there, please have a look around the rest of the site. You’ll be glad you did!
At this point, you may be wondering about the title of this post, and if I’m planning to tie it in somehow. Of course I am. I do tend to ramble, hence the title of this blog. I always know where I’m going, though, and I usually get there eventually.
Expelled! Exposed is a great read. The site is easy to navigate, and you don’t have to be a scientist to understand the material. The added bonus for me was the YouTube video on the home page. The caption below it reads as follows:
Chris Comer: Expelled for Real
Christine Comer was the Director of Science for the Texas Education Agency for nine years, until she was forced to resign for failing to remain neutral on creationism.
Unfortunately, I just tried to play the video to check the length of it, and got a message saying that the video is no longer available. Nevertheless, it inspired this post, and I will carry on writing it.
The following was written by Barbara Forrest of the National Center for Science Education:
In forcing Chris Comer to resign as Texas Director of Science, the Texas Education Agency has confirmed in a most public, unfortunate way the central point of my Austin presentation, “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” the mere announcement of which TEA used as an excuse to terminate her: the intelligent design (ID) creationist movement is about politics, religion, and power. If anyone had any doubts about how mean-spirited ID politics is, this episode should erase them. Texas school children depend on the adults at the TEA to protect the quality of their education. For the last nine years at the TEA, after twenty-seven years as a science teacher, Ms. Comer was doing her part, and she got fired for doing it. The children are ultimately the losers.
I couldn’t agree more. Texas students are definitely the losers. Again. The Texas Education Agency and the Texas Legislature are clearly promoting a religious agenda at the expense of our children’s education, health, and safety.
Texas law currently requires that schools promote abstinence only until marriage instead of providing comprehensive sex education. Not only do these programs withhold potentially life-saving information from teenagers, they promote lies about the effectiveness of condoms, exaggerating failure rates. Again, this is required by law.
It has been shown, time and again, that abstinence-only programs are not only ineffective but also potentially dangerous. Victims of the doctrine are not less likely to have sex; but they are less likely to protect themselves when they do.
Studies show that most abstinence-only-until-marriage programs do not help teens delay having sex, and some show evidence that these programs actually deter teens who become sexually active from protecting themselves from unintended pregnancy or STDs.
Nevertheless, Texas schools continue promoting these thinly-veiled religious programs that not only endanger our children, but also discriminate against LGBT teens and their parents by sending a clear message that their relationships are unacceptable and their sexual feelings will never have an appropriate outlet.
Texas has robbed our children of science in the context of sex education, and now this:
The incident now involving Ms. Comer exemplifies perfectly the reason my co-author Paul R. Gross and I felt that our book, Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, had to be written. (http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com) By forcing Ms. Comer to resign, the TEA seems to have confirmed our contention that the ID creationist movement — a religious movement with absolutely no standing in the scientific world — is being advanced by means of power politics. In December 2005, Judge John E. Jones III validated our contention that ID is creationism, thus a religious belief, when he ruled in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf) that the teaching of ID in public school science classes is unconstitutional. Judge Jones recognized that ID has nothing whatsoever to do with science; its proponents are merely using public education — the public education of other people’s children — as the vehicle for their plan to undermine the teaching of evolution.
Barbara Forrest on Chris Comer’s forced resignation
My son is already hoping to attend Oxford University someday. I have no doubt that the emphasis on learning over ideology will be a refreshing change of pace.
I will close with some words of wisdom from Kinky Friedman:
How can you look at the Texas legislature and still believe in intelligent design?
There’s no shame in coming from Texas. The shame is in going back. [paraphrase]