[Crossposted from Smugbaldy.com]
Here’s some more for our Republican War on Science file. Or should that be – Idiocy in high places file? Either way, LA Govenor Bobby Jindal demonstrated yesterday that he has no grasp whatsoever of the issues surrounding the establishment of religious dogma under the heading of “Intelligent Design” in our science classes.
Here are some areas where Governor Jindal demonstrates his willful ignorance of the underlying issues:
When asked if he had doubts about the Theory of Evolution, Jindal replied:
I don’t think this is something that the Federal or State government should be imposing its view on local school districts. As a conservative I think that government that’s closest to the people governs best. I think local school districts should be in the position for deciding the curricula and deciding what students should be learning.
In this case that’s absolutely, positively wrong, Mr. Governor, and you should know it. You should be aware that Federal interests trumps State and Local interests whenever constitutional rights of American Citizens are infringed. In the case of Intelligent Design (or ID), federal courts have found that ID is nothing more than Christian Creationism with some scientific-sounding jargon. The teaching of this isn’t just bad science (or non-science) it also violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. As such – any local school board that attempts to sneak ID into public schools is actually indoctrinating students into a “state-preferred” religion, and the Federal government has an expressed interest in keeping that from occurring. That is, unless you all want to have your kids recite the Branch Dividian creed in Bology class. Thought not.
Jindal goes on to say:
I don’t think students learn from us withholding information from them. Some want only to teach intelligent design, some want only to teach Evolution. I think both views are wrong … As a parent when my kids go to public schools, I want them to be presented with the best thinking. I want them to make decisions for themselves. I want them to see the best data.
That’s not entirely true now, is it? The best data in human sexuality clearly demonstrates that abstinence education doesn’t work, but conservative parents like Jindal want their kids exposed to it rather than comprehensive sex-education that could save their lives. The best data available also clearly demonstrates that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is scientific, while Intelligent Design is instead a religious-political position. And nobody in a state like Louisiana, that has a large population of conservative Christian voters, wants to dwell on that little truth nugget.
Interestingly, conservatives are ok with science as long as it doesn’t appear to step on their religious toes too much. For example, most parents are OK with teaching about viruses and bacteria in science classes – especially techniques for minimizing the spread of harmful ones like hand washing and food service sanitization. Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways Mr. Govenor. If your more fundamentalist supporters have their way, ID would replace Evolution in science classes, and we’d also have to replace bacteriology with an “evil spirit” theory of disease. Interestingly, in some areas (not just beloved Louisiana) this is what passes for medical science, sometimes with disastrous results.
Of course, the scariest part of this whole episode is that, Bobby Jindal is reported to be on McCain’s VP short list, which would mean he has a great shot at becoming president himself since McCain is older than, well, everyone. Is it too much to ask that we get presidential and vice-presidential candidates that have more than a thimble full of scientific literacy?