U.S. Senate Bill Contains Anti-Evolution Languagegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread
SPECIAL UPDATE: Evolution Opponents on the Offensive in Senate, House
This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.
IN A NUTSHELL: A day before the Senate completed action on a comprehensive education bill that it had debated for six weeks, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced a two-sentence amendment drafted by evolution opponents. The amendment, presented in the form of a Senate resolution, defines "good science education" and encourages teaching the "controversy" surrounding biological evolution. Amidst a flurry of other amendments, the Senate voted 91-8 in favor of the provision on its way to passing the entire bill by the same margin. Earlier, a group of conservative representatives had stripped a science testing provision out of the House counterpart bill in part because of concerns that the tests would include evolution-related questions. Differences between the two bills will be worked out in a House-Senate conference likely to take place in early July.
Last summer, proponents of intelligent design creationism held a Capitol Hill briefing to educate congressional members and staff on the failures of Darwinism and their alternative proposals (see a summary at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/id_update.html). They also lectured their audience on the moral decay that the teaching of Darwinism had wrought on society. A panel discussion was moderated by David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and author of a legal brief on how to get intelligent design into public school curriculum. Like most of the other speakers at the briefing, DeWolf is a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, a conservative think tank dedicated to promulgating intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution.
Up until that briefing took place, the political debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools had taken place at the state and local level, but the briefing appeared to be a disturbing expansion of anti-evolution efforts into the federal legislature. That appearance is now reality with DeWolf and briefing speaker Phillip Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and CRSC senior fellow, taking center stage.
K-12 Education Bill Used as Vehicle
Education was a campaign priority for President Bush, and the first bills introduced this year in both the House and Senate (H.R.1 and S.1, respectively) are comprehensive overhauls of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which covers most federal aid programs for states and local school districts. S.1, entitled the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, was passed by the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee in March, having been introduced by the committee's then-chairman Jim Jeffords (now I-VT). The full Senate took it up in May with hundreds of amendments being offered and considered. After the Memorial Day recess and Jeffords' departure from the Republican Party, debate on the floor resumed in June with new HELP chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) managing the debate.
On the morning of June 13th, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) rose to speak on his amendment #799, which he handed in the previous evening. It is a non-binding "Sense of the Senate" resolution, a common tactic used to put the Senate on record about a given subject without worrying about statutory implications. According to Santorum, his amendment dealt "with the subject of intellectual freedom with respect to the teaching of science in the classroom, in primary and secondary education. It is a sense of the Senate that does not try to dictate curriculum to anybody; quite the contrary, it says there should be freedom to discuss and air good scientific debate within the classroom. In fact, students will do better and will learn more if there is this intellectual freedom to discuss."He then stated that the amendment was "simply two sentences--frankly, two rather innocuous sentences." The amendment reads:
"It is the sense of the Senate that-- "(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and "(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject."
Santorum then went on to read an extended passage by DeWolf lauding the benefits of "a more open discussion of biological origins in the science classroom." Although most amendments, especially non-binding ones, are simply added by unanimous consent or withdrawn without a vote, Santorum called for a roll call vote to put the Senate on record. Kennedy, the floor manager, then expressed his support for the amendment. With nobody speaking against it, the amendment passed by a 91-8 vote. All Democrats voted for it (except Sen. Chris Dodd, D-CT, who was absent). The eight Republicans who voted against the amendment (Chafee, RI; Cochran, MS; Collins, ME; DeWine, OH; Enzi, WY; Hagel, NE; Stevens, AK; Thompson, TN) were opposed on the grounds that it was an unnecessary federal intrusion in a state and local matter. The full text of Santorum's remarks from the Congressional Record are available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r107:FLD001:S06148 on pages S6147-48, Kennedy's remarks are on S6150, and supporting statements by Brownback, R-KS, and Byrd, D-WV, are at S6152.
Whether or not one views the specific language of the amendment as innocuous or unobjectionable, this vote has become a public relations bonanza for the intelligent design creationists. The Discovery Institute put out a press release stating: "Undoubtedly this will change the face of the debate over the theories of evolution and intelligent design in America. From now on the evidence will be free to speak for itself. It also seems that the Darwinian monopoly on public science education, and perhaps on the biological sciences in general, is ending." The Senate vote is also being portrayed as a vindication of the 1999 decision by the Kansas Board of Education to remove evolution from state tests (a vote subsequently overturned when several of the school board members were defeated in the 2000 elections). Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) told the Washington Times (6-18-01) that it "cleared the record." In a speech supporting Santorum's amendment, he argued: "The great and bold statement that the Kansas School Board made was … simply that we observe micro-evolution and therefore it is scientific fact; and that it is impossible to observe macro-evolution, it is scientific assumption.... [Santorum] clarifies the opinion of the Senate that the debate of scientific fact versus scientific assumption is an important debate to embrace."
How did this amendment come about? In the same Washington Times article, Phillip Johnson took credit for helping to frame the amendment's language: "I offered some language to Senator Santorum, after he had decided to propose a resolution of this sort." According to his web site, Johnson visited a number of Capitol Hill offices early in June to meet with senators and representatives. Johnson is the author of several anti-evolution books, including "Darwin on Trial," and speaks widely on this subject.
A Broader Offensive
Evolution also came up as an issue in the House education bill, H.R. 1. As passed by the House Education and the Workforce Committee, H.R. 1 included a provision mandating that students be tested on science in addition to the reading and math testing provisions called for in the original bill -- a presidential priority. Scientific societies pushed for the testing provision lest science lose attention as resources are concentrated on tested subjects.
Before any bill can be considered on the House floor, it must pass through the Rules Committee, which decides how much debate will be allowed, which amendments will be in order, and other procedural matters. The committee can also amend the bill so that what is considered on the floor is different from what was passed in committee earlier. In response to concerns raised by a group of conservative lawmakers, the committee (chaired by Rep. David Dreier, R-CA) removed the science testing provision in this manner. Sources report that a major reason for the opposition was that testing might include evolution-related questions.
Although Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) was assured that he would be given the opportunity to propose a floor amendment restoring the science testing provision, he was never allowed to do so despite support for his amendment from Education and the Workforce Committee chairman John Boehner (R-OH).
The Next Step
A House-Senate conference committee must work out differences in the two bills -- both bodies must vote on an identical measure before it goes to the president for his signature, which is expected. Conferees have yet to be named but will surely include senior members of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Senators Kennedy and Judd Gregg (R-NH), the senior Republican on the HELP Committee, will certainly be on it as perhaps will S. 1 author Jeffords. On the House side, Boehner and ranking Democrat Rep. George Miller (D-CA) will be on it.
In addition to efforts to restore science testing provisions, scientific societies including AGI are considering options for how to address the Santorum amendment. Given the clear public rejection of the 1999 Kansas school board's action, it does not seem likely that the majority of the senators who voted for the amendment share Brownback's opinion of its implications or agree with the Discovery Institute that their purpose was to "change the face of the debate over the theories of evolution and intelligent design in America." Indeed, faced with such rhetoric, they might just decide that Santorum presented his "innocuous" amendment to them as something other than the anti-evolution stalking horse that it truly is.
Special update prepared by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program
Sources: American Physical Society, Congressional Record, Discovery Institute, Washington Times.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted June 19, 2001
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-- Buddy (email@example.com), June 26, 2001
-- Buddy (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 26, 2001.
Good. This is what has needed to happen regarding Creation/evolution belief structures for a long time.
Both are belief structures; allow them to be taught that way and encourage each individual to decide for themselves.
-- (email@example.com), June 26, 2001.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 26, 2001.
I find your constant Bush-bashing boring.
-- Buddy (email@example.com), June 26, 2001.
Legislating the teaching of a myth (creation) as science makes about as much sense as legislating that pi = 3.
-- Already Done Happened (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 27, 2001.
>>Legislating the teaching of a myth (creation) as science makes about as much sense as legislating that pi = 3.
Possibly, but it is not remedied by substituting another myth (darwinism) as though IT were science.
-- TooManyEyes (TooMuch@Wool.Over), June 27, 2001.
You are hopelessly entrapped in your own dogma.
-- Buddy (email@example.com), June 27, 2001.
"Possibly, but it is not remedied by substituting another myth (darwinism) as though IT were science."
Your statement is incorrect and provably disingenuous.
Firstly, no one claimed that a remedy was called for. Therefore, your statement re: remedy is irrelevant.
Secondly, Darwinism is no myth. It is, as we all know, a scientific theory. Much like gravity. And no doubt you understand that a scientific theory is the best explanation that we have, given the evidence that has been collected to date. Theories can and have been disproven, but until that, they are accepted by the scientific community as the way things probably are. Moreover, we're not talking about one theory; we're talking about many. We're talking about related theories from chemistry, biology, anthropology, geology, archaeology, zoology and other disciplines. So if you don't like this "theory of evolution," then by all means go to work disproving it. But you have your work cut out for you.
Otherwise, quit griping.
Thirdly, the theory of evolution IS science, like it or not. Obviously, since you do not like the conclusions, you have decided that it cannot be science. Your discomfort does not make the theory non-scientific. This is most disingenuous.
Fourthly and finally, my statement stands. Legislating the teaching of a myth (creation) as science makes about as much sense as legislating that pi = 3. Pi is not = 3, no matter what a body of lawmakers might say, and creationism is not science, no matter what lawmakers and churches might say. You can legislate the teaching of creationism as science, but you can put earrings and a necklace on a pig, too.
With similarly useless results.
-- Already Done Happened (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 29, 2001.
The earrings and necklace on the pig might get you on a local fluff news segment or America's Funniest Animals, where you could say hi to mom, so I would argue that it's a little more useful.
-- Bemused (email@example.com), June 29, 2001.
"... but you can put earrings and a necklace on a pig, too...With similarly useless results."
Excuse Moi, but I make more money than vu.
-- that's MISS Piggy to you (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 29, 2001.
"Excuse Moi, but I make more money than vu."
Miss Piggy, if you were not the pig chosen to wear the aforementioned necklace and earrings (perhaps if I were to choose a sow of the barnyard or industrial farm persuasion), then your argument would fall flat on its porcine face.
And since you have not worked in several years, Madam, I submit that I make more money than YOU.
Just some idle thoughts. Have a nice day, Ma'am.
-- Already Done Happened (email@example.com), June 30, 2001.
Moi need never work again. The royalties from moi's videos alone amount to more than a commoner such as vu will ever see in a lifetime of useless toil. Many, many superstars have kissed this "porcine face" and many, many more would like to. That will never happen to an odious, obstinate, objectionable pig like vu, pucker as vu might. And BTW, toots, no one "chose" moi, moi took the initiative and got an agent. Moi pays more in taxes from one appearance at Branson than vu will earn in a year. And besides that ...
-- That's MISS Piggy to you (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 30, 2001.
Madame Piggy --
Be that as it may, you're still just an upholstered piece of foam rubber that has a balding, fortyish man's hand up its rear end.
Forgive me if I can't find any envy within me for your position; balding, fortyish men don't do it for me (fortyish women are more my speed), and I really prefer that no one put anything up my rear end unless it is absolutely medically necessary. And even then, I'm still opposed to it on principle.
Say hello to Yakov Smirnoff for me the next time you're in Branson. And remember, Toots, Le Cirque doesn't seat animals. I'll remember to bring you a matchbook the next time I dine there.
-- Already Done Happened (email@example.com), June 30, 2001.
Yakov says vu needs to keep that necklace and earrings -- that's all vu will have left to call "family jewels" shortly. Snort!
Kissee kissee Kermie, love vu!
-- that's MISS Piggy to you (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 02, 2001.
Miss Piggy and all wild boar species have a common ancestor. Just thought I'd get back on topic.
-- Bemused (email@example.com), July 02, 2001.
BTW, Hoggy, the word you have been struggling with is "vous."
I can't bear to see barnyard animals struggle with the French language.
And how's your foam-rubber ass? Sore yet from that royal fisting your puppeteer is giving you?
-- Already Done Happened (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 03, 2001.
I hope ADH never has a guest appearance on Sesame Street. I think it would be pretty traumatic for the children of America to see Grover bitch-slapped, cookie monster fed strychnine wafers, and Big-Bird beheaded.
-- Bemused (email@example.com), July 03, 2001.
Don't forget teaching Elmo how to use condoms and getting lit on Jack Daniels with Oscar the Grouch. Me and Oscar go waaaaaay back to my milk and cookies days.
-- Already Done Happened (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 04, 2001.