No more free thinking and empirical evidence, just the Bible, rumour and Fox News
by Diane Roberts Guardian/UK April 17, 2012
Not content with merely waging war on women, Republicans are targeting another enemy of conservatism: education. New Hampshire state Republican Jerry Bergevin recently railed against science and the atheist eggheads who call themselves teachers: "I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It's a world view and it's godless.” What do these no 'count heathen elitist PhD Darwinites know? While New Hampshire didn't end up passing Bergevin's anti-evolution law, Tennessee did. The government of Tennessee wants you to know they ain't kin to no monkey.
Tennessee, you will recall, is the proud home of the famous "Monkey trial" of 1925 in which John Scopes, a high school science instructor, was prosecuted for teaching evolution. These days the forces of anti-thinking don't simply deny the science, they demand that ignorance be given equal time. David Fowler, a former state senator and head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, who helped craft the bill aided and abetted by a creationist front group called (with no discernable irony) "The Discovery Institute", complains that Tennessee textbooks call the Genesis story a "creation myth" – as opposed to revealed truth. Moreover, teachers don't present a "balanced" view of evolution. They don't present a "balanced" view of the laws of gravity, the speed of light and the fact that the earth revolves around the sun, either.
And speaking of heliocentrism, James Inhofe of Oklahoma likes to compare himself to Galileo. He's persecuted for proclaiming that "global warming is a hoax". While 97% of climate scientists accept anthropogenic climate change, that "doesn't mean anything". His journal of choice is the Bible: "Genesis 8:22: 'as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. My point is, God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
God better get a move on with Florida. It's the state most vulnerable to the effects of melting ice caps and rising sea levels, what with it being a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. More than 2.5 million people live on the coasts and might soon find themselves sharing digs with dolphins.
In other parts of America, the enforcers of know-nothingness have decided they want doctors to lie to their patients. Lawmakers in Kansas and New Hampshire have mandated that physicians tell women seeking abortions that the procedure causes breast cancer. Never mind that it's not true, at least according to the American Cancer Society, the World Health Organisation, the National Cancer Institute, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
But the state has not confined itself to the endorsement of medical stupidity, it embraces censorship and historical misinformation as well. Republicans in state government, worried that children "of a particular ethnic group" (they mean Latinos) were being taught that the gringos stole their land, outlawed "ethnic studies" in 2011. Of course, the fact is gringos did steal their land – Arizona was part of Mexican-ruled Alta California until the expansionist Americans invaded in 1846. According to the 2010 census, Latino kids now make up the majority in Arizona's state schools, but teaching them about their heritage is apparently tantamount to advocating the overthrow of the US government.
And there you have it. No reading, no exploration, no empirical evidence, no learning, no free play of ideas. Just rumour, Fox News and the Bible. Why think? It'll just make you unhappy.