January 23, 2010

You go, Tony Palma of West Bend, WI

Via Mpeterson, who has been on the case:
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Ginny Maziarka and the local chapter of Eagle Forum.

Recently they circulated a questionnaire to the candidates for the West Bend School Board. One of the questions asked of the candidates was whether they would support the teaching of alternative theories such as Intelligent Design or Creationism in the science curriculum of the West Bend school system. By pointing out that Randy Marquardt, Bart Williams and Dave Weigand would support this philosophy we can plainly see that they would lead our School District into a prolonged, expensive and ultimately futile legal battle. Creationism and Intelligent Design have both previously been shown to be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution [citations omitted] and therefore CAN NOT be taught as science in our school system.

Eagle Forum’s questionnaire also shows us another very important thing. Democracy is a form of government that requires the participation of informed citizens. To rely on a few questions asked by an organization that one happens to agree with is a reckless recipe for disaster. It is the duty of every citizen to research the candidates that seek to fill the leadership roles in our government and choose people who are truly qualified for the job.

To that end we must elect School Board members who will base their decisions on sound judgment, reason, and adherence to legal precedence instead of emotion.

Tony Palma
West Bend
The citations in Mr. Palma's letter to the West Bend Daily News are Edwards v. Aguillard, a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down attempts to teach "creation science" alongside legitimate science in Louisiana (a recently minted Justice Scalia dissented*), and Kitzmiller v. Dover, a federal district court case from Pennsylvania, which did even more damage to the fundamental tenets of "intelligent design" creationism.

Following Kitzmiller, which was authored by a conservative Republican judge appointed by George W. Bush, one of the leaders of the "intelligent design" movement, William Dembski, produced an online animated cartoon featuring the judge making fart noises.

True story. Dembski and his posse of theology students also complained the 139-page opinion contained too much science.

(A few of the less undignified even complained about the farting.)

Dembski was at one point set to be a witness at the Kitzmiller trial, but backed out, presumably having seen the writing on the wall and not wishing to be among the other rapscallions who were eviscerated by the expert cross-examineers at Pepper Hamilton LLP.

The costly, fruitless** lawsuit is one good reason for public schools to avoid teaching religion in their biology classes. The Eagle Forum-ites might think of it as a species (or "kind") of self-imposed tort reform.

Another is even simpler and more to the point: You don't teach religion in biology class.

* Shorter Scalia, dissenting: 'Some of my best friends are creationists.'

** Fruitless to the creationist. Triumphal for the adverse party.

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