Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Florida! Motto: Just When You Think We've Got A Brain

A while back, we here in the marbled halls of IM Central took the unusual step of actually saying something nice about the people of Florida. While sober. OK, maybe not totally sober, but sober enough to know that we were bestowing the highly coveted Ironicus Maximus Official Seal of Okey Dokiedness on a state that contains Bill Keller, Kent Hovind, and the Panthers. Yeah. Hockey in Florida. That makes about as much sense as putting Bill Bennett in charge of the Gaming Commission.

Well anyway, in spite of some misgivings we went ahead and applied the world renowned Ironicus Maximus Huzzah to the sunshine state because of the state board of education's attempt to bring the rest of the Goobers into the 21st century. Now it appears the Goobers have struck back:

John Stemberger, the head of the Florida Snakehandlers Policy Council, said believers able to find their way to Tallahassee without ending up in Alabama would push for an "academic freedom" measure when the Legislature convenes this month. "We want teachers, particularly science teachers, to ignore stuff that scares us and act in a completely unprofessional, and yes, I'll say it, quintessentially boneheaded way," he told reporters.

State senator Ronda Storms, R-for retarded, filed just such a bill that would create an "Academic Integrity Free Zone" and protect the right of teachers to "present scientific information relevant to the full range of our views regarding chemical and biological evolution. And by 'scientific' we mean the holy bible of god as handed down to us through 2000 years of human hands without a single change or misreading, or error at all, ever, not even one, amen the end."

The bill is much like the sample one posted on the website of the Discovery Institute, because lord knows these people couldn't come up with one by themselves. And it is controversial because many rational people (and their backers, who happen to be able to read) say there are no other "scientific views" about evolution, only religion-in-disguise beliefs. Can you spell Dover?" one scientist asked.

"Well, no I can't," replied senator Storms. "But I never cotton'd to that fancy book learning and I still turned out to be a republican."

Interestingly, during the debate on the standards, Stemberger and other opponents of the new standards said they were not pushing for the teaching of "any other theory of the origin of life. In fact, we'd prefer it if you didn't teach any of them scientifical theories at all. Too much thinking if you ask me."

On the day the state board voted, Stemberger called adding the phrase "scientific theory" a "meaningless and impotent change. But that's just me. People who actually know about science may have a different idea."

Many of those who pushed for Florida's new science standards say they hope there is no new battle, that the state focuses now on revamping its curriculum and training new science teachers, so that its students are better prepared for a science-based world.

"Unnecessary," Stemberger said. "Rapture's just around the corner. No, really. It'll happen this time. Trust me."

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