(My photograph of a portion of a display in the Scopes Trial Museum, Dayton, Tennessee)
Yesterday I wrote about my love for Appalachian Tennessee. Today I'm going to talk about what I don't like about my adopted state. Our state legislature just passed a law allowing discussion of Creationism along side teaching of evolution in public schools. The Governor, a Republican, allowed the bill to become law without his signature, citing the 3-1 margin by which the bill passed as making it veto-proof. To me, that sounded a bit like the Governor (Charles Durning) in the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas singing I Love to Dance a Little Sidestep. Somehow it came off as a bit disingenuous.
This battle has been going on for a century. Periodically southern legislatures from Texas to the Carolinas will come up with new ways to insert biblical teachings into the teaching of science. And periodically, the courts will strike them down. But now a new element has been added. Denial of global warming has joined denial of evolution as causes for the conservative-fundamentalist coalition. One might be somewhat forgiving for an anti-evolution stance, since the faithful see it as in opposition to their literal view of the Bible and its infallibility. But resistance to the inconvenient truth of global warming is purely political, based on adherence to laissez faire economics. Regardless, neither is science and has a place in a science curriculum. Stephen Jay Gould, the late Harvard paleontologist, characterized science and religion as having "non-overlapping magisteria," that is, they deal with entirely different realms of competencies (Rock of Ages, Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life, 1999). Economics is yet another field and should be treated as such.
To end on a lighter note, enjoy "Governor" Durning dancing a little sidestep: