Thursday, February 24, 2005


Scopes Redux

Red State Rabble also attended the BOE science sub-committee meeting that followed the public hearing last night.

A consensus is emerging, at least in the media, that the hearings will be a replay of the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. Astute RSR readers will remember that the Scopes trial started as a publicity stunt by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce to boost tourism there. (The resemblance to the plot line of the latest episode of the Simpsons -- where legalized gay marriage is the tourist draw -- is simply uncanny.) In the comic opera now unfolding here, Kansas will replace Dayton in the public imagination in the same way WallMart has replaced Main Street.

Here's the take from Joel Mathis of the Lawrence Journal-World,

The Scopes Monkey Trial could be up for a 21st century replay in Kansas. Sometime this spring, three members of the Kansas Board of Education plan to hear testimony from proponents of evolution and intelligent design, in a trial-like hearing with a court reporter and cross-examination of witnesses. The result could change how science is taught inKansas schools.

"Nothing's on trial, except maybe evolution," said Kathy Martin, one of the three board members -- all conservative -- who will hear the evidence.

Today, the Kansas City Star report that the trial may last 10 days.

Red State Rabble found the sub-committee meeting fascinating. Board member Steve Abrams kicked things off with a long monologue in response to an email from science standards committee chair Steve Case, who was also present at the meeting. Sub-committee member Kathy Martin was also there, and Connie Morris was teleconferenced in.

Morris provided the comic relief last night, calling Case "obstructionist" for scrupulously maintaining his neutrality as chair of the standards writing committee, and refusing to walk into the ambush the ID proponents and the board sub-committee have set for him. Her allies on the sub-committee were visibly embarrassed by her remarks, smirking at times. Martin tried to smooth things over as soon as Morris finished her harangue and went back to watching the 700 Club with the volume turned down (Okay, okay, I'm just guessing about the 700 Club.)

Bill Harris sat at the conference table with the board members and Steve Case although it's not clear what official function he has other than being the leader of the minority on the standards committee -- they're the ones that lost the vote and now want a do-over.

Red State Rabble was charmed by the presence of John Calvert who , having no official function at these proceedings, nevertheless pulled a chair up from the spectators gallery to sit with the board and offer wise counsel. He gives the impression of a man who, having retired as a trial lawyer, has rejected competing in the greenest lawn in the neighborhood competition, in favor of changing the world.

Case has thrown the board sub-committee and their ID advisors, Harris and Calvert, a curve by declining to organize their hearings for them. Abrams, having been talked into the hearings by his erstwhile ID kitchen cabinet, now seems concerned that the hearings will have no credibility. All that could be agreed upon last night was that a list of topics to be taken up at the "hearings" will be drawn up.

Harris and Calvert seem already to have their list of hearing participants -- the usual suspects, mostly bible college biologists, no doubt -- which they are eager to put before the sub-committee, but Case is not sure real scientists will want to participate in a kangaroo court in which the outcome is all but foreordained.


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