The Times on Dover
Last year the School Board in Dover, PA became the first in the nation to require the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms. They were subsequently sued, of course, and the trial begins today. If the judge, a George W. Bush appointee, finds against ID, then ID will quickly go the way of scientific creationism. Still there, but mostly at the level of background noise. On the other hand, if the judge rules in favor of ID, watch for a flood of other school districts to follow suit.
There’s a lot riding on this.
The The New York Times weighs in today with this weak article. It’s the typical dueling quotations, pass no judgments, push the standard story-line article on this subject. Let’s consider a few excerpts:
Sheree Hied, a mother of five who believes that God created the earth and its creatures, was grateful when her school board here voted last year to require high school biology classes to hear about “alternatives” to evolution, including the theory known as intelligent design.
That’s the opening paragraph of the article. It appears beneath a large photograph of the Heid family at the dinner table, heads bowed, saying grace. A little farther down is a photo of two of the plaintiffs, sitting on a sofa, clearly engaged in passionate conversation. Not very subtle.
“It was just our school board making one small decision,” Mrs. Hied said, “but it was just received with such an uproar.”
For Mrs. Hied, a meter reader, and her husband, Michael, an office manager for a local bus and transport company, the Dover school board's argument - that teaching intelligent design is a free-speech issue - has a strong appeal.
“I think we as Americans, regardless of our beliefs, should be able to freely access information, because people fought and died for our freedoms,” Mrs. Hied said over a family dinner last week at their home, where the front door is decorated with a small bell and a plaque proclaiming, “Let Freedom Ring.”
Wow! What started as one small decision of a local school board became, just a few sentences later, something worth invoking the memory of our fallen soldiers over.
Of course, free access to information is not the issue. Rather, the issue is whether we are going to use public school science classrooms to spread the lies and propaganda of an especially narrow form of protestant fundamentalism. Someone should remind Mrs. Heid that our soldiers dies protecting all of our freedoms, including the separation of church and state.
But in a split-level house on the other side of Main Street, at a desk flanked by his university diplomas, Steven Stough was on the Internet late the other night, keeping track of every legal maneuver in the case. Mr. Stough, who teaches life science to seventh graders in a nearby district, is one of the 11 parents suing the Dover district. For him the notion of teaching “alternatives” to evolution is a hoax.
“You can dress up intelligent design and make it look like science, but it just doesn't pass muster,” said Mr. Stough, a Republican whose idea of a fun family vacation is visiting fossil beds and natural history museums. “In science class, you don't say to the students, 'Is there gravity, or do you think we have rubber bands on our feet?'”
Just in case you didn't get it from the photographs, the anti-ID folks are the pointy-headed intellectuals, while the pro-ID folks are the plain-spoken religious simpletons. Got it?
I like Mr. Stough's sentiments, but someone should point out to him that the leadership of the party he supports is four-square opposed to his view of things.
The article goes on in this vein, careful to never say anything of substance. It's a very lazy performance from the Times. Still, there was one more interesting moment:
Mr. Rehm, a father of five and a science teacher who formerly taught in Dover, said the school board had long been pressing science teachers to alter their evolution curriculum, even requiring teachers to watch a videotape about “gaps in evolution theory” during an in-service training day in the spring of 2004.
Now I understand why high school teachers hate in-service days so much! The ignoramuses on the school board, who you can be sure know nothing at all about biology or paleontology, think in-service days are a time to try to indoctrinate teachers with a lot of religious nonsense. Lovely!