A year ago I had a fairly memorable exchange with Dean Esmay on the subject of evolution and creationism. He showed pretty clearly then that A) he doesn’t have the first clue what evolution actually says and B) he has even less understanding of the dangers of creationism in public school science classrooms. So it’s not a surprise that his latest salvo on the subject is so wide of the mark. Dean writes:
The courts did a tremendously stupid and destructive thing back in the 1980s when they banned so-called “creation science.” The impression was made loud and clear to tens of millions of parents and students: scientists are intellectual bullies and cowards, and science teachers are liars who censor arguments that don’t fit their prejudices.
And the fact that the schools continue to teach that the holocaust took place convinces followers of the KKK that history teachers are “liars who censor arguments that don’t fit their prejudices” and that the “Jewish elites” who control the government are “bullies and cowards”. So what? The rightness of a policy or a court ruling is not judged by how the ignorant interpret that policy or ruling. Had the courts ruled any other way, they would have been sanctioning the teaching of religious dogma wrapped in pseudo-scientific language.
You want lies? Look no further than the litany of nonsense found in “creation science”, an alternate universe of ignorance in which the world is 6000 years old and Noah’s flood is responsible for the entire geological record. To teach those things to students is to teach them lies and falsehoods, just as surely as teaching them that the Earth is flat and doesn’t revolve around the sun. The liars are not the teachers, the liars are those who pushed these patently false ideas in to science classrooms in order to prop up their religious dogma. But Dean isn’t done making absurd statements:
There are people right now in Dover, Pennsylvania fighting to ban a completely harmless book called Of Pandas And People from public school science classes, against the express wishes of a majority of the parents. Tap-dance around it all you want, that is an attempt to ban a book from the classroom and censor ideas. You can put all the lipstick you want on this pig, with armwaving generalizations about “separation of church and state,” but the pig won’t get any prettier. It is censorship that is being advocated here, period. It will belong right on the ALA’s Banned books list, alongside The Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. If the Stalinist ACLU and the self-proclaimed “defenders of science” have their way, anyhow.
Sorry Dean, but this rhetoric is so over the top as to be completely pointless. No one is attempting to ban books. By your “reasoning” (and I’m using that term lightly), refusing to tell students that they should also consider flat earthism, geocentrism or holocaust denial is also “book banning.” No one is going to ban any books. Everyone is still entirely free to purchase and read any book they wish, including Of Pandas and People. Not allowing schools to teach it or give copies to students is not the same thing as banning it, and no amount of ridiculous rhetoric about the “Stalinist” ACLU is going to make it so.
In this country, crackpots on the fringe of science, from flat earthers to hollow earthers to dowsers and perpetual motion advocates, have an absolute right to publish their ideas and every citizen has an absolute right to read them, talk about them, advocate them and try to convince others of them. But that doesn’t mean they have a “right” to have those views taught in public school science classrooms. And to claim that not giving them access to a science classroom amounts to “book burning” and “Stalinism” is to descend into utter delusion.