Oh. My. God.

We played Sedalia all the time in high school. They were in our conference our district or whatever. I remember them being skankie, but not THIS skankie.

Apparently, this years band theme is “Brass Evolution 2009”, so their T-shirts had one of those generic ‘evolution of man’ images, with the characters carrying band instruments.

The kids had to turn the shirts back in after parents complained. This is their logic, and apparently representative of the kind of science education the kids in Sedalia Missouri are getting:

“I made the decision to have the band members turn the shirts in after several concerned parents brought the shirts to my attention,” Pollitt said.

Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

“If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,” he said.



Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

“It’s not like we are saying God is bad,” sophomore band member Denyel Luke said. “We aren’t promoting evolution.”

“I liked the shirt because it was unique,” Howard said. “The theory of evolution never even crossed my mind.”

Pollitt said the district would now have to absorb the cost of the T-shirts — $700 — that would have been paid for by the band parents. Pollitt said an anonymous donor had originally planned to pay half the cost, but declined after the evolution image was placed on the shirts. However, the donor does plan to fund half the price of the new T-shirts.



  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 30, 2009

    Drug me. Stat!

  2. #2 Camels With Hammers
    August 30, 2009

    stupefyingly stupid

  3. #3 Sigmund
    August 30, 2009

    You get the feeling that these people have no idea that many things in fact based subjects like science, history and geography clash with biblical teaching. Even more if you want to consider religion as a whole rather than a sectarian christian interpretation of it. For instance how can you teach the history of the Americas factually if you have to stay silent on anything that clashes with the mormons version of events?
    The really sad thing about the story is that the superintendent, parents and teachers who wanted evolution removed from the school probably think they are being ‘neutral’ on the issue. I’ve occasionally trespassed on a christian messageboard during discussions involving evolution in school (the secret is to just act dumb and you wont get expelled!) and when I jokingly suggest the best solution is to teach biology but just not mention evolution the ‘moderates’ seem to think that this is the fairest solution!
    Its a bit like suggesting teaching physics but leaving out lessons involving mass or energy.

  4. #4 Martin
    August 30, 2009

    Christians are stupid. In more news, today the sun was observed to rise in the east.

  5. #5 386sx
    August 30, 2009

    In other news, pictures of molecules! I think I can see Jesus in there running around trying to hold the darn thing together, if I’m not mistaken.

  6. #6 Glendon Mellow
    August 30, 2009

    This reads like something from The Onion. This is breathtakingly stupid.

  7. #7 MikeMa
    August 30, 2009

    When you live in Bumfuck, MO (aka Sedalia) you have to expect stupid. The hard part is waiting around for something good to happen so you can cheer.

  8. #8 D. C. Sessions
    August 30, 2009

    Has anyone told those parents that the school is actually teaching non-biblical mathematics in geometry class?

    When they get over that, they may want to order in another case of smelling salts for teaching non-biblical physics, too.

    Then there’s the geography class (assuming there still is one) which is teaching that it isn’t turtles all the way down.

    The list is endless. Best to just close the school and let all of th parents hire babysitters for their teens.

  9. #9 Stephen Wells
    August 30, 2009

    Repeat six million times: evolution is not a religious issue.


  10. #10 clinteas
    August 30, 2009

    I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.

    I dont think any students should be associated with her school, either.

  11. #11 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 30, 2009

    I see someone in the comments there starts in on the nonsense about how people who don’t send their kids to public schools should be able to opt out of paying taxes for them. While this line of argument always demonstrates a very limited grasp of the issues, the commenter then goes on to gripe how people who rent are getting a “free ride” because they don’t pay property taxes. WTF? Do they think the landlord is absorbing the cost out of his retirement fund? Sheesh.

    Sorry for going off topic.

  12. #12 Sara
    August 30, 2009


    This isn’t the Onion article? Really? Really???

    I prefer to be in denial about that.

  13. #13 Dr Benway
    August 30, 2009

    Evil prank:

    Go to a bar in Sedalia. Say something about how pissed you are that they let pediatricians live right in town. Anyone who wants to have sex with little kids should be behind bars. People outta protest in front of the pediatrician’s houses…

    See if you get any fish to bite. Plumbing the depth of the stupidity can have its entertainment value.

  14. #14 The Curmudgeon
    August 30, 2009

    Good thing they saved those kids from wearing the devil’s uniform.

  15. #15 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 30, 2009

    While this line of argument always demonstrates a very limited grasp of the issues, the commenter then goes on to gripe how people who rent are getting a “free ride” because they don’t pay property taxes. WTF? Do they think the landlord is absorbing the cost out of his retirement fund? Sheesh.

    Sorry for going off topic.

    I had to explain this to somebody at a city council meeting one day when they said that apartment dwellers should pay a fee whenever the cops come to our apartments, because we were “getting free protection paid for by our property taxes.”

    In Minnesota, we actually pay a higher proportion of property taxes per household in multi-unit housing than any homeowner.

  16. #16 Tyler DiPietro
    August 30, 2009

    There should be an analogue to the Paulian characterization of something as “not even wrong” that’s suitable for this. Perhaps “not even stupid” would suffice.

  17. #17 Dustin
    August 30, 2009

    Perhaps “not even stupid” would suffice.

    Every time I read a story like this, the sheer stupidity induces a temporari state of aphasia. The lkonger I read it, the wurse my symptms gt untl i’m reduceahs to a pont wehre nbody awtyhst rtqs Mg aqawag.

  18. #18 palochka
    August 30, 2009
  19. #19 Mobius
    August 30, 2009

    Further evidence that Missouri is almost as god-infected as Oklahoma.

  20. #20 ERV
    August 30, 2009


    Sedalia Democrat has a poll up now! Lower right panel:

    “Should the Sedalia school district have pulled the Smith-Cotton High School band T-shirts?
    Yes, the evolution image was inappropriate
    No, critics and the district are overreacting
    Total Votes: 199”

  21. #21 John Phillips, FCD
    August 30, 2009

    Dr. Benway, I suggest you don’t. As a few years ago when our red top rags in the UK were going ape shit seeing and accusing almost anyone who even looked at kids as pedos, a paediatrician in, IIRC, Plymouth had their house and car vandalised and had to have police protection for a while because of the stoopid not knowing the difference between a paediatrician and a paedophile. It wasn’t very pleasant for the innocent doctor, not that it made the red tops review their reporting.

  22. #22 vhutchison
    August 30, 2009

    #20 POLL CRASH. Only 420 votes.


    Now 67% No, critics and district are overreaching.

  23. #23 cirian
    August 31, 2009

    You have no respect for anything.You’re just an animal wearing a sophisticated covering who’s articulating words instead of howls…Sorry for ya’

  24. #24 Rrr
    August 31, 2009

    #23, are you by any chance from Sirius? Just wondering…

  25. #25 Dr Benway
    August 31, 2009


    You have no respect for anything.You’re just an animal wearing a sophisticated covering who’s articulating words instead of howls…Sorry for ya’

    Unintentional irony. U haz it.

    #21 – Yes, I love that UK story ’bout the toopids going after pediatricians. It inspires me.

    But I agree: violence is bad.

    In the prank genre, there’s a moment of reveal, of saying “April Fools!” Best to hand the idiots a clue prior to any bloodshed.

  26. #26 BAllanJ
    August 31, 2009

    I wonder when these shirts are going to show up on eBay and how much they’ll go for…

    3. profit

  27. #27 Dr. Death
    August 31, 2009

    Welcome to the 21st century, Sedalia! Thats right, it is 2009. Please set your calendars ahead 150 years.

  28. #28 FastLane
    August 31, 2009

    Maybe the SciBlogs could take up a collection that the anon donor pulled out?

    I’ll throw in $10.

  29. #29 Mind Over Splatter
    August 31, 2009

    Melby said, “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

    I don’t think that Melby needs to worry about that. It likely never will be, in any respect.

  30. #30 you
    August 31, 2009

    you are SHANKIE

  31. #31 rlynne
    August 31, 2009

    Oh for crying out loud. Three people complained, that doesn’t make everyone in Sedalia an idiot.

  32. #32 Dustin
    August 31, 2009

    Ahh, the goodship Pharyngula arrived and drowned the contribution to the poll crash made by ERV’s 5 regulars.

  33. #33 Dr Benway
    September 1, 2009

    Thanks, rlynne, for adding point #3 to my list: What’s a Sedalian?

    3. Sedalians don’t know what’s a mountain and what’s a molehill

    In your example, you mistake the mountain of a First Amendment violation for the molehill of “three people complained.”

    Government entanglement with religion is manifest in the behavior of the Assistant Superintendent of Schools, when he acted upon his personal religious belief that the theory of evolution is not science but religion.

  34. #34 Jacques Hughes
    September 1, 2009

    For Dr Benway, and those in the UK who think ‘teh stupid’ only lives in the US:



  35. #35 rlynne
    September 1, 2009

    Ok Dr. Benway, so you got me on what the point of the argument is, and you are right. My point is that I think you are being awful hard on all the residents of Sedalia when you could be aiming your ridicule only at the few that deserve it. And just for the record, I’m not a Sedalian.

  36. #36 Dr Benway
    September 2, 2009

    The clever Sedalians aren’t taking offense. They emailed to thank us for drawing attention to mind-cripplingly poor science education in their town.

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