Pharyngula

Missouri’s shame

This is the t-shirt worn by the marching band of Smith-Cotton high school of Sedalia, Missouri.

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The ‘ascent of man’ image is a bit irritating — it is a portrayal of a fallacious idea of directionality in evolution — but the designers had a reasonable goal in mind.

Assistant Band Director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, Band Director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable.” The playlist of songs the band is slated to perform revolve around the theme “Brass Evolutions.”

All right, I’ll let ‘em pass…but wait! There’s a problem? Parents freaked out over the shirts? Could it be because they’re even fussier about scientific accuracy than I am?

No, I don’t think so. You can guess what people complained about.

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.”

“I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.” That says it all right there — they don’t want science to be a part of their children’s education. Well, either that or it’s a statement about the Ms Melby’s current state: perhaps her knuckles drag on the floor, and she’s teaching courses in flint-knapping and gnawing hides.

It’s a shame, but there will always be a few ignorant cretins yowling about demanding respect for their religious ignorance in every school district. Responsible, intelligent school administrators will put the students’ needs at the highest priority, and recognize that they don’t need to kow-tow to every crank opinion. They should support science, and know that they do want evolution associated with their school.

Ooops. The assistant superintendent of the schools has yanked the t-shirts and demanded that all of the students turn them in…for a really stupid reason.

“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.

Evolution is not a religion, no more than sky-is-blueism or gravityism or medicine or mathematics or their shop class. Would they shut down an auto repair class if an Amish family decried their heathen English ways? Pollitt is a pandering moron.

Their school really does need more education in evolutionary biology. They’ve got some quotes from students that reveal they really don’t know much.

High School junior Adam Tilley said he understood why the shirts were repossessed.

“I can see where the parents are coming from,” he said. “Evolution has always been controversial.” The 17-year-old trombone player said his parents “didn’t care” about the shirt because it was the “name of the band’s show.”

Nope. Evolution is not controversial as a science. It is socially controversial, but only because a) people are ignorant of the science (and people like Pollitt contribute to that problem), and b) there are lots of people who profit from perpetuating lies (like, say, Ken Ham).

Here’s the worst:

Senior Drum Major Mike Howard said he was disappointed when he had to return the shirt.

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

Huh? Adam Tilley says it’s controversial! Students don’t even think of the theory of evolution when they see a t-shirt with the word “evolution” and a picture of evolving apes? There’s a problem.