Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lauri Lebo on Academic Freedom

Little Green Footballs called attention to an excellent paper written back in June for the Washington Spectator by Lauri Lebo, the reporter in the Dover township that covered the Dover-Kitzmiller trial. Calling attention to the Discovery Institute, she suggests that its strategy is also evolving:

For the Discovery Institute, much was at stake in its response to the Kitzmiller decision. The organization's Center for Science and Culture owes its existence to intelligent design. So in 2006, the Discovery staff published a peevish critique of Jones's decision in the book Traipsing into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision.

Despite the book's defense of intelligent design, its final chapter reveals that the Institute has abandoned the concept—at least that is Discovery's public position. Instead of advocating intelligent design, the authors laid out a plan for the next attempt at subverting the teaching of evolutionary theory, this time using the code words "academic freedom."

This has played out beautifully for them: Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, Texas and a host of other states have all drafted legislation to enforce "academic freedom." As she notes:

Last fall the Discovery Institute and Motive Marketing, the publicists for the Ben Stein movie, launched a joint-venture website that promotes "academic freedom" bills and provides suggested wording for legislators. With minor revisions, the wording of the state bills introduced thus far closely follows the website's model legislation.

Lebo writes that so far (June 2008) none of the legislation has yet made it into law. That is no longer true with the passage of Louisiana Senate Bill 561. Other bills will probably pass and, since they are so vaguely worded, it will be hard to challenge them on their face. As soon as creationism shows up in the public school classrooms, though (and it will), they can be tested. That will happen soon enough.

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