Monday, August 31, 2009

Marching Bands and De-evolution

This could only happen in the United States. Sedalia, Missouri is on the map, in a way that probably nobody foresaw or wished. A Marching Band has been asked not to use their band shirts because they portray an evolutionary message. As Tonya Fennell of the Sedalia Democrat writes:
The shirts, which were designed to promote the band’s fall program, are light gray and feature an image of a monkey progressing through stages and eventually emerging as a man. Each figure holds a brass instrument. Several instruments decorate the background and the words “Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band” and “Brass Evolutions 2009” are emblazoned above and below the image.

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.”
In other words, it was a perfectly harmless idea that was blown way out of proportion. The story continues:
While the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.

“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.

How bad is the science education in this country that a school superintendent thinks that portraying evolution is a "religious" issue? The comments below the story are amazingly caustic. Pharyngula has a poll on whether or not the shirts should have been pulled, as well as a picture of what the uniform looked like. The story is, as one commenter wrote, making the rounds on the science blogs.

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