Archive for January, 2005

ACLU Follies: Opposing careful study and critical thinking in schools

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

In Georgia, the ACLU opposed a school district’s advice to students that they approach the material in its textbooks with an open mind, study it carefully, and consider it critically. Huh?

In their hysterical attempts to turn back scientific challenges to their world view, the fanatics of the ACLU diligently suppress references to findings they consider disagreeable. And there is no more cherished theory than Darwinian evolution, the very centerpiece of the world view they struggle so relentlessly to impose. Within the scientific community – in fields as diverse as astrophysics and biochemistry, Darwinian evolution is far from a settled fact. For many scientists, publishing in respected scientific journals, it is all but dead.

The ACLU, however, does not want students in Cobb County Georgia (or anywhere else) to be exposed to this heresy. As scientific challenges mount, the ACLU lawyers are reduced to such pathetic measures as silencing a school’s admonition to its students to carefully scrutinize the content of their textbooks. Like most bigots, the high priests of the ACLU seem to fear critical thinking, preferring instead that students blindly accept the views they work so diligently to impose.

The ACLU has often served well to safeguard rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Yet now they routinely pursue – with true religious fervor – the suppression of thought and information. The ACLU has gotten into the business of violating the very rights they once upheld.

The case itself is very simple. The Cobb County School District had previously used science textbooks with blank pages where the material on evolution would have appeared. This, of course, was silly; science books must present current scientific theories and findings. Unfortunately, most textbooks – following the lead of many in the scientific establishment – ignore the principles of science and falsely portray Darwinian evolution as a fact that is beyond question or dispute. To overcome this bias, the school board mandated stickers on the science textbooks it adopted. The sticker said:

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with a open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

In its pretrial brief (PDF), the ACLU disingenuously implied that an alternative (and marginally better) sticker* might have been acceptable to them. They went on to argue that to survive a Constitutional challenge, the sticker that was adopted would have to meet a well-established legal standard: It would have to “have a valid secular purpose, not have the effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and not foster excessive government entanglement in religion.” So how does the sticker actually fare?

The sticker obviously passes the test. I’m confident that the ACLU lawyers knew that because they did the next best thing; they focused instead on showing that the motivation for applying the stickers was religious in nature.

This religious motivation could probably have been stipulated by the Defense because it is both true and irrelevant. What motivates a legislator to produce a statute that outlaws child abuse? It does not matter; no Constitutional line has been crossed. What motivates a community to prohibit the sale of liquor on Sunday? It does not matter; no Constitutional line has been crossed. What motivates a college to restrict access to dorm rooms by members of the opposite sex? It does not matter; no Constitutional line has been crossed. The Constitutional standard applied in this case is relevant only to the governmental practice being challenged, not to the reasons the practice was initially advocated.

But I confess to the reader that I have misled you. There was indeed a religious component in that sticker. It expressly challenged a religious doctrine that is dear to the fanatics of the ACLU – that Darwinian evolution is a settled fact. The ACLU will not countenance the public establishment of any religion. Except its own.

* This textbook contains materail on evolution, a scientific theory, or explanation, for the nature and diversity of living things. Evolution is accepted by the majority of scientists but questioned by some. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

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