Why Conservatives Will Hold the Kansas Board of Education in 2006
A week ago I thought the conservative members of the Kansas Board of Education were done for. I thought the foolish vote to change the way Kansas teaches evolution would have surely been the end of the conservative majority on the board. I thought it would take a real bunch of idiots, real single minded foolishness on the other side to re-elect the current members of the KBOE.
Then I heard about KU professor Paul Mirecki and I instantly knew that the KBOE will stay in conservative hands. You see, Professor Mirecki has now become the poster boy for the "evolution" crowd, the problem for them is that Paul Mirecki is an unreformed, out in the open, bigot.
In a recent e-mail Professor Mirecki wrote:
Ã“The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category Ã‘mythology,Ã’Ã” Mirecki wrote.He signed the note Ã“Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P.Ã”ProfMireckiMereki works for the State of Kansas, and is proposing using taxpayer money to promote his own religious bigotry. If you aren't sure that what he said amount to bigotry, change two things, one pretend George W. Bush said it, and second change the target. If Bush said he wanted to give the Jews a big slap in the face, or that he was "Doing his part to piss off the gays" or Muslims, or blacks, there would be no question.
MireckiMereki gave a half hearted apology.
Ã“I especially regret that the e-mail betrays what I have consistently practiced in the classroom during my sixteen-year teaching career at KU: I believe that civil discourse is vital to a democratic society, and we must, especially in a university environment, be able to discuss differing points of view in a open, fair and civil fashion. I have always practiced my belief that there is no place for impertinence and name-calling in a serious academic class. My words in the e-mail do not represent my teaching philosophy or the style I use in class."Right, I'm sure his students (especially in light of how distinguished scientists who support Intelligent Design have been treated) knowing that the whole reason for the class is to give their beliefs a "slap in the face" and to piss them off will feel very comfortable and like their views will be discussed in an "open, fair and civil fashion."
So what does one bigot professor have to do with the KBOE?
The reason it is important is that it confirms everything I think the average Kansan feels about the players in this debate. Most Kansans believe in evolution, most people want evolution taught in public schools, including the conservative board members who voted to include intelligent design in the Kansas curriculum, a point those members should stress during the upcoming campaigns.
Like most people, I believe in evolution, it doesn't conflict with my faith because, like most people I don't read all of the Bible literally. I have to admit that when I first heard the ID side makeargumentguement last springintriguedreagued and I eagerly awaited the rebuttal from the evolution crowd, I am still waiting for that rebuttal. The evolution crowd refused to testify in front of the KBOE and that made me wonder, iargumentgrument is so water tight, why not present it in public? I started to wonder if maybe we should teach ID in schools.
Then the evolution crowd started the ad hominem attacks, never dealing with the substance. They claimed that they were right, they were smart, they were science and if you disagreed with them you were just a dumb religious fundamentalist. Gentlemen, I think thou doth protest too much. I began to seriously wonder how weak the real case for evolution only education was.
But in the end I, and many Kansans, put away the feeling thactualactuall factual evidence for evolution may not be rock solid, and the feeling that the people dogmatically defending the prohibition on teaching alternate points of view, were, well, anti-religious more than they were "pro-science"
I still think teaching ID is a bad decision, if for no other reason than the bad press it generated for our great state. However I have no question that the most vocal opponents of ID are opponents because of their religious bigotry more than for any high minded defense of science.
The real problem is that how and what our children are taught and how much we will spend teaching them has become a dogmatic political issue for both sides rather than looking out for the best interest of Kansas children.
I think the ground is now set for the conservatives to hold onto the KBOE if they run a good campaign. People don't want to be slapped in the face or pissed on, and they don't like voting for people who want to slap them and piss on them.
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