If you’re like me, the first thing you read when you open Sunday’s newspaper is the comics. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in twenty years of reading the comics, it’s that being featured in the funny pages is usually an ignoble privilege at best. Well, this Sunday, cartoonist Garry Trudeau lampooned Louisiana’s Science Education Act (LSEA) in his famous comic strip Doonsbury.
The sad thing is that many of Louisiana public schools don’t need the LSEA in order to teach creationism/intelligent design in place of evolution. They probably already are. Or, as at the Louisiana public school I attended, they’ve simply stopped teaching evolution altogether. (Despite this fact, I still had an outstanding Biology teacher.) But whether they choose to teach dogma in place of fact, or simply ignore it, the result is the same: Louisiana’s students and citizens will be misinformed about the basics of biology. And Trudeau is correct in his assessment that Louisiana’s high school students may be left behind when it comes to higher education. It’s hard to get into a school with a rigorous program in evolutionary biology if you’ve never taken a course in evolution. Believe me.
Worse yet, politicians support this. Michelle Bachmann has publicly announced her support for intelligent design, as did president George W. Bush when he encouraged teachers to “teach the controversy”. Yet, we wouldn’t encourage teachers to teach the controversy over geocentrism, the indefensible argument that Earth is at the center of our universe. Further, there is no scientific controversy that the process of evolution is responsible for the diversity of life on earth; the only controversy is between those that place religious dogma above scientific fact.
So, my thanks to Trudeau for making the LSEA out for what it is — a laughing-stock. Now all we need is to have it featured in Get Fuzzy. Once that’s done, the controversy is all over. (I wish.)