Vote of No Confidence

12 03 2010

I would like to motion for a vote of no confidence in Texas. That is to say, go have your little independent country. We don’t want you anymore. You’re just too goddamn stupid for us.

Texas’ governmental stupidity normally isn’t newsworthy, but in this case it has reached such truly staggering feats of idiocy that I think they deserve special attention. You see, according to Texas’s BOE, Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a founding father.

12:32 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the Founders didn’t intend for separation of church and state in America. And she’s off on a long lecture about why the Founders intended to promote religion. She calls this amendment “not historically accurate.”

Madame, you are not simply ignorant. You are deeply, shockingly stupid.

…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

Hm, that’s interesting. Some of that sounds familiar. It sounds almost like…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

As Dunbar probably doesn’t know what I just quoted, I will explain: this is the text to the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. See where I’m going with this? If the Founding Fathers did not intend to construct a wall of separation, and therefore Jefferson is not a Founding Father! I wonder who else I can find out wasn’t really one of the Founders?

The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State

-James Madison, “The father of the Constitution,” in a letter to Robert Walsh

The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses….

-John Adams

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious protesters thereof, and I know of no other business government has to do therewith.

-Thomas Paine (incidentally, as far as I can ascertain he is not part of the Texas education standards at all)

And lastly, from one of the relatively unknown Founders:

In the Enlightened Age and in this Land of equal Liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States

Have you guessed who it is yet? Yes, you in the back? Did you say George Washington? Exactly right! I’m surprised you got that, not many people have heard of him!

Study of the Constitution is not the only thing that has undergone a lobotomy, though. What kind of fundies would they be if they’d only destroyed the standards on one important topic? The Enlightenment is being treated rather like the women of a village when the Mongols invaded. You see, the word “Enlightenment” is gone from the standards, replaced with “the writings of…”. Jefferson has been ejected from the unit, too. Who has replaced him? John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas. No, I am not kidding. I wish I were.





Texas science standards

26 01 2009

As you’ve probably heard, the Texas Board of Education recently made amendments to the state science standards, including removing the “strengths and weaknesses” language. Yay, right?

Not yay. Other revisions made were based on advice from a DI drone. Examples:

Original:

(4) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

Revision:

(4) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal differing theories about the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

See, if we were talking about a college curriculum this would be great, because there are differing theories regarding the specifics of what happened. But before college, this can refer only to learning very general things like the Big Bang. And there isn’t a “differing theory” there.

Original:

(5) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows that Earth’s place in the solar system is explained by the solar nebular accretionary disk model.

Revision:

(5) Earth in Space and Time. The student understands that Earth’s place in the solar system is explained by the solar nebular accretionary disk model.

This one isn’t so bad in that you can’t force a student to believe it. As long as they understand the model, they should be allowed to refuse to accept it. On the other hand, the goal of science standards is to convince students of reality, so the goal is for them to understand that this is the explanation.

Original:

(5)(B) investigate sources of heat, including kinetic heat of impact accretion, gravitational compression, and radioactive decay, which allows protoplanet differentiation into layers;

Revision:

(5)(B) investigate sources of heat, including kinetic heat of impact accretion, gravitational compression, and radioactive decay, which are thought to allow protoplanet differentiation into layers;

This one’s also minor but stupid. Technically it’s true that they are only “thought to,” but this is, for the purposes of a public school science curriculum, fact, not hypothesis.

Original:

(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and rate and diversity of evolution;

Revision:

(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and rate and diversity of evolution and assess the arguments for and against universal common descent in light of this fossil evidence;

First, they are transitional fossils. They aren’t proposed transitional fossils. Second, the “with regard to….evolution” is the entire point of learning about them. They’re not just evidence for evolution, they show how it works. And third, THERE ARE NO ARGUMENTS AGAINST. There is not a single piece of credible evidence indicating anything but common ancestry of all living things on Earth.

Texas, please kick some of these IDiots off the board. Or maybe just kick them.

(via skepchick)