Young-Earthers can't get it through their thick heads that they lost this fight back in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925. But this meat patty thinks it's pathetic that some of them have prostituted their own beliefs by hooking up with intelligent design's stealth-Christianity approach just to make some headway against the scientific theory they hate with such a passion.
We knew Kansas would once again become the butt of the world's jokes, just like in 1999, but with a 6-4 conservative majority in place after last November's election, whipping up public fervor against the school board's plot was pointless. So we threw one swift kick to the groin of anti-Darwinian stupidity ("Holey Bible," February 17) and thought we were done with it.
But then we noticed the hard work of a couple of smart guys named Pat Hayes and Josh Rosenau.
Bloggers Hayes ("Red State Rabble") and Rosenau ("Thoughts From Kansas") monitor the anti-evolutionists. And their hard digging has revealed that the attack on science is a well-coordinated scheme.
Hayes and Rosenau have gone through campaign-finance records to show that money has flowed between intelligent design's local point men, lawyer John Calvert and University of Missouri-Kansas City medical-school professor William Harris, and the conservative board members who now grant them so much access. And they show how money from some of those board members also bolstered the campaign coffers of Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who returned the favor by granting those board members special access recently while spitting on the state's open-meeting laws.
It's cozy but predictable. Sure, all of the religious extremists are helping out one another with campaign contributions -- we'd expect that, wouldn't we?
But Hayes shows just how crafty they were in getting a conservative majority back on the board in the 2002 and 2004 elections. In 2002, he reports, significant contributions were made to conservative candidates running for board seats that appear to have tweaked election laws. Hayes found that Iris Van Meter, a conservative from Thayer, received donations from four political action committees: the Free Academic Inquiry and Research Committee (FAIR) State PAC, the FAIR Federal PAC, the Kansas Republican Victory State PAC and the Kansas Republican Victory Federal PAC.
The curious thing is, all four of the groups that sent Van Meter money share the same Topeka post office box and treasurer. This tenderloin figures that's a pretty slick way to grease Van Meter's palm with $2,500 and bypass election rules, which are supposed to limit a single donor to $500 per election cycle. Hayes shows on his blog how the same four groups also donated to the other conservative members and shuttled cash to one another as well as to and from other conservative PACs in the state. It's all on his site, redstaterabble.blogspot.com.
But even with their six-person majority, the anti-evolutionists still have a problem. Harry McDonald, a former high school biology teacher who's president of Kansas Citizens for Science, reminds us that board chair and chief Neanderthal Steve Abrams hasn't forgotten how badly the 1999 attempt to kick Darwin out of class backfired on him.
Six years ago, McDonald explains, the school board formed a committee of professionals to recommend new science standards, and, just like this time around, that committee came back with a sensible plan to teach kids about evolution. In 1999, however, as soon as that plan was handed to Abrams, he moved to put in an alternate plan that he'd cribbed from an anti-evolution group. Abrams' maneuver was so baldfaced, McDonald says, that it created a major public backlash. A year later, an angry Kansas electorate bounced the conservatives, and the new board immediately rescinded the creationist garbage from the state's standards.
That's why Abrams wants to put on a dog-and-pony show this time, McDonald says. With lots of coaching help from Calvert and Harris, Abrams has announced that the board intends to put on a public "trial" in May that will pit defenders of evolution against Harris and his practiced intelligent-design spiel.
It's easy to see why. With the publicity that's likely to come from a new "monkey trial," the board's conservative majority can at least pretend that it allowed evolution its day in court.
That's why McDonald and his group are encouraging scientists to boycott the sham hearings. "When they stage an event and they set the rules, you're not going to win that. They're not really open-minded," McDonald says.
Hayes and Rosenau disagree. "You'll never convince the board, but it's time to take them on in this," says Hayes, a Johnson County resident who works as a United Auto Workers representative at the Ford plant in Claycomo. He and Rosenau, a University of Kansas biology grad student, would like to see a big name come to Kansas to fight for evolution at the hearings.
Someone like Kenneth Miller, a Brown University scientist famous for explaining that admiring evolution's ability to describe biology doesn't mean giving up one's religious beliefs. The point, they say, isn't to make an impression on a school board that's already made up its mind but to make a big impact on the public -- which, Hayes reminds us, will be voting on new board elections in only a year.