Friday, December 30, 2005

Intelligent Design and free speech. No, it doesn't work that way.

Over here, we have an article on Intelligent Design, written by some Christians who are, sadly, about as intelligent as a bag of rocks. Virtually everything in that article just drips with ignorance, dishonesty or some combination of the two. But it's the last paragraph I want to examine:

Nevertheless, Laursen promises, CEAI will continue to encourage its members to "teach all the science available in the 21st century, whether it supports evolution or not." He says the group will also go on urging teachers to bring supplemental science data and information beyond the mandated curricula into their classrooms.

Now, when anyone encourages teachers to "supplement" their official curriculum with, you know, "other stuff" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), they're typically implying that teachers (at least in the U.S., which is the target for the article) have some inherent right to free speech in the classroom. Those people would be hideously wrong.

The whole "You're infringing on my right to free speech" has already been tried, and it failed miserably. If you scroll down in that legal decision to Section "B. Free Speech," while that section is discussing teacher John Peloza's right to talk to his students about religion, it just as easily applies to Peloza's right to talk about anything that deviates from the official curriculum that he's been assigned by the school and the school board (particularly if the topic still has religious connotations, as ID certainly does):

While at the high school, whether he is in the classroom or outside of it during contract time, Peloza is not just any ordinary citizen. He is a teacher. He is one of those especially respected persons chosen to teach in the high school's classroom. He is clothed with the mantle of one who imparts knowledge and wisdom. His expressions of opinion are all the more believable because he is a teacher. The likelihood of high school students equating his views with those of the school is substantial. To permit him to discuss his religious beliefs with students during school time on school grounds would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Such speech would not have a secular purpose, would have the primary effect of advancing religion, and would entangle the school with religion...

The district court did not err in dismissing the part of Peloza's section 1983 claim that was predicated on an alleged violation of his right to free speech under the First Amendment.

In short, a teacher most certainly does not have the freedom to "supplement" official curriculum with his or her personal preferences. Put in a simpler way, a teacher is an employee and, as an employee, their job is to properly and competently present the material that has been handed to them. They have absolutely no "free speech" right to start making shit up, as it were.

Do I really have to explain why the rest of that Agape Press article is similar swill? I didn't think so.

BY THE WAY, you have to love this gem from that article:

In any case, the Christian educators' advocate insists that government has no business banning viewpoints in the classroom.

Ah, yes, those notoriously open-minded Christian fundamentalists. That would be these folks, right? Apparently, while all points of view are equal, some are more equal than others.


Lindsay Stewart said...

"He says the group will also go on urging teachers to bring supplemental science data and information beyond the mandated curricula into their classrooms."

gosh. what about science data and information that has nothing at all to do with evolution? what about health sciences? by this rational teachers of health science could decide to unilaterally teach proper classes on reproduction, birth control and sexually transmitted disease, those supplemental materials wouldn't supplant or threaten evolutionary science (though they might serve to enhance evolution in the long run). but they sure would offer some valuable intelligence to young people designing their lives and planning their futures. hell, you might even find a few specialized scientists to back such wild notions...what are they called, oh yeah, doctors.

Cathie from Canada said...

They say they don't want "viewpoints" banned? Aren't these exactly the same people who wanted gay marriage banned, not just from the classroom but everywhere?