JISHOU, HUNAN — And I’m not talking about Archie and Jughead, or even Beavis and Butthead.
Amy Myers the Bachmann Slayer (and Scourge of the Right Wing) is not the only high school student making national news. Damon Fowler and Zack Kopplin, both of Louisiana, have made some national waves recently, too.
Fowler is a 2011 graduate of Bastrop High School in Bastrop, La. Earlier this term, he learned that there would be a school-sanctioned official prayer at his graduation ceremony. He objected, and asked that the prayer be scotched. (FYI, the Supreme Court has held that public school-sponsored prayers are verboten under the First Amendment, which Fowler knows but the school apparently didn’t.)
The ACLU followed up with a letter advising the school of the legal requirements and ramifications. School officials agreed to forgo the prayer. As if. In the meantime, the community got wind of Fowler’s objections and the shit hit the fan.
Fowler got threats of violence and death. His fellow students turned on him. One of his teachers publicly berated him. His parents kicked him out of the house, and put his possessions (except his PS3) out on the porch.
The graduation went on without him, since he reckoned attending put him at some risk. And a prayer was said by a student, supposedly against the wishes of the administration but basically within the letter of the law.
On the bright side, Fowler is living with his sister in Texas, and an atheist website has raised more than $30,000 for him to attend college, since his parents cut him off.
Kopplin is a Baton Rouge high school senior who objects to his state’s so-called science education law, which encourages, nay requires teaches in Louisiana to explain that evolution is only one possible explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, creationism/Intelligent Design being another.
He challenged Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) to a debate about creationism. Myers, of New Jersey, also challenged Bachmann to a debate on American history and the Constitution.
Bachmann has so far ignored both challenges.
Kopplin’s letter to Bachmann begins:
I’m a 17 year old from Louisiana, and I’m calling Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s bluff when it comes to creationism and Nobel Laureate scientists.
In 2004, while she was in the Minnesota State Senate, Congresswoman Bachmann tried to pass SF 1714, a bill similar to my state’s creationism law, the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which I’m fighting to repeal. This misnamed and misguided law creates a way to sneak the teaching of creationism into Louisiana public school science classrooms.
The LSEA is hurting my state and the students in it. And now, as the congresswoman is laying the groundwork to run for President, she is upping the ante for the rest of the country by bringing an anti-science, creationist stance to the national stage. Why is this a junk hand for students? Just look at the lessons from Louisiana. Colleges both at home and across the country may question our science education and withhold admission because of our dubious science background. In addition, Louisiana students may lose out on cutting edge science jobs to kids from countries like China and Britain where they teach accurate science and the theory of evolution.
He demands that Bachmann “show him the money” and say who her anti-evolution experts are.
Kopplin later appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball, and made quite an impression. Interestingly enough, he’s the son of Andy Kopplin, Baton Rouge Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s chief of administration.
While there is an active group of teachers, students, parents and scientists lobbying for the repeal of the act, Kopplin has become the lightning rod for criticism and condemnation. Typical of the reactions is this opinion piece from the Shreveport (La.) Times, whose author demonstrates a poor understanding of both science and Constitutional law.
The Times recently carried a front-page article titled “Group seeks repeal of science education act.” (Baton Rouge) High School senior Zack Kopplin, who is on the front line in this imbecilic group, should wait until he has a little more experience in the real world of ACLU actions in this country.
The ACLU, an organization started in communism, convinced our exalted and supposedly intellectual Supreme Court to affirm that the U.S. Constitution means a separation of church and state. It says nothing of the kind. It does say for Congress to keep hands off.
It was not Congress but the Supreme Court, educated beyond its capacity to understand, that gave the ACLU a law to go after anything Christian in the schools and public places. This has led to untold havoc in this nation, helped and abetted by the elements that want to force-feed the theory of evolution to American students. Russia excelled in this.
Evolution is a theory, not factual or scientific. The article says teachers, scientists and college professors (doesn’t say which ones) are backing Sen. Karen Carter Peterson’s bill (Senate Bill 70) in the Senate. They are asking (telling) students that the “big bang” arranged everything in the universe and somehow started life on Earth with a one-celled animal and, surprise, this is where they came from.
They brook no opposition or discussions, which is all the present law advocates. How ignorant can you get?
I ask them to look around and see what has happened in this country since they took God out of schools and everything public. We have an ungodly crowd making laws in this nation.
– Kenny W. Hopkins
Hopkins repeats a lot of fallacies familiar to us who follow the creationism “movement.” Here are the answers.
The First Amendment established separation of church and state in 1787. Even before the ACLU was established, the Supreme Court maintained that government institutions (such as public schools) cannot foster one religion over any other. While it is true the ACLU has participated in many cases involving religion in schools (see above, Damon Fowler), the ACLU itself does not serve as the plaintiff. It advises or represents the plaintiffs.
The Supreme Court cannot give a law. Congress passes bills, and the president signs them into law. The Supreme Court can rule laws are unconstitutional, and then Congress can try again. This is all in the Constitution, by the way. Something about checks and balances.
There is no law banning prayer in schools. Students can lead prayers at public events. Teachers and administrators cannot. Teachers and administrators are free at any time to pray privately. They cannot induce or require students to follow suit. This is not rocket science.
Russia (I suppose he means the former Soviet Union) did not teach Darwinian evolution, but Lamarckianism, which had been discredited as a theory in the “capitalist West” early in the 20th century. Lamarck proposed that offspring inherited characteristics their parents acquired during their lifetimes. Thus giraffes had long necks because they repeatedly stretched to reach the tops of trees, for example.
Evolution is not “force fed” to students, any more than math or English is. It’s a scientific theory, supported by craploads of evidence (aka facts) , and accepted by most of the world’s scientists. In addition, geology and cosmology corroborate the basic assumptions of evolution.
Creationism/intelligent design is not science. It is religious belief, which a public school cannot teach. The ruling in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case clearly established that Intelligent Design is just another word for creationism, as in the story of Genesis.
Public school teachers are required to teach science. Public school teachers cannot teach religion. We call that separation of church and state. Those teachers and their students are free to believe whatever they like. No one is forcing anyone to “believe” in evolution. The students just have to know enough to pass their tests, for pete’s sake.
“We have an ungodly crowd making laws in this nation.” That would be the Constitutional Convention, I reckon, since those delegates are the ones who drafted the Constitution, which the states later ratified. Why does Hopkins hate the Founding Fathers?
It’s a little sad in some ways that some high school students know more about science and the law than the majority of adults (including lawmakers).
On the other hand, I’m glad someone has a brain.