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Anti-LA science act totalitarian crusade continues

Activities in the Bossier Parish School District drew the ire of a chief advocate against robust education in the service of a half-baked argument built upon wishful thinking and outright fantasy, but with disturbing totalitarian impulses.

Zack Kopplin, a Louisiana native, seems to have carved out for himself a niche as the Abraham Van Helsing of science education. Since his high school days, like the eponymous character in “Whack-A-Mole,” wherever something could be construed as even hinting at bare support of any religious content seeping into that subject, with him principally focusing on creationism challenging evolution, he pops up to bray about the vampirism of it all, having seemingly built his entire public life around this one thing. In the state, perhaps he is best known as the drone who appears annually in legislative hallways to attack the Louisiana Science Education Act, which reads in part that the state is to “to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Taken to contributing to the leftist Slate news/opinion online site, when challenged to give examples of creationism being taught in classrooms and he could not, he went to work to locate some. He found bits and pieces from across the state, including in Ouachita Parish that he especially singles out as Patient Zero, and he blames the LSEA for it all, calling it a “backdoor” way to teach creationism, which he associates with introducing religious content into science instruction.

His latest example comes from Bossier Parish schools, where he wrote that e-mail messages that he obtained reveal efforts "to teach creationism.” Without providing their text, this summation of them as presented in the piece seemed presumptive to say the least; what it appeared suggested that while teachers compared and contrasted evolution with critiques associated with creationism, creationism itself was not proffered as a legitimate, alternative explanation for how life came to be on Earth even if some teachers might agree with that. He also threw in some quotes from area politicians and educators that indicate that if creationism was being taught as fact in the schools, they wouldn’t be that broken up about it.

Yet none of this provides any evidence for his assertion that creationism was being taught in place of, or even beside, evolution. And, from the day he started complaining about the LSEA, there’s been an immense hole in his argument that he never addresses, much less will admit it exists: the law specifically prohibits the teaching of ideas associated with religion like creationism. What part of “This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion” does he not understand?

It’s all ironic in that the law is to promote “critical thinking skills [and] logical analysis” yet Kopplin’s entire jihad against the LSEA seems entirely built on a faith -- that the bogeyman must exist courtesy of the law -- in ignoring exactly what the law says. If he thinks religion is being taught as science in Louisiana public schools, he needs to sue exactly on the basis of the law’s prohibition on that conduct. Instead, he constructs a fantasy that ignores the facts of the law and reduces it to a straw man, blaming it for causing something when actually it stands as the remedy against what he finds so abominable.

If Caddo, Bossier, Ouachita, or other schools districts do in fact violate the LSEA by teaching religious belief instead of science, this law needs to be used against them. But getting rid of it, thereby in essence declaring hostility towards the ideas that critical thinking and logical analysis should be objects of education, erodes the pillars of a free society. Only in the backwards world of those like Kopplin and other anti-intellectual LSEA critics does protecting orthodoxy from challenges mean that belief has not triumphed over free inquiry, or that the scent of book burning that this view finds pleasant should not be something from which a free people should recoil.

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