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Dec 13 2013

Jesus. Texas.

Four Republican candidates for Lt. Governor of Texas gathered for a debate. They all agreed on the most pressing issue facing the American state today: whether Jesus made dinosaurs.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said in the first televised debate of the campaign Thursday night that they favor teaching that there are flaws in the theory that humans evolved from lower life forms.

Late last month, state Board of Education members adopted new high school science books that include full coverage of evolution without the disclaimers sought by social conservatives and other critics of Charles Darwin’s theory.

While none of the lieutenant governor candidates mentioned the board’s decision, three — Patrick, Patterson and Staples — blasted teaching only evolution as a form of “political correctness.” They linked it to what they described as a broader moral decline.

“The breakup of the family in this country has started when we took God out of the classroom,” said Patrick, a radio talk show host.

“As a Christian, certainly creationism should be taught,” said Staples, a former state legislator.

Dewhurst, who is seeking a fourth term, agreed.

“It’s a fair discussion to expose students to both sides and let them make the decision with the advice and counsel of their parents,” he said.

Patterson said the country has gone too far in deleting religious instruction from government institutions such as schools. A 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banned teaching of creationism in science classes.

How do you bear it down there? If you think I’m cranky and rude living in Minnesota, think what I’d be like if I had landed a job in Texas!

Well, most likely dead of apoplexy and barbecue, but other than that.

42 comments

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  1. 1
    WhiteHatLurker

    Speaking of faulty ideas on creation …

    Asked what should be done to prevent a recurrence of the West fertilizer plant explosion, which killed 15 people in March, all four said it was a tragedy but warned that government should not “over-regulate” and choke off creation of good jobs.

    Worker safety is apparently bad.

    I guess the loss of the company’s infrastructure must be in same way good for business.

    Who votes for these people?

  2. 2
    tororosoba

    “As a Christian, certainly creationism should be taught,” said Staples

    Grammar and sentence structure, too.

  3. 3
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    That’s so embarrassing. I’m ashamed that this are what our country has for elected officials and I’m ashamed of my fellow Americans who vote these knobs into office.

  4. 4
    PatrickG

    @Jackie, #3:

    Technically, they’re candidates. Not elected yet, may FSM avert his noodly appendages.

    On that note, I can’t decide whether or not this is a good sign for Wendy Davis. Messing with ladyparts is just a side issue*, but surely this has to be too embarrassing for people to tolerate. Surely.

    On the other hand, it is Texas…

    *Disclaimer: Not my personal belief.

  5. 5
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Patrick#4,

    Technically, they’re candidates. Not elected yet, may FSM avert his noodly appendages.

    True. There’s always hope.
    …or so I’m told. I’m fresh out today. Maybe tomorrow….

    Sorry, but ever since my state elected Rand Paul I haven’t held out much hope for voters in any predominately conservative state. I just assume the worst, I guess.

  6. 6
    Merlin

    @ Jackie, #5:
    Ever since my state elected Scott Walker (twice!), I have held a similar attitude for most constituencies.

  7. 7
    zibble

    While none of the lieutenant governor candidates mentioned the board’s decision, three — Patrick, Patterson and Staples — blasted teaching only evolution as a form of “political correctness.”

    Okay, seriously, wtf does “political correctness” even mean any more? Evolution isn’t “politically correct”, it’s factually correct. Wouldn’t “political correctness”, as these dimbulbs understand it, be teaching a completely bullshit alternative “theory” just to avoid offending a group of sanctimonious whiners?

    It’s almost as if “political correctness” now just means anything opposing the entitlement of white right-wing Christian straight cismen.

  8. 8
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Are they trying to out stupid dubya?

  9. 9
    chigau (違う)

    Who needs to go to school to be “taught” goddidit goddidit goddidit?

  10. 10
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Are they trying to out stupid dubya?

    *consults magic 8-ball* The answer appears to be yes.

  11. 11
    diego

    And in Texas, the position of Lt Governor is a more powerful office than Governor. . .

  12. 12
    Linda Yancey

    Living in Texas isn’t actually all that bad. What a lot of people overlook is that there are a hell of a lot of people living here who practice a reality-based worldview. We just kind of get drowned out by the lunatics. The thing is… we vote. And we have families… and they grow up to vote.

    In the thirty years I’ve lived in this state I’ve watched a sea change occur. It may not be very visible from outside since sadly the elderly/white/conservatives still vote too. The thing is that their numbers are diminishing. The Texas Board of Education has had it with being the laughing-stock of the country and is cleaning house. Prayers in public schools (a staple of my childhood) are vanishing. ‘Christmas break’ has become ‘Winter break’. The Good Friday/Easter holidays are now a subject of intense debate. My children have a Muslim teacher who wears a headscarf, and learned all about Hanukkah this year.

    You want to be a free thinker in Boston? Easy. Try being a free thinker in Houston. I can be done, just takes some effort.

    Also… the barbecue really is awesome.

  13. 13
    chigau (違う)

    Linda Yancey #12
    Keep up the good work.

  14. 14
    magistramarla

    PZ, I get what you are saying.
    Hubby and I were both raised in the north, and we found moving to Texas quite a culture shock back in 1993. Unfortunately, we acclimated to living in Texas and our younger kids grew up thinking that Texas culture was normal. In 2009, mu hubby and I were lucky enough to live in California for a few years.
    I fell in love with the California culture and I quickly left the Texas culture behind. Now that We’re living in Texas again, I’m having a very difficult time bearing it here. I can’t wait to get out of here again.

  15. 15
    hexidecima

    “What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons. ”

    - Jim, Blazing Saddles

  16. 16
    PatrickG

    @ Jackie, #5:

    Sorry, but ever since my state elected Rand Paul I haven’t held out much hope for voters in any predominately conservative state. I just assume the worst, I guess.

    Until very recently, that was my state too. In 2012 I went to Cincinnatti to do precinct walking for the Obama campaign, because Pasta-Lord-Of-Spaghetti-Help-Me, no point in doing anything in Kentucky that cycle…

    So yeah, I hear you. But Kynect has been doing really, really well. Maybe people will start waking up to the fact that their Senators are colossal asshats trying to take away the Medicaid expansion.

  17. 17
    Francisco Bacopa

    This is not the progressive Texas I grew up in during the 70′s and 80′s. We desegregated quietly in the late fifties and early sixties. There’s a movie about this, “The Strange Demise of Jim Crow’.

    Texas, and especially Houston, presented a New South face to the international community and became the home base of many international companies. Locally CFISD closed down the Carverdale school in the sixties and bussed the kids to Arnold and CFHS. HISD started magnet programs in the seventies to attract white students to majority black schools while at the same time giving the locals a crack at advanced classes.

    We all had comprehensive sex education and pre-DARE comprehensive drug education. Texas was going places, and we were proud of it.

    But things started going wrong, and we ousted Richards for W in ’94.

    I blame all the white riff-raff from up north that moved down here in the 70′s and 80′s. We were kicking ass before y’all moved down here.

  18. 18
    ekwhite

    Francisco @17:

    Progressive Texas in the 80s? I spent a few months in the DFW area in the 80s. They called me a Yankee because I was from North Carolina. “It’s got North in it, doesn’t it”? When NC is too liberal for you, you are *not* progressive.

    Linda Yancey @12: California barbecue is better.

  19. 19
    Usernames are smart

    In the thirty years I’ve lived in this state I’ve watched a sea change occur. — Linda Yancey (#12)

    A sea-change may have occurred, but it is hidden by the ice sheet of gerrymandering. Until we get districts crafted to actually reflect their neighborhoods, not protect seats, we’re screwed.

    Also, don’t pass up a foodie trip to Kansas City (MO). Their BBQ puts everything south of I-70 to shame.

  20. 20
    Moggie

    @ zibble #7:

    Okay, seriously, wtf does “political correctness” even mean any more?

    It means “something I oppose, but can’t or won’t articulate why, so here’s a knee-jerk label”. When a conservative says “political correctness”, try subtituting “bad idea because shut up that’s why”.

  21. 21
    Nick Gotts

    It’s almost as if “political correctness” now just means anything opposing the entitlement of white right-wing Christian straight cismen. – zibbie@7

    Um, that’s all it ever meant.

  22. 22
    ludicrous

    Hey, some reality seems to be growing here, there’s a gaggle of filthy atheists in Houston, I think Aronra is here stirring it up. Also an out lesbian mayor’s been re-elected once or twice. (Stay out of the suburbs) However they eat this mixture of corn, lard and chili peppers which will do you in quicker than bar-b-cue.

  23. 23
    Bicarbonate is back

    Zibble @7, Gotts @21

    You beat me to it, Gotts!

    Challenge to everyone else: Think of an instance in which “political correctness” did not mean

    anything opposing the entitlement of white right-wing Christian straight cismen.

  24. 24
    randay

    Not directly related, but a judge has decided that the Mt. Soledad Cross on public land must come down–in 90 days but suspended during appeals. The local far-right San Diego newspaper has a poll to pharygnulate.

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/dec/12/mount-solidad-cross-constitution-removal/

    At the moment the “no’s” to removal are at 80%. So you know what to do and where to do it.

  25. 25
    wcorvi

    [Wish I'd written down the specifics] – A woman school board member campaigned to ‘teach the controversy, let the students hear both sides and make up their own minds.’ RIGHT after she got the board to accept that, she pointed out that the students would only get confused hearing two opposing views, so ‘evil-ution’ had to go.

  26. 26
    Acolyte of Sagan

    OK, it’s a rhetorical question, but why does it always seem to be that the evolution-denying mobs are also the ones who say homosexuality is ‘not natural’, and when asked why it’s not natural will invariably state “Well, other animals don’t do it’?

    As it happens, there are lots of animal species that ‘do’ homosexual, but only one that does homophobia.

  27. 27
    rogerfirth

    “As a Christian, certainly creationism should be taught,” said Staples, a former state legislator.

    Dewhurst, who is seeking a fourth term, agreed.

    The lack of self-awareness is absolutely mind-boggling.

    Perhaps these clowns should do a thought experiment on that sentence, and start with “As a Hindu…”, “As a Buddhist…”, “As a Unitarian…”, “As a Bahaist…”, “As a ” or even “As an atheist…” and see how they finish the sentence. But sadly, they would see no irony in finishing the sentence the same way they already did.

    It truly is frightening that people like this get elected to public office.

  28. 28
    peterh

    @ #24:

    I suspect editorial foul play. while it’s apparently simple to vote more than once, the vote “totals” don’t change at all.

  29. 29
    Marcus Ranum

    Think of an instance in which “political correctness” did not mean

    I believe the term originated in the Chinese communist self-criticism sessions, which were led by party members. The soviets had similar exercises. There were political officers present and expressing the wrong views could wind one up in a gulag or reeducation camp or shot (during the cultural revolution)…

    Let us not forget that these “forced consensus” exercises have been popular with totalitarians, as an indoctrination technique, and that it was a fearsome and sometimes life-destroying experience.

    Since I don’t listen to talk radio, I had no idea the term was being used by right-wing wimp-fascists like Limbaugh (who I didn’t even know existed until well into the mid 90s) it’s typical fascist projection – “this is what the liberals are doing!!” When really it amounts to whining in fear of a page torn from their own play-book. There have been outbreaks of “political correctness” in the US: J Edgar Hoover built and indoctrinated the FBI along strict ideological lines, and his ideological hatred of communism (which he appears to not have actually understood) was literally political correctness. McCarthy was another proponent of political correctness. I think our right-wing friends who complain about political correctness don’t realize they are looking at a mirror.

  30. 30
    mnb0

    “They linked it to what they described as a broader moral decline.”
    I link something else to a broader moral decline, specifically in Texas:

    http://urbanentomology.tamu.edu/ants/rasberry.html
    http://www.281deadbug.com/rasberry-crazy-ant-gallery.htm

    Obviously god (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Ceiling Cat, pick your choice) has had enough of creacrap.

  31. 31
    mnb0

    @23 Bicarbonate: “Challenge to everyone else: Think of an instance in which “political correctness” did not mean”
    That’s a no brainer for a Dutchman like me. Addressing the problems caused by certain members of certain minorities in The Netherlands was very politically incorrect between say 1985 and 1995.

  32. 32
    frankb

    Each state has a mix of good and bad. Steve King is Iowa’s embarrassment. I just recently got a reply email from Rep. King going on and on about Obamacare and the robust majority Republicans have in the House. He didn’t want any more emails from outside his district which I took to be a good sign. I have been giving Chuck Glassley flak about the 86 filibusters they have thrown at Obama. At least he has had the decency not to reply. When I complained to him about impeaching Clinton, his reply was awful. I am so thankful that Creationism has little traction with our current Republican governor Branstad.

  33. 33
    Nathan Hull

    I am becoming more sympathetic, as time goes on, to the concept of an ”IQ sink”, where agglomerations of imbeciles breed for generations and create vast intellectual deserts. This is made worse by the ”defectors” (those of reasonable intelligence who move to more hospitable environs) and the reinforcement of the degenerative culture created by such. I know that Prof. Myers is unimpressed by such postulations.

  34. 34
    raven

    Yeah, it is dismal.

    Apparently you can’t be too right wing, too Oogedy Boogedy fundie xian, or too stupid to be elected in Texas. This is the state of Bush, Gohmert, Cornyn, Stockman, Barton, the other Barton, Cruz, and governor Perry.

    1. But that isn’t all of Texas. Texas went 44% for Obama. It is majority nonwhite and majority female.

    2. Texas also has the lowest voter turnout of any state. The feeling is, if minorities, women, and young people ever vote, the christofascists are done for.

    3. And the Dems are making an attempt to turn Texas Blue. Reports are that they have signed up a million new voters.

  35. 35
    Rey Fox

    I know that Prof. Myers is unimpressed by such postulations.

    Probably because he finds them scientifically lacking.

  36. 36
    sadunlap

    It’s a fair discussion to expose students to both sides and let them make the decision with the advice and counsel of their parents

    Actually, this is the one good idea they have. And chances are, the science teachers already do this :

    “Evolution has, literally, tons of evidence to support it. Darwin’s theory of natural selection has passed every test put to it over the last 150 years or so and has only improved with new discoveries. On the other side, creationism has zero evidence to support it and in the case of young earth creationism incontrovertible evidence that disproves it. Voila! You have now heard both sides.”

    How could they object to that?

  37. 37
    Azuma Hazuki

    @Nathan

    It may help to frame them in the context of epigenetics. Genes are powerful but by themselves they’re not destiny.

    However, I would not be at all surprised if the descendants of fundamentalist families showed epigenetic silencing or amplification for certain nervous system or hormonal traits. I would suspect high levels of cortisol, for one thing.

    Point being, this shouldn’t destroy their native intelligence but it could very well alter their proteome and/or phenotype such that lower intelligence is expressed. Remove the cause, and the expressed intelligence should rebound, like the crust of the earth after glacial melt.

  38. 38
    John Horstman

    I hold up Ron Reagan Jr. as proof that humans can evolve from lower life forms. (Boy does the assertion of some sort of hierarchy of organisms bug me; it’s simultaneously absurdly arrogant and willfully ignorant.)

  39. 39
    bruceheerssen

    I’m a proud free thinker and atheist living in Houston, Texas, and I actually like it here. What Linda said above is exactly right. The rural areas of Texas will likely always be religious and conservative, but the urban areas have been changing fast, and are still changing. Texas will be a blue state before much of anyone notices. Certainly before most of the conservatives here notice. That will be fun to watch.

    Also, if I’m ever executed for heresy, I want death by barbecue. (Mmm… chopped beef sammich…)

  40. 40
    Ichthyic

    The rural areas of Texas will likely always be religious and conservative, but the urban areas have been changing fast, and are still changing. Texas will be a blue state before much of anyone notices.

    I don’t understand the collective amnesia of Texans.

    less than 20 years ago, Texas WAS a blue state.

    the reason it is no longer is simple: Karl Rove.

    you can make it blue again by simply challenging the illegal redistricting that has done over the state in red.

    five bucks says there are legal challenges already filed, and at least one nonprofit legal organization trying to get your attention and help to change things back to the way they were.

    Texans let insanity creep in and take over, and it really only took about 10 years.

    would take even less to change it back.

  41. 41
    Ichthyic

    well, I suppose it was now about 30 years ago it was fully blue, but point stands.

  42. 42
    Ichthyic

    I take it back. As I scroll up, I see Francisco never got that amnesia that seems so common in Texas.

    good on ya.

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