It’s Not! It’s Not!

Image of Oklahoma state Capitol and church

At the end of William Faulkner’s brilliant 1936 novel Absalom, Absalom!, Quentin Compson is asked why he hates the South, which leads to one of the most famous last paragraphs in American literature:

“I don’t hate it,” Quentin said, quickly, at once, immediately; “I don’t hate it,” he said. I don’t hate it, he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: I don’t. I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it!

Of course, as readers we know it’s quite clear Quentin’s repeated protests leave open the interpretation that he does, in fact, hate the South.

I was reminded of the novel’s famous paragraph after reading through an introduced bill by state Sen. Josh Brecheen’s that “does not propose that schools teach creationism or intelligent design” and “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine or set of religious beliefs.” The bill also notes, “This act is modeled on a Louisiana law which has not been invalidated by the highest court of the State of Louisiana or a federal district court. “ Does not. Shall not. Has not.

Just like Compson, Brecheen leaves the reader with an open interpretation: Why the repetition? Why refer to a law “that has not been invalidated” as a framework for a new law that is definitely not about something—intelligent design--that actually HAS been judicially invalidated. This is not about promoting intelligent design or creationism. It’s not. It’s not. It’s not! It’s not!

What Senate Bill 1742 proposes is this: The State Board of Education can help teachers promote “critical thinking, logical analysis, open and objective discussion of scientific theories including, but not limited to, evolution, the origin of life, global warming, and human cloning.” In other words, it’s absolutely not, and I mean absolutely absolutely not, about introducing discredited ideas such as intelligent design in the classroom as an alternative to the theory of evolution, which is one of the bedrocks of biological science.

Again, the bill is absolutely absolutely not about challenging the theory of evolution even though Brecheen, a Republican, is on record arguing, “Ideologues teaching evolution as undisputed fact are not teaching truth.”

Those ideologues and purveyors of lies include high school teachers, college professors and the vast majority of scientists in the world.

Still, the bill is not (it’s not! it’s not!) a backdoor attempt to attack the theory of evolution or promote creationism.

I don’t oppose bills like this one. I really don’t. I don’t! I don’t! I don’t!