Please, Science Is For New Yorkers, Not Oklahomans
As predicted, the Oklahoma creationist movement is back this year in the state legislature.
Anti-evolution bills attacking the scientific method, the foundation of modern medicine, have a fair to decent chance of passing because the legislature is dominated by neoconservatives, whose bills are most often based on ideology or cultural wedge issues.
Want better health care and wages? Want to make sure your children have decent jobs here? Don’t ask a Republican. All you’re going to get from the Oklahoma GOP (and even some supposed Democrats) these days is pathetic, religious-driven legislation that makes the state one of the biggest laughingstocks in the nation. Yeah, right, it always helps to be known as a place of ignorance and intolerance when you’re trying to create economic development.
We can only hope this neoconservative strategy of activating the conservative, uneducated masses through cultural wedges has almost run its course here in Oklahoma. People are now waking up throughout the country. But will it happen here?
According to the Oklahoma Evolution List Serve, state Sen. Owen Laughlin (R-Woodward), pictured above, has introduced a bill that would allow state school boards to use 20 percent of their state textbook money to buy books that are not state approved.
“This proposed change is seen as a back-door way that creationist materials can be added to public schools at taxpayer expense,” wrote Dr. Victor Hutchinson, a prominent zoology professor at the University of Oklahoma and the listserv’s creator.
This is probably one of a few creationism efforts the state will see this year. Watch for more legislation supporting the bogus Intelligent Design theory, which argues the world is so complicated that a designer (or, wink, wink, the right-wing’s Christian God) had to create it. Evolution actually makes no claim about how the world started. Its simple premise, one based on irrefutable evidence, is that species and plant life have changed over time.
Hutchinson urges citizens to contact their elected representatives to stop this anti-education bill. Taxpayers should not be in the business of funding religious views. Hutchinson has pointed out before that when such measures come up for a full vote, most Democrats vote with the religious zealots and hypocrites in the GOP.
As songwriter James McMurtry sings about this area of the country: “We live in the middle where the center is the right.”
The legendary Frosty Troy points out in The Oklahoma Observer the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits the state from funding religious activities
Troy cites this passage:
“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”
Will Abortion Be Illegal In Oklahoma?
It’s probably a safe bet that abortion will be essentially outlawed in Oklahoma soon.
More bills restricting women’s reproductive rights have been introduced in the legislature. All will be passed by Republican and Democratic majorities if they make it to a floor vote. State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) and state Sen. Brian Crain (R-Tulsa) have filed bills that could limit women’s reproductive rights. More ant-abortion bills will probably be filed.
Kern’s bill could limit the number of doctors who could perform the procedures in Oklahoma. Her bill would require doctors to have hospital privileges near the offices or clinics where the procedures are performed. This could prevent out-of-state doctors from coming to Oklahoma to perform abortions, something increasingly common in states dominated by religious fundamentalists.
Crain offers two bills. One would prohibit insurance companies from paying for abortion procedures for state employees. The other changes the legal definition of abortion to supposedly ensure doctors do not use different language to describe the procedure.
Will Gov. Brad Henry veto the more draconian bills this session, and still allow Oklahoma women the right to choose?
Giving women and men easier access to birth control and providing real sexual education in schools would really reduce the abortion rate, but few Oklahoma politicians—Republicans or Democrats—seem interested in reality these days when it comes to reproductive issues.
(I learned late last night that Frosty Troy, the longtime editor of the Oklahoma Observer has died. Troy was a legend in Oklahoma journalism and a great advocate for liberal causes in this state. I will have a post celebrating his life soon. My...
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