The “Monkey Bill” (Tennessee Public Chapter No. 670)

You fine readers might not have had an opportunity to read the final text of the so-called “Monkey Bill” that went into state law automatically after Governor Bill Haslam “declined” an opportunity to sign it.

Tennessee newspapers followed the house and senate bills as they made their way through the legislative process in Nashville and reported on them with great gusto  Then, when the final law went into effect, the media dropped the whole subject.  The uproar died with a sudden whimper, and I never saw any newspaper article on the final law or its wording.

Today I wrote to State Representative John Ragan (R) and asked for a copy of the final statute.  He wrote back to me and stated that he had never heard of a recent Tennessee law that had the words “Monkey Bill” in it and wondered if I could provide him with more precise information to assist in meeting my needs.  Two-bit game playing at its finest?  Disingenuous?  I think so.  Fortunately, his secretary in Nashville knew immediately what I wanted and sent me a copy of the new law, which is available at the URL below

Back in the spring, all of you professors of anthropology out there on the Tennessee landscape probably breathed a sigh of relief and said:

“Thank goodness this nutty bill is just about K-12 education.  Nothing like this will ever touch me here at the university.”

You will be horrified to know that The Discovery Institute, one of the leading proponents of the Tennessee “Monkey Bill,” already has a written model bill that state legislators across the United States can use as a guide to write laws that will also go after the teaching of evolution on state college and university campuses.  I saw it myself just yesterday.  It seems that it is an unfair violation of the principles of academic freedom to teach evolution on a college campus without also using the principles of “creation science” in an attempt to demolish it in front of the students in Biology 360, Human Paleontology 404, or Geology 520.

After seeing the many crazy actions of the Tennessee General Assembly throughout this past legislative session, I cannot help but think that something like this “Monkey Bill” will be headed your way at Tennessee colleges and universities sometime in the next few years.  If I were you, I would stop feeling so secure in the halls of higher academia and start watching your back side.  The Tennessee General Assembly has enough right wing extremists to make every last one of you take a swig of hemlock from the cup of Socrates.     

If any of you fine folks would like to discuss the “Monkey Bill” and its implications for K-12 science education in Tennessee, please feel free to make comments in the space provided below this message.  Just click on “Leave a Reply,” write your comment, and click to submit it.  No registration is required.

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