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Zack Kopplin Thinks Louisianans Are Stupid

Education activist Zack Kopplin thinks his fellow Louisianans are a bunch of rubes. And I don't just mean the Darwin skeptics in Zack's home state -- I mean people in the state as a whole. He said as much in a TED Talk, where the 20-year-old Rice University student speaks about having introduced himself to new friends from out of state with the disclaimer, "I'm from the Louisiana, but I'm not stupid." (See above at 2:06.) Isn't that charming? But you can really tell how dumb he thinks people from his state are -- and, in fact, people in general -- by the way he frames his argument against academic-freedom legislation.

That was my take-away from Zack's debate this afternoon with Casey Luskin on the Michael Medved Show. Again and again, Zack characterizes the Louisiana Science Education Act as a "creationism" law. He said the same in an article for Slate yesterday:

LSEA is stealth legislation that creates a loophole for creationism to be snuck into public school science classes. LSEA allows classroom use of supplemental creationist materials that “critique” evolution.

Superbly informed as always, Casey did a fine job of pointing out that, notwithstanding the appeal of Zack's enthusiasm, "Just because you keep saying it over and over doesn’t make it true." But Zack Kopplin must either think that it does make it true -- or that his listeners are so thick-headed, Louisianans and others alike, that insistently equating scientific critiques of Darwinism with the religious doctrine of creationism will cement the equation in everyone's mind, despite its being completely fallacious.

Because the truth is that the LSEA, as Casey carefully noted many times, expressly does not protect teachers who share religious beliefs in the science class. Michael Medved observed that teaching creationism is unconstitutional, and asked Zack if the LSEA was being challenged in court at all. Answer: No. If a teacher taught creationism in the biology classroom, she would find no shelter under this law. On the other hand, if she introduced her students to critiques of Darwinism by mainstream scientists -- and Casey cited a bunch of them, not creationists -- only then would the law protect her from administrative retribution.

Yeah, I'm coming around to the conclusion that Darwin-defenders think a lot of the people who listen to them, including supporters on the Darwin side of the aisle, are dense.

The silliest point Zack made was to observe that at a recent hearing before the state Senate Education Committee on the LSEA repeal effort, Discovery Institute's Joshua Youngkin was present -- a carpetbagger "from the Northwest," as Zack tried to imply, dropping in a superfluous "Y'all" though Mr. Kopplin otherwise speaks with no discernible Southern accent. And get this: Zack noted that Josh was observed to sit next to a lady with a creationist website. Like Zack and Josh, she was there to testify on the repeal bill. (Never mind that seating at the testimonial table was determined simply by the order in which testimony cards were filed with the committee secretary.)

Ah hah! Ergo, academic freedom legislation = stealth creationism. Or perhaps creationism is contagious by close contact. Thus Josh Youngkin was infected and brought the illness back to Seattle and gave it to everyone else at Discovery Institute. But Josh tells me he shook hands with Zack immediately after the hearing -- here's a photo from the Baton Rouge-based newspaper The Advocate -- and did not see whether Zack washed his hand afterward. This raises the possibility that the illness was passed from the creationist lady, to Josh -- to Mr. Kopplin himself. Alert the CDC before it spreads!