NASHVILLE — The House voted 70-23 today for a bill backers say shields teachers from being disciplined if they discuss alternatives to evolution and global warming theories with students.
The debate ranged over the scientific method, “intellectual bullies,” hair spray and “Inherit the Wind,” a 1960 movie about the 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tenn.
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said the bill’s intent is to promote “critical thinking” in science classrooms.
Critics contend it’s a shield to allow the teaching of evolution alternatives such as intelligent design and creationism.
Bill supporter Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, said that “since the late ‘50s, early ‘60s when we let the intellectual bullies hijack our education system, we’ve been on a slippery slope.”
“This is a common-sense bill,” Floyd said. “Thank you for bringing this bill to protect our teachers from the other intellectual bullies.”
Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said when she was in high school, “we gave up Aqua Net hair spray” because of fears “it was causing global warming.”
“Since then scientists have said that maybe we shouldn’t have given up that aerosol can because that aerosol can was actually absorbing the Earth’s rays and keeping us from global warming.”
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, recalled the film “Inherit the Wind,” about the trial of teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution.
“I remember ... where Spencer Tracy at the end, he had that book called ‘Origin of Species’ and looked at it in one hand and had the Holy Bible in the other. He glanced back and forth and he put them both together and walked out of the room.
“This has never been a problem for me,” Fitzhugh said. “So I guess I’m having a little bit of a problem in wondering why we’re doing this.”
See complete story in Friday’s Times Free Press.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...