Monkey Bill

by Terry Gresham

Monkey Bills

In considering Tennessee Passes ‘Monkey Bill’ To Teach The ‘Controversy’ On Evolution And Climate Science I have been thinking.

“The Senate voted 24-8 for HB368, which sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says will provide guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics call it a “monkey bill” that promotes creationism in classrooms….The text of HB368 / SB893, sponsored by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson), requires all administrators and educators to work to teach “scientific subjects” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as “scientific controversies


Even before reading about our fine legislator friends in Tennessee, I had begun to move forward on an assessment concerning lawmakers in Oklahoma.  Sally Kern being on both the Appropriations & Budget and the Common Education committees has set me to thinking.   Oh…and with Mary Fallin as Governor, what a team; so, please, Tennessee, do not give them any ideas.

Some Things in Life Improve with Age

I would like to keep highlighting the fluid nature of science in Oklahoma; that is that it is not set in stone.  At one time– in my lifetime–DNA was thought to be the first in order of stuff making life stuff, and ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny was thought to be a fact. Now we know that stuff is not so. In an undergrad class at OSU my classmates and I, on more than one occasion, had to  cross out sentences then scribble in somewhere fresh from the lab info; this make our brand spanking new cellular biology text books more up to date. These now useless statements about cells were no longer true due to research done at OSU that very same semester; this I thought made our textbooks better and made me feel like a real book editor.  As things turned out, my cell biology book was not holy scripture and I enjoyed correcting it.


Our science books at OSU were not set in stone and handed down by some invisible entity. I would walk around hallways thinking about progress. Then in History class, why I even read that some of our “founding fathers” were bleed in an attempt to cure infirmaries. Take Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 who wrote:
“I have found bleeding to be useful, not only in cases where the pulse was full and quick, but where it was slow and tense. I have bled twice in many, and in one acute case four times, with the happiest effect. I consider intrepidity in the use of the lancet, at present, to be necessary, as it is in the use of mercury and jalap, in this insidious and ferocious disease.”
I hardly think it wise to ask a modern-day physician for a bleeding.  I actually did this to see what reaction I would get. As I expected the doctor refused to grant my request. With new medical knowledge the old becomes ridiculous.

 Keeping Score: Science fluid vs Religion set in concrete

I guess what I am saying facetiously is that there are some books and subjects of study that are considered to be way too infallible (like the Christian Bible); hence,  these books and subjects of study should not be handed off to the high school basketball coach or football coach or golf coach or whatever coach for classroom sport. I’ve seen even tenured coaches drop the ball in the High School classroom sense of the term. Let coach coach. Too often science remains on the bench, so to speak.  What would be the goal?
What would be the goal here since not all teachers are teachers; some are merely hired as teachers? As an example, State Representative, Sally Kern, once hired as a teacher/volleyball coach, whose insight gained from her dutiful eternity of years of teaching  has been beyond compare in the Oklahoma House; for instance,  she stated on the floor of the Oklahoma legislature that some folks were, well, let’s put it this way,  Kern without embarrassment stated that women and Blacks were inferior workers.
A former student gave testimony:
I was one of those lucky enough to have Sally Kern as a “teacher.” She was a horrible teacher who sought nothing but fulfilling the minimum requirements. Her students didn’t study because she could neither challenge or inspire them. Also she rarely knew her topic any better than her “ignorant” students.  — OSUscoutname
 As a teacher, Sally managed to cram into those years a lifetime of teacher’s lounge research study on the topic of women and Blacks [Applaud here]   Anyway, Sally now makes laws and sits on committees on– wait for it– education.   So if Oklahoma high school educators cannot do justice to teaching, giving us people like Kern, why do we even bother with school?
Hopefully, Tennessee is not Oklahoma. I see Oklahoma education every day (sorry coach, but I have been taking notes) Perhaps teachers in Tennessee can handle science; if not, then why trust them with religion?

One thought on “Monkey Bill

  1. Tennessee is dead-set on herding its citizens back to the dark ages. In the past two years, the Governor and Republican Party have squashed Gay Rights statutes in the city of Nashville, developed laws targeting peaceful protesters and made it illegal to post “potentially offensive images” to the internet. The “Monkey Law” now brings religion back into the classroom by opening debate for creationism. In addition, a new law puts the Ten Commandments back in public buildings around the state. There is a clear cut suppression of progressive thinking by the Republican Party and I addressed these issues “illegally” on my artist’s blog at with a portrait of the Governor to address his party’s absurd agendas.

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