Unfortunately David Zucchino’s piece in the LA Times today on Tennessee’s new Academic Freedom bill is proof that yellow journalism is alive and well. The bill states that the Tennessee education system:
shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific subjects required to be taught under the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education. …
shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum taught under the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education as it addresses scientific subjects that may cause debate and disputation.
And that the system will not:
prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education.
And finally that evolution’s religious dogma, thankfully, is not allowed:
This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.
Plenty clear right?
Wrong, not for evolutionists who cannot stand the light of day. So how does Mr. Zucchino inform his readers of this new law? If there was any doubt it was gone with the headline:
Creationism discussions are now OK in Tennessee schools
The academic freedom bill is not about creationism. In fact it is difficult to imagine how the bill could have been any more clear. It is about objective evaluation of the “scientific subjects required to be taught” so students can understand “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”
In fact, the headline could have stated: “Evolution discussions are now OK in Tennessee schools.” Which is precisely why evolutionists have been so vociferously opposed to this new bill.
Could it be that the headline was written by an editor who forgot to read the article and knew nothing about the story?
Zucchino’s piece is just as yellow as the headline. He discusses the anti-science governor who opposed the bill. He discusses a group of religiously-motivated evolutionists who sent a letter against the bill. He mentions unnamed “critics” who disparaged the law and who predicted gloom and doom for the state of Tennessee. He quotes the anti-science director of government relations for the Tennessee Education Association, Jerry Winters. And he quotes Barry Lynn, a well known religiously-motivated, evolutionary mouthpiece who wants the religious theory of evolution to maintain its bogus legal protection while hypocritically labeling scientific criticism as “religious”:
This has always been a way for teachers to interject their religious viewpoints if they contradict evolution.
And finally, Zucchino literally fabricates his own bizarre and fictional version of bill:
The measure will allow classroom debates over evolution, permitting discussions of creationism alongside evolutionary teachings about the origins of life. … The state’s teachers are not allowed to raise alternatives to evolution but, under the new law, would be required to permit discussion of creationism and other beliefs if they are raised in class.
And strangely Zucchino forgot to talk to anyone who could speak in support of the bill. Funny how journalism works.
So what has happened to the LA Times? Of course journalism is not perfect, and it is no secret that political bias can seep into even the best publications. But this is nowhere close to a minor mistake or a lack of objectivity. This is jaw-dropping silliness. It might serve as an example of yellow journalism in a freshman undergraduate class. Except that the professor would never use such an obvious, ridiculous example. Even William Hearst never misrepresented a story and lied like this.
What has happened to the LA Times? What has happened is that this time it’s different because this time it is evolution that is threatened.