Freedom to Discuss in Mississippi
New law in Mississippi, with text of law in bold:
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- School officials can't prohibit teachers and students from discussing how life began under a new state law signed by Gov. Haley Barbour.We are now passing laws to assure teachers that they can do what they are supposed to be doing. But forget about whether this makes sense from a policy standpoint, it's time to call in the religious motive detectives and the conspiracy theorists.
As originally drafted, the measure was designed to foster discussions about the theory of "intelligent design" and flaws with Darwin's explanation of how humans evolved. However, the Legislature expanded it to simply say no limits can be imposed on teachers and students in class talking about "the origin of life."
Intelligent design is presented as an alternative to natural explanations for evolution, but at least one court ruled it out of public schools because it's considered religious doctrine. A federal judge in Pennsylvania last year said intelligent design is not science and is essentially religion, which the U.S. Supreme Court says can't be taught in public schools.
The bill, which took effect with Barbour's signature, passed the Legislature in March.
"No local school board, school superintendent or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing and answering questions from individual students on the origin of life," the bill reads.