For the third year in a row, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee deferred a bill to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows for the teaching of New Earth Creationism in public school science classrooms. And for the third year in a row, at least one member of the Louisiana Senate managed to steal the show.
Last year, State Senator Mike Walsworth made himself the star of a viral video when he asked a high school science teacher if e.Coli could evolve into human beings. The year before, Senator Julie Quinn dismissed the credibility of more than 70 Nobel laureate scientists as people who just had “little letters behind their names.”
The videos from this year’s committee hearing are not yet available online, but something tells me that State Senator Elbert Guillory is about to become an Internet star.
From The Times-Picayune (bold mine):
Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, said he had reservations with repealing the act after a spiritual healer correctly diagnosed a specific medical ailment he had. He said he thought repealing the act could “lock the door on being able to view ideas from many places, concepts from many cultures.”
“Yet if I closed my mind when I saw this man – in the dust, throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed — if I had closed him off and just said, ‘That’s not science. I’m not going to see this doctor,’ I would have shut off a very good experience for myself,” Guillory said.
I hate to break it to Senator Guillory, but the half-naked guy who danced in the dust and threw bones on the ground was lying to you: He was not a doctor. That thing he did: It wasn’t science.
There are three likely explanations: First, the man was a witch doctor. This is Louisiana, after all, and people still make money pretending to believe in voodoo, mainly to please the tourists.
Or this man was under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.
Or both: This man was a witch doctor tripping out of his mind, running around, half-naked, in a cloud of dust, throwing bones (presumably not human) around for special effect, and then diagnosing Senator Guillory with some sort of vague condition: “The gods tell me there’s a problem with your heart or bones or lungs.”
It’s the same formula used by people who pretend to speak to the dead. “I’m getting a message from someone you know whose name begins with the letter M.” “That must be my mom.”
But I digress.
The important thing is: This man is responsible for decisions about public school science education, and as awesome and as revelatory as the mystical experience he shared with a half-naked “doctor” may have been, it has absolutely nothing to do with science.
For what it’s worth, this isn’t Guillory’s first brush with fame. Two years ago, he worked with the Louisiana Family Forum to advance a redistricting plan that aimed to decrease minority representation and, not surprisingly, enhance Guillory’s own power. “If you check my [voting] record I’ve not been a 100 percenter with the Family Forum,” Guillory said, “but this is not a Republican-Democrat thing.”
Incidentally, I did check his voting record. Quoting from the Louisiana Family Forum (bold mine):
In the Senate, Democratic Sens. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas, David Heitmeier of New Orleans and Rick Ward III of Port Allen and among the 12 senators who scored 100 percent.
This also should be no surprise. Guillory may be a Democrat, but until he decided to run for State Senate, he was a Republican.
And to some, it’s probably not surprising that Guillory wasn’t telling the truth about his voting record.
The other recent allegations against Guillory that the Cravins camp helped disseminate involve Guillory’s brief tenure as director of the Human Rights Department for the city of Seattle in the early 1980s. The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that a little more than a year into the job, Guillory was suspended without pay and then resigned after he was charged with five counts of violating the city’s ethics code. An ethics probe found that Guillory had awarded a $9,999 contract (just below the $10,000 threshold requiring a contract be publicly bid) to his soon-to-be wife, signed off on payment for work on the contract that was never done, billed the city for two weeks of work while he was honeymooning in Tahiti (although he had no vacation time), and allowed an employee to bill the city for time spent driving Guillory’s car cross-country from his former residence in Baltimore, Md. The complaints were all filed with the ethics board, but a settlement was reached before an official hearing was held.
Guillory blamed all of this on the Seattle Mayor, suggesting that he was actually the victim of his boss’s disloyalty.
And then there’s this:
In 2002, he was reprimanded by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board for notarizing a succession document for his client, former Opelousas Police Chief Larry Caillier, in which some of the signatures had apparently been forged and not witnessed by Guillory. Guillory then admitted to mistakenly relying on the word of his client that the signatures were valid.
Don Cravins Jr. is the first to admit Guillory’s tactics have proven politically effective. “The guy’s unlike anybody else we’ve ever had to deal with,” he says. “It’s one thing to have political disagreements. It’s just that he’s so sly and disingenuous. It’s so hard to deal with that guy.“
Indeed, it’s hard to deal with that guy.