Update: The videos are online. Part One. Part Two.
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.
A few years ago, The Independent Weekly published a cover story on Guillory, revealing, among other things:
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.
Apparently, Senator Guillory must consult that same ‘witch doctor’ to do his taxes because….uh, well,…he managed to be very, very late on paying them. Look into that Lamar.
Reblogged this on Crazy Crawfish's Blog and commented:
Well, on the plus side, at least now Louisiana can start teaching kids how to be certified witch doctors early on in their public school careers. Since none of ouy kids will understand real biology that might be the best we can get for a while. Now all I need to do is corner the “magic bones” market and I bet I could make a killing selling those as school supplies at Walmart next Fall. . .
I’ll have to agree with Senator Quinn. Some Nobel laureates really are just people with letters behind their names.
In southwestern Louisiana, Sen. Guillory’s territory, the healers are called traiteurs. That’s the craziest excuse for voting against a crazy law I’ve ever heard. Do others in the room keep a straight face?
Sorry, I should have said “for voting against repeal of a crazy law.”
When you read such non sense coming out of the mouths of our current legislators , sort of makes you nostalgic for B.B. “Sixty” Rayborn and that crowd. Sort of.
My only objection to the teaching of creationism in a science classroom is that it is not science. That said, I have nothing against creationism, spiritual healing and witch medicine being taught in a relgion/spirituality classroom in a private/religious school that does not receive taxpayer funds.
I wouldn’t knock witch doctors to promote science. Scientists cannot disprove the work of spiritual healers, but science deals with replicability, i.e. whether a phenomenon can be reproduced by similarly qualified people in similar circumstances, and spiritual healing is not replicable most of the time. Faith and reason are not compatible in this or most regards. All the more reason to separate them in school.
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