Elbert Guillory was, until 2016, a State Senator for Louisiana, most recently representing the Republican party (that has varied), ostensibly because the Dixiecrats were racist and Democrat-supported policies harm the black community; according to Guillory welfare and even food stamps are used, apparently intentionally, as a way to control it. Besides, Frederick Douglass was a Republican.
Beyond Louisiana Guillory is most famous for his unflinching support of creationism and initiatives to get creationism taught in public schools. In particular, Guillory supported the infamous Louisiana Science Education Act, which opens up precisefly for teaching creationism (and was designed to do so). His reason for supporting the Act – or, in fairness, opposing a 2013 move to repeal it – is somewhat novel however: when a voodoo doctor correctly (allegedly) diagnosed his condition (how would he know if he didn’t also see a real doctor?), Guillory realized that he should keep his mind open about science: “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.” Yes, that’s right: Guillory is skeptical of science but keeps an open mind (in the sense of “endorses”) voodoo. His speech has gone down as one of the great moments in Louisiana history, and note: the move to repeal the bill in 2013 failed in a 3-2 vote where Guillory voted with the majority. Which means that it was their support for voodoo that won the day for creationism among Louisiana legislators.
To back up his distrust of science, Guillory pointed to an imaginary past when “when scientists thought that the world was flat, [a]nd if you get to the end of it, you’d fall off,” (there really, really wasn’t) and they would burn people who disagreed at the stake. We don’t think it was the scientists who burned people at the stake, but Guillory’s support for the education act was already premised on an amazing inability to distinguish science from fundamentalist religion, and in that respect his reasoning is rather illuminating.
Diagnosis: It’s hard not to judge the people of Louisiana as a group when faced with something like this, but we should try to reserve our judgment for Guillory himself. The “loon” epithet really doesn’t do justice to the abysmal mess of delusional crazy that is the mind of Elbert Guillory.