Monday, September 5, 2022

#2563: Gus Blackwell

Gus Blackwell is a former member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, from 2002 to 2014, representing the 61st district, after having spent 20 years with the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention – he is also a Campus Minister with Baptist Collegiate Ministries. (His tenure, by the way, ended precisely one of the ways you’d expect from someone like him). During his tenure, though, Blackwell campaigned ardently to destroy Oklahoma public education and, in particular, to replace science with his own favorite religious views in science classes. For instance, in 2012 Blackwell resurrected Sally Kern’s House Bill 1551, which would encourage students to “explore alternative theories on controversial areas such as evolution and global warming”, topics that are, of course, not scientifically controversial at all, but on which wingnuts don’t like the facts for religious reasons. The measure passed the Education Committee on a 9-7 vote (this is Oklahoma, remember) and headed on to the House floor before, apparently, dying.


Blackwell was at it again in 2013 and 2014, this time with House Bill 1674 (with Kern, Josh Brecheen and Arthur Hulbert), which was closely modelled on the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom Act designed, explicitly, to provide a wedge for teaching creationism in public schools. The bill (more here) even explicitly employed “strengths and weaknesses” language and did, of course, focus heavily on critical thinking, something neither Blackwell nor the bill’s supporter has any real familiarity with – just like evolution or climate change, really. Blackwell clearly wouldn’t wish for Oklahoma students to become good critical thinkers. It passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 79-6 vote before dying (from inactivity) in the Senate – though it had supporters there, the bill was also obviously unconstitutional, and the job of the Senate is, after all, in part to ensure that the State doesn’t get embroiled in legal battles that the State will lose.


Diagnosis: To quote the Sensuous Curmudgeon: “A creationist politician usually falls into one of three categories: (1) he does what he does because he fears the Lake of Fire; (2) he’s a hopeless imbecile; or (3) he has no beliefs, but he would cheerfully support creationism, sell his mother, or do anything else to win an election.” Blackwell would fall in all three categories. And he’s not alone: Oklahoma has a long, long history of introducing such bills. There is something wrong with Oklahoma.

No comments:

Post a Comment