Last month, during a debate in the Wisconsin legislature over a bill that would punish college students for disrupting speakers, the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Jesse Kremer, asserted that the Earth was only 6,000 years old.
Because that’s how Republicans roll.
It came up after State Rep. Terese Berceau asked him if the bill, which arguably limits free speech rights, would prevent a Geology professor from telling a religious student that he’s objectively wrong about the Earth being only 6,000 years old.
Kremer responded by saying the bill didn’t address that sort of situation… but he couldn’t help but inject his thoughts about how the Earth really is 6,000 years old.
You can see the clip at the 150:30 mark right here.
BERCEAU: … So, my question is, if a geology student says, “I’m sorry, but the Earth is only 6,000 years old” — rejecting science that says that the Earth is considerably older than that — is it not okay for a professor to tell that student that they’re wrong? When the student is saying that, based on religious beliefs, that the Earth is only as old as 6,000 years old in the bible… Can a professor tell a student in that case, “No, you’re wrong”?
KREMER: So, this bill stays out of the classroom. Yes, the Earth is 6,000 years old, that’s a fact. But, we can discuss that outside of this room.
BERCEAU: You said that it is a fact, you do believe it’s a fact that it’s only…?
KREMER: Yeah, I do.
The man sitting next to Kremer is clearly suppressing laughter at that point. And that’s just wrong. There’s no need to suppress laughter over something that idiotic.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was appalled by the statement, in large part because Kremer is a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Colleges and Universities. This guy helps shape educational policy, yet he rejects basic science. That’s why the group called on Kremer to resign from the committee.
It was a stunning moment. Rarely do we see ignorance spoken into a microphone, on the record, with such pride and unjustifiable confidence by a public official. You reject unanimous scientific consensus in favor of a book with talking snakes, dragons, magic wands, and witches and wizards, yet lacks the coherence and charm of Harry Potter.
You are free of course, as a private citizen to advise and direct Christian schools, one of which apparently mishandled your scientific education.
But you are clearly unfit to sit on the Assembly’s Committee on Colleges and Universities and we hope you’ll have the decency to step down.
For what it’s worth, PolitiFact rated his claim that the Earth is 6,000 years old as “False.” So that should settle everything.
***Update***: Kremer has responded to FFRF’s letter by (wait for it) misrepresenting their intentions:
“As one who is fighting to preserve our constitutional rights and liberties, I am highly appreciative that Rep. Berceau, Annie Gaylor, and the elitist media not only gave me a platform to proclaim my faith and personal, deeply held beliefs, but quite plainly proved our point regarding the need to ensure that 1st amendment freedoms are fostered and protected within the State of Wisconsin, especially at our institutions of higher learning where commonly held truths and facts should be challenged. I’m calling on my colleagues, Republican and Democrat alike, to take up real policy like the Campus Free Speech Act, and stand up for the 1st amendment.”
No one said Kremer was prohibited from serving in the government. FFRF said someone who denies basic science is a poor choice to create education policy, just as you wouldn’t want an alchemist running a chemistry lab, and they’re right. This isn’t a First Amendment issue.
And while everyone agrees critical thinking and challenging viewpoints is vital, especially on college campuses, that’s not an excuse for perpetuating bullshit under the guise of legitimate science.
Kremer has every right to assert his beliefs. That doesn’t mean anyone has to respect them.
***Update 2***: Kremer is now trolling commenters on his own Facebook page. Check out this response to a woman who said his timeline was “off by about four and one half billion years.”
Besides just coming off as a raging asshole, Kremer’s response is notable for another reason. It was edited. What did he say earlier that he felt the need to change?
He didn’t spell “you’re” correctly. That’s the universal internet indicator for “I’m a troll no one should take seriously.”
And he’s shaping education policy.