Wingnuts: No Science Laureate for You!

Wingnuts: No Science Laureate for You! September 18, 2013

If the anti-science agenda of America’s right wing wasn’t crystal clear by now, this should put the nail in the coffin. A bill to create up to three U.S. Science Laureates that was considered so non-controversial that it never even got a committee hearing was squashed when the wingnuts threw a fit about it last week.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives was expected to give swift approval to a bill introduced this spring by a bipartisan coalition of legislators in both the House and the Senate. The legislation would allow the president to name not more than three laureates at a time to an unpaid position that could last up to 2 years. The idea was considered so innocuous that it was to be brought up under special rules requiring a two-thirds majority and allowing no amendments.

The bill was never discussed in any committee, however, and Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union hit the roof when he saw it on the House calendar for the next day. (The Washington, D.C.-based group calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation.”) In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, Hart said the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.”

As opposed to Hart’s view that science should be ignored so that politics can serve corporate ends. That’s so much better.

Supporters say the next step is to take the bill off its fast track and give legislators a chance to debate its merits. “The committee plans to mark up the bill this fall so that Members have an opportunity to offer amendments before reporting the bill back to the full House for consideration,” says a science committee aide. Proponents don’t expect the bill’s substance to change but are hoping that going through the normal process will smooth its passage. “It still seems like a pretty noncontroversial idea,” the Hultgren staffer says.

But Hart says that he’d like the bill’s supporters to clarify several provisions, including the number of laureates, length of service, and type of duties they would perform. And climate skeptic Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says slowing the pace won’t change his organization’s stance on the bill. “There’s no way to make it work,” Ebell says. “It would still give scientists an opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it.”

Oh yes, you must stop scientists from speaking out. Scientists might actually bring some reality to the table and show that your political positions are intellectually bankrupt. Politics should be left to right-wing preachers and corporate lobbyists, amirite?


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