Today's Question: Was the outcry about the Smith-Cotton High School band's T-shirts appropriate?

Friday, September 4, 2009 | 10:29 a.m. CDT; updated 2:41 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 6, 2009

COLUMBIA — Last week, as many high school football programs began their season, so did many high school band programs. But one band possibly faced more controversy than the rest when Sedalia's Smith-Cotton band program T-shirts were recalled because of their evolution theme.

Each shirt features a monkey progressing through stages of evolution until becoming a human, and a brass instrument also goes through certain stages of evolution. Because this depicted a belief of evolution at a public school, some parents responded upset that the concept of evolution was associated with the school, according to an Associated Press article.

The Sedalia Democrat responded with an editorial saying that "school administrators overreacted to the pressure from some parents who obviously saw the image as promoting the theory of evolution and a threat to their own Christian beliefs."

There's been a long history of the idea of separating church and state in this country, dating back to the first clause of the First Amendment. Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said the school district is required by law to remain neutral on religion.

"If the shirts had said 'Brass Resurrections' and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing," Pollitt said.

But in Missouri, there's nothing wrong with teaching evolution. But in many years, including this one, a bill seems to come up in the General Assembly that deals with evolution in the classroom. But in the meantime, if it's OK to teach evolution, is it OK to have it on a band T-shirt?

Was the outcry about the Smith-Cotton High School band's T-shirts appropriate?



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Dorian Gray September 4, 2009 | 4:40 p.m.

Check out the official reenactment of the events as they occurred in Mr. Pollitt's office!

(Report Comment)
Tim Donahoe September 4, 2009 | 4:44 p.m.

The theory of evolution is the most widely accepted scientific theory that has ever existed. There is so much evidence for this theory that it is inexcusable for parents to be corrupting their children's education by telling them that it isn't true.

It's a public school and shouldn't be allowed? I guess then that mathematics should be banned as well. That's how much sense that argument makes. How do you make an argument with someone who doesn't understand the basic mechanics of genetics and population genetics? (I'm making this assumption, because if they did, they wouldn't be making fools of themselves publicly.)

And just to nitpick all around, if the t-shirts in question showed a "monkey" evolving into a human, then it is incorrect. Modern Homo Sapiens and Apes share a common primate ancestor, and that ancestor is not in anyway new world or old world monkeys. I'm sorry, but the concept that people evolved from monkeys is a misleading concept that confuses people.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice September 4, 2009 | 4:55 p.m.

kitzmiller v dover,2006.

someone needs to introduce Sedalia into the 19th century.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 4, 2009 | 11:42 p.m.

That was one hysterical/historical reenactment.
"Every one who...voted for Obama...leave now...
Burn them if you have to...
Ronald Reagan's corpse will rise again...
Move to San Francisco for all I care..."
--Gems, each and every one of them.
And yes, an outcry was in order.
As far as I'm concerned, if you come to class with a cool T-Shirt, you should bring enough T-Shirts for everybody.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan Jordan September 5, 2009 | 12:29 a.m.

Evolution is so widely embraced as a biological principle among so many religions, including Christianity, that the commonplace image of "a monkey progressing through stages of evolution until becoming a human" is now merely a quaint and amusing graphic.

It is less an establishment of religion than "In God we trust."

Putting brass images in the hands of the figures makes it hilarious.

I'd wear the t-shirt even though I don't like brass.

Science is a threat only to those whose faith is weak, whose employment of the scientific method is thus necessarily and inconsistently selective, and who are easily led by demagogy.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 5, 2009 | 2:02 a.m.

While I prefer gold over silver and platinum over gold, me thinks there are a few in Sedalia who still worship fire and were skipped over by the GODDESS of evolution, aka Mother Earth...

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan Jordan September 5, 2009 | 10:17 a.m.

As little as we pay educators in Missouri, it should come as no surprise that some of the lower orders make their way into high school administration.

(Report Comment)

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