A New Jersey Democrat has introduced legislation to commemorate Feb. 12, the 204th birthday of Charles Darwin, as “Darwin Day” in recognition of the famed naturalist’s contributions to science.
The resolution, which praises Darwin as a “worthy symbol of scientific on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity,” was introduced last month by Rep. Rush Holt and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology for review. And there the proposal will languish with no small contribution from one disagreeable Georgia Republican.
Athens Republican Rep. Paul Broun, who sits on the committee through which the birthday bill must first pass, drew intentional ridicule last year when he told a church gathering that embryology, evolution and the prevailing cosmological model of universal development were “lies straight from the pit of hell.”
While Broun’s comments drew intense scientific criticism, the sentiment is not especially unique within the GOP conference. Matters of faith aside, however, the Georgian has a unique political score to settle with Darwin.
In response to Broun’s dismissal of evolution, a University of Georgia plant biologist began marshaling support for a write-in campaign last November. The candidate: one Charles Darwin.
Georgia election law requires write-in candidates file notices of intent with the secretary of state, so some precincts within Broun’s northeast district did not tally write-in ballots for the long-dead contender. Of those ballots counted, however, Darwin notched more than 4,000 votes.
With no formal opponent, Broun cruised to reelection. But the thousands of protest votes for a 130-years-dead candidate did not go unnoticed.
No whip count is necessary to determine Broun’s position on Darwin Day. It’s a hell no.
- James Richardson