From The Onion, 28 November , 2006 | Issue 42•48
TOPEKA, K--In response to a Nov. 7 referendum, Kansas lawmakers passed emergency legislation outlawing evolution, the highly controversial process responsible for the development and diversity of species and the continued survival of all life.
Lawmakers decried spontaneous genetic mutations.
"From now on, the streets, forests, plains, and rivers of Kansas will be safe from the godless practice of evolution, and species will be able to procreate without deviating from God's intended design," said Bob Bethell, a member of the state House of Representatives. "This is about protecting the integrity of all creation."
The sweeping new law prohibits all living beings within state borders from being born with random genetic mutations that could make them better suited to evade predators, secure a mate, or, adapt to a changing environment. In addition, it bars any sexual reproduction, battles for survival, or instances of pure happenstance that might lead, after several generations, to a more well-adapted species or subspecies.
Violators of the new law may face punishments that include jail time, stiff fines, and rehabilitative education and training to rid organisms suspected of evolutionary tendencies. Repeat offenders could face chemical sterilization.
To enforce the law, Kansas state police will be trained to investigate and apprehend organisms who exhibit suspected signs of evolutionary behavior, such as natural selection or speciation. Plans are underway to track and monitor DNA strands in every Kansan life form for even the slightest change in allele frequencies.
"Barn swallows that develop lighter, more streamlined builds to enable faster migration, for example, could live out the rest of their brief lives in prison," said Indiana University chemist and pro-intelligent-design author Robert Hellenbaum, who helped compose the language of the law. "And butterflies who mimic the wing patterns and colors of other butterflies for an adaptive advantage, well, their days of flaunting God's will are over."
Human beings may be the species most deeply affected by the new legislation. Those whose cytochrome-c molecules vary less than 2 percent from those of chimpanzees will be in direct violation of the law.
Under particular scrutiny are single-cell microorganisms, with thousands of field labs being installed across the state to ensure that these self-replicating molecules, notorious for mutation, do not do so in a fashion benefitting their long-term survival.
Anti-evolutionists such as Hellenbaum have long accused microorganisms of popularizing "an otherwise obscure, agonizingly slow, and hard-to-understand" biological process. "These repeat offenders are at the root of the problem," Hellenbaum said. "We have the fossil records to prove it."
"No species is exempt," said Marcus Holloway, a state police spokesman. "Whether you're a human being or a fruit fly--if we detect one homologous chromosome trying to cross over during the process of meiosis, you will be punished to the full extent of the law."
Although the full impact of the new law will likely not be felt for approximately 10 million years, most Kansans say they are relieved that the ban went into effect this week, claiming that evolution may have gone too far already.
"If Earth's species were meant to change over successive generations through physical modifications resulting from the adaptation to environmental challenges, then God would have given them the genetic predisposition to select mates and reproduce based on their favorable heritable traits and their ability to thrive under changing conditions so that these advantageous qualities would be passed down and eventually encoded into the DNA of each generation of offspring," Olathe public school teacher and creationist Joyce Eckhardt said. "It's just not natural."
Some warn that the strict wording of the law could have a deleterious effect on Kansas' mostly agricultural economy, since it also prohibits all forms of man-made artificial selection, such as plant hybridization, genetic engineering, and animal husbandry. A police raid on an alleged artificial-insemination facility outside McPherson, KS on Friday resulted in the arrest of a farmer, a veterinarian, four assistants, one bull, and several dozen cows.
Agribusiness leaders, who rely on evolution science to genetically modify crops, have voiced concerns about doing business with Kansas farmers.
"If Kansans want to ban evolution, that is their right, but they must understand that we rely on a certain flexibility in the natural order of things to be able to deliver healthy food products to millions of Americans," said Carl Casale, a vice president with the agricultural giant Monsanto. "We're not talking about playing God here. We are talking about succeeding in the competitive veggie-burger market."