Freshwater Day 7: The Investigator

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Today was the 7th day of the administrative hearing on John Freshwater’s appeal of the Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Board of Education’s decision to terminate him. You’ll recall that Freshwater is the 8th grade science teacher accused of burning crosses on students’ arms, teaching from creationist materials in science class, and inappropriately leading the Fellowship of Student Athletes, among other things.

Accounts of the first 6 days of the hearing are Days 1 & 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6. Other relevant posts can be found by searching The Thumb on “Freshwater”. In addition, Lauri Lebo of The Devil in Dover fame just today published an article on the Freshwater affair.

In spite of two news articles, one in the Mt. Vernon News and one in the Columbus Dispatch foreshadowing the resumption of the hearing, the hearing room for the first time was not full – there were perhaps half a dozen empty seats, with two reporters and me occupying three of them and no other media present.

Today’s hearing was focused on just two witnesses, Dennis Turner, a youth pastor at New Life Community Church in Fredericktown, Ohio, a village north of Mt. Vernon, and Thomas J. Herlevi of HR On Call, Inc., the lead independent investigator who looked into the matter for the Board of Education, Assisted by his wife, co-owner of HR On Call, Herlevi conducted the investigation from April 29 to late May 2008.

More below the fold

Dennis Turner

As noted above, Turner is youth pastor at a nearby church. (The Superintendent of Schools, Steve Short, is a member of Turner’s church.) On direct examination by David Millstone, attorney for the Board of Education, Turner testified that as a youth pastor he spoke to Fellowship of Student Athletes several times at both the high school and the middle school where Freshwater was an FAC faculty monitor for one group of kids. On direct examination Turner testified that his dealings with the high school FCA were always via students. The FCA manual and school policy requires that students must be the leaders in FCA; faculty members are not to lead, supervise, or participate, but only monitor. At the middle school, however, Turner was mainly in contact with Freshwater.

Furthermore, on cross examination by Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, Turner testified in more detail that his dealings with the middle school FCA – topic guidelines, scheduling, logistics, and so on – were conducted through Freshwater. Turner said he found that surprising. As a youth pastor he said he knew the strictures on faculty roles in FCA, and he had never been contacted by a faculty member at the high school about FCA matters.

Hamilton asked if perhaps there was a maturity difference such that the role of the faculty monitor for middle school kids would be different. Turner responded that he couldn’t answer that.

Hamilton asked if Turner had talked the case over with Short. Turner replied only in general terms associated with the stress the case was causing Short, and that they had prayed together about it.

Turner testified that Freshwater was in the room for a while during his (Turner’s) talk to one FCA group, but left before the meeting was over. Two teachers of Turner’s acquaintance attended another of the middle school FCA meetings.

There was no re-direct.

Thomas J. Herlevi Direct Examination

Herlevi is co-owner of HR On Call, Inc., with his wife. On Call is a consulting firm on human resources issues. HR On Call conducted the independent investigation. In direct examination by David Millstone, attorney for the Board of Education, Herlevi described his experience, basically 40 years of general human resources work in industry and as a consultant to manufacturing firms, religious organizations, public entities (cities, etc.), and educational institutions like schools and colleges. He has investigated issues ranging from attendance problems in industry to sexual harassment and abuse in schools.

Herlevi described the investigation in outline. The initial conference was with the Superintendent, Steve Short, with Millstone and Herlevi’s wife in attendance. Herlevi’s wife functioned as an assistant or co-investigator. Shortly thereafter, Herlevi interviewed the parents who brought the complaint in federal court, Steven and Jenifer Dennis, along with Zachary Dennis, their son who was burned in Freshwater’s class.

After interviewing the Dennis family, Herlevi interviewed Freshwater. There was some problem in getting that scheduled, since Freshwater wanted his attorney present. A teachers’ union rep was also present at that interview (and at all interviews involving teachers). Freshwater also wanted to record the interview. Herlevi agreed, subject to Freshwater’s agreement, and that of his attorney, that they would provide a copy of the audio tape to Herlevi within 48 hours. They agreed, but the investigator testified that he never got that copy in spite of a written reminder to Freshwater’s attorney, and still doesn’t have it.

The interview finally occurred with two attorneys including Kelly Hamilton who is acting as attorney in this hearing, and the union rep present along with Herlevi and Freshwater.

Herlevi testified that in that interview, Freshwater stated that he checked out a Bible and a book titled “Jesus of Nazareth” from the middle school library and put them in his room on a table adjacent to his desk, emphasizing that they were in the library purchased with public funds. Asked by Herlevi whether that was done to “make a statement,” Freshwater agreed that it was.

Herlevi had subsequent interviews with a number of students, teachers, and administrators, the bulk of which are described in HR On Call’s final report.

Herlevi testified that he asked if Freshwater had a speakers list from FCA. Freshwater said that he did, but that he would have to consult his attorney before turning it over. Herlevi received the list later that day from the middle school principal, Bill White.

Herlevi testified that in response to a direct question, Freshwater said that he taught evolution in his classes.

Herlevi testified that the union rep, Mr. Kesner, told him that he expected that Freshwater and/or his attorney would submit a written statement. It wasn’t clear if that comment was made in Freshwater’s presence. Herlevi also testified that Kesner was in all interviews with teachers, and that he had no reservations about the process as he observed it.

That same day Herlevi and his co-investigator visited Freshwater’s classroom, finding the Bible on his desk, a religious poster with a Bible verse on it showing George Bush and Colin Powell praying, a second Bible and the Jesus of Nazareth book on the table, and creationist materials in a cabinet. Note that this was several weeks after Freshwater had been instructed to remove all religious materials from his classroom. Herlevi interpreted the presence of those materials as insubordination verging on defiance of a superior’s instructions.

Herlevi testified that he was given an email by Superintendent Short from a teacher named Jim Stockdale, with the subject line (from Stockdale) “Preaching (or possibly it was “Teaching” – I didn’t hear it clearly) from the Bible in Middle School.” It contained information about a class Stockdale had observed when in Freshwater’s classroom some time ago, in 2006 or 2007. I don’t (yet!) have a copy of that email, but this from the investigator’s report (pdf) appears to be an excerpt:

The lesson of the day had been on the creation of the universe. John talked about how the textbook could be wrong. He said, ‘Let me give you an example of how science can be wrong.’ He then went on to say that an article in Time magazine a few years back stated that scientists had found a genetic link to homosexuality. ‘In that case science is wrong because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin’ and so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and therefore is a sinner. My reaction was one of disbelief that he was saying these things to eighth graders. I thought of how those two or three students in that classroom who might be struggling with their sexual identities would be feeling, hearing that they were sinners from a teacher. … I was surprised at how comfortable John was talking about the Bible stating that homosexuality is a sin, and that anyone who is gay makes a conscious choice to be so. … He had no problem declaring that not only can science be wrong by the example he gave, but heavily implied that the students’ textbook was wrong as well on how the universe was created.

In a telephone interview Herlevi asked Stockdale if he had written what was in the email, and Stockdale agreed that he had. (Recall that I’m not certain the extract above is from that email: I’ll find out tomorrow.)

Later in cross examination, Hamilton asked Herlevi if Stockdale was asked why he hadn’t pushed it with the administration. Stockdale told Herlevi that he knew the assistant principal of the middle school, Mr. Keib, was of the same religious persuasion as Freshwater and that the administration didn’t follow up on such reports, so he didn’t report it. He now regrets not having pushed it vigorously then.

Back to direct examination. In this context Herlevi also testified that he does try to ascertain whether an interviewee has a bias with respect to the subject of the investigation. He testified that Stockdale told him that he had lunched with Freshwater, regarded him as a friend but that he (Stockdale) felt strongly about the issues he raised in his email to Short, and he sent the email because the issues had become salient with the publicity surrounding the Freshwater affair in spring 2008.

Direct examination ended with Herlevi summarizing the four main areas in which the investigation had found problems:

1. The Tesla coil was used improperly, contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions. The marks on the students were uniformly described as crosses by students who saw them made (recall that two students testified they had been marked with the device); Freshwater was alone in describing the as an “X.”

2. Freshwater was insubordinate in that he didn’t remove all the religious materials when instructed to do so, and in fact added a Bible and religious book after the instructionw as given and some material was removed. Herlevi testified that in his opinion that went past insubordination and was “an act of defiance.”

3. Freshwater played much more than a monitor role in FCA, with various interviewees using the terms “leader,” “supervisor,” “facilitator,” and “far more than a monitoring role” to describe his behavior.

4. Freshwater taught materials not consistent with the curriculum, some of which had been expressly forbidden by the Board of Education in 2003. Herlevi testified that the material and interviews indicated that this was a pattern, not an isolated instance, and had persisted for some years up to and including 2007-2008. Herlevi referred to the “Here” code Freshwater used, in which the code word “here” indicated that this is material that Freshwater didn’t think was factuakl or accurate. That material included such things as the reliability of radiometric dating (Herlevi is the first witness to use that rather than “carbon dating”!), the age of the earth, the interpretation of fossils, and so on.

Thomas J. Herlevi Cross Examination

As I’ve noted, Kelly Hamilton’s cross examination technique is difficult to take notes on. Like a good police interrogator (Hamilton was a sergeant on the Columbus Police) he moves from topic to topic, doubling back, then skipping forward. While it may be a good technique for creating confusion and contradictions from witnesses, it’s not fun to try to represent in a coherent narrative.

A good part of Hamilton’s early cross examination of Thomas Herlevi focused on Herlevi’s credentials and experience. Herlevi has been in the business of HR for 40 years in one capacity or another, has taken (and taught) a number of seminars on topics related to investigating and dealing with employee problems. He testified that he has investigated many cases of employee misconduct, including roughly a dozen involving schools, five or six of them dealing with teachers or administrators. Asked whether his investigations had ever exonerated a school teacher or administrator, Herlevi identified at least two in which the investigation had found nothing inappropriate.

Hamilton asked about the proportion of Herlevi’s business that is done with the law firm that David Millstone, Board attorney, is associated with. Herlevi estiamted about 5%.

After some confused questioning, it was established that Herlevi’s wife, who also has considerable HR experience, was in effect a co-investigator, though Herlevi was lead investigator.

Hamilton asked if Herlevi thought his investigative report was accurate, fair, and complete. Herelevi replied that it was. Asked if there was anything in hindsight that he would do differently or would want to do over, Herlevi replied there was not.

Herlevi testified that there are three basic outcomes of such an investigation. The allegations are either supported, or contradicted, or there is insufficient information to make a determination. We spent a good deal of time trying to work out where the boundaries are among those outcomes, to no clear resolution. In the report, Herlevi testified that there was insufficient information to reach a determination on the permission slip issue, so of the several allegations that one remained in the “insufficient information” category.

There was a long series of questions regarding who was interviewed about what. Most of that is covered in the investigative report.

Hamilton asked if any of the people he interviewed lacked credibility. Herlevi replied, “Mr. Freshwater.” In a series of questions about how that judgment was reached, Herlevi identified the contradictions between Freshwater’s claims and the information provided by other interviewees, as well as the handouts identified as having been used in Freshwater’s classes. He specifically mention Freshwater’s description of the marks on students’ arms as an X, while all others described it as a cross; the use of the code word “Here” to indicate when Freshwaqter had determined that some class material was not fact; Freshwater’s assertion that he taught evolution, when he used handouts from young earth creationist sources – giraffe, woodpecker, dragon, and dinosaur/human handouts – and has creationist materials in the classroom, specifically in a cabinet. Those materials, listed in the investigator’s report, included

– A book titled “Refuting Evolution” (by Jonathan Sarfati, a notorious YEC)

– A video tape titled “Lies In The Textbooks, Part A 4 Of 7, 10 Lies Of Evolution” (A Kent Hovind video; ‘nuff said)

– A book titled “Evolution Of A Creationist” (About “incredible creatures that defy evolution”)

– A book titled “The Real Meaning Of The Zodiac” (A book about “Biblical Astrology” by D. James Kennedy)

– A book titled “Icons of Evolution” (Jonathan Wells’ ID creationist trash. In 2003 Freshwater proposed incorporating some of Wells’ trash in the science curriculum, using Wells’ Survival of the Fakest as part of his supporting material.)

Hamilton asked if the creationist materials were religious materials. Herlevi replied that they were not. Here Herlevi screwed up: the relevant jurisprudence pretty clearly identifies so-called “scientific” creationism, as well as intelligent design creationism, as not being science and generally being vehicles bearing religious intent. (I know that last phrase is a a stretch, but establishing intent in Freshwater’s case would be a breeze: the trail is long, wide, and deep.)

Hamilton pushed hard on the purported incompleteness of the investigation, asking whether there were others Herlevi should have talked to, should he have followed up with Freshwater on some of the allegations, why Herlevi hadn’t used audio recording of interviews rather than depending on two sets of handwritten interview notes (Herlevi’s and his wife’s), whether Herlevi had taken sworn testimony in interviews (he didn’t), and so on. In general Herlevi defended his choices and methods in the investigation.

Hamilton elicited the admission that Herlevi tried the Tesla coil on himself before he obtained the instructions from the manufacturer’s web site.

Hamilton elicited the affirmation that Herlevi was told that Freshwaters’s students’ Ohio Achievement test scores were as high or higher than those of other classes, though Herlevi noted that he had also been told that class composition issues complicate such comparisons – students are not assigned randomly to 8th grade science classes.

In response to questioning about the involvement of the Board’s law firm or Board representatives in the preparation of the final report, Herlevi testified that David Millstone had reviewed earlier drafts for clarity but not for substance, and Millstone’s remarks about clarity addressed only 2% or 3% of the report.

With regard to the bullet pointed allegations on page 1 of the investigator’s report, Herlevi acknowledged that all nine were originally brought by the Dennis family in their federal lawsuit. (Note, however, that independent witnesses have corroborated the bulk of them, as well as multiple witnesses corroborating additional allegations.)

We spent some time on how Herlevi concluded that Freshwater had not taught to the standards. Herlevi said he depended on the experts – chair(s) of science department, curriculum director – for guidance in that respect. They also referred to National Science Teachers Association position statements.

Hamilton went through his charade with Freshwater’s Bible again, handing it to the witness and asking what it was. Paraphrased:

“It’s a Bible.”

“Could it be any kind of Bible? Say, a mechanic’s bible? “

“It’s a Bible.”

“Does it say it’s a religious book?”

“It’s a BIBLE!!!eleven!11!

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Asked about the source of the several handouts included as appendicies in the investigator’s report, Herlevi identified Elle Button (science teacher), Kate Button (former Freshwater student), Mr. Soudhra (father of former Freshwater student), and a file kept by former Superintendent Maley dating from the 2002-2003 time when Freshwater proposed the change in the science curriculum.

The issue of followup on complaints about Freshwater’s behavior was raised. It culminated in Herlevi saying (more or less quoted “The environment in the school was that these things would be brought up to administrators and there was no followup.” Asked by Hamilton if he was saying that “the former administration didn’t do what it was supposed to do,” Herlevi replied that “it appears that way.”

In his interview with former Superintendent Jeff Maley, Herlevi testifed that Maley said something to the effect that “complaints had come in, and the community was divided between Kenyon College’s supporters and the Nazarene (Mt. Vernon Nazarene University) supporters, so when taking these issues up, he (Maley) had to walk a fine line. Maley would tell the principals, and the principals were to tell Freshwater, according to Herlevi.

(I will say parenthetically that at the time Freshwater made his proposal to the BOE in 2003, Maley made a very strong public statement opposing it, and later told me he thought he’d signed his own political death warrant in doing so. Bear in mind that schools have to pass levies to stay open. Nevertheless, in my view the previous administration, particularly in the middle school, should be toasted some more. The current administration had this dropped in their laps, and they’re doing a decent job with it, stressful though I know it is for them. For more on the stress these kinds of situations impose on communities read Lauri Lebo’s book.)

Finally, Herlevi testified that giving students extra credit for seeing “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” and writing a paragraph about it was inappropriate, according to the science chairs and curriculum director,.

Thus endeth the seventh day. The hearing goes on the rest of this week, and Wednesday through Friday next week.

(I’ll do some editing for typos when I’m more awake. Say, next weekend.)

59 Comments

I eagerly await the day a professional stenographer notates in 1337. Thanks for keeping us up to date again!

Thanks! These updates are great!

Thank you RBH! This is a great way to keep updated!

I think you mean “Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”

FCA and “Fellowship of Student Athletes” don’t exactly match up. :)

Great report! Keep up the good work!

Re: “Those materials, listed in the investigator’s report…”

For our larger audience who may not be familiar with Freshwater’s creationist materials, perhaps there should be a longer (hotlinked?) explanatory note as to why they are “creationist trash” or “written by a notorious YEC,” or why Kent Hovind is not widely respected in the world of actual science. Short snarky comments (as above) without further context may be confusing or off-putting to some readers. (Not a criticism, just a comment.)

From the investigator’s report:

The High School Principal said that Mr. Freshwater has caused issues for her high school teachers in having to reeducate students from his teachings. The specific issues include a number of areas – his failure to follow the curriculum regarding teaching creationism/intelligent design rather than evolution and his teaching of the Periodic Table, as examples.

The Periodic Table tu, Brute? Really? You couldn’t just stick to screwing up biology?

eric said:

You couldn’t just stick to screwing up biology?

Creationist periodic table:

EARTH

AIR

FIRE

WATER

“Elemental, my dear Watson.”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

I also liked:

There is no evidence Mr. Freshwater made statements about FCA members “being the saved ones” nor was there any corroboration to the allegation Mr. Freshwater gave FCA members Bibles for them to distribute. He did have two boxes of Bibles in the back of his room.

Because every science teacher keeps multiple boxes of Bibles in the classroom just for kicks and giggles, right?

Actually I guess Freshwater was just being biblical himself: ‘you can read every book in the room, except the one in those boxes right there.’

iml8 said: Creationist periodic table:

EARTH

AIR

FIRE

WATER

I think you forgot Jesus :-)

eric said:

iml8 said: Creationist periodic table:

EARTH

AIR

FIRE

WATER

I think you forgot Jesus :-)

Check this out . There are FIVE, count them, FIVE elements, not four. A sample gem from there Consciousness, which is the attribute of the Nature, is present in every stage of universal evolution and is responsible for all the order of function precisely, as and how it is necessary.

Wow, you poor biological evolutionists! There is universal evolution. If only we could get this site to fight Dishonesty Institute, we all could live in peace and get some real science done.

Ravilyn Sanders said:

There are FIVE, count them, FIVE elements, not four.

Of course, those of us who are students of the savant Archimedes Plutonium know perfectly well that the entire Universe is really a plutonium atom.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

Richard, this is very helpful. Thanks for continuing to do this. I wonder if other people watching this who are present are getting as negative an impression as Richard.

(Regarding the typos if it helps to point them out at all: Here are a few: “here Freshwater was an FAC” should read “here Freshwater was an FCA” “Herlevi estiamted”- should be “Herlevi estimated” “to indicate when Freshwaqter” - should be “to indicate when Freshwarter”)

Joshua Zelinsky said:

should be “Herlevi estimated” “to indicate when Freshwaqter” - should be “to indicate when Freshwarter”)

Ah always try t’ use fresh warter t’ warsh mah hands.

nitpicky said:

Joshua Zelinsky said:

should be “Herlevi estimated” “to indicate when Freshwaqter” - should be “to indicate when Freshwarter”)

Ah always try t’ use fresh warter t’ warsh mah hands.

Ow. I’ll just crawl back into my little hole now.

If you really want to know what Aristotle said about the elements (the Bible is silent on the subject–stoikheia as used by Paul has a quite different meaning), there are the four mentioned plus a fifth, the quintessence, from which the astral bodies of the visible gods (i.e. the planets) are composed.

I doubt, however, that Freshwater could possibly be learned enough to know this.

Ravilyn Sanders said:

eric said:

iml8 said: Creationist periodic table:

EARTH

AIR

FIRE

WATER

I think you forgot Jesus :-)

Check this out . There are FIVE, count them, FIVE elements, not four. A sample gem from there Consciousness, which is the attribute of the Nature, is present in every stage of universal evolution and is responsible for all the order of function precisely, as and how it is necessary.

Wow, you poor biological evolutionists! There is universal evolution. If only we could get this site to fight Dishonesty Institute, we all could live in peace and get some real science done.

Robert Boyle: the creationist who is called the ‘father of chemistry’ Also a bible literalist.

hoj said: Robert Boyle: the creationist who is called the ‘father of chemistry’ Also a bible literalist.

Robert Boyle: 1627-1691.
Origin of Species: Published 1859, 168 years after Hoyle’s death.
Bobby if stupid was a religion you’d be the pope.

Robert Boyle: 1627-1691.

He was not a creationist? Can you define what a creationist accepts as true?

And of course the insults. Thats all you really have.

hoj said:

Robert Boyle: 1627-1691.

He was not a creationist? Can you define what a creationist accepts as true?

And of course the insults. Thats all you really have.

Of course he was a creationist. What alternative did he have in the 17th century? Had he been born a couple of centuries earlier he would have been a geocentrist. A couple of millennia earlier he would have been a flat Earther. Would that be evidence for a flat earth? Pointing out that smart people who never heard of evolution, were creationists is stupid.

In response to Joshua Zelinsky’s query as to how others see the hearing, the Columbus Dispatch news story today (Wednesday) described the hearings in a way that indicated Freshwater was getting the worst of it; an editorial also criticized the School Board for letting Freshwater do his own thing for so long, and warned other school boards that they should discipline creationist teachers, however popular they may be locally, before they start to believe that they are untouchable. The Dispatch has taken a strong anti-creationist/ID line, much to their credit, as many of their readers are anti-evolution.

“Pointing out that smart people who never heard of evolution, were creationists is stupid.”

Stupid? It’s beyond stupid. It’s so stupid that you’d need a degree in advanced stupid and a PhD in moron just to understand how stupid it is. It’s to ordinary stupid as Cthulu is to a clam. It’s florid, baroque, rococo stupid with Victorian gingerbread, art deco pilasters and 60’s flock wallpaper. This is stupid selected for extreme stupidity for, like, twenty generations of breeding with close relatives. Stupid? To contemplate the word and the act is to realise that there are places where words cannot go, and to be grateful for that, because something that stupid should not be described, far less experienced. Fortunately, it rarely is. But here we have a pristine specimen captured in the wild. The question is, what to do with it?

I think something this stupid should be mounted and stuffed and placed on display in the National Museum of Stupid. It wouldn’t be cruel because the originator is someone who wouldn’t know if you were up him with an armful of chairs. I mean, brother, that’s stupid!

clerihew said:

In response to Joshua Zelinsky’s query as to how others see the hearing, the Columbus Dispatch news story today (Wednesday) described the hearings in a way that indicated Freshwater was getting the worst of it; an editorial also criticized the School Board for letting Freshwater do his own thing for so long, and warned other school boards that they should discipline creationist teachers, however popular they may be locally, before they start to believe that they are untouchable. The Dispatch has taken a strong anti-creationist/ID line, much to their credit, as many of their readers are anti-evolution.

Bear in mind that we are in the first stage of the hearing in which the Board of Education’s attorney presents its case. After this stage is over Freshwater (or really, Freshwater’s attorney) will present his side. That it seems one-sided in this stage is not a surprise.

Dave Luckett said:

Stupid? It’s beyond stupid. It’s so stupid that you’d need a degree in advanced stupid and a PhD in moron just to understand how stupid it is. It’s to ordinary stupid as Cthulu is to a clam …

Y’know, I find these comments demonstrating a sheer artistry of indignation. I’m not being sarcastic. If they had an Olympics of insults the judges would rate:

[10] [10] [10]

“And the crowd goes WILD!

I am impressed. I’ll have to put this in my blog.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

A classic rant worthy of Lou FCD, Dave. Thanks for that.

I notice that Freshwater claims that Science (in it’s entirety) is wrong. That seems to be the strategy of YEC’s, whereas some among the ID’ists claim that a few Atheists are misdirecting Science. The List of those dissenting from Darwin would be of the latter strategy.

Of course we all know the fifth element: heart! (What? I grew up in the ’90s.)

Seriously though, he’s been allowed to do physical harm to his students, at least for a full school year, without any repercussions. And now that he’s been caught, he doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong. And from the sound of this coverage, it seems as if this guy has defenders. And they are trying to make a martyr out of him.

I’m not quite sure which sentence in that paragraph scares me the most.

Of course he was a creationist. What alternative did he have in the 17th century? Had he been born a couple of centuries earlier he would have been a geocentrist. A couple of millennia earlier he would have been a flat Earther. Would that be evidence for a flat earth? Pointing out that smart people who never heard of evolution, were creationists is stupid.

.…I think you have a lot of inaccuracies in your response:

‘Pointing out that smart people who never heard of evolution, were creationists is stupid.’

The what is your definition of a creationist? You are saying that before Darwin there were no creationists?

Please be scientific and give an operational definition of your term.

fnxtr said:

A classic rant worthy of Lou FCD, Dave. Thanks for that.

Thanks. It is, you know, the national sport of my humble country.

Bobby the moronic troll babbled:

.…I think you have a lot of inaccuracies in your response:

‘Pointing out that smart people who never heard of evolution, were creationists is stupid.’

The what is your definition of a creationist? You are saying that before Darwin there were no creationists?

Please be scientific and give an operational definition of your term.

If you actually bothered to examine his response, rather than engage in your typical, useless trolling, you would realize that he’s saying that people don’t fault people like Robert Boyle for believing in Creationism as an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth because he was never exposed to the theory of evolution, given as how he had died over one and a half centuries before Charles Darwin was born.

As was pointed out to you earlier, your demand that we dismiss and or fault Robert Boyle and his accomplishments for being a creationist is the height of stupidity, especially because since he was never exposed to the theory of evolution during his lifetime to begin with.

I’m pretty sure he knows he did something wrong, because when the case was originally brought he denied touching any student with the tesla coil. You don’t deny something you think is perfectly acceptable to do.

His lawyer’s cross examinations (as RBH said, defense hasn’t really started) appear to focus or at least mention three possible defenses: bibles and bible quotes aren’t necessarily religious; he’s been doing the same thing for years, the school knew about it, so punishing him now is arbitrary, and; the school really wants to get rid of him because of his strong religious beliefs, the complaints are just an excuse.

mharri said:

Of course we all know the fifth element: heart! (What? I grew up in the ’90s.)

Seriously though, he’s been allowed to do physical harm to his students, at least for a full school year, without any repercussions. And now that he’s been caught, he doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong. And from the sound of this coverage, it seems as if this guy has defenders. And they are trying to make a martyr out of him.

I’m not quite sure which sentence in that paragraph scares me the most.

“If you actually bothered to examine his response, rather than engage in your typical, useless trolling, you would realize that he’s saying that people don’t fault people like Robert Boyle for believing in Creationism as an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth because he was never exposed to the theory of evolution, given as how he had died over one and a half centuries before Charles Darwin was born.”

My point is that in general creationists are portrayed as ‘stupid’ here. Like that rant on the 4 elements.

But in reality some of the greatest scientists were ‘Creationists’.

That you cannot deny.

And you CAN be a good scientist and believe in God at the same time. Your rants that that is not the case are illogical.

Bobby the lying sack of shit said:

“If you actually bothered to examine his response, rather than engage in your typical, useless trolling, you would realize that he’s saying that people don’t fault people like Robert Boyle for believing in Creationism as an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth because he was never exposed to the theory of evolution, given as how he had died over one and a half centuries before Charles Darwin was born.”

My point is that in general creationists are portrayed as ‘stupid’ here. Like that rant on the 4 elements.

No, your point is that you’re a lying sack of shit who will do anything to derail discussion and defend your fellow creationist liars. Go fuck yourself. Your endless asshattery is not needed here.

Creationists are portrayed as stupid because they ARE stupid. As well as being liars. For example, there’s a nutcase here who keeps changing names in a vain attempt to hide the fact that he’s a lying sack of shit. He keeps asking for references, then when they’re provided he never reads them and pretends they don’t exist. And he’s such an idiot he thinks no one notices that he’s lying through his teeth!

Someone enforce this fuckwit’s ban. He’s sockpuppeting yet again, and he’s known for months this is against the rules.

ghor said: But in reality some of the greatest scientists were ‘Creationists’.

After Darwin, it’s possible, say, for a physicist to be largely unfamiliar with Darwin’s theory. That wouldn’t make him a reality-denying creationist. Although he doesn’t know about evolution, he doesn’t run around agitating for Noah’s Ark to be taught in schools as science.

After Darwin, a “creationist” is consciously and deliberately an evolution rejectionist. It’s quite impossible for someone who is a creationist now to have the intellectual ability to be a great scientist. He could be a dentist, perhaps. Maybe even a proctologist. But not a great scientist.

The interesting thing, from a legal standpoint, is that Freshwater does have a chance of winning this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the guy should be allowed within 100 miles of a kid let alone a kid in a science classroom, my point is rather simple. The testimony suggests that he was pulling this garbage for years and no one in administration did anything. A number of witnesses have made this comment, they knew it wasn’t worth the time/effort to complain, that nothing would be done, etc. It is possible that the argument that administration is responsible and Freshwater isn’t could actually hold water. This all falls on the previous administration and their failure to do their jobs and properly establish an appropriate educational environment. If Freshwater’s attorney was intelligent he would hammer home the “but they allowed him to do these things for years and didn’t say a word” argument in an effort to claim inconsistency on the part of administration. That’s about the only chance he has, and it’s a small one.

The primary argument against this is that after he was warned and disciplined by the current administration he not only continued to break the law, he actually became downright defiant about it. Depending on the court’s interpretation of and understanding of these events, that should be enough to offset the “but they let me do it for years” argument. I know it sounds bizarre that he could possibly win such a seemingly open and shut case, but I dealt with a case where one of the defendants literally admitted on the stand that they didn’t think the person who wasn’t selected for the job couldn’t do the job solely because of their disability and the judge ruled that it wasn’t discriminatory to promote a less qualified, non-disabled employee instead of transfer the more qualified disabled employee.

Freshwater burned a student. He should not only be fired, but arrested for child abuse and thrown in jail. In addition to this he used class time and taxpayer money for religious indoctrination, which is illegal. Again, he should not only be fired, but arrested and forced to repay the money he stole from the public.

If the administration knew what Freshwater was doing, and did nothing to stop it, Freshwater should still be fired, arrested, imprisoned, and fined. He is still a criminal, and still unworthy to be trusted with the education of children. The only difference is that the administrators themselves should also be fired, arrested, imprisoned, and fined as accomplices to Freshwater’s crimes.

dogmeatib said:

The interesting thing, from a legal standpoint, is that Freshwater does have a chance of winning this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the guy should be allowed within 100 miles of a kid let alone a kid in a science classroom, my point is rather simple. The testimony suggests that he was pulling this garbage for years and no one in administration did anything. A number of witnesses have made this comment, they knew it wasn’t worth the time/effort to complain, that nothing would be done, etc. It is possible that the argument that administration is responsible and Freshwater isn’t could actually hold water. This all falls on the previous administration and their failure to do their jobs and properly establish an appropriate educational environment. If Freshwater’s attorney was intelligent he would hammer home the “but they allowed him to do these things for years and didn’t say a word” argument in an effort to claim inconsistency on the part of administration. That’s about the only chance he has, and it’s a small one.

The primary argument against this is that after he was warned and disciplined by the current administration he not only continued to break the law, he actually became downright defiant about it. Depending on the court’s interpretation of and understanding of these events, that should be enough to offset the “but they let me do it for years” argument. I know it sounds bizarre that he could possibly win such a seemingly open and shut case, but I dealt with a case where one of the defendants literally admitted on the stand that they didn’t think the person who wasn’t selected for the job couldn’t do the job solely because of their disability and the judge ruled that it wasn’t discriminatory to promote a less qualified, non-disabled employee instead of transfer the more qualified disabled employee.

ghor said: My point is that in general creationists are portrayed as ‘stupid’ here.

Like that rant on the 4 elements.

Part of the complaint against Freshwater is that HS science teachers had to reteach the Periodic Table to kids coming out of his class. Its unclear *what* Freshwater was doing wrong with it, but I think any science teacher that can’t teach the overall gist of the periodic table correctly can justifiably be called stupid.

But in reality some of the greatest scientists were ‘Creationists’.

That you cannot deny.

Read the posts replying to your Boyle example - did anyone at all deny he was a creationist? Anyone? Bueller? Your argument is an utterly worthless straw man. No one has claimed or defended the position you’re attacking.

Any great scientist living before Darwin is almost by definition a creationist, and this fact is completely irrelevant to the veracity of the theory of evolution. Newton wasn’t a Quantum Mechanist either…who cares?

And you CAN be a good scientist and believe in God at the same time.

Another straw man. No one actually holds the position you’re arguing against. In fact the posters on PT happily cite Ken Miller (among others) as a good scientist who does believe in God.

dogmeatib said:

It is possible that the argument that administration is responsible and Freshwater isn’t could actually hold water. This all falls on the previous administration and their failure to do their jobs and properly establish an appropriate educational environment. If Freshwater’s attorney was intelligent he would hammer home the “but they allowed him to do these things for years and didn’t say a word” argument in an effort to claim inconsistency on the part of administration. That’s about the only chance he has, and it’s a small one.

I really cannot see that argument holding water. I understand you are not advocating this position, but I would like to say way the position is untenable. Essential it is an argument that we cannot take any actions to redress the wrongs that Freshwater has done because the wrongs have not been redressed by a previous administration. Obviously the pertinent question isn’t whether or not the previous administration was complicit in the wrong doing, but rather whether or not wrongs were committed by Freshwater which must be redressed. By similar logic, if the district attorney fails to prosecute a murder who he is well aware is a murder, then we can only prosecute the district attorney for his actions, and can never prosecute the murder.

eric said:

Newton wasn’t a Quantum Mechanist either…who cares?

Well I don’t know, he thought light was both a particle and a wave, he simply didn’t hold both opinions at the same time, like we do today. ;)

Larry Boy said: Essential[ly] it is an argument that we cannot take any actions to redress the wrongs that Freshwater has done because the wrongs have not been redressed by a previous administration.

I don’t think that’s exactly the defenses’ argument. I think the defense argument goes something like this: by saying nothing the administration tacitly approved Freshwater’s (admittedly wrong) conduct. Now they want to post hoc withdraw that approval because of his religious beliefs. That isn’t justice - its discrimination. An analogous situation might be pulling over speeders of only one race, or constantly pulling over your ex-wife for speeding. Yes, speeding is illegal. The target broke the law. But at the same time, cops can’t choose to enforce the law only against people they don’t like. Neither can the school administration.

(Caveat, I’m giving my opinion on the defenses’ argument. My characterization of it could be wrong, and even if its correct I don’t necessarily agree with it.)

ghor said:

But in reality some of the greatest scientists were ‘Creationists’.

That you cannot deny.

The point is, if you are a scientist and you continue with a mistaken belief after the evidence is in, then you are, in fact, stupid. If, on the other hand, you have a mistaken belief before the evidence is in, you may be brilliant; that your belief is mistaken does not speak to your intelligence, but to the state of knowledge of your time.

The point is, if you are a scientist and you continue with a mistaken belief after the evidence is in, then you are, in fact, stupid.

… a lot of people believe in God. I do not think they are all ‘stupid’

Another straw man. No one actually holds the position you’re arguing against. In fact the posters on PT happily cite Ken Miller (among others) as a good scientist who does believe in God.

… is the Pope ‘stupid’ for believing in the virgin birth??

Again, before anyone misunderstands or misconstrues my point or position, I agree completely that Freshwater should have been fired and should face criminal charges.

My point is simply that this is a hearing to determine whether he was wrongly terminated or not. This is not a criminal hearing, in many way it is quite different from the traditional “courtroom” that most of us would envision. That could provide Freshwater with advantages (as well as disadvantages) normally unavailable.

Also, I don’t agree with the argument, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for a court to rule that administration was inconsistent and even unfair in the handling of his situation. An attorney hammering at this point, that administration knew what he was doing, and potentially arguing that they condoned it, etc., followed by the current administration “overreacting” or perhaps “persecuting” Freshwater wouldn’t be an unheard of effort with more than a few instances where similar arguments have been successful. They would, of course, be left with the burning incident, but if the attorney were able to minimize that incident, or even argue that administration was aware of it so he again “thought” it wasn’t unacceptable, the potential is there for a weird, but not unheard of pro-Freshwater verdict.

To further emphasize, I consider this a total bullshit argument, but we’re talking about a termination hearing of an employee who, prior to this incident was allegedly a good employee, etc. I agree that this wasn’t a good employee, wasn’t a good teacher, had no business being in a school, or even in a school zone…

ghort said:

The point is, if you are a scientist and you continue with a mistaken belief after the evidence is in, then you are, in fact, stupid.

… a lot of people believe in God. I do not think they are all ‘stupid’

Nobody said believing in God was stupid. Being a creationist is stupid. They are not the same thing. The number of people who are simultaneously smart, informed and rational* who are creationists is zero.

*You are 0 for 3 here.

bobby heedlessly continues:”… is the Pope ‘stupid’ for believing in the virgin birth??”

WTF!? How can you possibly conflate a doctrinal belief in a miracle, which is expected to be taken on faith, with an idiotic rejection of the overwhelming evidence for evolution!?!!?

Man, ya’ll arguing with the noisy mutt again?

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

mrg (iml8) said:

Man, ya’ll arguing with the noisy mutt again?

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

Whoops! There goes another resolution.

tresmal said:

Whoops! There goes another resolution.

I must admit it’s tempting. Once I was walking past a house in a really bad mood and a little ankle-biter ran up right to the cyclone fence to started yapping furiously at me. I went up and kicked the fence hard enough to send the mutt flying a few feet. It grunted and then, having recovered its breath, went into absolute fit of shrill angry hysterics.

I’m not sure I felt so guilty about kicking it, but the absurdity of the situation was far from lost on me. Haven’t kicked a little dog since then.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

And, as someone else presciently remarked on another thread, we are dealing with a small dog whose only routine is “keep yapping”.

Or it’s actually worse. Consider: an absolutely fixed pattern of responses, over and over again. A total inability to consider context or extract understanding from previous interaction. A demonstrated incapacity to learn to avoid obvious logical pitfalls or gaps in reality - it’s as if they don’t exist within this entity’s Universe. No change in patterned behaviour, no matter what the audience.

I wonder. There are computer programs that are smarter than this. Can this be an Eliza, maybe tweaked a little, but not much different? Hey, Bobby, have you passed a Turing test lately?

Dave Luckett said:

Can this be an Eliza, maybe tweaked a little, but not much different?

Ever played with an Eliza-type program? It’s really annoying.

On the other side of the same coin, one wonders how valid the Turing test really is, since there are humans who can’t pass it.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

Being a creationist is stupid. They are not the same thing.

… Then exactly how do YOU define ‘creationist’???

WTF!? How can you possibly conflate a doctrinal belief in a miracle, which is expected to be taken on faith, with an idiotic rejection of the overwhelming evidence for evolution!?!!?

… who are these people rejecting ‘evolution’?? Evolution is a fact and is observed daily if not hourly.

.… Show me a single quote where someone does not believe alleles change over time.

mrg (iml8) said:

Man, ya’ll arguing with the noisy mutt again?

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

… I do this for the benefit of the ‘lurkers’ I like to point out the inaccuracies and deceptions here for newbies.

Dogmeatib I agree with your analysis, but I wouldn’t call the result weird. It makes a lot of sense to let the perp go if the authorities committed a significant crime to catch him.

But like you, in this particular case I don’t think Freshwater stands a chance. They gave him a warning that he didn’t follow about the religious material, there’s been no evidence of any religious bias by the administration (who are likely predominantly Christian themselves), and no science teacher should need policy guidance on why they shouldn’t make a circuit (of any voltage or amperage) that includes both a student and wall power.

dogmeatib said: it wouldn’t be unheard of for a court to rule that administration was inconsistent and even unfair in the handling of his situation. An attorney hammering at this point, that administration knew what he was doing, and potentially arguing that they condoned it, etc., followed by the current administration “overreacting” or perhaps “persecuting” Freshwater wouldn’t be an unheard of effort with more than a few instances where similar arguments have been successful. They would, of course, be left with the burning incident, but if the attorney were able to minimize that incident, or even argue that administration was aware of it so he again “thought” it wasn’t unacceptable, the potential is there for a weird, but not unheard of pro-Freshwater verdict.

bobby the lying sack of shit blathered:

… I do this for the benefit of the ‘lurkers’ I like to point out the inaccuracies and deceptions here for newbies.

and who knows more about inaccuracies and deceptions than bobby the lying sack of shit? Everything he’s said for months has been inaccurate and deceptive!

Go fuck yourself, bobby. You’re a worthless fraud, and everyone knows it. You’ve never said an honest thing in your life. Lies are all you have.

Elizabot will now complain about the language. 3, 2, 1…

Thanks Eric, I referred to it as a “weird” result mostly to avoid having someone through a rock at me mistakenly thinking that I’m rooting for this psycho. I think his only hope really is that he can convince the judge that he was just a poor misguided (and amazingly stupid) victim of inconsistency on the part of the district administration. But as you stated, no one should require a policy statement and administrative counseling to convince them not to plug the kids in.

eric said:

Dogmeatib I agree with your analysis, but I wouldn’t call the result weird. It makes a lot of sense to let the perp go if the authorities committed a significant crime to catch him.

But like you, in this particular case I don’t think Freshwater stands a chance. They gave him a warning that he didn’t follow about the religious material, there’s been no evidence of any religious bias by the administration (who are likely predominantly Christian themselves), and no science teacher should need policy guidance on why they shouldn’t make a circuit (of any voltage or amperage) that includes both a student and wall power.

dogmeatib said: it wouldn’t be unheard of for a court to rule that administration was inconsistent and even unfair in the handling of his situation. An attorney hammering at this point, that administration knew what he was doing, and potentially arguing that they condoned it, etc., followed by the current administration “overreacting” or perhaps “persecuting” Freshwater wouldn’t be an unheard of effort with more than a few instances where similar arguments have been successful. They would, of course, be left with the burning incident, but if the attorney were able to minimize that incident, or even argue that administration was aware of it so he again “thought” it wasn’t unacceptable, the potential is there for a weird, but not unheard of pro-Freshwater verdict.

“through” a rock at me? Duh, throw a rock at me … t’was a long day.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 6, 2009 11:22 PM.

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