Freshwater Update – Updated!

| 44 Comments

Update 7/11/09:

The situation surrounding the refusal to testify by the Mt. Vernon Board of Education members has been clarified. The Mt. Vernon News reports that according to the Common Pleas judge, the Board of Education quashed the subpoenas for testimony by Ian Watson and Jody Goetzman on the (official) ground that they have no direct knowledge of the allegations made against Freshwater and could therefore only offer hearsay testimony. Quashing the subpoenas basically takes them out of existence, so there were no subpoenas be complied with and so the judge didn’t order compliance with (now) non-existent subpoenas. (I know, I know: I tried to write a cleaner sentence, but I’m tired.) Further,

Since the matter is an administrative hearing, the judge said, the board has the legal authority to issue and quash subpoenas. He added that he has no grounds under law to overturn the board’s decision to invalidate the subpoenas in this case.

R. Kelly Hamilton apparently called the Board Members because he is trying to make the case that there is a conspiracy against Freshwater in which some teachers, administrators, Board Members, and other unnamed people have been trying to get get rid of him for years. Don Matolyak, Freshwater’s pastor, made that allegation around the time the hearing began in October 2008:

In 2003, Freshwater asked the Mount Vernon school board if he and other teachers could “critically examine” evolution in class. The school board said no.

“From that point on, John had a bull’s-eye on him,” said Don Matolyak, Freshwater’s pastor.

The board has carried out a vendetta against Freshwater because he wanted to teach alternative views to evolution, and that offended school-board members who believe in evolution, Matolyak said.

Pam Schehl’s interview with the judge also clarified another matter that’s been hovering out there:

The way the law is structured, Freshwater has the right to appeal whatever decision the board makes regarding his contract termination. If Freshwater does appeal to the court of common pleas at that time, the judge may or may not require additional testimony not presented during the administrative hearing.

So this process may well not be completed within the reign of the current monarch.

===============

A couple of developments should be noted. First, as you may recall, R. Kelly Hamilton, John Freshwater’s attorney, subpoenaed two members of the Mt. Vernon Board of Education, Ian Watson and Jody Goetzman. They declined to testify, arguing that were they to testify they would have to recuse themselves from subsequently voting on the recommendation of the hearing referee, and that would leave the BoE short of a quorum and it would be unable to act on the recommendation. Hamilton asked the Knox County Court of Common Pleas to compel their testimony, but yesterday the judge declined to do so on the ground that he does not have jurisdiction. I don’t yet know what Hamilton will do next.

Second, Freshwater has recently amended his federal complaint (pdf) that was filed June 9, 2009, to include

213. Plaintiffs incorporate the foregoing paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully restated herein.

214. At the time of Defendants actions Plaintiffs John and Nancy Freshwater were married and continue to be married.

215. As a result of the wrongful and negligent acts of the Defendants, Plaintiffs were caused to suffer, and will continue to suffer in the future, loss of consortium, loss of society, affection, assistance, and conjugal fellowship, all to the detriment of their marital relationship.

Third, the session scheduled for tomorrow, July 10, has been postponed. The hearing is currently scheduled to resume July 24, but given the recent twitchiness of the schedule I’m not counting on it happening. Hamilton may appeal the Common Pleas court decision, and I have no idea how long that might take.

I still have those 50 pages of notes to transcribe on the two days of hearings in May. I hope to get to that one of these days real soon now. :)

44 Comments

So Freshwater is claiming the actions against him are not only instigated by the defendants of his suit, but that it’s disrupting his marriage? Hmmm… Has his wife filed anything suggesting she’s going to divorce him?

W. H. Heydt said:

So Freshwater is claiming the actions against him are not only instigated by the defendants of his suit, but that it’s disrupting his marriage? Hmmm… Has his wife filed anything suggesting she’s going to divorce him?

Not to my knowledge. And as recently as early May they appeared normal toward each other in public. Nevertheless, I don’t doubt that it has been stressful for them, as it has also been stressful for the Dennis family.

So Freshwater is claiming the actions against him are.… disrupting his marriage?

Maybe he’s having trouble with his little tesla coil.

Hmmm… Has his wife filed anything suggesting she’s going to divorce him?

Why not? He’s already divorced from reality.

stevaroni Wrote:

Maybe he’s having trouble with his little tesla coil.

Just noticed from Google that it’s Tesla’s birthday today. He’s probably “rolling in his grave” over this.

Stevaroni you are cruel.

However, they cannot divorce because god joined them. To divorce would breech god’s law, hence instant hell, not withstanding the fact that he’s a lying piece of shit.

Thanks RBH, I’m enjoying your unpaid (I think) covereage, you are doing us a decent turn by covering this circus with such dilligence, cheers, if I could buy you a beer I would.

Rob.

However, they cannot divorce because god joined them. To divorce would breech god’s law

I never quite understood the logic of this. In the religious tribe that I grew up in, there is a line in the marriage ceremony that goes “What God has joined let no man put asunder”.

OK, I’ve got that, but, um, God is omniscient, which means he can see the future, right?

That means that he should be able to know which couples will be horrible for each other and need, for the good of everybody involved, to divorce in 5 years. Then why does he join them in the first place, if not being asundered is so important to him?

I mean, really, how could a kind, loving, omniscient God is not be able to look 24 hours into the future and decide that maybe Brittany Spears shouldn’t get hitched just yet, or Elizabeth Taylor shouldn’t go for seven, no matter how romantic that Elvis chapel in Vegas might be at the moment.

OK, maybe Brit and Liz don’t exactly fall under his “strict scrutiny” mandate. But there are plenty of truly religious people who get married in truly religious settings with only the best of intentions and yet, 10 years later their union is a trainwreck.

God knows this is going to happen, yet he condemns to a situation where the only option is a life of misery because he doesn’t like divorce. Assuming the couple acted in good faith, and really intended to try to make it work, it seems that the guilty party is God, he was the one in a unique position, with both the knowledge and ability to simply not join them in the first place

stevaroni said: [SNIP]

God knows this is going to happen, yet he condemns to a situation where the only option is a life of misery because he doesn’t like divorce. Assuming the couple acted in good faith, and really intended to try to make it work, it seems that the guilty party is God, he was the one in a unique position, with both the knowledge and ability to simply not join them in the first place

Which is a species of the Epicurean paradox, of course.

RBH said:

Which is a species of the Epicurean paradox, of course.

Well, there’s a link that made for some light reading on a Saturday morning. ;)

No wonder all those Victorian philosophers eventually all went crazy.

stevaroni said:

RBH said:

Which is a species of the Epicurean paradox, of course.

Well, there’s a link that made for some light reading on a Saturday morning. ;)

No wonder all those Victorian philosophers eventually all went crazy.

Happy to be of service. :)

stevaroni said:

Well, there’s a link that made for some light reading on a Saturday morning. ;)

No wonder all those Victorian philosophers eventually all went crazy.

Oy. Yeah, I’ve had to stop halfway to pick it up tomorrow.

Richard thanks heaps, again, for these reports. They’re almost as addicting as stuff from Dover, for some reason.

You know, Jesus DID say to stay married, and did NOT say turn every school into a Christian theocracy. So if that’s the choice Freshwater has, going off quietly and meekly with his helpmeet is more along WWJD lines than dumping her to punish the school system he says he loves with millions of dollars in court costs.

Okay, bright red ginormous glaring comment failed to submit means the opposite. Got it. good old blogging software.

Marion Delgado Wrote:

Richard thanks heaps, again, for these reports. They’re almost as addicting as stuff from Dover, for some reason.

You know, Jesus DID say to stay married, and did NOT say turn every school into a Christian theocracy.

I must admit that I never had much interest in the Freshwater story except to see how the DI reacts to it. AIUI there must be some kind of gag order within the DI, because if they defend Freshwater their “ID is not creationism” line becomes a joke to many fans as well as critics. But if they criticize Freshwater they alienate another subset of their fans. I never said that keeping the “pseudoscience code of silence” was easy.

As for divorce, as you know, fundamentalist Christians get divorced all the time. Those who like to wave their “moral absolutism” in your face, as opposed to those who quietly practice it, always seem to find loopholes. Nevertheless, the offer stands for them to quit their pseudoscience-based religion and join mine. In its entire history no member has ever gotten divorced, committed adultery, or had or performed an abortion.

actually, the omniscient god thing provides an interesting theological “out” … the analogous situation is this: in most loony evangelical traditions, when someone is “saved”, they are saved indelibly and eternally. however, when saved people wake up and walk away from the church, this presents no problem to the self-serving logic of christianity; it merely demonstrates that person was not, in fact, saved in the first place because they obviously had some subtle lack of commitment, devotion, or visitation by the holy spirit. so, the point about marriage: obviously not merely the act of a minister, it requires a joining by god. But if god is omniscient, he obviously has the ability to decline to join a couple who are fated to break up. Ipso facto, a divorce does not violate what god doesn’t want assunder; if you choose to believe so, a divorce is always retrospectively a separation of people who were never joined by god at all

The divorce rate for fundie xians is higher than the national average.

The percentage of religious school graduates who get abortions is higher than the national average also.

These clowns never walk their talk. It is called hypocrisy and they are doing it right and too much.

raven said:

The divorce rate for fundie xians is higher than the national average.

The percentage of religious school graduates who get abortions is higher than the national average also.

These clowns never walk their talk. It is called hypocrisy and they are doing it right and too much.

Not surprised by #1, most of them get married in their early twenties at the latest. I would bet that the fundie divorce rate is comparable to the overall “early-20s” divorce rate. That’s just too young.

Do you have some data to support #2? That would be enough to get a few of the fundies in my neighborhood to STFU, which I’d LOVE to do.

R. Kelly Hamilton apparently called the Board Members because he is trying to make the case that there is a conspiracy against Freshwater in which some teachers, administrators, Board Members, and other unnamed people have been trying to get get rid of him for years. Don Matolyak, Freshwater’s pastor, made that allegation around the time the hearing began in October 2008:

In 2003, Freshwater asked the Mount Vernon school board if he and other teachers could “critically examine” evolution in class. The school board said no.

“From that point on, John had a bull’s-eye on him,” said Don Matolyak, Freshwater’s pastor.

The board has carried out a vendetta against Freshwater because he wanted to teach alternative views to evolution, and that offended school-board members who believe in evolution, Matolyak said.

Why does it always come back to “a conspiracy?” That specific charge gets brought up by anti-evolutionists with such unerring frequency that I’m thinking it has to be a significant part of the psychology of the strident anti-evolutionist. Anyway, if a math teacher asked to start teaching her students a “critical examination” of the commutative property of multiplication which basically amounted to vague denials, wouldn’t you think an administrator should be more curious about what goes on in her classroom?

I don’t know about religious school graduates, but about 2 min of Googling found this, reprinting of which I will regard as fair use:

the Alan Guttmacher Institute reported in 2001-JUL that 37.4% of all abortions are performed on Protestant women; 18% of all abortions are done on born-again Protestants. “Born-again” believers constitute about 30% of the American adult population, and are thus under-represented among those women having abortions. [My italics]

*The abortion index by religion during 1994-1995 was found to be:

* Protestants: 0.69

* Followers of a non-Judeo-Christian religion: 0.78

* Catholics: 1.01%

* Jews: 1.08

* Persons who do not follow an organized religion: 4.02

An index value of 1.0 represents the national average. e.g. Catholics were 1% more likely to obtain an abortion than average. Data was prepared by Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, Storrs, CT, in 1995 from five Gallup polls.

They note further that the data must be interpreted carefully.

Do you have some data to support #2?

More Religious and Devout Young Women Have AbortionsDespite being educated in religious schools By Tudor Vieru, Science Editor

2nd of June 2009, 12:01 GMT A new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior shows that young women in their teens or early twenties who have attended religious schools are more likely than their peers to get an abortion, despite their beliefs. In fact, the research points out, these girls are more likely than those in the public school system to get pregnant without being too mature or married. The findings are very weird, because private religious schools, regardless of the god they promote, pride themselves in enforcing a very strict policy as far as contacts between their students go.

“This research suggests that young, unmarried women are confronted with a number of social, financial and health-related factors that can make it difficult for them to act according to religious values when deciding whether to keep or abort a pregnancy,” explained City University of New York (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center assistant professor, sociologist Amy Adamczyk. She is also the author of the new paper.

For her research, the expert kept an eye on 1,504 unmarried and never-divorced young women in 125 different schools around the United States, aged 26 or younger. The goal of the investigation was to determine exactly how religious behavior influenced the young girls’ decisions to have an abortion. Other studies have shown a strong link between religion and abortion attitudes, but this correlation has thus far remained largely unstudied.

A quarter of the women that were a part of the research reported that they had an abortion during it, but the number is certainly larger. Adamczyk said that, in this type of studies, the results usually do not reflect reality accurately, in that the numbers of women who have abortions, but don’t want to, or are too afraid to admit are a lot larger. When analyzing the variables in the research, the expert learned that neither religious involvement, nor frequency of prayer or the perception of religion’s importance has any bearing on the women’s decision.

“Religious school attendance is not necessarily indicative of conservative religious beliefs because students attend these schools for a variety of reasons. These schools tend to generate high levels of commitment and strong social ties among their students and families, so abortion rates could be higher due to the potential for increased feelings of shame related to an extramarital birth,” the expert concluded.

Nothing will shut them up. I’ve posted this recent study to fundies before and all they do is what they always do, lie and make up excuses. To someone who believes the earth is 6,000 years old, reality is of no interest.

That would be enough to get a few of the fundies in my neighborhood to STFU, which I’d LOVE to do.

For those interested, Freshwater, his attorney, and his pastor were interviewed for two hours on a Christian radio station in Columbus the 10th. The recordings are here. I haven’t listened to them yet.

Comment test. Testing 1, 2, 3. End test.

Thanks for the radio links!!

W. H. Heydt,

Hmmm… Has his wife filed anything suggesting she’s going to divorce him?

When Freshwater’s complaint was amended, his wife joined him as an additional plaintiff. So they’re evidently still on good enough terms with each other to work together on this! Interestingly, the only injury she seems to be claiming is the “loss of consortium” count.

Usually, couples filing a loss of consortium suit have no intention of divorcing, or at least they say they don’t–the whole point of such a complaint is that the couple wants to stay together, but some aspect of their marriage has been wrecked against their will. E.g., one of them is disfigured or injured in a car crash, messing up their sex life…stuff like that. I have no idea how the Freshwaters intend to make an analogous case.

Just to clarify the above comment, there’s certainly no requirement that a “loss of consortium” complaint be about sex; it can concern the loss of any sort of service provided by one spouse to the other. Medical care, gardening, doing the dishes, any such thing. Obviously, though, the judge and jury are more likely to be sympathetic if it’s a more important service.

BTW, I should have credited finding the radio interview to a PT correspondent.

Just listening to the radio show linked above, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get through much of it before I puke.

Asked “How did this start?”, Freshwater claims it started with the 2003 review of evolution. He claims that he was just following the Santorum amendment that “had the force of law” (direct quote!). Too bad that it doesn’t have the force of law. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santorum_Amendment )

If he lies about that, I think he’s liable to lie about anything. He just said “I didn’t brand a child with a cross.” Why should I believe him about that when he doesn’t have a clue about the law?

Well, I listened to the whole thing. There was nothing new. They kept the framing (!) they started with: it’s all about the one personal Bible on Freshwater’s desk. But, of course, that’s far from what it’s all about.

The other bit of news was that R. Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, said that they will appeal the ruling of the Common Pleas court mentioned in the OP above. That means it will be months before the next session of the hearing is held.

RICHARD:

I am transcribing the whole shebang.

For starters:

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Bernie_1.txt

And 2,3,4 as I get done with them.

It’s a very interesting way to really hear something.

I PLAN TO HAVE THE WHOLE THING DONE BY SOMETIME TOMORROW

Holy mackerel! That’s a substantial project. Thanks!

Marion Delgado said:

RICHARD:

I am transcribing the whole shebang.

For starters:

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Bernie_1.txt

And 2,3,4 as I get done with them.

It’s a very interesting way to really hear something.

I PLAN TO HAVE THE WHOLE THING DONE BY SOMETIME TOMORROW

Before I forget, one other thing popped up in that broadcast that is a theme of Freshwater’s case as presented by his attorney in questions in the hearing. It is whether anyone was “offended” by Freshwater’s Bible (or other religious displays). But what is offended by sectarian religious displays in a public school is the Constitution. Religious displays in public schools are not prohibited because one or another person might be offended; they are prohibited because the state is not Constitutionally allowed to endorse any religious belief or position. If no one at all were “offended” by such a display it would still be prohibited. I really think that Freshwater and his allies do not understand that.

Change that to:

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Burney_1.txt

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Burney_2.txt

etc.

I was misspelling Burney because I only had the audio.

In order to get this done in a timely fashion, I am simply replacing the transcripts as they’re edited and corrected, so feel free to re-download and replace any of the 4 parts. When I am done for real, I will post one big transcript.

Currently:

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Burney_1.txt Done http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Burney_2.txt Done http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Burney_3.txt Being edited. http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]Burney_4.txt Incomplete.

But even the “Dones” are actually being edited.

One more thing: Other than the rights that WRFD and Bob Burney and John Freshwater and Kelly Hamilton and Don Matolyak reserve, I’m not reserving any. The transcripts I am making are free to download and edit and post somewhere else besides a Geocities URL :)

Richard:

All done. I left in all verbal tics, repetition, etc., that I could have perhaps cleaned up to make it more intelligible. Left out only uhs. It took less time to do it that way than to develop rules or guidelines :)

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]rney_ALL.txt

Has the whole thing.

Thanks!

There’s no copyright notice at all on the downloads page, so as far as I can see (and I am not a lawyer!) there’s no obstacle to the transcripts being on the web. However, I invite comment from qualified readers.

RBH said:

Before I forget, one other thing popped up in that broadcast that is a theme of Freshwater’s case as presented by his attorney in questions in the hearing. It is whether anyone was “offended” by Freshwater’s Bible (or other religious displays). But what is offended by sectarian religious displays in a public school is the Constitution. Religious displays in public schools are not prohibited because one or another person might be offended; they are prohibited because the state is not Constitutionally allowed to endorse any religious belief or position. If no one at all were “offended” by such a display it would still be prohibited. I really think that Freshwater and his allies do not understand that.

Richard,

This is quite common, I teach political science/government in a very conservative area and regularly have kids make arguments to the effect that if it doesn’t bother anyone, then religious displays by the government should be fine, in fact encouraged. Further realize that it has been my experience that this isn’t a coherent or principled position because these same kids will then argue that people who oppose the pledge, or religious displays, etc., should “just get over it,” or “find something more important to worry about.”

Before anyone thinks, “they’re just kids, they don’t know any better,” remember that these kids reflect the beliefs and positions of their parents (#1 factor). Also, I’ve met enough of the parents to determine that these are, quite literally, the positions those parents hold.

Marion Delgado said:

Richard:

All done. I left in all verbal tics, repetition, etc., that I could have perhaps cleaned up to make it more intelligible. Left out only uhs. It took less time to do it that way than to develop rules or guidelines :)

http://www.geocities.com/marion_del[…]rney_ALL.txt

Has the whole thing.

Marion,

Quite a lot of work there, thank you on behalf of those of us interested in this case.

Regarding the transcript itself, wow, an entire mountain of lying for Jesus. Anyone who has attended even one day of the hearings or read just one of Richard’s transcripts can see that the entire show was a collection of lies and half truths. So much for “honest Christians…”

I think that one of the most important and best ways to teach people about this is to point out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of their arguments. Pointing out that, “it doesn’t bother anyone, then religious displays by the government should be fine”, and “that people who oppose the pledge, or religious displays, etc., should “just get over it””, are diametrically opposite will hopefully make all but the most stubborn a bit more reflective.

It reminds me a bit of a conversation I had with a student in the spring semester about Global Warming. She claimed (after I had pointed out that short term changes cannot be used to make conclusions about climate) that the cold winter we were having in Florida showed that the climate was not warming. When I asked her, “So if we have a hot summer you’ll agree that global warming IS occurring?”, she answered with an outraged, “NO!” But for the rest of the semester, she showed a bit more thoughtfullness.

I think that you’ve hit the nail on the head with your comment about “kids reflect the beliefs and positions of their parents”. It’s really hard for most people to decide to change from what they’ve heard from their parents.

dogmeatIB said:

RBH said:

Richard,

This is quite common, I teach political science/government in a very conservative area and regularly have kids make arguments to the effect that if it doesn’t bother anyone, then religious displays by the government should be fine, in fact encouraged. Further realize that it has been my experience that this isn’t a coherent or principled position because these same kids will then argue that people who oppose the pledge, or religious displays, etc., should “just get over it,” or “find something more important to worry about.”

Before anyone thinks, “they’re just kids, they don’t know any better,” remember that these kids reflect the beliefs and positions of their parents (#1 factor). Also, I’ve met enough of the parents to determine that these are, quite literally, the positions those parents hold.

I think that one of the most important and best ways to teach people about this is to point out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of their arguments. Pointing out that, “it doesn’t bother anyone, then religious displays by the government should be fine”, and “that people who oppose the pledge, or religious displays, etc., should “just get over it””, are diametrically opposite will hopefully make all but the most stubborn a bit more reflective.

That thought crossed my mind too. But then again, the basis of Creationism (some versions of it, at least) is an omnipotent “designer” that is nevertheless unable to produce the desired results via evolution as understood by science. That’s basically starting with two mutually contradictory concepts.

Henry J

A lot of law has stuff about offending community standards, actually.

and de facto, a lot of 1st am law depends on enough people filing

it doesnt entirely apply here but a little bit.

ps no dover villains here i.m.o. but definitely the next (critical/explore evolution) move in the chess game.

There’s no copyright notice at all on the downloads page, so as far as I can see (and I am not a lawyer!) there’s no obstacle to the transcripts being on the web. However, I invite comment from qualified readers.

I am not a fully qualified reader, but I want to clarify a common misconception: In the U.S., works created after March 1, 1989, are, so to speak, born copyrighted and have statutory protection, whether or not they include a copyright notice. Works of the Federal government are not subject to copyright, nor are state and local laws and court decisions. I’d guess that the referee’s decision is therefore in the public domain (that is, not subject to copyright protection), and very possibly the hearing transcript is too. The lack of a copyright notice, at any rate, conveys no information about its copyright status.

oh my god! listened to the broadcasts (I have a new favorite radio show) and I cannot believe how utterly dishonest they are in describing the “half million dollar lawsuit over nothing other than having a bible on a desk”.

snaxalotl said:

oh my god! listened to the broadcasts (I have a new favorite radio show) and I cannot believe how utterly dishonest they are in describing the “half million dollar lawsuit over nothing other than having a bible on a desk”.

What’s so hard to believe about this dishonesty? Freshwater’s a creationist, dishonesty is a sacrament to them! Lying For Jesus™ is not considered a sin, but the highest and most noble calling.

These people simply do not care about the truth. They’re certain their imaginary friend will reward them for spreading the “good news”, and if it requires outright lying or child abuse, well that’s just fine and dandy! It’s not like they think their imaginary god has any problem with bearing false witness.

This is what passes for christian morality. The most basic honesty goes out the window the instant it becomes inconvenient.

If anyone is interested I occasionally blog about that whack-job bob burney here: http://secularscott.wordpress.com/

He’s another delusional christian who pretends to have knowledge of his imaginary god, based solely on his idiosyncratic interpretation of spurious scripture and flights of lunacy, which he uses to wallow in a bogus sense of authority.

–S.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on July 11, 2009 7:16 PM.

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