Freshwater: Another one down

| 28 Comments

A while back I mentioned that one of the legal proceedings initiated by John Freshwater in aid of his quest to regain his teaching job was a complaint to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission alleging religious discrimination by the school district in his firing. I’ve finally learned that the Commission dismissed that complaint way back last June, saying

Based on the investigation conducted in this matter, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has determined that there is No Probable Cause to believe that the Respondent [the school district] engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice under section 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code and hereby orders that this matter be Dismissed. (bolding in the original)

Still in progress (if that’s the right word!) are Freshwater’s complaint (on the same ground) to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and his appeal of Judge Otho Eyster’s decision on Freshwater’s appeal of his termination in the state court system.

28 Comments

with respect to the Kingston Trio

Where have all the creationists gone long time passing Where have all the creationists gone fired for preaching every one when will they ever learn when will they ever learn

It just goes on and on and on and on.…

Man, it would have been cheaper just to pay the guy off (not that they should have). Cost to the tax payer must be well over a million dollars by now.

I began following this buffoon from the very first hearings, and now I liken my interest in him to the interest I show a scab on my knee; I just can’t help picking at it. It’s a delightfully self inflicted pain at the momemt, but I also know it will eventually get better.

ogremk5 said:

with respect to the Kingston Trio

For what its worth:

Actually, though the Kingston Trio claimed the song was theirs originally, credit and respect is due to Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson. I hate to see the heroic Seeger overshadowed by commercialism.

stringfold said:

Man, it would have been cheaper just to pay the guy off (not that they should have). Cost to the tax payer must be well over a million dollars by now.

Maybe, if the victim can’t afford to fight, but that’s appeasement. Whenever the creationists are paid to drop their nuisance claims, they run around claiming that they’ve won, and it creates a profitable niche for their lawyers. Instead of chasing ambulances looking for whiplash cases they can chase creationists who claim they’ve faced discrimination.

We’ve seen this over and over, the latest example being the recently-settled litigation against the California Science Center. The settlement stated that neither side admitted liability. But there was an immediate blizzard of press releases and blog articles by the Discovery Institute proclaiming that the settlement was a great victory.

More nonsense lawsuits clogging up the courts and organizations who investigate REAL cases of discrimination. Waste of time, money, effort. He was fired for not doing his job and violating the 1st Amendment. Case closed.

Sure, why not violate the 1st Amendment, then file a complaint of religious discrimination when you’re sanctioned for it?

I hope he has to pay for some of his abuse of the legal system. The fact that he has help in abusing it, though, blunts the desired effects of making him pay costs.

Apparently he figures he has little or nothing to lose at this point, and with trivial matters like honesty proving no impediment, it’s robo-litigation.

Glen Davidson

Mt. Vernon News story, with the text of the letter of determination.

Ummm…just curious, but how could the school district have engaged in religious discrimination unless what Freshwater was doing was religious in nature. Didn’t he and his attorney argue in court that Freshwater most definitely was NOT engaged in anything religious?

I’m so confused…

What, you expect consistency?

Thou doth ask too much!

Robin said: Ummm…just curious, but how could the school district have engaged in religious discrimination unless what Freshwater was doing was religious in nature.

They do this all the time - same thing happened in ACSI vs. Stearns and I think in the case of the California Science Center that decided not to show Expelled.

Typically the legal argument goes like this: while ID isn’t religious, the big bad mainstream perceives it as Christian, and rejects it out of their bigotry towards of Christianity. (There’s also the variant: its religious discrimination when ID is rejected because the group presenting it is Christian, and they are being censored due to their Christian-ness.)

I think that, hypothetically, this argument legally works. Which is to say if someone really did have an animus towards Christianity, believed X was Christian in nature, and rejected X because of its perceived Christian nature, that would be religious discrimination even if X wasn’t really Christian.

In practice, nobody has bought this argument when it is shoveled into a courtroom by the DI and others, likely because in every case the defense is composed of mostly Christians too.

Robin said:

Ummm…just curious, but how could the school district have engaged in religious discrimination unless what Freshwater was doing was religious in nature. Didn’t he and his attorney argue in court that Freshwater most definitely was NOT engaged in anything religious?

I’m so confused…

Freshwater’s complaints to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and U.S. EEOC are based on the claim that the school district discriminated against him purely because he is a Christian, not on anything he did in the classroom. He submitted the administrative hearing transcript and other materials in support of that claim, but did little to point out just where the discrimination was evinced in the material. I’ve got the complaints somewhere around here, but haven’t turned them up in a cursory search.

likely because in every case the defense is composed of mostly Christians too.

Details, details!

As a former employee of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (retired now), the EEOC adopts the findings of the Ohio Commission almost automatically. The acceptance rate is well over 95%. This is because all such charges are automatically filed with both agencies, and subject to a work-sharing agreement. The point is: this case is closed on the federal level UNLESS he is crazy enough to file a federal lawsuit. Which would have 0% chance of success.

This entire travesty has been an incredible rush to judgment!! Where’s the man’s due process??

.

.

.

;)

Of course, everyone forgets that he burned the shit out of kids with dangerous ‘lab’ equipment.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

Robin said:

Ummm…just curious, but how could the school district have engaged in religious discrimination unless what Freshwater was doing was religious in nature. Didn’t he and his attorney argue in court that Freshwater most definitely was NOT engaged in anything religious?

I’m so confused…

Freshwater’s complaints to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and U.S. EEOC are based on the claim that the school district discriminated against him purely because he is a Christian, not on anything he did in the classroom. He submitted the administrative hearing transcript and other materials in support of that claim, but did little to point out just where the discrimination was evinced in the material. I’ve got the complaints somewhere around here, but haven’t turned them up in a cursory search.

Ahhh…ok. I was being somewhat facetious and expecting an explanation of just plain old inconsistency (a la Eric and Henry - thanks btw), but it’s far more interesting to discovery there actually was some (rather dubious to be sure) method to the madness.

Robin said: Ahhh…ok. I was being somewhat facetious and expecting an explanation of just plain old inconsistency (a la Eric and Henry - thanks btw), but it’s far more interesting to discovery there actually was some (rather dubious to be sure) method to the madness.

More like vice versa.

Robin -

No, you’re right that there is inconsistency and dishonesty at every step of the creationist process.

First you (I will refer to creationists as “you”) become a teacher or run for school board, hiding your creationist agenda from some where convenient and privately revealing it to others where that is convenient.

You target a rural school in a fairly conservative district. You know that you’ll be sniffed out fast in a more affluent or diverse area. (To date, they never pester wealthy districts, not even very conservative wealthy districts.)

Your rights-violating preaching and science denial in public school science class would be offensive to Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, non-religious people, etc. (Of course some members of some of these groups might want their own rights violating preaching and denial in science class if they could get it, but they all don’t want yours.) However, since you’ve targeted a culturally Christian district, by definition, it’s usually other people who self-identify as Christian whom you offend.

Eventually you get caught, and that’s when you make multiple legal arguments, which seem, to the typical honest mind, to be inconsistent with one another.

1) You claim that your preaching was non-religious “critical thinking” about evolution; i.e. that the problem is that valid non-religious teaching was mistaken for religious teaching. The Rutherford Institute has claimed this about Freshwater several times, he has denied that he burned a “cross” at times, and so on.

2) You claim that you are being punished for religious behavior but that it was permitted private religious behavior. The Rutherford Institute has advanced this claim several times as well; that Freshwater was punished merely for “having a Bible on his desk”. (As it happens I would prefer that public school teachers keep personal inspirational spiritual material in a drawer, lest students confuse it with didactic material, but I would agree that firing only for having a Bible on a desk might be absurd - of course, no-one has done any such thing.)

3) Finally, they also advance the argument that is the subject of this thread - that the preaching was not religious in nature, but that they are in general being persecuted for being Christian, and that the claim that the material is religious is a ruse to further a general persecution of Christians. Note that this implies a number of odd coincidences - a) you’re a Christian who teaches special material that is associated with fundamentalism and that no-one else teaches but actually, coincidentally, it’s just that you see a non-religious reason to deny evolution, b) your superiors are intent on persecuting you, but before you taught the special material, they could do nothing, maybe even praised you, and now suddenly, even though the material was “non-religious”, they are all over you.

I wouldn’t strictly call any of this “dishonest”, because it is my personal first amendment protected view that all the active creationists I am aware of seem to show an inability to distinguish honesty from self-serving dissembling.

They all also show obsessive traits. They are obsessed with denying biological evolution, upset that anyone anywhere is talking about biological evolution. They are even more obsessed, though, with defending creationist propaganda (a thread here that critiques a creationist article will go to hundreds and hundreds of comments before cut off).

They operate in the very short term and make no effort to synthesize arguments. Instead, second by second, they obsessively contradict some individual scientific finding/defend some wrong creationist claim. If they contradict what they said a minute ago, they don’t care. If they misrepresent the scientific finding that they claim to contradict, they don’t care. They aren’t psychologically able to grasp the abstract concepts of honesty, consistency, or rational persuasion (as opposed domination), any more than the late Alex the Parrot was able to grasp the concept of an integral or derivative. In my view, for whatever reason, the circuits either just aren’t there, or are overpowered by self-serving biases.

Preaching to the chior here, but much of Freshwater’s zeal, and the conundrum we as scientists may face in the future, has rightly been explained here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/o[…]m&st=cse. The money quote: “The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. As one fundamentalist slogan puts it, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” But evangelical Christianity need not be defined by the simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism that.…” Sigh…

Note that both authors of that NYTimes piece are evangelicals.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

Note that both authors of that NYTimes piece are evangelicals.

Ken Ham didn’t like it.

Vince said:

Preaching to the chior here, but much of Freshwater’s zeal, and the conundrum we as scientists may face in the future, has rightly been explained here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/o[…]m&st=cse.

I take the point and agree, but for me the money quote is this: “they (evangelicals) have been scarred by… (among other things)… acceptance of other religions and of atheism.”

Wait, what? Scarred? Like having religious symbols burned on you, you mean? Other religions and atheism are accepted by their compatriots, and that scars these guys?

Could “scarred” be a typo for “scared”? They’re scared by other ideas, not scarred by them? Well, “scared” is probably true, but I don’t think it was intended. It doesn’t seem likely. The writer actually meant to say that evangelicals are in some sense actually hurt, actually injured, by other religions and atheism being accepted.

Think of it! Even these “liberal evangelicals” who are prepared to argue with the extreme troglodytes on the fringes of their cult, even they think that the very existence of other faiths and of atheism is actually injurious to them. And the NYT prints their piece and everybody sagely nods their heads. Quite understandable that they’d feel hurt, say the temporisers.

The day we take their hurt feelings into account is the day we take the first steps backward into the abyss. Let them smart.

I take the point and agree, but for me the money quote is this: “they (evangelicals) have been scarred by… (among other things)… acceptance of other religions and of atheism.”

Well who cares?

This doesn’t make sense anyway. The US has always had other religions. Mainline Protestants and Catholics outnumber the fundies 2 to 1. The RCC is the largest sect in the USA with 68 million members.

About that acceptance of other religions. The Jews are tolerated mostly but not always. Moslems and atheists are two of the most hated groups in our society according to CNN/CBS polls. The other two are…fundie xians and the Tea Party.

“The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism,

It’s also rather stupid.

1. Science is the basis of modern 21st century Hi Tech civilization.

2. Science is also the basis for US leadership in the world. This is recognized by the federal government which spends around $180 billion/year on science R&D, half of it military.

Raven, you’re a rationalist. For you, things should make sense - they should be consistent with the evidence of the senses and the received reality of the Universe, and a rational understanding thereof. It’s difficult to understand, but it seems clear that there is a substantial moiety of human beings for whom this is not the case.

So who cares about their attitudes? They do, and so must anyone who has to deal with them. They themselves appear to number in the tens of millions in the US alone.

Sure, it’s stupid in the sense that it is not based on anything to do with reality. That’s crushingly true, but in a sense irrelevant to them. Freshwater couldn’t be dissuaded from evangelism just because it is unlawful to use an office under the State to do it. That wasn’t true to him, or if it was true it was a device of Satan.

Somebody has to care about that, stupid as it is.

The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism,

There are two things you need to understand, to understand creationism. This is number one. And to understand this, you need to understand that it appeals to people who think in terms of groups dominating other groups, not in terms of individual rights. They perceive, actually not particularly accurately in most individual cases, that their group’s ability to dominate has been weakened by things that reasonable people take for granted but that they still seethingly resent. For example, the outcomes of the civil war, the end of legal segregation, widespread contraception and improvement in women’s rights, election of a Catholic president in 1960, election of a president of African physical appearance in 2008, improved rights for gay people, broader tolerance for diverse religions, etc.

While I do not think that they consciously invented their religion to conform to these biases, it is unequivocally true that their religion has become modified to fit them. Their Jesus is a bullying figure whose main role is to aid the strong and help them really stick it to the weak.

The second thing to understand is that, except when literally confronted with absolutely inescapable physical situations, they behave like incompetent defense attorneys. R. Kelly Hamilton is a fantastic example and analogy. (Note that Hamilton was, in my constitutionally protected subjective opinion, ineffective as Freshwater’s attorney, whatever his motivations may actually have been and however competently he may have pursued some other agenda.) They do behave, however, like competent participants in the sport of “competitive debate” - except that rational participants in this sport use evidence-based thinking except during bouts.

A competent defense attorney says everything he or she can to defend their client and poke holes in the other sides’ arguments.

But a competent defense attorney does not engage in futile arguments against insurmountable evidence. A competent defense attorney does what is best for the client, and that means acknowledging a hopeless situation and making the best possible deal.

A “theistic evolutionist” like Ken Miller might be thought of as a competent defense attorney for religion, in light of the evidence of science.

However, the implied goal of creationists is not personal spiritual inspiration, but authoritarian dominion over others. Some of them admit this to each other, some of them openly admit it to everyone (this is condemned as poor strategy by other creationists), and some of them seem to be loathe to admit it even to themselves, but this is always the implied goal.

Ever acknowledging the other persons’ argument, even when it is glaringly obviously correct, does not serve this goal.

As I have mentioned before, the sport of competitive debate generates a similar situation. In the artificial atmosphere of this sport, competitors must “defend” an argument, in a limited period of time. Serious analysis of extensive evidence is not allowed, as time is limited. Acknowledging that the other team made a valid point is usually considered, unless doing so is part of some sort of “gotcha” trick strategy, the worst error. Successfully defending a position which is intuitively weaker than that the opponent defends is considered a sign of talent. Which team wins, i.e. which argument is “true” for the purposes of the contest, is decided by the ruling of authority figures.

If you understand this, you understand creationists. They are politically motivated authoritarians who self-identify with a particular cultural group and seek to dominate others. They instinctively use tactics of domination, not persuasion.

Lest you doubt me, let me point out that if this were not true, I would not be writing on this blog, and you would not likely be reading me.

I have no problem with others believing as they see fit, using persuasion to convince, and respecting the rights of others. Belief in astrology is widespread and I disagree with it, but you don’t see me wasting a lot of energy arguing against it, because astrologers and their fans aren’t trying to violate my rights by preaching in publicly funded schools. They believe as they see fit and use persuasion; this is a somewhat free-ish society and I have no objection to that.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on October 18, 2011 7:25 PM.

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