Freshwater: Advising Springboro creationists?

| 40 Comments

The Springboro, Ohio, board of education has been flirting with adding creationism to its curriculum in the guise of a “controversial issues” policy. (See here for a representative news story, and see the Sensuous Curmudgeon for more opinionated coverage).

Now it’s been reported that John Freshwater, who is awaiting a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court on his termination as a science teacher in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, has been giving advice to that board. According to an Ohio political blog that I’ve never heard of before, Plunderbund, Freshwater communicated with Springboro board member Jim Rigano, one of the proponents of the “controversial issues” proposal, recommending his Rutherford Institute lawyer to the Springboro board. That attorney, Rita Dunaway, argued Freshwater’s case before the Ohio Supreme Court, and did a good job of it. (See here for the video, and here for my remarks on it.)

Plunderbund even claims to have the email request Springboro board member Rigano made to Dunaway. In the end, apparently Dunaway declined Rigano’s request–perhaps the Springboro board’s overt creationism was too much for the Rutherford Institute. So Rigano and his fellow board members sought different representation, which, according to Plunderbund, is Liberty Institute, with the board reportedly meeting last night (Aug 8) to vote on retaining Liberty Institute as counsel. The purported letter of agreement is here on Liberty letterhead. A Google News search yields no hits about the meeting last night. Anyone hear anything about that meeting?

According to its web site,

Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization focused solely on protecting and restoring religious liberty in the United States. We offer legal assistance pro bono to help defend the religious freedoms of individuals, churches and other organizations all across the nation.

From what I can tell scanning around the web, Liberty Institute makes the John Birch Society look pinko.

Freshwater’s advice was sound: Dunaway was a good representative for him. She was smooth and poised, and was able to unabashedly distort and misrepresent the record in a way favorable to Freshwater’s case. We’re still awaiting the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision.

40 Comments

Freshwater ought to be pretty good at telling people how to flout Constitutional rights.

He doesn’t seem so great at getting away with it–although that depends finally upon whether or not Ohio justices’ respect for rights.

Glen Davidson

“unabashedly distort and misrepresent the record”

Translated: “Lies her ass off without flinching.”

Freshwater probably wishes he had been a teacher in Springboro. Then he wouldn’t have been fired for teaching creationism. Don’t be surprised if he ends up working for them.

Taking a step down from Freshwater’s legal team? That doesn’t bode well, does it?

This may have hurt Freshwater.

The Ohio Supreme Court should decide on Freshwater based on the most rigorous legal analysis, without being biased by current events or partisan politics.

However, in my opinion, what’s really happening is that they want to find in favor of Freshwater, in order to pander to fellow right wing authoritarian Republicans, but are finding it very hard to come up with a credible way to do so, in light of strong and obvious precedent.

Although they may secretly wish that Freshwater and his ilk could prance around the country promoting government-funded, rights violating denial of scientific reality, they probably realize that such an outcome would draw excessive attention to their decision, to the possible political detriment of some allies.

In short, they would like to reward Freshwater as a political fellow traveler, but they would probably like to do so quietly.

When Freshwater demonstrates the obvious - he is not going to be quiet - it may well work against him. They may decide that the political risks of finding for him outweigh the political benefits.

(In my opinion, it’s obvious that the justices are mainly motivated by crass social and political considerations, rather than pure legal analysis. If that weren’t so, they would not have taken this case in the first place.)

OT, but why is Sandefur’s post, previously on this blog, not permitting comments?

What is this, the Discovery Institute? Let’s leave censorship to the IDers.

Doesn’t the Springboro local government retain counsel? I am not sure why the BOE is shopping for private sector legal representation in the first place.

Does this mean that the BOE has already consulted their ‘official’ legal counsel and didn’t like the result???

Is it just a cost thing? They aren’t using the city lawyer(s) because Liberty has offered to work their case for free?

diogeneslamp0 said:

OT, but why is Sandefur’s post, previously on this blog, not permitting comments?

What is this, the Discovery Institute? Let’s leave censorship to the IDers.

As far as I can tell, Sandefur has never permitted comments on any of his posts. He seems to be a Libertarian. Not sure why he has posting privilieges here. [shrug]

xubist said:

diogeneslamp0 said:

OT, but why is Sandefur’s post, previously on this blog, not permitting comments?

What is this, the Discovery Institute? Let’s leave censorship to the IDers.

As far as I can tell, Sandefur has never permitted comments on any of his posts. He seems to be a Libertarian. Not sure why he has posting privilieges here. [shrug]

These “no comments allowed” Sandefur posts make no sense at all. I can’t understand why he wants to put them up in this venue. Why he’s allowed to is another question, but why he wants to is what I don’t get.

My post from the BW:

Why the hell does Timothy Sandefur continue to get to post main page articles with no comments allowed? Why is he special?

Just Bob said:

My post from the BW:

Why the hell does Timothy Sandefur continue to get to post main page articles with no comments allowed? Why is he special?

Why is Sandefur the ONLY one allowed to do that?

In the post, he complains about censorship– but it’s hard to sympathize when he permits no comments. That’s what Evolution News & Views does.

Each Thumb contributor determines the commenting policy for his or her posts. Hence, there is a range from Tim’s no-comments decision to, say, my more permissive regime. That’s the way it’s been since we founded the Thumb. So can we leave it at that, please?

Via the Sensuous Curmudgeon, we learn that Plunderbund obtained the cited documents via a public records request.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

Via the Sensuous Curmudgeon, we learn that Plunderbund obtained the cited documents via a public records request.

That’s what I was told in an email from the author of the Plunderbund article. I don’t have any other details.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

Each Thumb contributor determines the commenting policy for his or her posts. Hence, there is a range from Tim’s no-comments decision to, say, my more permissive regime. That’s the way it’s been since we founded the Thumb. So can we leave it at that, please?

No.

Has any other contributor ever not allowed any comments at all? That seems to violate the spirit of the whole enterprise. If Sandefur wants to publish essays propounding his viewpoint while disallowing comments, there are other appropriate venues – including his own blog.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

Each Thumb contributor determines the commenting policy for his or her posts. Hence, there is a range from Tim’s no-comments decision to, say, my more permissive regime. That’s the way it’s been since we founded the Thumb.

Why, “That’s the way it is” is a perfectly rational explanation, Casey. I mean, Richard.

Here’s the problem. If anyone wants to comment on a Sandefur post, whether positive, negative, or just asking a question, he has interrupt some other thread to do it! Because there IS NO Sandefur thread, just the bare post.

The impression is arrogance: “None of you have any business commenting on my profound thoughts, or any right to express an opinion different from mine.”

I’ll see what I can do.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks!

Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization focused solely on protecting and restoring religious liberty in the United States. We offer legal assistance pro bono to help defend the religious freedoms of individuals, churches and other organizations all across the nation.

Hey!!! WTH!!!

I thought ID and creationism weren’t religious xian cult beliefs.

The fact that they are contracting with Liberty Institute, a far right wingnut group focusing on religious groups gives their game away right there.

The creationists and their thinly disguised Trojan horse can never stop talking about god and jesus.

The fact that they are contracting with an outside pro bono (free) christofascist law group is also telling.

1. The school district itself must have lawyers or a legal firm.

2. The school district’s insurance company must also have lawyers.

Probably both sets of lawyers have already told them it is illegal. That is what happened at Dover and why the school district was ordered to pay $2 million, one million generously waived by plaintiffs.

It’s obvious that the Springboro school board could care less if they wreck the district’s public education. Among the endless hates of the fundies is public education, Because it educates kids. In Orwellian fundieland:

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is education.

I don’t know anything about Springboro, Ohio. Who elected these children’s education nihilists and why? In my district, they would have already had a recall election and been gone.

Most likely, Springboro won’t be able to pass a school district bond levy for the forseeable future.

My local district just passed one. They have declining enrollment and declining state support and needed it badly.

It barely passed. If they had christofascists on the school board, it would have failed spectacularly. Instead of voting for it, a lot of people would have campaigned against it.

”…Springboro school board couldn’t care less if they wreck…”

raven said: I don’t know anything about Springboro, Ohio.

Neither do I - so I looked it up: Hmm…it’s only about 60 miles from Ken Ham’s Creation “Museum.” There’s a clue.

So, Freshwater’s advice to the Springboro board should go something like:

“I taught what I termed ‘robust’ evolution in my 8th grade science classes, but I actually mixed creationist sophistry with legitimate science. I also proselytized in my classroom and school by having a bible openly visible on my desk, religious posters on my classroom walls, and openly discussing my religious views with students. I showed even worse judgement by subjecting classroom volunteers to electrostatic shock via a Tesla Coil. I was such a poor instructor that a 9th grade science teacher stated she “had to reteach science to freshmen after they received improper instruction from eighth-grade teacher John Freshwater”, and that my students had not “been taught evolution in a scientific manner.” I was insubordinate to my school superiors about all of this, causing the district to terminate my services. I appealed this ruling and turned the whole episode into a legal affair costing the Mt. Vernon school district thousands of dollars, creating unneeded bad publicity and harsh feelings throughout the entire community. At my insistence, this debacle is still ongoing over five years later.”

That’s some good advice, eh?

into a legal affair costing the Mt. Vernon school district thousands of dollars,

That’s some good advice, eh?

It’s probably closer to costing Mt. Vernon school district a million USD up front. Among other costs, the school’s insurance company settled with the Dennis family and probably raised their rates. If they didn’t, they should have.

Then their school bond levy votes failed. If people have a negative view of their school district, they aren’t going to raise their property taxes. Even if they have a positive view, these days they often vote against bond levies.

You left some other astonishing achievements out. Freshwater lost his house somewhere along the line. I don’t know that he ever paid his attorney either.

raven said:

into a legal affair costing the Mt. Vernon school district thousands of dollars,

That’s some good advice, eh?

It’s probably closer to costing Mt. Vernon school district a million USD up front. Among other costs, the school’s insurance company settled with the Dennis family and probably raised their rates. If they didn’t, they should have.

Then their school bond levy votes failed. If people have a negative view of their school district, they aren’t going to raise their property taxes. Even if they have a positive view, these days they often vote against bond levies.

You left some other astonishing achievements out. Freshwater lost his house somewhere along the line. I don’t know that he ever paid his attorney either.

Consider this from the PoV of christofascist fundies who hate public education. If you can make that Godless public school district pay a million-dollar fine, why, that’s a million dollars which won’t be used to indoctrinate innocent children in the godless religious dogma of [turn and spit] Evilution! And if that godless public school distract goes broke, or if continuing money-diversion makes said district less able to teach anything, that just means there’s going to be more parents taking their kids out of an obviously-failing school, and some of those parents will put their kids into a God-loving private school with a properly God-centered curriculum! In other words: Freshwater having cost the school district a megabuck? That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

harold said:

These “no comments allowed” Sandefur posts make no sense at all. I can’t understand why he wants to put them up in this venue. Why he’s allowed to is another question, but why he wants to is what I don’t get.

I’d like to echo what harold said. Sandefur doesn’t only prevent comments here, but he refuses to allow anyone to even view his blog. Why is the Thumb so special?

dornier.pfeil said:

harold said:

These “no comments allowed” Sandefur posts make no sense at all. I can’t understand why he wants to put them up in this venue. Why he’s allowed to is another question, but why he wants to is what I don’t get.

I’d like to echo what harold said. Sandefur doesn’t only prevent comments here, but he refuses to allow anyone to even view his blog. Why is the Thumb so special?

I must say that the link to his blog in the OP works for me.

As to why he would want to disable commenting, FL and Robert Byers provide sufficient reason. He is, however, outside the “ethos” of PT. If he allowed commenting at his blog, it might be acceptable to not have comments at both places, but.…..

As to his substantive complaint, he has an easy remedy the next time that the Chapman alumni office contact him to solicit a donation.……

diogeneslamp0 said:

Richard B. Hoppe said: Each Thumb contributor determines the commenting policy for his or her posts. Hence, there is a range from Tim’s no-comments decision to, say, my more permissive regime. That’s the way it’s been since we founded the Thumb.

Why, “That’s the way it is” is a perfectly rational explanation, Casey. I mean, Richard.

Good shot, though I should note that I am four or five inches taller than Casey, 35 or 40 years older, and have much less hair, not to mention fewer internal organs after my recent surgery.

I briefly described how Panda’s Thumb works above. Now that I’m on a computer rather than a teeny phone, I’ll elaborate a little.

We originally started the Thumb as a descendant of the old TalkDesign site, itself a subsidiary of TalkOrigins. The Thumb is also a subset of TalkOrigins. Several Thumb contributors have long histories as TalkOrigins contributors.

In setting up the Thumb, we preserved the egalitarian model of TalkDesign. There are no ‘supervisors.’ There’s no hierarchy to which Thumb contributors are answerable. Each of us is an independent agent, responsible for our own posts. While all of us have a vested interest in the operation of the Thumb, none of us “runs” the site except in the technical aspects of hosting, software maintenance, etc.

We have a back channel, of course, where we occasionally discuss issues regarding the operation of the Thumb–for example, adding new contributors, or deciding on a ban–but we do not operate as some sort of organized corporate entity. I raised the issue there, and there’s some discussion, but bear in mind that we’re a bunch of disparate people who share some concerns (but not all concerns), and the Thumb is a vehicle for us to write about those concerns as individuals. Recall that the Panda’s Thumb is the pub of the University of Ediacara, and pubs have all sorts of people hanging around, talking and drinking beer. (I commend the official songs of UofE to your attention.)

If people have a problem with one or another Thumb contributor, that contributor is the one to address via whatever channels are available. In the immediate case, regarding Tim’s policy concerning comments on his posts (a policy, I might add, that I disagree with), email him.

So the short answer is, I sympathize with the complaints but can’t do anything directly about them.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

In setting up the Thumb…

Thanks for doing that, btw.

raven said:

into a legal affair costing the Mt. Vernon school district thousands of dollars,

That’s some good advice, eh?

It’s probably closer to costing Mt. Vernon school district a million USD up front. Among other costs, the school’s insurance company settled with the Dennis family and probably raised their rates. If they didn’t, they should have.

The direct cost to the district for legal and other costs was on the order of $900K, last I heard. The insurance company covered the settlements with the Dennis family.

Then their school bond levy votes failed. If people have a negative view of their school district, they aren’t going to raise their property taxes. Even if they have a positive view, these days they often vote against bond levies.

No, several levies passed during the three years of the Freshwater affair, including renewals and one for new money just this year.

You left some other astonishing achievements out. Freshwater lost his house somewhere along the line. I don’t know that he ever paid his attorney either.

That’s how Freshwater paid Hamilton.

Thanks for the explanation/elaboration, Richard.

“Recall that the Panda’s Thumb is the pub of the University of Ediacara, and pubs have all sorts of people hanging around, talking and drinking beer.”

And in that spirit, belaboring that metaphor, in a pub some guy doesn’t walk in, spout off, and run out without the other customers being able to argue, cheer, boo, or comment on his parentage. At the least he has to hang around long enough to down his pint. And if he doesn’t want to interact with the clientele, he can ignore them. But he can’t shut them up, or prevent them from expressing their opinions of his opinion, even if he chooses to ignore their unenlightened babble.

Likewise, Sandefur needs to enable comments to give patrons of this ‘pub’ the freedom to comment. He can ignore all of them if he wants. Actually, comments are rarely directed to the poster anyway, but to other commenters, lurkers, or the world in general.

Didn’t I read somewhere that the guy’s a libertarian? Well, Tim, We’d like the same LIBERTY – to express our opinions, ask questions, add useful information, or even make asinine remarks – that other posters give us!

I’ve been reading the Thumb since it’s first year. There WAS a time when Sandefur allowed comments on his posts.

He is very defensive though, and not willing to actually debate his ideas, even in this format.

trust me, he isn’t worth the effort. Just ignore him.

man, I only do that on the internet, never while typing a paper or similar… weird.

it’s->its

ugh.

@justbob:

The impression is arrogance: “None of you have any business commenting on my profound thoughts, or any right to express an opinion different from mine.”

your impression is pretty close to accurate, which is why I say to just leave it alone. It isn’t worth your time to be able to post on his threads, rare as they are.

For the record, I cannot access Sandefur’s blog. If I go to the link I am told I am not “invited”. If others who are not aware of having been invited can, I assume it’s actually a question of certain url’s being blocked, rather than “invitation”. My interactions with Sandefur were minimal when he did allow comments, but I assume I must have “questioned Libertarianism” or some such thing. I have complained about his comment policy a few times since then.

WARNING: As may have been learned from the examples of various trolls, when a person persists in an emotion driven pattern of behavior and refuses to listen to feedback, embarrassment may result.

Granted, so far, Timothy Sandefur has not directly associated this blog with material of a strongly embarrassing nature, as far as I know. Furthermore, this isn’t an economics blog, nor directly a politics blog, and his views on economics and politics are to some degree irrelevant.

However, I would personally recommend that other contributors keep track of what is on his private blog, as that is linked, at least for some eyes, to this blog.

RBH:

No, several levies passed during the three years of the Freshwater affair, including renewals and one for new money just this year.

Thanks, Richard.

RBH 2009 PT Yesterday voters in the Mt. Vernon City School District passed a renewal of an operating levy by a 61%-39% margin. and

RBH 2011 PT In addition, a 1.38 mill emergency levy for the school district passed.

I have no idea where I got the notion that Mt. Vernon’s bond levies had failed.

The bond levy in my school district, which they needed badly even after layoffs, barely passed. It was something like 51%-49%

I’ve recommended before, I think, that we establish a protocol that comments to Sandefur’s posts be submitted to the prior thread. Maybe that’s not fair to whoever posted the prior thread, but WE aren’t allowed to speak to the Great Sandefur, so maybe someone with thread originating privileges can. Maybe having his thread hijacked with comments to the Great Sandefur’s posts will motivate SOMEONE to, you know, clean up the chickenshit around here.

Flint said:

I’ve recommended before, I think, that we establish a protocol that comments to Sandefur’s posts be submitted to the prior thread. Maybe that’s not fair to whoever posted the prior thread, but WE aren’t allowed to speak to the Great Sandefur, so maybe someone with thread originating privileges can. Maybe having his thread hijacked with comments to the Great Sandefur’s posts will motivate SOMEONE to, you know, clean up the chickenshit around here.

Informally, Sandefur’s comments-blocking style seems to be unpopular.

To expand on my most recent point above, Sandefur is proudly associated with the Cato Institute

http://www.cato.org/people/timothy-sandefur

The Cato Institute is no AIG; it isn’t a strongly science-denying organization. However, it does take exceptionally controversial stances on some major scientific issues.

The Cato Institute accepts the reality of climate change, and even endorses “revenue neutral carbon tax” (i.e. lower some other tax and create a carbon tax - plausibly a reasonable idea, or a terrible one, depending on which other taxes are to be impacted). However, they also have a track record of strongly down-playing the seriousness of human contribution to climate change. Below I have linked to a 2009 “classic” but similar stuff is being churned out by the CI in the summer of 2013.

This stance is far superior to outright climate change denial but still highly controverial.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-m[…]sputed-most/

Likewise, the CI does not deny biological evolution, but they somewhat astoundingly parrot creationist talking points in their zeal to attack the very concept of public education.

http://www.cato.org/publications/co[…]ution-battle

I realize that Sandefur depicts himself as “an example of right wing extremist who nevertheless accepts science”, and his views are his own, and not necessarily those of the Cato Institute.

Nevertheless, I perceive a potential for substantial embarrassment to mainstream science supporters.

For example, this article is about the Freshwater case, and thus, reflects the commitment of most contributors to this site to sound science education and respect for rights in public schools.

Those who argue that states should eliminate all public education, partly with the rationale that this would allow creationists to better evade science exposure, make questionable allies.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on August 9, 2013 6:07 PM.

The Chapman Law Review and Francis Beckwith (or, why I don’t write for Nexus) was the previous entry in this blog.

Hollywood High Students to Receive Movie Debunking Evolution is the next entry in this blog.

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