Freshwater: Motion for reconsideration filed

| 49 Comments

The Rutherford Institute, acting on behalf of John Freshwater, has filed a motion for reconsideration with the Ohio Supreme Court. On a first fast scan, the main argument seems to be that the Court erred in giving weight to Freshwater’s insubordination as opposed to the constitutional issues alleged in his appeal, and that in doing so, the Court somehow made it easier to fire teachers in general. The motion even quotes a comment on my previous post, though with a bad link.

I may have more to say about the motion later.

49 Comments

They keep dragging you back in Richard! LOL!

John, how can we say goodbye if you won’t leave?

There is no way they are going to go through this again. Certainly they have realized by now that there is no other possible outcome. freshwater can piss and moan and whine all he wants to but he was caught dead to rights. Make him pay for all legal fees associated with any appeal. That should shut him up for good. Hasn’t he realized by =now that his god has abandoned him? Or maybe he was going against the wishes of his god all along!

cmb said:

John, how can we say goodbye if you won’t leave?

That’s because Mr. Freshwater is still going through the motions.

It’s been going on so long perhaps it has created a self sustaining cottage industry of church donations to the cause, which give Freswater and his lawyers a livelihood. Richard working pro-bono shines by comparison. How many courts could this self sustaining micro-economy appeal to?

apokryltaros said:

cmb said:

John, how can we say goodbye if you won’t leave?

That’s because Mr. Freshwater is still going through the motions.

Going Through the Motions? At this rate, he’ll drag this out until we all feel like Veterans of the Psychic Wars. Perhaps he’s being manipulated according to high-power anti-evolutionists, those Cagey Cretins, who have signed Secret Treaties; and they won’t stop until they see all our Cities On Flame. Or perhaps he wants to tour for speaking fees, and is using this to further his Career of Evil.

ksplawn said:

apokryltaros said:

cmb said:

John, how can we say goodbye if you won’t leave?

That’s because Mr. Freshwater is still going through the motions.

Going Through the Motions? At this rate, he’ll drag this out until we all feel like Veterans of the Psychic Wars. Perhaps he’s being manipulated according to high-power anti-evolutionists, those Cagey Cretins, who have signed Secret Treaties; and they won’t stop until they see all our Cities On Flame. Or perhaps he wants to tour for speaking fees, and is using this to further his Career of Evil.

Well, you certainly won’t hear any True Confessions from this Fallen Angel; he loves Dancin’ in the Ruins. This Subhuman is on Hot Rails to Hell!

So, Our John was not legally terminated - despite multiple refusals down the years to get his mumbo-jumbo out of the Science Room - because his pissant attempt at insubordination wasn’t actually insubordination, due solely to the fact that the original request to remove his bible was in contravention of his right to free speech?

Is that about the long and short of this clusterfuck of legal mendacity?

robert van bakel said:

It’s been going on so long perhaps it has created a self sustaining cottage industry of church donations to the cause, which give Freswater and his lawyers a livelihood. Richard working pro-bono shines by comparison. How many courts could this self sustaining micro-economy appeal to?

Sure. let the church pay two million dollars in legal fees. FIne by me. Of course if Freshwater fails to disclose all of that as income and pay taxes on it, we can still get him for tax evasion after all. Sweet. Maybe the money can even go back to the school district he scammed it off of in the first place.

Probably what is gong on here is that Freshwater actually believes that he is working for his god who wants him to do all of this and would never make him actually pay for doing it. So, no matter how bleak it looks, as long as he can drag it out, god can always come in at the last minute and save the day. Freshwater will never accept anything but complete vindication for all of his lies and criminal behavior. We’ll see how that works out.

apokryltaros said:

cmb said:

John, how can we say goodbye if you won’t leave?

That’s because Mr. Freshwater is still going through the motions.

So it’s not the motion of the ocean, it’s the motion of the Freshwater? Who woulda thunk it?

I wonder how eric feels about his comment being picked up and used by the Rutherford Institute in their motion. Shouldn’t he at least get paid or something?

I always kind of thought it was paranoid to think organizations like R.I. would actually use comments off a blog like P.T. against those who fight to defend science education, but this really takes the cake. It’s not even a quotemine, but the actual use of a sound argument in a court case in the defense of a creationist.

Oh, and thanks Richard for your continued coverage of the Freshwater case. I know it has to be tiresome.

“it rnarks a scary new era for experienced, respectable teachers whose personal belief systems offend the wrong people. “

Isn’t that the whole point of a secular system of government? Keeping personal beliefs out of reality-based decisions?

Perhaps the Ohio Supreme Court should reconsider…

James said:

“it rnarks a scary new era for experienced, respectable teachers whose personal belief systems offend the wrong people. “

Isn’t that the whole point of a secular system of government? Keeping personal beliefs out of reality-based decisions?

Perhaps the Ohio Supreme Court should reconsider…

Yes, perhaps they should. Instead of upholding his firing for insubordination, perhaps they should also convict him of violating the First Amendment. That might send the right message. Perhaps they should uphold his firing an the basis that he illegally substituted his religious beliefs for science in a state funded classroom. Perhaps they should uphold his firing on the basis that he physically harmed his students. Perhaps they should make him pay for all of those offenses as well. It is illegal and unconstitutional to teach creationism in a public school classroom. Perhaps he should really be fired for that.

j. biggs said:

I wonder how eric feels about his comment being picked up and used by the Rutherford Institute in their motion. Shouldn’t he at least get paid or something?

I considered the motion pretty much dead letter so didn’t read it (and didn’t read this thread too closely, until now).

IANAL but I stand by my argument; I think a broad and loose interpretation of what the OSC ruled could have very bad ramifications for teachers. However, even if the court takes that point seriously (personally, I don’t think they’ll even take the case), there’s one very good way to distinguish Freshwater’s actions from symbolic protest speech…and thus find that his actions were insubordinate even while protecting teacher rights to protest an order they see as unfair (as long as they protest while obeying it). There’s also a couple of less solid arguments the court could use to, though I offer these more to chew on rather than as solid counter-RI points.

The big one is this: one of the books Freshwater used was a bible. That’s not symbolic protest speech, that’s a direct substitution. If you are ordered to remove your copy of the WashPo from your desk, going out and buying another, different copy of that same day’s WashPo to put on your desk instead isn’t symbolic anything, it’s just a flagrant attempt to get around the order. Nobody is going to think for a second that Freshwater interpreted the order as: “ooooh, I thought you meant my bible, not a bible.” That’s ludicrous. Putting a different copy of the same book on your desk is insubordinate.

A weaker, more theoretical argument might be that since the whole point of the order was to remove potentially first-amendment-violating religious material from the classroom, its not protected speech protest to introduce more religious material in it’s stead. Want to compare your case to the plight of blacks pre-civil rights? Sure. To women before suffragism? Be our guest. Want to call the admisintration Orwellian with a quote from Animal Farm or 1984? Catch-22? Compare them to Stalin, or Mao? All of that sort of symbolic speech would be okay. Because none of it introduce religious speech back into the classroom.

The last (what I consider weaker) argument is to say the school can place reasonable time, place manner restrictions on such protest speech: sure, you as a teacher are free to engage in protest speech without being punished for it. But not in the classroom. That’s the state’s time, not yours.

j. biggs said:

I wonder how eric feels about his comment being picked up and used by the Rutherford Institute in their motion. Shouldn’t he at least get paid or something?

On a lighter note, I should point out that my degree is in chemistry, not anything related to law. The lawyer who represents himself may have a fool for a client, but the lawyer who needs my help to argue a point of law has a fool sitting at his desk.

eric said:

j. biggs said:

I wonder how eric feels about his comment being picked up and used by the Rutherford Institute in their motion. Shouldn’t he at least get paid or something?

On a lighter note, I should point out that my degree is in chemistry, not anything related to law. The lawyer who represents himself may have a fool for a client, but the lawyer who needs my help to argue a point of law has a fool sitting at his desk.

Hey, it was a well reasoned argument whether you are a chemist of a lawyer.

eric said:

j. biggs said:

I wonder how eric feels about his comment being picked up and used by the Rutherford Institute in their motion. Shouldn’t he at least get paid or something?

I considered the motion pretty much dead letter so didn’t read it (and didn’t read this thread too closely, until now).

IANAL but I stand by my argument; I think a broad and loose interpretation of what the OSC ruled could have very bad ramifications for teachers. However, even if the court takes that point seriously (personally, I don’t think they’ll even take the case), there’s one very good way to distinguish Freshwater’s actions from symbolic protest speech…and thus find that his actions were insubordinate even while protecting teacher rights to protest an order they see as unfair (as long as they protest while obeying it). There’s also a couple of less solid arguments the court could use to, though I offer these more to chew on rather than as solid counter-RI points.

The big one is this: one of the books Freshwater used was a bible. That’s not symbolic protest speech, that’s a direct substitution. If you are ordered to remove your copy of the WashPo from your desk, going out and buying another, different copy of that same day’s WashPo to put on your desk instead isn’t symbolic anything, it’s just a flagrant attempt to get around the order. Nobody is going to think for a second that Freshwater interpreted the order as: “ooooh, I thought you meant my bible, not a bible.” That’s ludicrous. Putting a different copy of the same book on your desk is insubordinate.

A weaker, more theoretical argument might be that since the whole point of the order was to remove potentially first-amendment-violating religious material from the classroom, its not protected speech protest to introduce more religious material in it’s stead. Want to compare your case to the plight of blacks pre-civil rights? Sure. To women before suffragism? Be our guest. Want to call the admisintration Orwellian with a quote from Animal Farm or 1984? Catch-22? Compare them to Stalin, or Mao? All of that sort of symbolic speech would be okay. Because none of it introduce religious speech back into the classroom.

The last (what I consider weaker) argument is to say the school can place reasonable time, place manner restrictions on such protest speech: sure, you as a teacher are free to engage in protest speech without being punished for it. But not in the classroom. That’s the state’s time, not yours.

While I agree with your concern that the weak, lazy ruling by the court could give a heavy-handed school administrator the impression that they could fire a teacher for a minor “protest” to an administration’s decision, rarely is someone fired for a single offense unless the offense is egregious. I don’t think anyone would consider Freshwater’s “book swap” egregious. If I recall correctly, Freshwater was fired for a pattern of insubordination (which was not mentioned in the court ruling), not just the single act. The teacher’s union would be all over an administration that tried to pull such a stunt.

alicejohn said: While I agree with your concern that the weak, lazy ruling by the court could give a heavy-handed school administrator the impression that they could fire a teacher for a minor “protest” to an administration’s decision, rarely is someone fired for a single offense unless the offense is egregious. I don’t think anyone would consider Freshwater’s “book swap” egregious. If I recall correctly, Freshwater was fired for a pattern of insubordination (which was not mentioned in the court ruling), not just the single act. The teacher’s union would be all over an administration that tried to pull such a stunt.

That’s a fair criticism, but the OSC did not uphold ‘pattern of insubordination’ as the legitimate reason. They focused on the book swap and said that single act made the firing justified. Which opens a door for administrator abuse of teachers.

Though to be honest I think a different part of the ruling is more problematic. The judges said that having personal religious literature on your desk was constitutionally protected, as long as it wasn’t a “display.” I see a lot of legal gray area there between ‘just having’ and displaying. And let’s be honest, that gray area is very likely going to hurt minority-believing and secluar teachers. If you work at a school with an evangelical administration, what do you think the odds of any bible on a teachers desk being found to be “on display” is? Zero, right? And what are the odds of any Koran or atheist book being determined to be “on display?” Pretty much 100%. That “having okay, displaying bad” legal opinion gives sectarian administrators practically a license to discriminate.

eric said:

alicejohn said: While I agree with your concern that the weak, lazy ruling by the court could give a heavy-handed school administrator the impression that they could fire a teacher for a minor “protest” to an administration’s decision, rarely is someone fired for a single offense unless the offense is egregious. I don’t think anyone would consider Freshwater’s “book swap” egregious. If I recall correctly, Freshwater was fired for a pattern of insubordination (which was not mentioned in the court ruling), not just the single act. The teacher’s union would be all over an administration that tried to pull such a stunt.

That’s a fair criticism, but the OSC did not uphold ‘pattern of insubordination’ as the legitimate reason. They focused on the book swap and said that single act made the firing justified. Which opens a door for administrator abuse of teachers.

Here I agree with your concern. In my opinion, what happened was that the Ohio Supreme Court, being mainly Republicans, initially grabbed the case in the hopes of finding for Freshwater and becoming Right Wing Rock Stars. Dancing visions of being interviewed on Fox and Friends began to fade as they saw what the case was actually about. Or at least, that happened to enough of them for a 4-3 decision against Freshwater.

They’re still Republicans, so they had to come up with some reason to find against him without openly stating that the first amendment protects citizens from public school science class being distorted to favor narrow sectarian ideologies*, so they found against him for not obeying the boss. (*Judge Jones is a weird exception, but he made himself a pariah on the mainstream right.)

Though to be honest I think a different part of the ruling is more problematic. The judges said that having personal religious literature on your desk was constitutionally protected, as long as it wasn’t a “display.” I see a lot of legal gray area there between ‘just having’ and displaying. And let’s be honest, that gray area is very likely going to hurt minority-believing and secluar teachers. If you work at a school with an evangelical administration, what do you think the odds of any bible on a teachers desk being found to be “on display” is? Zero, right? And what are the odds of any Koran or atheist book being determined to be “on display?” Pretty much 100%. That “having okay, displaying bad” legal opinion gives sectarian administrators practically a license to discriminate.

The worst thing people who want to protect their right not to be forced to make religious display can do, is to try to excessively restrict the free expression of those who want to make (legal) religious display. My right not to pray on the bus if I don’t want to is someone else’s right to pray on the bus if they want to. Take one away and you’ve taken any guarantee of the other away.

I have no problem with passive symbols of religion in school. I don’t see a big problem with teaching math in Sikh turban, for example, IF you teach math. If you start pushing Sikhism on the students actively, then there’s a problem.

Or perhaps he wants to tour for speaking fees, and is using this to further his Career of Evil.

That’s probably it. Didn’t Dembski, after Kitzmiller, that they were going to start taking in a lot of money?

Karen S. said:

Or perhaps he wants to tour for speaking fees, and is using this to further his Career of Evil.

That’s probably it. Didn’t Dembski, after Kitzmiller, that they were going to start taking in a lot of money?

Yes, Dembski did boast that, but he had raked in something like $20,000 from Thomas More for his “contributions.” That’s creationist-on-creationist action and who cares?

Funding for ID definitely dropped after Kitzmiller and the Tooters have been scrambling hard for donations ever since.

And Dembski? Well, I know it’s hard to believe, but his career slid straight downhill after that and who knows what he’s doing now. He’s totally off the radar.

Funding for ID definitely dropped after Kitzmiller and the Tooters have been scrambling hard for donations ever since.

I wish that were true. I did not pay for a full report but a free preview report from guidestar.com indicates that they received a bit less than 5.7M in income in 2011, the most recent year available. They received only 4.1M in 2003, at the peak of media popularity of “ID”. http://www.guidestar.org

They run some web pages, but charge for most of their activity, such as cruises (http://www.discovery.org/cruise/, cheapest ticket $1200, some many times more than that) and sell their books. It’s anyone’s guess where that 5.7M goes, but I’ve stated my opinion here many times. As a small but generous part of the Wingnut Welfare system, the DI provides an extremely comfortable living to insiders.

At the end of the day, we can’t stop people from sending money to creationists. That’s legal. We CAN stand up when they violate our rights. We CAN critique ID/creationism, and hopefully persuade some people.

And Dembski? Well, I know it’s hard to believe, but his career slid straight downhill after that and who knows what he’s doing now. He’s totally off the radar.

Ironically, yes, the man who more or less invented so much of their slop has dropped off the radar.

Dembski has a very unusual personal style. He isn’t a good public speaker, to say the least. He also had a youthful love of mixing it up in the mainstream, instead of sticking to friendly venues as other creationists do. His appearances on television, during the early-2000’s peak of ID-pushing in the media, were popular. Popular with science supporters, that is.

He was asked not to testify at Dover. There’s some controversy about that, but the bottom line is, the TMLC didn’t put him on the stand. Although they lost anyway, I’d like to note what a total disaster it would have been if Dembski had testified. We saw what happened to Behe. Behe is, relative to Dembski, an almost affable figure who doesn’t seem to have the typical creationist tendency to melt down into rage when subjected to honest critique. Based on his witnessed behavior at Baylor and in televised “debates”, I personally think that Dembski might have been risking a contempt of court citation if he had testified. It’s hard to imagine him being able to control himself emotionally on the stand.

harold said:

Funding for ID definitely dropped after Kitzmiller and the Tooters have been scrambling hard for donations ever since.

I wish that were true. I did not pay for a full report but a free preview report from guidestar.com indicates that they received a bit less than 5.7M in income in 2011, the most recent year available. They received only 4.1M in 2003, at the peak of media popularity of “ID”. http://www.guidestar.org

How much of that would be taxes deduced by the their donors? I guess at least partly these guys live on money that comes from the government they dislike. Who of these clowns would get a job else than on top of bullshit moutain?

Dembski has a very unusual personal style. He isn’t a good public speaker, to say the least.

You can say that again. He’s the worst public speaker I’ve ever heard, and under stress he withers.

Last I heard, Dembski was working at a fundamentalist “university” where he almost lost his job for expressing Old Earth Creationist arguments in public and was told in no uncertain terms that he was to favour Young Earth arguments or GTFO, at which time he decided that nobody else would employ him, so he’d better learn to speak YEC.

Although they lost anyway, I’d like to note what a total disaster it would have been if Dembski had testified. We saw what happened to Behe. Behe is, relative to Dembski, an almost affable figure who doesn’t seem to have the typical creationist tendency to melt down into rage when subjected to honest critique. Based on his witnessed behavior at Baylor and in televised “debates”, I personally think that Dembski might have been risking a contempt of court citation if he had testified. It’s hard to imagine him being able to control himself emotionally on the stand.

This may be part of the reason why, in the event of another Dover-type trial, Wesley Elsberry would love to see Dembski brought on board as a hostile witness…

Chris Lawson said:

Last I heard, Dembski was working at a fundamentalist “university” where he almost lost his job for expressing Old Earth Creationist arguments in public and was told in no uncertain terms that he was to favour Young Earth arguments or GTFO, at which time he decided that nobody else would employ him, so he’d better learn to speak YEC.

According to his CV at his designinference.com pages he doesn’t hold this position anymore. Currently his only employment is at the DI:

Current Employment • Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (discovery.org/csc), 1996 to present, full-time since summer 2012

Formerly known as “The Center for the Removal of Science from Culture”.

Chris Lawson said:

Last I heard, Dembski was working at a fundamentalist “university” where he almost lost his job for expressing Old Earth Creationist arguments in public and was told in no uncertain terms that he was to favour Young Earth arguments or GTFO, at which time he decided that nobody else would employ him, so he’d better learn to speak YEC.

That was the Baptist Southwest Theological Seminary and he was told to GTFO. They made Dr. Dr. grovel in public but it wasn’t enough and he was EXPELLED! He then got on (I think) with some diploma mill in North Carolina in an adjunct professorship hosting on-line courses, but I don’t think he’s still with them, either. Last I heard he survives on the charity of the Disco Tute.

I once wrote down the names of “famous” creationists and how their careers tracked from science to creationism - Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Gonzalez, Sternberg, etc. It’s not a pretty sight. Creationism is a career stopper. All of these guys end up scrounging for a crumb.

@ Doc Bill

Gonzalez, at least, seems to have landed on his feet at Ball State.

That was the Baptist Southwest Theological Seminary and he was told to GTFO.

What was the given reason for his dismissal? I mean, he changed his theology for them. Was he fundie but not fundie enough?

Karen S. said:

Dembski has a very unusual personal style. He isn’t a good public speaker, to say the least.

You can say that again. He’s the worst public speaker I’ve ever heard, and under stress he withers.

This may largely explain why Dembski got cold feet and ran away from debating Ken Miller at Case Western Reserve University in January 2006.

It also didn’t help Dembski that ID had just been humiliated in the Kitzmiller court case. But Miller didn’t skip a beat with Dembski’s absence. Rather than whipping up on Dembski in a debate, Miller simply gave a now rather classic account on how thoroughly science advocates triumphed at Kitzmiller (Miller was the lead expert witness for the plaintiffs). At least in this legal case, science indeed triumphed even if grass roots popular support for anti-evolutionism unfortunately remains strong.

harold said:

And Dembski? Well, I know it’s hard to believe, but his career slid straight downhill after that and who knows what he’s doing now. He’s totally off the radar.

Dembski has a very unusual personal style. He isn’t a good public speaker, to say the least. He also had a youthful love of mixing it up in the mainstream, instead of sticking to friendly venues as other creationists do. His appearances on television, during the early-2000’s peak of ID-pushing in the media, were popular. Popular with science supporters, that is.

He was asked not to testify at Dover. There’s some controversy about that, but the bottom line is, the TMLC didn’t put him on the stand. Although they lost anyway, I’d like to note what a total disaster it would have been if Dembski had testified. We saw what happened to Behe. Behe is, relative to Dembski, an almost affable figure who doesn’t seem to have the typical creationist tendency to melt down into rage when subjected to honest critique. Based on his witnessed behavior at Baylor and in televised “debates”, I personally think that Dembski might have been risking a contempt of court citation if he had testified. It’s hard to imagine him being able to control himself emotionally on the stand.

Also, if Dembski had showed up for the Kitzmiller trial, the plaintiffs would have had expert witness Jeffrey Shallit to testify. Shallit is an expert mathematician that has been a harsh critic of ID and likely would have provided a strong rebuttal to Dembski’s pseudoscience. This might have been all the more so considering that the legal team for the defendants often fired shots in the fog because they lacked a real science advisor (the legal team for the plaintiffs of course had science advisor Nick Matzke).

As it turned out, the plaintiffs decided Shallit was not needed after Dembski dropped out of the trial.

Karen S. said:

That was the Baptist Southwest Theological Seminary and he was told to GTFO.

What was the given reason for his dismissal? I mean, he changed his theology for them. Was he fundie but not fundie enough?

I thought Dembski simply resigned under pressure, although who knows what happened in private. At any rate, the two sides still seemed like oil and water even after Dembski was forced to kiss up to his bosses at Southwest Theological Seminary (SWTS).

Last I heard, Dembski was living in Iowa after leaving SWTS in Ft Worth.

All of Dembski’s “work” finally came down in the end to the ID/creationist definition of “design” in a nutshell:

(1) Look at an object and declare it is designed (because it is “obvious” that sectarian dogma requires it to be designed).

(2) Hold up ID/creationist pseudo physics, pseudo chemistry, and pseudo biology and declare that science can’t explain the existence of the object.

(3) Declare that there are N choices for each position in a string of length L required for the molecular assembly of the object. Then, if the logarithm to base 2 of N^L is 500 or greater; this PROVES the object is designed.

That’s it.

Now Dembski’s followers over at UD are falling all over themselves trying to fill the “void” left by Dembski by coming up with new theories of ID; such as “THE Semiotic Theory of ID” and CFSI/O. They take themselves VERY seriously; and they get very angry when criticized. A feces-flinging enforcer troll will follow you and feces-bomb your discussion if you find fault with their theories.

Wikipedia says

He is currently the Philip E. Johnson Research Professor in Culture & Science at the Southern Evangelical Seminary at Matthews, North Carolina, and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Richard Land appears to be president of the seminary, but I do not see Dembski’s name anywhere on the faculty.

Matt Young said:

Wikipedia says

He is currently the Philip E. Johnson Research Professor in Culture & Science at the Southern Evangelical Seminary at Matthews, North Carolina, and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Richard Land appears to be president of the seminary, but I do not see Dembski’s name anywhere on the faculty.

Come on guys. Get used to Wikipedia not always being uptodate. Why do you think Dembski is listing SES under “Previous Employment” in the CV on his personal deigninference.com web pages?

I once wrote down the names of “famous” creationists and how their careers tracked from science to creationism - Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Gonzalez, Sternberg, etc. It’s not a pretty sight. Creationism is a career stopper. All of these guys end up scrounging for a crumb.

I think they like it that way; they get to feel like martyrs.

At the web pages of DesignInference.com, there is a Biosketch of William A. Dembski. it says that he “is a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and Senior Research Scientist with the Evolutionary Informatics Lab.”

One thing that bugs the heck out of me about this case is that this is the guy that was burning crosses in kids arms with a Tesla coil.

That should have been grounds for dismissal right there. I’ve known teachers who did much less than that, while still having kids in danger of being harmed, who were fired and gone before the last bell of the day.

IIRC, there was some kind of compensation deal with the family. I think that may be the reason it’s never mentioned anymore. Regardless, though, he was intentionally damaging kids under his care in the school.

Doc Bill said:

Chris Lawson said:

Last I heard, Dembski was working at a fundamentalist “university” where he almost lost his job for expressing Old Earth Creationist arguments in public and was told in no uncertain terms that he was to favour Young Earth arguments or GTFO, at which time he decided that nobody else would employ him, so he’d better learn to speak YEC.

That was the Baptist Southwest Theological Seminary and he was told to GTFO. They made Dr. Dr. grovel in public but it wasn’t enough and he was EXPELLED! He then got on (I think) with some diploma mill in North Carolina in an adjunct professorship hosting on-line courses, but I don’t think he’s still with them, either. Last I heard he survives on the charity of the Disco Tute.

I once wrote down the names of “famous” creationists and how their careers tracked from science to creationism - Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Gonzalez, Sternberg, etc. It’s not a pretty sight. Creationism is a career stopper. All of these guys end up scrounging for a crumb.

100% accurate although I assume that Dembski must have some money from the “sales” of his books.

Even if books are purchased by the truckload by right wing think tanks and left unpacked in the basement to inflate reported sales numbers, those are still sales.

This line of discussion is on topic and valid for two reasons -

1) The fact that Dembski’s poor performance as a pitchman harmed his career so much is strong confirmation that there is nothing to ID/creationism except the sales pitch. In valid fields of expertise, important innovators are hampered if they have extreme social difficulties, but far less, because they have the valid achievement of their work to fall back on. Dembski literally invented a major proportion of post-Edwards, plausible deniability style “ID” creationism, yet because he isn’t the type whom right wing billionaires like to sneer with on cruises to Alaska, his career is tanked.

2) In addition to drawing attention to the invalid nature of what Freshwater was trying to teach, this line of discussion also highlights the forces that drive, and by “drive” I mainly mean “pay for”, the promotion of this agenda.

ogremk5 said:

One thing that bugs the heck out of me about this case is that this is the guy that was burning crosses in kids arms with a Tesla coil.

That should have been grounds for dismissal right there. I’ve known teachers who did much less than that, while still having kids in danger of being harmed, who were fired and gone before the last bell of the day.

IIRC, there was some kind of compensation deal with the family. I think that may be the reason it’s never mentioned anymore. Regardless, though, he was intentionally damaging kids under his care in the school.

Yes, the family accepted a monetary settlement - from the school’s insurance company, of course, not from Freshwater - and that must have included an agreement that they drop the matter.

In a perfect world he would have been fired to that event, that day, but his pattern of religious favoritism was actually a more significant problem.

The family obviously had to choose between an agreement that gave them something, but didn’t result in the immediate termination of Freshwater, versus fighting for more but potentially losing.

The sole objective of the insurance company would have been to limit liability risk. One might ask why they didn’t WANT Freshwater terminated for that event, and the answer is probably because they didn’t want the school to unequivocally acknowledge a difficult situation.

A settlement like that means different things in different professions. In some professions, where risk of legal battles is high no matter what you do, that type of settlement would say almost nothing about the defendant. In teaching, though, that type of thing is extremely rare. Being a teacher who forced your school’s insurance company to make a cash payout to a student accusing you of shocking him with a Tesla coil is not a good path for career advancement.

Well you might be able to buy out one family, but why should that absolve you from responsibility to your employer? Basically you just admitted that you did something wrong and harmed a student. Whether the particular student wants to pursue the matter further or not, the school should have been able to fire him then and there in order to prevent him from harming others.

And of course there was testimony that Freshwater, despite his protests to the contrary, or his bragging confirmations, actually did teach creationism in place of science. That is why he should have been fired years ago. He should never have had the chance to be further insubordinate or to harm students. If the school had stood up to him a long time ago they might have avoided all of this. And if the Supreme Court had confirmed his termination on these grounds as well, other schools might actually get the message.

I don’t know if there are still any lawyers reading this thread, but I have a question about the whole cross burning incident. I was under the impression that in tort cases there is a difference between an unintentional vs intentional act which results in harm. Since Freshwater intentionally burned a cross into the Dennis boy’s arm doesn’t that make this act assault rather than negligence? And if so, why was the school’s insurance company held liable for Freshwater’s intentional assault on a minor? Perhaps Freshwater’s liability and the school district’s liability were considered as separate issues in this case?

j. biggs said:

I don’t know if there are still any lawyers reading this thread, but I have a question about the whole cross burning incident. I was under the impression that in tort cases there is a difference between an unintentional vs intentional act which results in harm. Since Freshwater intentionally burned a cross into the Dennis boy’s arm doesn’t that make this act assault rather than negligence? And if so, why was the school’s insurance company held liable for Freshwater’s intentional assault on a minor? Perhaps Freshwater’s liability and the school district’s liability were considered as separate issues in this case?

I always wondered why the creep wasn’t booked on assault charges.

bigdakine said:

j. biggs said:

I don’t know if there are still any lawyers reading this thread, but I have a question about the whole cross burning incident. I was under the impression that in tort cases there is a difference between an unintentional vs intentional act which results in harm. Since Freshwater intentionally burned a cross into the Dennis boy’s arm doesn’t that make this act assault rather than negligence? And if so, why was the school’s insurance company held liable for Freshwater’s intentional assault on a minor? Perhaps Freshwater’s liability and the school district’s liability were considered as separate issues in this case?

I always wondered why the creep wasn’t booked on assault charges.

That question has crossed my mind as well. But I am more curious how the insurance company was left on the hook for an intentional assault. As far as I know I can’t buy an insurance policy that will pay for any litigation/damage awards that result from me seeking out and beating the crap of somebody I don’t like. My best guess is that the school was considered negligent because they employed Freshwater and they should have had strict guidelines on permissible experiments. But if that was the case I would think the court could have held Freshwater responsible for say, punitive damages, because a reasonable person wouldn’t intentionally burn a cross in a student’s arm with a Tesla coil. I assume had the court awarded punitive damages, Freshwater would have had to pay those out of his own pocket.

The settlement of the civil suit in federal court is reported here. There’s some more background here.

Ah yes, that refreshes my memory. So Freshwater and the school district were separate defendants in the federal civil lawsuit. It’s nice to know that Freshwater did actually have to pay the Dennis family something even if we will never know how much that was. I can understand why the Dennis family didn’t want to pursue the case further considering Freshwater and Hamilton were being bastards by dragging their son’s name through the dirt. However, it would have been awesome if the Dennis family had pursued the case and ended up with all of Freshwaters assets considering he eventually lost them anyway in his pursuit of ‘vindication’. Perhaps then Hamilton would have ended up doing the shoddy job he did pro bono.

Curiously enough, I have a Koran on my bookshelf, along with Josephus, Ptolemy’s Geography, and a bunch of meteorology textbooks. If I want to look up a Bible verse at lunchtime it’s easier to find the parallel translations on-line. When I have brought a Bible to work it was kept in a bookcase. My desk is my work space.

I have a really cool ammonite fossil on my bookshelf, too. :-)

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on November 26, 2013 12:23 PM.

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