John Freshwater has embarked on a mini-media campaign to discredit Zachary Dennis, the student whose arm was burned by a Tesla coil in a classroom demonstration in December, 2007, and his parents. Based on his representation of the testimony of other students on April 29 and 30, Freshwater is claiming publicly that Zachary is lying. But Freshwater’s story has some pretty significant holes and in important respects misrepresents the testimony. Moreover, it is a transparent attempt to deflect attention from the actual matters at issue, including Freshwater’s inconsistent sworn claims about whether the Tesla coil even marked students and whether the display of religious materials, including multiple displays of the Ten Commandments, in Freshwater’s classroom was appropriate. Freshwater played fast and loose with the facts of the matter in the interview, and I’ll detail some of those offenses below the fold.
I recorded most of an interview Freshwater gave on local talk radio yesterday, May 6, and I’ll describe some of Freshwater’s claims and their problems below the fold. The full interview ran about 24 minutes; I have about 20 minutes of it recorded, punctuated by dogs barking (apparently at phantoms) and radio transmissions from my fire department pager that make it occasionally hard to hear the interview. I call it an “interview” but it was really an infomercial. The host, Dave Bevington, is a strong Freshwater supporter and served up softball questions that had clearly been briefed before the show began. [See note below.] Out of character for the “Open Debate” name of the show, no calls were accepted from listeners. (Remind anyone of the comment policy at an ID “blog” we know and cherish?)
The informercial interview is a target-rich environment, and I am going to have to work to keep this post to a reasonable length, under 3,000 or so words. I’ll try, but there are many temptations there.
Note added in edit May 13 The host of the talk radio show, Dave Bevington, denied on the air on May 11 that he bad discussed his questions with Freshwater before the show. That may be, but it still had the distinct feel of an infomercial rather than a journalistic exercise.