I said I was baffled by why the defense, of all people, would call former Dover school board member William Buckingham to the stand in the case, and here’s why: he was in a no-win situation. He was the one quoted multiple times about wanting to balance out evolution with creationism in Dover’s science classes, but he denied in his deposition that he had ever said such a thing:
School board members Bill Buckingham, Sheila Harkins and Alan Bonsell and Supt. Richard Nilsen have, under oath, either said they have no memory of making the remarks related to creationism or denied making them.
But some residents and former district officials insist the board members made the statements they later denied making…
When attorneys asked Buckingham whether he said at a school board meeting that all he wants is a book that offers balance between what he said are the “Christian view of creationism and evolution,” Buckingham stated, “Never said it.”
But a taped television interview at the time shows Buckingham, the board’s chief proponent of intelligent design, talking about teaching creationism in science class.
So today he takes the witness stand and contradicts his sworn deposition:
A former school board member who denied advocating that creationism be taught alongside evolution in high-school biology classes changed his story Thursday, after lawyers in a federal courtroom played a TV news clip that recorded him making such a comment.
William Buckingham explained the discrepancy by saying that he “misspoke.”…
Buckingham, who led the board’s curriculum committee when it approved the policy a year ago, confirmed Thursday that he said during a June 2004 board meeting that the biology textbook is “laced with Darwinism.” The clip that was shown later in the day came from an interview that he gave to a news crew from WPMT-TV in York later in the month.
“It’s OK to teach Darwin,” he said in the interview, “but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism.”
Asked to explain by a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Buckingham said he felt “ambushed” by the camera crew as he walked across a parking lot to his car and that he had been consciously trying to avoid mentioning creationism.
“I had it in my mind to make sure not to talk about creationism. I had it on my mind. I was like a deer in the headlights. I misspoke,” he told U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who is presiding over the non-jury trial.
Earlier in Thursday’s court session, Buckingham claimed that he had been misquoted in stories from two newspapers that reported his advocating the teaching of creationism to counterbalance the material on evolution.
“It’s just another instance when we would say intelligent design and they would print creationism,” he said.
So let’s see how many different explanations we now have, all given under oath. Concerning the statement that evolution must be “balanced with something else, like creationism”
A. “Never said it.”
B. Okay, I now recall that I did say it, and in fact I now recall exactly what was going through my mind at the moment they asked me that question because my memory apparently gets better over time, not worse.
C. Maybe I didn’t say it, maybe I said “intelligent design” and the reporters replaced it with “creationism”…and never mind that man no the videotape.
On the subject of his statement that the current textbook was “laced with Darwinism”"
A. I don’t recall saying that.
B. Oh yeah, I said that.
Do I smell a perjury charge coming? Well, probably not. But I think it’s pretty clear that Mr. Buckingham is not only lying, he’s a really bad liar. I cannot for the life of me understand what the defense attorneys were thinking when they put this guy on the witness stand.
Update: It turns out there’s good reason for my bafflement – Buckingham was not a defense witness but a prosecution witness called out of turn. Apparently for scheduling purposes they could not get him to Pennsylvania to appear during the plaintiff’s case, so they had to interrupt the defense case and call him as a plaintiff’s witness. So that clears up the confusion there. I certainly understand why we called him to the stand.