Pharyngula

I guess we have our own little anti-blasphemy principle operationally at work in the US. Look what can get you in trouble with the law now:

A Mission Viejo high school history teacher violated the First Amendment by disparaging Christians during a classroom lecture, a federal judge ruled today.

James Corbett, a 20-year teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, was found guilty of referring to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a 2007 classroom lecture, denigrating his former Advanced Placement European history student, Chad Farnan.┬á

I am astounded that Corbett was found guilty of anything.

First of all, he told the truth: creationism is religious, it is a product of superstition, and it is nonsense — it doesn’t fit any of the evidence we have about the history fo the world or life on it. We have to have the right to tell students not only that something is wrong, but that it is stupidly wrong.

Secondly, we are being told over and over again that Christianity is not equivalent to creationism. This teacher has specifically said that creationism is nonsense, and this judge has equated a dismissal of a weird anti-scientific belief with making a rude remark about Christianity. So…where are all the Christians rising in outrage at the slander of their faith?

Thirdly, and this must be said, Chad Farnan is a self-righteously moronic creationist wanker who deserves to have his stupidity pointed out publicly, in the classroom and out of it, far and wide. Spread the word.

Comments

  1. #1 Max
    May 2, 2009

    Here, here.

  2. #2 matt
    May 2, 2009

    Christians don’t like it when you call them on their BS. I say too bad! 20 bucks says that judge is a creationist

  3. #3 SaraJ
    May 2, 2009

    I am ashamed that this took place in my home county. But then again, I am not surprised… Orange County is full of snot-nosed, entitled, stuck up assholes who also happen to be religious AND think that the world revolves around their worldview. I am so glad to have moved away from all that.

  4. #4 K.
    May 2, 2009

    Chad Farnan reminds me a lot of Marc Rudov. Rudov is the operator of a website called “The No Nonsense Man” and has been known to make appearances on Fox News to protest anything he deems offensive to his masculinity. Rudov complaining on national television that a Cheerios commercial depicts men as “weak and stupid” sounds an awful lot like Chad Farnan going to court to complain about “religious, superstitious nonsense.”

    These people are ridiculous.

  5. #5 Ed Darrell
    May 2, 2009

    So much for the black letter law that in America, truth is always a defense against slander or libel.

    Or . . . do I smell an appeal?

  6. #6 dab
    May 2, 2009

    Before pasting what I wrote about this in the Steve thread, I’ll commend your exercise of free speech in the last paragraph. Although you could be challenged on the factual accuracy of your assertion that he’s a “wanker” (I thought g*d forbids masturbation and all other thoughts about the naughty baby business?), the rest is self-evidently true to rational people (i.e. non-faith-heads). Let’s see the Christian fascists take you to court.

    Without any further ado?

    What free speech? What Constitution? Apparently, articulating what all rational people in the world think is a violation of the separation of church and state, yet creationists can weasel their way onto school boards with their incessant bleating about “intelligent design”. Perhaps it should be renamed the United States of Saudi Arabia; I’m sure these insane fanatics would love to stone all of us heretics to death, after all. Fuck.

    Observers should not be surprised at these people’s ability to cherry-pick and twist the Constitution to their own ends; most of them get plenty practise with the Bible. Just as I doubt they condemn shrimp, so they can ignore the establishment clause when it suits.

    Blah-blah-blah religion poisons everything.

    I’m not American, by the way. Thankfully, UK school boards seem slightly more sane. But knowing that these utter morons can get a handle on children anywhere makes me mad.

  7. #7 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    Unfortunately, this stuff works just like the fatwa against Salmon Rushdie — everyone is intimidated even if the victim is later shown to be in the right.

    Strangle our teachers, strangle our authors. Bleh.

  8. #9 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    May 2, 2009

    It’s quite clear that Corbett insulted religion directly in the statements that were tossed out by the court (and more power to him,) which makes it all the more baffling to this non-lawyer/conlaw scholar.

    He didn’t say “Christianity” at all; he said “Creationism.” Is the judge making the case that Christianity is dependent on Creationism? Can’t have one without the other?

  9. #10 NewEnglandBob
    May 2, 2009

    Meanwhile, this development is not a good sign. Where does it go from here? How does it get corrected?

  10. #11 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    This excerpt from the news article says it all:

    “We are thrilled with the judge’s ruling and feel it sets great precedent,” said Farnan’s attorney, Jennifer Monk, who works for the Christian legal group Advocates for Faith & Freedom in Murrieta. “Hopefully, teachers in the future, including Dr. Corbett, will think about what they’re saying and attempt to ensure they’re not violating the establishment clause as Dr. Corbett has done.”

    Yes, they are thrilled that they have all teachers running scared, and not just Dr. Corbett.

  11. #12 Grant
    May 2, 2009

    I believe Judge Jones basically said the same thing from the other side of the bench. Why wasn’t he prosecuted?

  12. #13 MikeG
    May 2, 2009

    Well, the fatwa against Rushdie did have one positive outcome: it got me to read the Satanic Verses. The surest way to get me to read a book is for someone to try to ban it.

    As for this ruling, he didn’t denigrate the student, just his stupid beliefs. I’ll denigrate the student: Chad, you are a religious, superstitious, nonsensical moron. You may yet come out of it, if you take the blinders off. Ignorant can be fixed, stupid is forever.

  13. #14 dab
    May 2, 2009

    “Is the judge making the case that Christianity is dependent on Creationism? Can’t have one without the other?”

    Of course not! The Christian god is the one true god! And if you don’t agree, you’ll be? Expelled!

    These people are morons. Doublethink is their oxygen. “I can’t be bothered reading the very convincing and almost certainly true theory about how this came to be, so I’m going to say a designer was needed. Then I’m going to say it was the specific designer chronicled in this really old book. THEN I’ll bitch about them heretic Neo-Darwinists having no evidence!”

  14. #15 mdcurler - math teacher
    May 2, 2009

    Math teacher here, and every day I hear students praying for god to give them a good grade. Hey, how about studying? How about doing homework?

    For me, I’m deadly worried that one day I will blurt out something about their religion being a work of fiction and superstitious tripe, then boom, I’m in trouble. I teach reason, critical thinking, and logic in my math classes. How can students succeed when they believe in god without reason, critical thinking, and logic.

  15. #16 Sastra
    May 2, 2009

    I wonder if it’s only creationists and conservative Christians endorsing this: many people who self-identify as liberals argue that no child’s “heartfelt” belief should be mocked, denigrated, or put down by any teacher. It’s more important that every point of view be “respected.”

    Would this mean that a teacher should walk on eggshells even if criticizing a kid’s assertion that, say, the Apollo moon landing was faked? Yes, it would mean that. I’ve actually heard that argument — the most important thing to teach is not facts, but being ‘open-minded’ and considerate. So I wouldn’t be too quick to totally discount a possible pomo concerned parent “weenie” factor at work here, as well as the Christians-as-victims card.

  16. #17 Revyloution
    May 2, 2009

    When I read PZ’s article, I was immediately in favor of appeals. Anytime we get the chance to put creationism in the courts, I think, is good.

    After reading the article, it sounds like Mr. Corbett is the mocking, condescending type. He was doing more than trying to make creationism look silly, he was trying to make religion on the whole look silly. While I agree with him, I think that he was pushing the boundaries of the Establishment clause.

    The judge might have seen the multiple charges and decided to send a message that the classroom was not the place to settle class wars. Again, I don’t agree, I think its the best place to settle the class wars. But to have a teacher push a particular moral philosophy on the students is a violation of the constitution. If he had kept his comments strictly to the falsifiable claims of religion, then I would support an appeal.

  17. #18 TheSlat
    May 2, 2009

    Orange County is a special kind of crazy. I grew up there and remember my history teachers calling it a “bastion of conservatism in southern California”. I was in the liberal bubble of south-coastal Orange county (a tiny part of the county as a whole). It was plain my teachers were right when you look at how the county goes republican almost every election. Scary because Mission Viejo is so very close to my childhood home, but it is what we would have called “inland” when I was young and ran track against them (referring to everyone outside the south-coastal towns)

  18. #19 raven
    May 2, 2009

    Oh c’mon people. One would think you’d never seen anyone EXPELLED by the christofascists for not buying their 2 pages of bronze age mythology.

    Reminds me of the Bitterman case at the community college in Iowa. Everyone knows Western Civilization started with a talking, walking snake 6,000 years ago.

    DesMoines Register:

    Teacher fired for saying the bible should not be taken literally
    By Megan Hawkins

    Sunday, September 23, 2007 Add a Comment Reposted From: DesMoines Register
    A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.

    Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

    “I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Bitterman said.

    Sarah Smith, director of the school’s Red Oak campus, declined to comment Friday on Bitterman’s employment status. The school’s president, Barbara Crittenden, said Bitterman taught one course at Southwest. She would not comment, however, on his claim that he was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.

    “I can assure you that the college understands our employees’ free-speech rights,” she said. “There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment.”

    Bitterman, who taught part time at Southwestern and Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, said he uses the Old Testament in his western civilization course and always teaches it from an academic standpoint.

    Bitterman’s Tuesday course was telecast to students in Osceola over the Iowa Communications Network. A few students in the Osceola classroom, he said, thought the lesson was “denigrating their religion.”

    “I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn’t given any more credibility than any other god,” Bitterman said. “I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there.”

    Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a “fairy tale” in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.

    “I just thought there was such a thing as academic freedom here,” he said. “From my point of view, what they’re doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century.”

    Hector Avalos, an atheist religion professor at Iowa State University, said Bitterman’s free-speech rights were violated if he was fired simply because he took an academic approach to a Bible story.

    “I don’t know the circumstances, but if he’s teaching something about the Bible and says it is a myth, he shouldn’t be fired for that because most academic scholars do believe this is a myth, the story of Adam and Eve,” Avalos said.

    “So it’d be no different than saying the world was not created in six days in science class.

    “You don’t fire professors for giving you a scientific answer.”

    Bitterman said Linda Wild, vice president of academic affairs at Southwest, fired him over the telephone.

    Wild did not return telephone or e-mail messages Friday. Bitterman said that he can think of no other reason college officials would fire him and that Smith, the director of the campus, has previously sat in on his classes and complimented his work.

  19. What was the result of being found guilty? (Fired for ignorant reasons?)
    Who was the Judge? (Can the judge be fired)
    What did the school do about the accuser? (He had to be accused of blasphemy by someone?)

    Too many statements become a voice uttered once, floating on the wind, then forever lost in the wilderness. (What can we do to remedy lack fo follow through?)

    Is there a register of non relegious businesses that we can support? (I would think 15% of most communities should be viable economically)

    Are we still afraid of financial recriminations? (As a person looking for work as a photographer all the time, I am distressed in losing all chance of work from the relegious, whil not getting support by people I support.)

  20. #21 Christopher
    May 2, 2009

    The story says that he will have a fine and possible injunction from ever speaking bad about faith in the classroom. If he’s fined, I’m willing to put up some dollars to help him pay that down. Teachers already make so little; they shouldn’t have to use their income to pay lawyers of spoiled brats who can’t stand challenges to their worldview.

  21. #22 Neil G.
    May 2, 2009

    I know I’m going to be crucified (excuse the bad pun) for this, but I feel we’re forgetting something.

    If Corbett were simply talking about Creationism, then, yes there shouldn’t be a complaint. They’ve been trying to prove Creationism isn’t religion in order to sneak it into schools. And I’m assuming that Corbett is aware of this fact. But it seemed from the article, he was speaking also of religion in general, and though I agree with his sentiments, public school teachers are not supposed to talk about religion at all. At all, not just in promotion of one, but also in dissent of one.

    The thing is, if we don’t want teachers to talk about religion in public schools, we need to refrain as well. I’ve had teachers who couldn’t hold back their “praise Jesus”es. And if we want them to refrain this kind of thing, we also have to realize that it applies to atheism as well. We need to set an example, not start a classroom battle.

    Obviously, there are times when the difference between religion and accepted facts (scientific, historic, etc.) needs explaining, but that isn’t something for individual teachers to take upon themselves in the classroom. Otherwise everyone would do it, and the raging discrepancies would cause more problems with the school system than there already are.

    I don’t think that is too unreasonable.

  22. #23 scooter
    May 2, 2009

    PZ:

    Chad Farnan is a self-righteously moronic creationist wanker

    Not sure if publicly crapping all over a 16 yr old for something they did when they were 14 is a very good idea.

  23. #24 Psychodigger
    May 2, 2009

    Not that it will help in any way, but i e-mailed the douchebag who sued mr. Corbett:

    You have the right to be as deluded as you want to be, but you are really overstepping the mark in sueing someone who warns people about you. Of course I say this as a supporter of mr. Corbett and as an atheist, but beside that, you accuse him of persecuting you, because he states that one won┤t be able to see the truth with ┤your Jesus glasses on┤. Well, apart from the fact that I agree wit him, you┤re saying, in effect, that you can┤t see the truth without your Jesus glasses on, if you pardon the analogy. Who┤s persecuting who here? So what, if you are offended, be a man, grin and bear it. It┤s a very cheap move to file a lawsuit against your teacher, just because he says something you disagree with. I would pe prosecuting people left right and centre if I had to sue everyone I don┤t agree with. Get a life.

  24. #25 raven
    May 2, 2009

    Bitterman threatened to sue Iowa community college.
    They folded and paid him off.

    If you stand up to the christofascist wingnuts, sometimes justice is done.

    excerpt from sensuous curmudgeon blog:

    The school?s lawyer, Patrick Smith, said the college settled to avoid an expensive lawsuit, which Bitterman had threatened to file.

    That, at least, was an intelligent decision. Continuing:

    ?There is no admission of liability,? Smith said Friday.

  25. #26 JD
    May 2, 2009

    Chad is a fucking tard. Word is now spread.

  26. #27 386sx
    May 2, 2009

    Apparently Farnan made some recordings of Corbett.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdRGo5rAm54

    Sounds like Corbett was definitely out of line!

  27. #28 Gavinicus
    May 2, 2009

    I’d like to see the judge’s decision before condemning the decision. You have a tangled web of rights, here. The First Amendment generally guarantees free speech but also prohibits the advancement of a religious viewpoint by a public school teacher. The statement “Creationism is nonsense,” seems to be a very defensible claim because creationism makes factual and demonstrably false statements about the universe.

    The problem is that you could say the same thing about virgin births and resurrections. They are demonstrably nonsense but I’m pretty sure a public school teacher who said so would get sacked–and likely no court would protect them.

  28. #29 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 2, 2009

    I found this laying around:
    http://chadfarnan.com/
    chadfarnan@yahoo.com

    I’ve stood around listening to idiots bash atheism more than enough. He should’ve kept his mouth shut. I’m all for posting his personal details. He deserves a little feedback.

  29. #30 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    I was going say that I’d rather not attack a 16 year old kid, but after reading his self righteous web site…

    Fuck him

    He is a wanker.

  30. #31 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    To FST @29: You are posting the personal details of a 16-year-old. Might be better to post the personal details of his parents?

    A 16-year-old’s frontal lobes are probably not functioning at full capacity yet. He would still be relying on input from parents, teachers, peers, etc. for judgement calls.

    Sounds to me like the teacher got fed up and sounded off too much in the classroom. But what we don’t have are recordings of the comments made by Christian students.

    Whole things seems to be blown out of proportion, though.

  31. #32 pcarini
    May 2, 2009

    He should’ve kept his mouth shut. I’m all for posting his personal details. He deserves a little feedback.

    The fuck? So it’s now cool to harass and intimidate people who don’t agree with us?

    After reading the article and listening to the recording @ #27, my opinion is that the teacher was asking for a lawsuit. He was sermonizing from the front of the class, which isn’t cool coming from anybody. The odd thing is that the judge threw out all of the obvious sermonizing and went after the factual and comparatively mild “Creationism is nonsense” statement.

  32. #33 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    Another point to be made is that this is high school, not college.

  33. #34 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    Surely truth has nothing to do with the establishment clause.I thought the whole point of it was to avoid people who had The Truth using the state to push it on others. (IANAL, and not even an American so I’m prepared to be put straight on that)

  34. #35 astrounit
    May 2, 2009

    “So?where are all the Christians rising in outrage at the slander of their faith?”

    Indeed. And where are all the Christians rising in outrage at this miscarriage of justice conducted in their name?

    We won’t find any. Many are no doubt even chortling with glee. The very most Righteous and Compassionate Christians are quite adept at it.

    Oops, almost forgot…Chad Farnan IS an idiot.

  35. #36 'Tis Himself
    May 2, 2009

    The article PZ linked to has a link to a PDF file of the court’s summary judgement.

    Corbett made comments like quoting Mark Twain “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool” and “People in Europe who are least likely to go to church…are the Swedes. The people in the industrialized world most likely to go to church are the Americans. America has the highest crime rate of all industrialized nations, and Sweden has the lowest. The next time somebody tells you religion is connected with morality, you might want to ask them about that.”

    The judge found that Corbett was making statements about religion in his class. Thus Corbett was not adhering to the separation of church and statement and was in violation of the First Amendment. The judge explained Corbett’s transgression rather well:

    The Supreme Court?s comments with regard to governmental promotion of religion apply with equal force where the government disapproves of religion

  36. #37 386sx
    May 2, 2009

    Another point to be made is that this is high school, not college.

    But, an advanced placement class though.

  37. #38 spudbeach
    May 2, 2009

    Having read the decision (see http://www.ocregister.com/newsimages/2009/05/01/Student%20lawsuit%20-%20final%20ruling.pdf ), the good news is that of all the statements at issue, only one was found to be a problem. Frankly, the judge tossed out a lot of stuff, including a lot of stuff that pushed the borders. And if he had just rephrased that, to talk about “religiously motivated” instead of “superstition”, he would have been fine. Let’s all try to talk carefully and politely people!

  38. #39 Sastra
    May 2, 2009

    After listening to the tape, I agree that the teacher seems to have gone too far — at least in the comments he made on the tape. He could have made similar points by focusing on the problems of dogma in any form, and not being so clearly derisive of religion in general. I’d feel the same way if the teacher had been talking about “godlessness” or “no-Jesus glasses.”

    I’m also puzzled that the suit seems to have ignored the more blatant problems for this Creationism = Christianity = protected belief bit.

    And Chad is too young for the vitriol. He needs a wise mentor. Pile on his lawyers instead.

  39. #40 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    May 2, 2009

    Let’s all try to talk carefully and politely people!

    Fuck your imaginary god.

    Is that careful and polite enough for you?

    I’m sick of this shit and I’m not going to remain silent.

    Conservatives, republicans and Christians in America are assholes, traitors and war criminals of the highest order.

  40. #41 Drgori
    May 2, 2009

    What kind of crap lawyer did Corbett have?

  41. #42 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    Secondly, we are being told over and over again that Christianity is not equivalent to creationism.

    And here I’d got the impression that it is your view that Christianity _is_ equivalent to creationism, in that, in your view, Christianity necessarily implies creationism. Is that a false impression on my part?

    The decision is bollocks, from my Christian perspective, because creationism is no more necessarily a part of Christianity than is a flat Earth or a geocentric solar system.

  42. #43 Gavinicus
    May 2, 2009

    Tis Himself, you are utterly wrong about what the judge said. He said that Corbett’s comments about “Jesus glasses” and how religious belief correlates with higher crime incidence were related to the course he was teaching and thus did not violate the tender student’s constitutional rights, no matter how offended he might have been. His quoting of Twain was part of the class and had a secular purpose thus did not violate the Lemon test.

    It was an AP history course. So naturally the subject of religion came up. Discussing the effects of religious belief is proper. Pointing out that throughout history unscrupulous people have taken advantage of religious gullibility is proper. The judge found all those things to be permissible.

    The one and only comment that the judge found objectionable was that creationism is nonsense. In that one instance, the judge found that the statement was disparaging of religion and that it served no secular purpose in the class. We can debate the merits of that ruling, but you have to at least report the ruling accurately.

  43. #44 Kobra
    May 2, 2009

    PZ, if these people are willing to prosecute a teacher for saying true (but not so nice) things about a stupid religious belief, they’ll also probably try to sue you for libel even though you’re right. The main argument I could see them using, if they aren’t completely stupid, is that you are encouraging others to slander this clown. I’m not sure how a judge would rule on that, hence my words of caution.

  44. #45 Russell Miller
    May 2, 2009

    Huh. I tried sharing this on facebook and it immediately got deleted. Twice.

    I wonder if “name is an idiot” triggers some kind of filter.

  45. #46 Stanton
    May 2, 2009

    According to Mr Farnan’s logic, a person should be sued for stating that Al Qaeda is an organization of murderous thugs.

  46. #47 Ed Darrell
    May 2, 2009

    Follow the links and read the case. It’s troubling in some respects.

    Here’s one point for appeal, as Mike Haubrich accurately picked up; the judge wrote:

    Corbett states an unequivocal belief that creationism is ?superstitious nonsense.? The Court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context. The statement therefore constitutes improper disapproval of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.

    Some churches might say the same thing. But is the judge saying that creationism is a religion of its own? Or is he trying to define Christianity for Christians, against the First Amendment? There’s just no way to parse this except to say it’s wrong for the judge to rule this way on that statement.

    It should be appealed.

    Does anyone know anything about this judge?

    Incidentally, the OC Register has a .pdf of the decision.

  47. #48 Gavinicus
    May 2, 2009

    The only reason this case had legs is because the teacher was speaking as a state actor and thus subject to the restrictions of the first amendment. In his role as a teacher he can neither advance nor restrict religious freedom and he cannot silence other viewpoints.

    PZ is also a state actor, but only in the class room and judging from things he has said at other times, it appears he is pretty meticulous about such things. He can say, for instance, that the many lines of evidence in biology, geology and cosmology utterly refute Genesis as a literal description of creation. He probably cannot say (in class) that the Bible is a steaming pile of shit.

    But this is a blog and PZ, when he removes his academic regalia and sits down to his computer, can say most any thing he wants (subject to laws concerning libel, slander, intellectual property protection, treason, incitement to riot and obscenity, of course).

  48. #49 Ineffable
    May 2, 2009

    “We have to have the right to tell students not only that something is wrong, but that it is stupidly wrong.”
    What this is such a double standard.
    When people like Caroline Crocker teach about a certain scientific theory that they think is wrong the Darwinists clamour to have her fired. But now that someone thinks that a theory that you also dislike is wrong you say the charges are unfair???
    A least people like the Discovery Institute support academic freedom for those on both sides of the controversy with their academic freedom bills . You guys only want academic freedom for people you agree with.

  49. #50 Revyloution
    May 2, 2009

    Neil G, Im not here to crucify you, im here to accuse you of plagarism. I made a quite similar statement just a few posts above yours.

    Tis Himself is on the money too. The teacher was obviously pushing a particular philosophy on the classroom. I think the Judge was trying to send a message that its against the Constitution to do this, irregardless of the philosophy. PZ regularly states that he talks about the claims of creationism, but not religion, in his class. Attacking the falsifiable claims of a faith is different than attacking the faith as a whole. This teacher crossed that line by attacking faith directly.

    Its unfortunate that the Judge decided to make the judgment based on that one particular line about creationism. In the end, I think the judgment was just. I don’t think highschool teachers should be in the business of pushing any particular philosophy, even one that I agree with.

  50. #51 Isabella
    May 2, 2009

    I feel rather bad for James Corbett. He’s 20 years, still a kid, and he’s already embroiled in a legal battle.

  51. #52 Blaine
    May 2, 2009

    According to:

    http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/jesus-glasses-teacher-found-gu/

    Sounds a little like a ‘push’ more than a loss.

    “The headline-grabbing lawsuit filed in 2007 by Chad Farnan, a senior at Capistrano Valley High, against history teacher James Corbett for allegedly expressing hostility towards Christianity in class, came to a close today, and it’s still a little unclear who really won. The federal judge who issued the ruling found that there were dozens of instances where Farnan’s First Amendment rights were not violated by Corbett’s statements, and one instance in which they were.”

    and

    “That comment was tossed out: “One cannot say that Corbett’s primary purpose here was to criticize Christianity or religion,” Judge James Selna says in today’s ruling. “The court finds that, given the context, Corbett’s primary purpose was to illustrate the specific historical point regarding the peasants in the discussion and to make the general point that religion can cause people to make political choices which are not in their best interest… the Court notes that these views are not necessarily hostile to religion and are relevant concepts for discussion in an AP European history course.” (A point Corbett made repeatedly in this exclusive interview with the Weekly last year). ”

    So most of the claims were dismissed, and only one comment violated the Establishment Clause.

  52. #53 Russell Miller
    May 2, 2009

    Ineffable:

    You have maybe one good point in there, which is that indeed those on the side of truth and light do indeed exercise a little hypocrisy on occasion. That, however, is overshadowed by the rest of your points, which are about much a pile of shit as I’ve seen here.

    For one thing, even though the point has a little validity, there is the small, teensy little point that science teachers actually should be teaching *science*. Which, sadly for you, creationism is not. Neither is Intelligent Design. So should a science teacher get fired for teaching stuff that isn’t science? Absolutely.

    And then there’s also the point that this guy, while probably expressing himself in a way that was inviting trouble, was speaking the truth. There is no evidence for creationism, for religion, for Christianity, for anything, and if he had stuck to the facts (as a poster above stated), he would probably have gotten off just fine, no matter how biased the judge was.

    In other words, piss off, troll.

  53. #54 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 2, 2009

    When people like Caroline Crocker teach about a certain scientific theory that they think is wrong the Darwinists clamour to have her fired.

    Ineffable, when are you going to stop lying? The lie in this case is this. ID is not a scientific theory. Period. End of story. It is a religious theory, and an US Court has also made that determination. Therefor, trying to claim ID is a scientific theory is a lie on your part. And you should know that. That just makes you look dumb.

    Stop lying to yourself, so you can quit lying to us.

  54. #55 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    “A least people like the Discovery Institute support academic freedom for those on both sides of the controversy with their academic freedom bills . You guys only want academic freedom for people you agree with.”

    There’s no controversy. Repeating the word will not make it reflective of reality.

    The Discovery Institute is a despicable organisation that desires to use its precious Wedge to open the world’s classroom doors to its totally baseless nonsense. Even your type would struggle to cherry-pick the right parts of the Constitution to support that.

    And we’re not Darwinists. We’re realists. Probably a lot of us are scientists. Some of us are biologists. The rational among us accept the preponderance of evidence for the theory that Darwin began, but do not dogmatically accept everything he ever said. Some was wrong. Shocker! but don’t you phone New Scientist just yet. The basics were brilliant.

  55. #56 Phillycook
    May 2, 2009

    I’m so ashamed. Chad uses a Mac for his website – one page and his email address.

    http://www.chadfarnan.com/

  56. #57 raven
    May 2, 2009

    When people like Caroline Crocker teach about a certain scientific theory that they think is wrong the Darwinists clamour to have her fired.

    Creationism isn’t science.

    Creationism isn’t xianity either.

    It is a toxic cult dogma on par with flat earthism.

    I looked at Crockers slides from her lectures once. They were full of outright lies and blatant mistakes that would have gotten a student an F in grade school. You are entitled to your own opinions and delusions, but not entitled to lie and make up facts in a college lecture hall.

    Crocker wasn’t fired BTW. Her contract wasn’t renewed. She went somewhere else to teach and for reasons unknown to me at least, that didn’t last either. She is now touring the country babbling creationist lies for money.

  57. #58 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 2, 2009

    @31 (Lynna)
    Parents would be nice, too. I think at any age, understanding the repercussions to ones actions is important. I don’t think flaming his inbox until the little red flag melts off and it looks like a kiln inside will help, but perhaps repeated questioning of his line of thought would do some good.

    @32 Did I say that we should harass him? If that’s the base presupposition around here for posting the information of some one with an opposing view, then I’d like to know where the, “big kids” pool is. He needs to be confronted; him and his butt-hurt parents. I think people should be able to contact him in any number of ways to do so.

    I also think Chad Farnan should have put things in perspective. I’ve sat through classes from my earliest years of education, and been presented some bat shit insane personal opinions from teachers. Instead of filing a lawsuit, I argued with them. If they wouldn’t allow open discussion, I informed the teacher of my objection, then when appropriate, got up and walked out of the class as a form of mild protest. If I filed a lawsuit against every authority figure who’s made statements that I disagree with, I’d be spending my entire life in court.

  58. #59 Marita
    May 2, 2009

    Mr. Farnan’s “Links” page has e-mail addresses for administrators at the school (well, I’m assuming that the “principle” is an administrator) as well as for the school board of trustees, so that you can “let them know how you feel”. Perhaps rather than e-mailing unpleasantness to Mr. Farnan (who might deserve it, but not nearly as much as his parents do), it would be more constructive to e-mail comments in support of Mr. Corbett to his bosses.

  59. #60 Ed Darrell
    May 2, 2009

    Notice that this teacher, James Corbett, was also named in the Peloza case, in which a biology instructor claimed the right to teach creationism. Creationists lost that one. This must be a different judge.

    Note also that most of the challenged statements are probably right down the fairway of the AP European History course material — this suit is really a challenge to accurate history, and to the notion of Advanced Placement history and its more rigorous requirements for high school students.

    Gee, maybe we can get a couple of churches and the College Board in on amici on the appeal . . .

    AP testing season starts Monday, by the way: AP U.S. Government and Politics, 8:00 a.m. at your closest good high school. Wish the kids well, so they don’t grow up like the plaintiff’s parents.

  60. #61 Bad Albert
    May 2, 2009

    I feel rather bad for James Corbett. He’s 20 years, still a kid, and he’s already embroiled in a legal battle.

    Read the story. It doesn’t say he’s 20 years old. It says he’s been a teacher for 20 years at that school.

  61. #62 EJ
    May 2, 2009

    I guess this is good a forum as any to ask if there is any way to start an atheist/humanis/secularist group in a high school?

    I am appalled to learn that the high school where I teacher science has a Bible study club.
    I don’t have tenure yet and cannot afford to rock the boat just yet…But am planning to do so.

    Teaching evolution this year to my sophomores has been seamless by the way, and totally free of confrontation or resistance (as if there should be). I think there is hope….Just thought I’d say so

  62. #63 Walton
    May 2, 2009

    A least people like the Discovery Institute support academic freedom for those on both sides of the controversy with their academic freedom bills . You guys only want academic freedom for people you agree with.

    “Academic freedom” is all very well, but it doesn’t entail the right to spend taxpayers’ money teaching creationist nonsense.

    Creationism is not science. It is, unequivocally and exclusively, a religious belief. If you believe in creationism, that’s fine; if you want to teach your own kids creationism, that’s fine. I couldn’t care less. But no publicly-funded school should be teaching religion at the taxpayers’ expense – because then, through the coercive power of the state, you force me to support a religious belief to which I don’t subscribe. Which is morally wrong.

    Would you be content if your tax dollars were spent teaching students that Allah is the one true God and Mohammed is his prophet? Or about L. Ron Hubbard, Xenu and the correct use of E-meters? Would you be happy for your money to be spent in such manner even if you lived in a majority Muslim or majority Scientologist jurisdiction? No? Then why do you believe that creationism – which, like the above examples, is entirely unsupported by any empirical evidence – should be taught in schools at the expense of the taxpayer?

  63. #64 Ted Zissou
    May 2, 2009

    I couldn’t find any mention of Chad Farnan or his parents approaching the principal or any school administration officials with their concerns. Did they jump immediately to a federal lawsuit? If I were an employer I’d be reluctant to hire anyone who felt the first airing of a grievance should be in court. It seems they just prayed and waited for him to stop.

    Hopefully this kid will learn a few hard lessons.

    BTW, Chad comes off as really arrogant with the camera angle used in that main page photo.

    Looks like Fox News loves him; check out his links.

  64. #65 raven
    May 2, 2009

    High schools have been bending, folding, mutilating, and censoring history for about forever.

    In my high school history class, the Reformation was barely mentioned. Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis on a door and they all went out for tea. Protestants took over much of Europe.

    The reality is so totally different. For one thing, they all went to the local pub and drank beer. Shortly afterwards, war broke out between Catholics and Protestants that killed tens of millions of people and raged on and off for 450 years. And there is still a lot of hatred in some circles between the two sects.

    Freaking sunday school was even worse. They censored most of the OT and a lot of the new. They never mentioned Revelations, probably because it reads like an crazier than usual LSD trip.

  65. #66 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    Note to Anonymous @42

    You wrote:

    “The decision is bollocks, from my Christian perspective, because creationism is no more necessarily a part of Christianity than is a flat Earth or a geocentric solar system.”

    You ,and folks like you , are a tiny minority.
    The national leadership of Christianity in the USA is just about 100% Fundie.
    The Fundies I know (family) feel that people like you are serving Satan.
    I’ve tried to bring up the fact that not all Christians believe that Genesis is literally “True” with my family and have been told that those “Christians” are under the influence of Satan.

    Any talk of wiggle-room is defined as Evil.

  66. #67 JasonTD
    May 2, 2009

    I teach science (chemistry and physics) in a public high school in Florida. I have had creationist students in my classes. I can tell you from experience that had I been openly hostile to their beliefs that it would have accomplished nothing in terms of student learning. It also would have lost me the trust of all of my students that is essential for me to be effective at my job.

    By hostility, I do not mean challenging their beliefs with verifiable facts, I mean disparaging those beliefs (and the students for believing them) as stupid. Even though I actually feel that way about most religious beliefs, being stridently hostile toward them in front of a classroom of teenagers, many of whom will have those beliefs to one extent or another, is very counterproductive.

  67. #68 Jadehawk
    May 2, 2009

    well, that was a weird one. the comment in and of itself is a factual claim, and creationism is not the same as christianity. but it does seem as if the teacher had a history of voicing strong opinions about religion in his classroom.

    This feels oddly backwards. Some of the other comments he made, which were deemed ok because in context, were actually anti-religious; the comment he DIDN’T get away with was simply factual. but maybe the judge figured creationism doesn’t impact European History? That would be weird, since a chunk of European History happens before the world was supposedly created… but maybe they don’t cover things like Newgrange or Stonehenge in that class.

    Anyway, I’ve got an oddly conflicted view on this. On the one hand, the teacher didn’t voice an opinion, but stated a fact, and as such shouldn’t have been found guilty. On the other hand, it seems he’s been threading pretty closely to the edge overall, so there might indeed be a case there overall… and yet most of the comments were thrown out. WTF?

    *confused*

    Also, what purpose do you guys think it will serve to pile our opinions onto a teen? If we’re trying to make him realize that all that his parents spoonfed him is bull, attacking him won’t do the trick. He’ll just retreat into his shell to the point where even adulthood and possibly college won’t be able to reach him.

  68. #69 jsoutofbiblepgs
    May 2, 2009

    I could be wrong….but I wasn’t aware that individuals could violate the 1st amendment. Individuals have a first amendment right. The government is the only entity that can violate this right, not individuals. The 1st amendment does not say that when you tell someone to shutup, that you’ve violated that person’s 1st amendment right….that’s just paradoxical.

    The school, since it is the government institution involved, should be the one that is punished, if anyone is going to be punished (although it most certainly should not be!!!) The court is the perpetrator….this individual schoolteacher is having his own rights to free speech and free religion violated.

    FUCK RELIGION, FUCK THEOCRACY…California….Southern California (my home) of all places. This is a tragedy.

  69. #70 Isabella
    May 2, 2009

    #61: Oh, duh. Of course he isn’t 20. I fell so silly. I even went to the page, and for some reason, the picture of the really old guy didn’t register in my brain.

  70. #71 raven
    May 2, 2009

    You ,and folks like you , are a tiny minority.
    The national leadership of Christianity in the USA is just about 100% Fundie.
    The Fundies I know (family) feel that people like you are serving Satan.
    I’ve tried to bring up the fact that not all Christians believe that Genesis is literally “True” with my family and have been told that those “Christians” are under the influence of Satan.

    Any talk of wiggle-room is defined as Evil.

    No, it isn’t that bad.

    The Catholics don’t have a problem with evolution. This is the largest sect in the USA, 23% of the population, 70 million members.

    Nor do the mainstream Protestants. My large, old sect has it on the website from decades ago that evolution has nothing to do with religion.

    Toss in the Mormons and even some evangelicals and pentecostals.

    The majority of xians worldwide don’t have a problem with evolution.

    If you are in Florida, it might look that way. Here on the WC, fundies are as scarce as the local Burmese pythons. I’m sure they are around but not very visible unless they kill one of their kids with faith healing or a minister gets caught cruising the little boys room at a grade school.

    What is true is that moderate xians seem to be dying of apathy. 1-2 million citizens leave xianity every year and the other large “sect” is the various flavors of the No Religion, at roughly 20% of the population.

    The Real Xians(tm) calling other Xians, Fake Xians(tm) are a great example of the mental and moral bankruptcy of fundies. The other Xians just call them ignorant trailer trash when they can bother getting it together to even notice.

  71. #72 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    May 2, 2009

    James V. Selna

    What the fuck did you expect? Now imagine thousands of bible school graduates burrowed deeply into your judiciary.

  72. #73 Matt H.
    May 2, 2009

    Seems like creationism is being talked about more and more these days. What’s the reason behind this sudden rise in Christian fundamentalism?

  73. #74 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    Nor do the mainstream Protestants. My large, old sect has it on the website from decades ago that evolution has nothing to do with religion.
    Posted by: raven

    I guess my point was that this voice has been absent among the Christian leadership in this country.
    Like Huckabee for example.
    I just can’t think of a single Christian in a position of national leadership that’s not a Creationist.
    I could be wrong.

  74. #75 Mike from Ottawa
    May 2, 2009

    I’d like to see the judge’s decision before condemning the decision.

    Damn! Why didn’t I think of that! Or at least sooner.

    Going through the decision, there is:

    “As discussed above, Corbett states an unequivocal belief that creationism is ?superstitious nonsense.? Corbett could have criticized Peloza for teaching religious views in class without disparaging those views.”

    and:

    “In the next three paragraphs quoted above, Corbett discussed the difference between scientific reasoning and logical deduction and religious belief or faith. Again, although one could possibly infer that Corbett was advocating generally accepted scientific reasoning over religious belief or faith, a reasonable observer would not find that this was the primary effect of the discussion. For example, in discussing creationism, Corbett stated that ?[s]cientifically, it?s nonsense.? Corbett did not say that he thinks creationism is nonsense but that generally accepted scientific principles do not logically lead to the theory of creationism. The Court recognizes, however, that common sense dictates that people of a certain religious faith may be offended by a comparison of their religion to ?magic? and that this could be construed as being derogatory. Nevertheless, the Court cannot find that the primary effect of the lecture was to disapprove of religion.”

    The use of “superstitious” is going to be a problem, because, as illustrated regularly here, the term is used as disparagement of all religion. Afterall, PZ regularly ridicules Pope Benedict for criticizing some non-Catholic religious beliefs as superstitious. However, taken as a whole, the ruling found only one fault and that a very, very narrow one and does grant an enormous amount of leeway for criticism of religiously founded views and actions. It seems clear that had Corbett merely described Peloza’s views as “nonsense”, the plaintiffs would have been entirely shut out. The judge didn’t include “relgious” in finding that Corbett’s use of “superstitious nonsense” was a violation when the phrase Corbett had used was “religious superstitious nonsense”. It seems that but for that one word, “superstitious”, Corbett would have been home free. To the extent that superstitious usually refers to a vague animism, I wonder if the judgement may not survive appeal.

    I don’t know the arrangement between Corbett and the schood district, but the fact Corbett was named as defendant in his personal capacity and there was summary judgement against him means that it would be up to Corbett and not the school district whether or not to appeal. If he did want to, I’d imagine the ACLU might be willing to help (since the district is off the hook they won’t want to appeal).

    Even if not appealed, it seems that Corbett only got nailed for one word on one occasion in a situation where there is no de minimus rule. Not the dire threat it seemed at first.

  75. #76 Kubenzi
    May 2, 2009

    If i were teaching young students, i think i would use the phrase “I am not allowed to address those topics in a public school” pretty often.This is because i would want my polar opposite, the public school teacher who is very religious, to have to say the exact same phrase.

  76. #77 badrescher
    May 2, 2009

    Regardless of your opinions (which I share) about what religion is and is not, I would have more respect for you, PZ, if you’d learn the facts before getting the peanut gallery’s panties in a bunch.

    I am not surprised at how few voices of reason appear in the comments here, but most of you should really re-think your self-identification as rational people and think about whether you spout off before getting your facts straight.

    There is a link in the OC Register’s article to the ACTUAL DECISION, which it would be prudent to read before assuming that an injustice has been done (as some of the more reasonable comments here have noted).

    It’s perfectly ethical (and legal) to laugh in the face of the religious when they are adults, they ask for it, and they have the right to turn away. It is NOT legal or, IMO, ethical, to do so when they are someone else’s children required by law to listen to you.

  77. #78 raven
    May 2, 2009

    I guess my point was that this voice has been absent among the Christian leadership in this country.

    Like Huckabee for example.

    I just can’t think of a single Christian in a position of national leadership that’s not a Creationist.

    All of our political leadership are xians. You can’t be elected dog catcher without that membership.

    Although, I sort of see what you mean. Most mainstream and catholic politicians don’t find the need to remind everyone that they belong to the religion every ten seconds or let it dictate their science policies. Obama is a xian.

    Huckabee, Palin, Jindahl, etc.. are appealing to a specific constituency, the christofascists. Hopefully they will remain minority cults and sink into the ooze.

    There is no national xianity the religion leadership. Xians are very good at hating each other. When they aren’t hating other sects, they are having internal battles. And planning out the next schism. The lutherans and Xian Reformeds have split so many times it is hard to keep up with who is what.

  78. #79 reb's
    May 2, 2009

    no tack. no tack teacher no tack teaching. we do have a first ammendment. remember that “religeous” class we had to take in H.S. you know the one that taught “man came from monkey”. yeah, that one.

  79. #80 badrescher
    May 2, 2009

    BTW, since I don’t see it answered in the comments (I may have missed it, sorry), saying he made fun specifically Christians is reasonable given his remark in a lecture:
    “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”

  80. #81 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    May 2, 2009

    It is NOT legal or, IMO, ethical, to do so when they are someone else’s children required by law to listen to you.

    Children are REQUIRED BY LAW to listen in class?

    That’s just laughable.

  81. #82 pcarini
    May 2, 2009

    FlyingSpaghettiTroll @ #58:

    Did I say that we should harass him? If that’s the base presupposition around here for posting the information of some one with an opposing view, then I’d like to know where the, “big kids” pool is. He needs to be confronted; him and his butt-hurt parents. …

    You didn’t say that people should harass him as such, but I get the impression that your definition of ‘confront’ and their definition of ‘harass’ may overlap. Opening the floodgates to a deluge of half-literate hatemail (see #24) is much more like drive-by trolling than confrontation.

    Here again is what you did say (emphasis mine):

    I’ve stood around listening to idiots bash atheism more than enough. He should’ve kept his mouth shut. I’m all for posting his personal details. He deserves a little feedback.

    I’ve never seen that “he should’ve kept his mouth shut” phrase used as anything but a justification for one’s disproportionate response to another person’s free speech, a trend you refuse to part ways with here. I, for one, am glad that you didn’t have any of his actual personal information, only what he had already posted freely on his website. We’ve too often been on the receiving end of thuggish behavior “justified” by our willingness to express our beliefs, I’m not about to start advocating it now.

  82. #83 articulett
    May 2, 2009

    Somehow I don’t think Judge Selna nor the bozobrained, Chad Farnan, would have the same problem if a teacher had said (as I’ve heard public High School teacher’s say)”Jesus died for your sins” in a classroom as though it were historical fact.

    I do hate this hypocrisy of the religious: When it comes to their lies, they scream “freedom of speech”; when it’s opinions and facts that negate these lies they cry “hate speech”.

    Shame on Judge Selna. Dover got it right. As a public school teacher I am aggrieved at this decision. Hopefully, this is not over, and justice will prevail.

  83. #84 charley
    May 2, 2009

    I’m not appreciating any of the players here.

    The teacher sounds like a shrill ideological tool in the recordings, attacking not just creationism but all religion. Thanks a lot for giving the fundies have a martyr to parade around.

    The kid is self righteous, but he’s a victim of religious brainwashing by his parents. His web site sounds like somebody’s putting words in his mouth. I feel sorry for him.

    The judge cluelessly ignores all kinds of actual violations of church-state separation to focus on a statement about creationism which was consistent with Dover.

    The parents go straight to the lawyer without talking to the teacher.

    Finally, we stoop to call a kid names, playing right into the fundie stereotype that atheists are assholes.

    I’m feel like I’m turning into a concern troll lately.

  84. #85 Monado
    May 2, 2009

    I smell an appeal or possible a civil suit for damages to the teacher’s livelihood. But I’m just being hopeful.

  85. #86 littlejohn
    May 2, 2009

    Reb’s @ 79:

    Dude, it is way too early in the day to be that drunk.

  86. #87 Ken Cope
    May 2, 2009

    @49
    When people like Caroline Crocker teach about a certain scientific theory that they think is wrong the Darwinists clamour to have her fired.

    Ineffable, this is not an appropriate venue for acting as if the thesis of Expelled is anything more than slander and bullshit swallowed only by fools or the delusional. If you have neither excuse, then you are a deceitful asshole who deserves nothing but our collective mockery, scorn and derision. Stop using the epithet “Darwinists” too, you tool.

  87. #88 Sam
    May 2, 2009

    From Mike at #75:

    I’d like to see the judge’s decision before condemning the decision.

    Damn! Why didn’t I think of that! Or at least sooner.

    Good advice. Above we see PZ’s Greek chorus doing the ritual wailing, unquestioningly accepting his twisted (mis)interpretation of the story.

    The afterword of the judgement makes interesting reading, demonstrating that the judge was trying to interpret and implement the requirements of US law (not make a scientific analysis). The first paragraph of the afterword:

    This case reflects the tension between the constitutional rights of a student and the demands of higher education [...]. It also reflects a tension
    between Farnan?s deeply-held religious beliefs and the need for government, particularly schools, to carry out their duties free of the strictures of any particular religious or philosophical belief system. The Constitution recognizes both sides of the equation.

    (my emphasis)
    It ends by opining:

    The ruling today protects Farnan, but also protects teachers like Corbett in carrying out their teaching duties.

    What the judge appears to be saying is that government employees should not (according to US law) be promoting religious or anti-religious views in the course of their duties, and that Corbett when acting as a teacher stepped over that line. Of course he has free speech at other times.

    If that’s a problem, campaign to get the constitution changed.

    Why must Myers repeatedly use creationist tactics of misrepresentation so frequently? The truth is enough on its own: creationism is rubbish, religion is superstitious nonsense, but it doesn’t improve the argument by fabricating nonsense.

    And why is this blog’s chorus so pleased with its unquestioning respect of its hero’s words? You’re like a bunch of religious idiots listening to a ranting pastor, believing every pronouncement without independent skeptical thought, it’s quite worrying. Can you not see yourselves as the mirror image of churchgoers?

  88. #89 'Tis Himself
    May 2, 2009

    I’m feel like I’m turning into a concern troll lately.

    Your concern about yourself is noted.

  89. #90 Ken Cope
    May 2, 2009

    Can you not see yourselves as the mirror image of churchgoers?

    Why is it so important to represent atheists and people who speak in a community of people who are all over the map in every respect except for their atheism, as a religion?

    What the teacher could so easily have done is merely shift the context of his statement ever so slightly by prepending the phrase, “the finding in Dover was that…”

  90. #91 melior
    May 2, 2009

    …accused Corbett of repeatedly promoting hostility toward Christians in class and advocating “irreligion over religion”…

    What’s up with this weird construct “ir”-religion? I understand what non-religion is. Irreligion just sounds like you’re doing it wrong.

    I was a big fan of JIR back in the day (my dear old dad was an early subscriber), perhaps it’s time for a Journal of Irreligious Results. Hilarity would ensue.

  91. #92 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    Huckabee, Palin, Jindahl, etc.. are appealing to a specific constituency, the christofascists. Hopefully they will remain minority cults and sink into the ooze.
    Posted by: raven

    My list would have been more like Huckabee, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell,Billy Graham,and Pat Robertson…etc..
    I sure hope you’re right that they are a minority cult.
    Them sinking into the ooze sounds great.

  92. #93 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    Can you not see yourselves as the mirror image of churchgoers?

    Actually, I see myself as a citizen of a nation that has been greatly wronged by religion over the last several hundred years, and a member of a species who’s already advanced state of destructiveness has been greatly magnified by religion for the last 2000 years. I am barraged by propaganda of almost unbelievable proportions just by turning on the television, why are you so offended when only a very small example of that is throw back into your faces?

    Your perspective is completely out of scale with reality.

    This is what blogs are for. This is what they do.

    Get a grip, man.

  93. #94 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    “no tack. no tack teacher no tack teaching. we do have a first ammendment. remember that “religeous” class we had to take in H.S. you know the one that taught “man came from monkey”. yeah, that one.”

    WTF.

    I’m wondering: doesn’t the establishment clause prohibit promotion/disparagement of PARTICULAR religions? Wasn’t the guy within his rights to criticise the concept of religion as a whole? I’d guess not; no one likes anyone with opinions nowadays, apparently. Sure, it may not have a place in school in so-called “polite society”, but it would in an ideal world. Teach the children that that trash is just that, and let them build a rational world.

    But then that’s my rare dreamer side speaking. The other hopes for extinction in 2012.

  94. #95 melior
    May 2, 2009

    Can you not see yourselves as the mirror image of churchgoers?

    Reflected across the plane separating them from verisimilitude, you mean? Hmm, up-is-down gets replaced with up-is-up, and wrong-is-right gets… nope, it’s more like an inversion.

  95. #96 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 2, 2009

    And why is this blog’s chorus so pleased with its unquestioning respect of its hero’s words? You’re like a bunch of religious idiots listening to a ranting pastor, believing every pronouncement without independent skeptical thought, it’s quite worrying. Can you not see yourselves as the mirror image of churchgoers?

    Sam, I don’t recall seeing you around much. If you have been here, you will realize that we call PZ out if, in our opinion, he makes mistakes. And with this group, the dissent gets very vocal.

    You, on the otherhand, show a very sheeple approach to the whole thing, turning PZ’s blog into some type of church. That states where your mind is. You are just another god-besoaked-bot. If you want us to listen to you, or not get in your face, you need to lose the attitude.

  96. #97 Citizen of the Cosmos
    May 2, 2009

    So they are saying that just because they happen to believe in the Christian creation myth, it stops being religious, superstitious nonsense? That’s bizarre. So if I claim to believe that I have a million dollars on the bank, it’s automatically a valid belief? Just because I… believe? How stupid is that?

    I want Christians who believe in the creation part of their book, to explain how it is not stupid to believe something that is so obviously at odds with observed reality. Well? Anyone up for it?

  97. #98 sfaneti
    May 2, 2009

    PZ,

    Dude, I respect you and all, but it is really not fair to declare a 16 year old kid is christofascist bum. There is no reason why the teacher needs to go and tell the kids there is no Santa Claus. The teacher was doing just that. He was not taking a non judgemental approach where he identified the source for his belief was evidence based — and let the kids draw their own conclusions about their beliefs.

    He was never going to connect to any of the kids if he did not point out the very simple fact tha evidence is available to support the scientific worldview – whereas other worldview hae none. Disparaging the other belief system is not appropriate. The most I would think could be appropriate was to wonder what evidence was available to support the religious claim. To declare it nonsense is just muddying the water.

    I know sometimes it is good to call a spade a spade, but this was not his personal time. He was in a position of power and he was talking to kids who don’t really have a fully developed consciousness in a beligerent way. That is not cool for a Christian to do in public schools – and it is not cool for an atheist to di ti either.

  98. #99 Blue Fielder
    May 2, 2009

    “Hopefully, teachers in the future, including Dr. Corbett, will think about what they’re saying and attempt to ensure they’re not violating the establishment clause as Dr. Corbett has done.”

    Remember, this is the same Establishment Clause that these god-botherers scream is a myth advanced by us evil God-hater atheist devil-worshippers when we mention it in context of forcing students to pray, or forcing religious education, or other such nonsense. Hypocricy ahoy!

  99. #100 Citizen of the Cosmos
    May 2, 2009

    The same goes for all unsubstantiated religious beliefs, btw. Even for the most liberal Christian who only claims to believe in his own version of Biblegod, and rejects everything else that has to do with Christianity. That theist is not much more rational, because he or she still have unsupported beliefs contradicted by the evidence.

  100. Hypocrisy ahoy!

    Representative John Shimkus violating the first amendment :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7h08RDYA5E

    This from a guy who is REQUIRED BY LAW to run your country.

    Does this mean we get to sue him as well?

  101. #102 melior
    May 2, 2009

    There is no reason why the teacher needs to go and tell the [16-year-old?!] kids there is no Santa Claus. The teacher was doing just that.

    OK, I call parody. No, wait… gah! You’ve stumped me.

  102. #103 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    Dude, I respect you and all, but it is really not fair to declare a 16 year old kid is christofascist bum.

    Did you go to his website?

  103. #104 sfanetti
    May 2, 2009

    melior,

    My statement was not parody. I just remeber how full of crap I was at 16. The kid should not be put down by a colege professor – criticize the idea, but why call a kid a fool? He is 16 – he is full of crap — maybe when his frontal lobes are a bit more mature he might learn to understand the bigger picture.

    I just don’t think it is appropriate for somebody of PZ’s stature to talk trash about a kid.

  104. #105 Just kidding
    May 2, 2009

    I want Christians who believe in the creation part of their book, to explain how it is not stupid to believe something that is so obviously at odds with observed reality. Well? Anyone up for it?
    Citizen of the Cosmos

    It is the Devil that is temping you to trust in “observed reality” rather than in The Word of God.
    It is not stupid to fight the Devil.
    It is the smart thing to do.

    There ….that was easy.

  105. #106 Tony P
    May 2, 2009

    I’m sitting in the room with friends, one who has taught in the past. He says a good teacher knows how to limit the scope of discussion, not covering the ‘relgious’.

    I explained that I’ve had numerous teachers in Catholic schools mind you, that put down the religious arguments. And I had a number of professors that were also disparaging remarks regarding religion, the church etc.

    But I explained that the first amendment covers both the teacher and the student. What the courts have now done is said that student rights trump teacher rights. Bone headed ruling if you ask me.

  106. #107 Emmet, OM
    May 2, 2009

    Thus spake charley @ #84:

    I’m feel like I’m turning into a concern troll lately.

    Maybe you are, but on this one, FWIW, I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head.

  107. #108 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    Yep i agree with Emmet. Seems pretty spot on.

    Though i do think if you are going to have a website saying the things it does you are open for criticism.

    If his parents are behind it (or his church) then they share the blame and get an additional shake of the head for putting their kid out there like that.

    The teacher does sound shrill and if we aren’t going to be teaching about religion then being critical just for the sake of being critical in the class room seems like a breech to me. I don’t disagree with him but I’m not really sure that this was the place for him to be letting it all hang out.

  108. #110 Free Lunch
    May 2, 2009

    The teacher was not prosecuted.

    The teacher was not convicted.

    The teacher was not found guilty.

    The headline writer got it wrong.

    The teacher was sued in a civil action.

    He was found to have violated the kid’s first amendment rights. The summary judgment occurred because there was no real question about the facts. The decision can be appealed. It’s a close call, but the teacher was really pushing it, particularly since it appears to have been gratuitous commentary.

    The mess is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I’d like to see him win, but it really doesn’t hurt if he loses.

  109. #111 JasonTD
    May 2, 2009

    Badrescher wrote, “It is NOT legal or, IMO, ethical, to do so when they are someone else’s children required by law to listen to you.”

    Thomas Lee Elifritz responded, “Children are REQUIRED BY LAW to listen in class?

    That’s just laughable.”

    Required by law to listen? If only … But children are required by law to receive an education up to a certain age (usually 16). So they are required by law to be there, or parents have to spend their own time and money to education their children in addition to the taxes they pay that support public schools. So, the point Badrescher was making is true. As a public school teacher, I have no more right to denigrate someone’s religious beliefs than a religious teacher has to promote his.

  110. #112 Eidolon
    May 2, 2009

    The teacher forgot a few rules.

    Rule #1 in the modern classroom: You must ALWAYS conduct class as if you are being recorded because you might well be.

    Rule #2 – When handling discussions, always stick with facts and DO NOT have an opinion.

    Rule 3 – when pressed for an opinion either state that MY opinion is not important or it is none of their business or back up opinion with facts. For example “Do you believe in evolution?” can be easily handled with “All the available evidence from Anatomy to Zoology strongly supports it.”

    The guy was set up and he willing handed out all the ammunition needed to get his ass in a sling. Great to be passionate but as D. Harry said,”A man’s gotta know his limitations.”

  111. #113 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    Here is a description of the AP European History course this teacher was leading:

    “The study of European history since 1450 introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. Without this knowledge, we would lack the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of the AP program in European History are to develop (a) an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European History, (b) an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and (c) an ability to express historical understanding in writing.”
    (Source http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/sub_eurohist.html )

    It is my opinion (having read the judgment) that a discussion on science versus religion (or the rationalization of Western culture) is COMPLETELY relevant to this class. It is also my opinion that the judge should not have ruled on the statement about creationism, given the context of this class. If this student wants to believe in a myth, more power to him, but he needs to put his big boy pants on when he goes to a college level class and has his beliefs questioned. Had he really have been smart, he would have argued his views in class or questioned the teachers views. In doing so, he would have demonstrated to his teacher what that teacher was looking for: CRITICAL THINKING.

  112. #114 Wackee
    May 2, 2009

    “There is no reason why the teacher needs to go and tell the kids there is no Santa Claus.”

    Well, except maybe for the reason, that the kids are in school to learn about reality.
    I was told in 4th grade, that genesis is fiction. I’m very glad, that someone told me this, before i could made a fool of myself at the age of 16…

  113. #115 JasonTD
    May 2, 2009

    Thomas Lee Elifritz @ 101,
    Representative John Shimkus violating the first amendment :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7h08RDYA5E

    This from a guy who is REQUIRED BY LAW to run your country.

    Does this mean we get to sue him as well?

    Politicians spouting off about religion is them practicing their free speech rights (however much we dislike it). Making a law with a religious purpose would be unconstitutional.

  114. #116 Just kidding
    May 2, 2009

    Santa Claus is absolutely real and if you spell his name correctly it’s Satan.

  115. #117 Ed Darrell
    May 2, 2009

    The teacher forgot a few rules.

    Rule #1 in the modern classroom: You must ALWAYS conduct class as if you are being recorded because you might well be.

    Rule #2 – When handling discussions, always stick with facts and DO NOT have an opinion.

    Rule 3 – when pressed for an opinion either state that MY opinion is not important or it is none of their business or back up opinion with facts. For example “Do you believe in evolution?” can be easily handled with “All the available evidence from Anatomy to Zoology strongly supports it.”

    Doing less than a first-class job in teaching an AP course, including questioning everything, is grounds for dismissal. It won’t get you a lot of kids passing the test, that’s for sure.

    AP courses are supposed to be rigorous. They work to a higher standard than other courses. In Texas, the SBOE even passes on challenging the anti-creationism pages in the AP biology texts.

    It would be like telling kids in law school in Con Law that they can’t discussion the religious aspects of the First Amendment. Equally stupid, equally malpractice.

  116. #118 Venger
    May 2, 2009

    Watched a BBC special that was appropriate to this topic. Conor Cunnigham’s “Did Darwin Kill God?” which is largely an explanation that the majority of Christianity shouldn’t have any issue with evolution. Though he can’t seem to help going after ultra-darwinist atheists, and I don’t know enough about meme theory to know if that was as much a strawman as I think it was. Did anyone else see it?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jhfwt

  117. #119 Chad
    May 2, 2009

    Bill O’reilly, of course

  118. #120 JasonTD
    May 2, 2009

    I’m feel like I’m turning into a concern troll lately.

    Maybe you are, but on this one, FWIW, I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    I think the term “concern troll” is overused here, and the way that it is used doesn’t seem to match the definition found in PZ’s dungeon or elsewhere. If you sincerely believe that a cause or argument would be better advanced through more civil language and discussion, then you’re not a concern troll.

    When you’re arguing with someone with a hardened position opposite to yours (i.e. a young-earth creationist), you are not going to change his mind whether you are civil or give him all of the derision he deserves. But in situations where there is hope of persuading people, I prefer to argue firmly (not giving any ground on facts I am sure of) but civilly (no name-calling, sarcasm, etc.). The goal of persuasive argument is to actually convince someone that you are right. It is essential, then, that you keep the person engaged with you and thinking about what you are saying.

    And I believe that was this teacher’s failure. He set up an adversarial relationship with this student with his comments. The situation should have been resolved without going to court over it, certainly, but I’ve never known teacher to be successful at reaching a student through that kind of conflict.

  119. #121 DaveL
    May 2, 2009

    I think the article focuses on the wrong statement. It it no more out of line to disparage creationism as ignorant claptrap as it is to do the same with the miasma theory of disease or the homunculus theory of human reproduction.

    However, this teacher said many other things, some of which are clearly out of line, such as “when you put your Jesus glasses on, you can’t see the truth” and that quote from Twain about how religion got started when the first fool met the first con artist. I may happen to agree with those sentiments, but a public school teacher has no business offering them in his classroom.

  120. #122 Travis Bickle
    May 2, 2009

    As a lawyer from a different country, I find this case is really interesting. The court seems to indicate that it considers “irreligion” to be a type of religion, and therefore expression of this religious viewpoint would contravent the anti-establishment clause.

    Any US lawyers around that know a bit more? I’d be quite interested to check out some further cases on Lexis.

  121. #123 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    Rule #1 in the modern classroom: You must ALWAYS conduct class as if you are being recorded because you might well be.
    Posted by: Eidolon

    My mom was a public high school teacher ( 20 years) and I remember her thinking at times that she might have to record the students.
    I think it had to do with the administration not believing her assessment of how rude, profane, and disrespectful the students were becoming …and the only other witnesses were other students willing to lie for their friends.

    Surveillance Society.??

  122. #124 Ed Darrell
    May 2, 2009

    I just can’t think of a single Christian in a position of national leadership that’s not a Creationist.

    Barack Obama
    Joe Biden
    Harry Reid
    Nancy Pelosi
    All the Catholics
    All the Mormons
    Steven Chu
    Ruth Ginsburg
    Scalia shouldn’t be, but probably is, despite its being contrary to Catholic theology

    I’ll wager most of the current cabinet are not creationist.

    You don’t have to go that far to find people of some reason.

  123. #125 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    @Posted by: Ed Darrell

    I tried to refine my point at #92…..
    I was thinking of church leaders with a big mouth in the media..
    Hucabee ,James Dobson, the Graham family ,Pat Robertson,and the entire leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention…all Creationist.
    I value your list and mentioned I might be wrong.

  124. #126 badrescher
    May 2, 2009

    Mike#88: “twisted” is not what I would call PZ’s interpretation. Missing a little perspective, maybe, but he’s got a passionate opinion about a topic we should all be passionate about. I simply want to see rational people actually be rational.

    I don’t fault this teacher for his views or his passion in teaching. However, we cannot become the very thing we fight against and maintain our integrity.

    melior#91: I had the same reaction to “irreligion”. WTF does that mean?

    Wackee#114: Teaching about reality is not what was ruled a violation of the kid’s rights. There were a surprising number of pretty colorful comments about religion in the suit; the comment that was judged to have been in violation of the kid’s rights was one for which the court could find no pedagogical purpose. Again, READ THE DECISION.

    JasonTD#111: Thank you for the back up. To clarify, my choice of the word “listen” was meant to include the fact that a HS student may actually be tested on things the teacher says, which is not included in simply “be there”.

  125. #127 jack
    May 2, 2009

    I haven’t read all of the comments but I do need to mention that the teaching profession is becomong more and more difficult for science teachers. You constantly walk a line that if you even slightly cross…look out. You will get no support from admin if parents come knocking on your door.

    Random story: a science teacher at a school I used to work at had jesus posters EVERYWHERE in her classroom. Not one word on appropriateness to her. They were there for years. If I had similar atheist or (lets just say) islamic posters up, I would have had a shit-storm coming down on me from above.

    Ahhhhh, education. So glad to be gone from it.

  126. #128 PsyberDave
    May 2, 2009

    I suppose the teacher, being a public school teacher, is acting as an extension of the government and therefore cannot attempt to dissuade students (citizens) from belonging to a religion. It doesn’t matter that the teacher was factually correct in the remark about superstition. The government is not allowed to bar citizens from practicing whatever religion they choose, or I suppose, even disparage people who belong to a particular religion for being members.

    I say the government should not post the 10 commandments, and neither should they post signs saying Christians are superstitious. It goes both ways. I think the constitution asks the government to stay out of the religion business altogether.

  127. #129 Nettle Syrup
    May 2, 2009

    This is terrible! It’s a damn History lesson. You have to actually understand something about society and social interactions to understand history, and religion has been a massive part of why history has gone the way it has. In the youtube video where O’Reilly discusses the case, Chad F. also complains that the teacher talks about how it is a woman’s right to stop having children when she wants, and how ‘Jesus glasses’ and religion make it hard to be reasonable about women’s rights. Well how else is the teacher meant to describe why women have been oppressed without reference to religion? Is he just supposed to pretend it hasn’t happened?

    I wonder what they do in Sociology, Psychology, etc, at institutions like this? Because I’m British, and my experience of A-level (the last qualification you get at school) Sociology was very blatantly anti-religion. The teacher of Sociology was an atheist (an ex-religious studies teacher!), and ‘Religion and social control’ was pretty much the most basic stuff you learned in the first few weeks, and without it you could hardly begin to look at the rest of the subject. Without a simple understanding of how these things work, it’s hard to see how anyone could grasp ANY subject with a social element, History, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Politics… perhaps even Biology.

  128. #130 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 2, 2009

    @82 (pcarini)

    I would’ve tried to open up a discussion on the subject, or encouraged someone of better public image to. Personal information is no big deal; you can track down a lot of people online. It’s not hard at all when they give a first and last name. I wouldn’t offer a drive by trolling as it were, but rather an argument without ulterior motives. Between the skewed views of the judicial system, the attention-seeking behavior of the press, and parents capable of thorough douchebaggery, I’m betting the kid hasn’t heard an honest opinion on the issue.

    Yes, #24 took the immature route. People who behave this way consistently should not represent atheism while doing so IMO. I would rather that they became theists first, for the sake of the rest of our image. Subtract these people, then ponder the idea of him receiving a flood of e-mail and phone calls, all very pointedly yet civilly worded to challenge him and his parents actions and ideas.

    And yes, I mean keep his mouth shut on the issue when it comes to legal issues and the press. There’s no reason something like this needs to be on the front page of anything, or anyone’s job lost over expressing their opinion for a minute. I’m amazed far more teachers don’t face lawsuits for misogyny, if this is all it takes to get a teacher canned for commenting on religion

    As for free speech, I support it, definitely. I don’t support knee-jerking legal harassment. Please don’t tell me what I meant based on your own presumptions. It works better if you ask people for additional qualifiers, rather than writing in their intent for them. I suppose if you’re feeling snarky, you could try asking their intent, while offering your opinion of possible replies at the same time.

    -FST

  129. #131 Monado
    May 2, 2009

    #74, there’s Barrack Obama, for one.

  130. #132 John Pieret
    May 2, 2009

    Travis Bickle:

    If you want to understand our Establishment Clause jurisprudence, you have to start with Everson v. Board of Education and spend six months, give or take, reading its progeny. The basic idea is that people who are irreligious are to have the same rights and freedoms as those who are religious. It’s not that irreligion is a religion but that irreligion and religion are on a par. As such, government can’t favor irreligion over religion or vice versa.

  131. #133 Hump
    May 2, 2009

    Ok, this is going to sound weird coming from an positive atheist and rabid anti-theist… but I totally disagree with Meyers.

    If a christian teacher had said that “evolution is an unproven atheistic mindset” we’d be up in arms. We should not discriminate between inapropriate absolutist comments on belief/non-belief in a public school class room regardless if they are made by an atheist teacher or a religious one.

    If we want sep. of church and state … we should insist it goes both ways in the class. DON’T FRICKEN ENTERTAIN RELIGIOUS DISCUSSION! is a simple rule to follow.

    The class room is no place to aire your perspective, PRO OR CON, on religiously held belief… and yes, creationism is religiously inspired. There are ways to move creationism off the table without using the class room as a soap box, or shitting on people’s stupid beliefs which one knows, or should know, will cause distress among some portion of the students. He should simply have said: “Creationism is not a scientific theory, and we won’t be discussing it here.” and that would have been the end of that.

    But no… he wanted to infuse his personal perspective and obvious (and justifiable) disgust and dismissiveness. Fine, and kudos to him. Now he needs to take the medicine that comes with breaking the sep. of church and state prohbition.

    That this isn’t obvious to everyone is astonishing.

    Hump

  132. #134 woo woozy
    May 2, 2009

    OFF Topic…

    Off topic but looking for help tracking down the credentials and other reliable information on the person who put together the Bird Flu Hoax videos, going by the name of “Dr.” A. True Ott, PhD, ND.

    From the one-liner bio I could find on conspiracy websites promoting this video, he claims to have credentials from “American College” in Washington, DC, but the Council on Higher Education Accreditation has no such college listed for DC, and American University there doesn’t offer a PhD in nutrition, as Ott claims to have. Google doesn’t bring up such a place either, and searching by Ott’s name only gives links promoting his books and videos. PubMed gives zero hits when I search by name for scientific publications.

    Can anyone point me to some solid info about him or the videos? Even the titles suggest they are conspiracy theorist woo.

    Thanks…and sorry to interrupt the thread…Back to regularly scheduled programming.

  133. #135 bobxxxx
    May 2, 2009

    jack @127:

    Random story: a science teacher at a school I used to work at had jesus posters EVERYWHERE in her classroom. Not one word on appropriateness to her. They were there for years.

    Jeebus posters in a public school in a science classroom, and nobody complained. This science teacher was an asshole and she was probably incompetent. She should have been fired. Which backward hick-infested Southern state was this school in?

  134. #136 Outsider
    May 2, 2009

    Here’s a facebook search of his profile and 2 groups, one in support of the whiny brat and one in support for the teacher.

    http://www.facebook.com/s.php?init=q&q=Chad+Farnan&ref=ts&sid=e8acc5153fe97697b038fa8ad7859188

  135. #137 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    Posted by: Monado | May 2, 2009 8:04 PM
    #74, there’s Barrack Obama, for one.

    Ok ….What about Church Leaders though.?
    For my entire adult life , the national “face” of Christianity has been Church leaders like Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham…their dead , now it’s James Dobson and Pat Robertson.
    Name me one Church leader ,who’s a household name like Jerry Falwell, that is not a Creationist…
    I’m not talking about people like Harry Reid and Ruth Ginsburg.

  136. #138 robotaholic
    May 2, 2009

    He does teach history. Both versions of history cannot be correct. In that case, one is correct the other is nonsense. It just so happens that the wrong version is what is commonly known as creationism.

  137. #139 Piltdown Man
    May 2, 2009

    Nettle Syrup @ 129:

    You have to actually understand something about society and social interactions to understand history, and religion has been a massive part of why history has gone the way it has.

    You’re not wrong.

    Well how else is the teacher meant to describe why women have been oppressed without reference to religion?

    You know, many highly intelligent women don’t believe religion oppresses women.

    I wonder what they do in Sociology, Psychology, etc, at institutions like this? Because I’m British, and my experience of A-level (the last qualification you get at school) Sociology was very blatantly anti-religion. The teacher of Sociology was an atheist (an ex-religious studies teacher!), and ‘Religion and social control’ was pretty much the most basic stuff you learned in the first few weeks, and without it you could hardly begin to look at the rest of the subject. Without a simple understanding of how these things work, it’s hard to see how anyone could grasp ANY subject with a social element …

    Did it ever occur to you that your sociology teacher was attempting to indoctrinate you with propaganda?

    Did you ever question the “blatantly anti-religion” ideology you were being fed?

    Did you ever think of thinking for yourself at all?

  138. #140 Ichthyic
    May 2, 2009

    You know, many highly intelligent women don’t believe religion oppresses women.

    Like Ann Coulter, right Pilty?

    Did you ever think of thinking for yourself at all?

    I’d say that post suggests he indeed thinks for himself, in large part due to the education he received.

    you, OTOH…

  139. #141 386sx
    May 2, 2009

    Name me one Church leader ,who’s a household name like Jerry Falwell, that is not a Creationist…

    Billy Graham is still alive, and is not a literal creationist. He figures you can interpret Genesis however you want to make it come out right. (Similar to the Catholic view.)

  140. #142 MadScientist
    May 2, 2009

    This is unbelievably stupid – the judge is a retard. How can the First Amendment possibly be violated by what the teacher said? Like I said – judge is a retard and doesn’t know the constitution from his ass; it must be a religiotard judge.

  141. #143 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    You know, many highly intelligent women don’t believe religion oppresses women.

    You know, many highly intelligent Germans don’t think that the Holocaust ever happened.

  142. #144 Wowbagger, OM
    May 2, 2009

    Piltdown

    Did it ever occur to you that your sociology teacher was priest and family members were attempting to indoctrinate you with propaganda?

    Did you ever question the “blatantly anti-religion” “blatantly anti-reality” ideology you were being fed?

    Did you ever think of thinking for yourself at all?

  143. #145 Eidolon
    May 2, 2009

    ED @ 117:

    Teaching the students to question and leading debates is different from stating my opinions. As an AP Physics teacher, it was not much of an issue BUT as IB coordinator my Western History instructor Had the best debates and discussions you can imagine. His classes scored above the international average and they had no idea what his personal beliefs were.

    The issue is not what the students discuss but what the teacher does when he interacts with students.

  144. #146 Woody
    May 2, 2009

    Patriarchal religions always oppress women.

    Every man knows, if he’s the least bit honest, that he alone cannot “satisfy” any one woman at any given time. She can ALWAYS wear him out (humiliating, innit?), suck ‘im dry, and and take on another man, and/or another, and fergit about him and still be hot.

    This shameful (if your a “real man) knowledge is at the heart of all regulations about female sexuality in patriarchal religious cultures.

  145. #147 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    Billy Graham is still alive, and is not a literal creationist. He figures you can interpret Genesis however you want to make it come out right. (Similar to the Catholic view.)
    Posted by: 386sx

    Hard to say…..there is stuff like this:

    “Ray Comfort’s ministry has been praised by Franklin Graham,……. Comfort has has written for Billy Graham’s Decision magazine and Bill Bright’s Worldwide Challenge.[3]”

    http://creationwiki.org/Ray_Comfort

    He lives….ok.

  146. #148 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 2, 2009

    You know, many highly intelligent Germans don’t think that the Holocaust ever happened.

    Wrong. You see, homeschooling is illegal in Germany…

    But more to the point, religion doesn’t automatically suppress women. It’s just that it can be very, very easily be used for that purpose, and has very often been ? and that any halfway literalist interpretation of any of the holy scriptures of the monotheistic religions (as well as Hinduism at a minimum) does argue strongly for suppressing women.

    I do hope, though, that that teacher didn’t say such a literalist interpretation is necessary. That would be “defining their religion for them”, and that’s against the 1st Amendment as far as I can tell.

  147. As a public school teacher, I have no more right to denigrate someone’s religious beliefs than a religious teacher has to promote his.

    Why restrict public teachers rights of denigration to religion? Why not ALL BELIEFS? Why not ALL SPEECH? Why not ALL EXPRESSION? Why not ALL BEHAVIOR?

    What’s so special about religion? You idiots opened this can of worms, don’t be surprised when it comes back in your face. The first amendment is about expression too, jackass. These kids are going to take this to the limit, trust me.

    Not only are you a retard, you’re a fascist.

    Only science can fix this.

  148. #150 Piltdown Man
    May 2, 2009

    Ichthyic@ 140:

    You know, many highly intelligent women don’t believe religion oppresses women.

    Like Ann Coulter, right Pilty?

    Dunno. Is she highly intelligent?

    Rev. BigDumbChimp @143:

    You know, many highly intelligent Germans don’t think that the Holocaust ever happened.

    Analogy fail. I suppose you could have written “You know, many highly intelligent Jews don’t think that the Holocaust ever happened” … that would have been closer. But I can quite understand why you didn’t.

    Wowbagger @ 144:

    Did it ever occur to you that your … priest and family members were attempting to indoctrinate you with propaganda?

    Nope. Convert.

    Woody @ 146:

    Patriarchal religions always oppress women.
    Every man knows, if he’s the least bit honest, that he alone cannot “satisfy” any one woman at any given time. She can ALWAYS wear him out (humiliating, innit?), suck ‘im dry, and and take on another man, and/or another, and fergit about him and still be hot.
    This shameful (if your a “real man) knowledge is at the heart of all regulations about female sexuality in patriarchal religious cultures.

    What a load of cock.

  149. #151 raven
    May 2, 2009

    Ok ….What about Church Leaders though.?
    For my entire adult life , the national “face” of Christianity has been Church leaders like Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham…their dead , now it’s James Dobson and Pat Robertson.

    The fundie humanoid toads may have public recognition but that is all. They don’t speak for xianity, just their cults.

    Falwell, Dobson, Robertson etc.. have their rabid cultists. A lot more people just think they are rabid period, religious kooks, and despise them when they aren’t laughing at them.

    There are no national xian leaders, the religion is way too fragmented and the sects all hate each other.

    The RCC cardinals and archbishops used to have an audience. Nowadays, they are very old men totally out of touch with the catholic laity and the 21st century.

  150. #152 Alex Deam
    May 2, 2009

    I could be wrong….but I wasn’t aware that individuals could violate the 1st amendment. Individuals have a first amendment right. The government is the only entity that can violate this right, not individuals. The 1st amendment does not say that when you tell someone to shutup, that you’ve violated that person’s 1st amendment right….that’s just paradoxical.

    The teacher is employed by the government. Simple.

    And why is this blog’s chorus so pleased with its unquestioning respect of its hero’s words? You’re like a bunch of religious idiots listening to a ranting pastor, believing every pronouncement without independent skeptical thought, it’s quite worrying. Can you not see yourselves as the mirror image of churchgoers?

    I agree that a number of people here have just read PZ’s words and formed an opinion based on those, and have not read the article or the Judge’s opinion, I think you’ll find that such people do not form a “chorus” here. If you read the comments, a substantial number of them disagree with PZ’s conclusion.

    I repeat: there is no chorus; there has been independent skeptical thought – it can be found on this very page if you look hard enough.

    What’s up with this weird construct “ir”-religion? I understand what non-religion is. Irreligion just sounds like you’re doing it wrong.

    It’s a legitimate word.

    “Irreligion is an absence of religion, indifference to religion, or hostility to religion.”

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion

    Hypocrisy ahoy!

    Representative John Shimkus violating the first amendment :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7h08RDYA5E

    This from a guy who is REQUIRED BY LAW to run your country.

    Does this mean we get to sue him as well?

    No, he’s protected by the Speech or debate clause of the US Constitution.

    However, he’s not protected from the voter’s of his constituency, or teh stoopid dumbifying his brain, though.

    But I explained that the first amendment covers both the teacher and the student. What the courts have now done is said that student rights trump teacher rights. Bone headed ruling if you ask me.

    No, they’ve protected the student’s right to practice religion without a government employee attacking it.

    It’s called the First Amendment. The framers of the US Constitution were not “bone headed”.

    Watched a BBC special that was appropriate to this topic. Conor Cunnigham’s “Did Darwin Kill God?” which is largely an explanation that the majority of Christianity shouldn’t have any issue with evolution. Though he can’t seem to help going after ultra-darwinist atheists, and I don’t know enough about meme theory to know if that was as much a strawman as I think it was. Did anyone else see it?

    Was going to watch it, as I watched most of the other programs about Darwin at the time (like the Andrew Marr ones), but when I read the synopsis, it sounded like it was going to just turn into Christian apologetics. So I didn’t watch it.

    As a lawyer from a different country, I find this case is really interesting. The court seems to indicate that it considers “irreligion” to be a type of religion, and therefore expression of this religious viewpoint would contravent the anti-establishment clause.

    Any US lawyers around that know a bit more? I’d be quite interested to check out some further cases on Lexis.

    I’m not a US lawyer (actually a physics undergrad), but from what I understand, the US Constitution is interpreted not just on what it specifically says, but also the intention of what it says.

    So for instance, when it says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    and then Judges use that to stop Creationism being taught in the classroom, or uphold the right of atheists to express their atheism in the public sphere, that does not mean that “Classrooms=Congress”, or that “Atheism=Religion”. Rather, it means that they see the intent of the clause was to not allow government employees to favour any religion when there’s “no identifiable secular purpose” (as Wikipedia puts it), and to allow people to have not just any religion, but also no religion, if they so wish.

  151. #153 Ken Cope
    May 2, 2009

    Nope. Convert.

    Reason had nothing to do with how Pilty came to believe whatever reality denying shite he spews here. That he manages to survive whilst being too stupid to breathe would be evidence for miracles, were it not for the fact that breathing requires next to no intelligence.

  152. #154 Wowbagger, OM
    May 2, 2009

    Piltdown wrote:

    Nope. Convert.

    My commiserations. I’m glad that I’ve never been so miserable that, in my desperation, I would consider turning to religion for solace.

  153. #155 cyan
    May 2, 2009

    WTF?

    An instructor of a subject lets students know the scientific consensus about a subject and because of that is judicially penalized?

    How is that possible?

    The “judge” must be educated as to the opinions of those of us who are dismayed by his decision, and the body who appointed him as a judge must be informed by us, too.

    We must take action so that this is remediated, and so that similar actions are not done in the future.

    Scientifially-minded people: please make a difference by contacting this judge and those who appointed him.

    “There otta be a law against this sort of thing happening”
    but there isn’t, and the only thing that can prevent this sort of outrageous thing from happening is that we speak up.

  154. #156 CortxVortx
    May 2, 2009

    All this fuss about infringing on the 1st Amendment — and I’ll bet you they will have prayers at ball games and graduation.

  155. #157 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 2, 2009

    I see Pilty still hasn’t understood that his god and religion have no place in modern society. Pilty, time to either show the physical evidence for your god, or quit trying to convince us of anything to do with your god and religion, since both are irrelevant without the evidence for your imaginary deity.

  156. #158 Stanton
    May 2, 2009
    You know, many highly intelligent women don’t believe religion oppresses women.

    Like Ann Coulter, right Pilty?

    Dunno. Is she highly intelligent?

    Given as how Miss Coulter has stated that the widows of men who died in the Twin Towers are malevolent bi1ches who are dancing on their husbands’ graves, that Jews can only perfect themselves by converting to Christianity, that liberals are actually evil pagans who “worship” evolution and sacrifice aborted babies, and had to consult members of the Discovery Institute for matters of science, Miss Coulter is a maliciously stupid woman.

  157. #159 Alex Deam
    May 2, 2009

    This is terrible! It’s a damn History lesson. You have to actually understand something about society and social interactions to understand history, and religion has been a massive part of why history has gone the way it has. In the youtube video where O’Reilly discusses the case, Chad F. also complains that the teacher talks about how it is a woman’s right to stop having children when she wants, and how ‘Jesus glasses’ and religion make it hard to be reasonable about women’s rights. Well how else is the teacher meant to describe why women have been oppressed without reference to religion? Is he just supposed to pretend it hasn’t happened?

    Calm down. The Judge upheld the teacher’s right to say the bits about “Jesus’ glasses” and the women’s rights, because of the context they came in, namely historical and/or sociological discussion. Which is his job.

    Hard to say…..there is stuff like this:

    “Ray Comfort’s ministry has been praised by Franklin Graham,……. Comfort has has written for Billy Graham’s Decision magazine and Bill Bright’s Worldwide Challenge.[3]”

    http://creationwiki.org/Ray_Comfort

    He lives….ok.

    I don’t know this Billy Graham, but the fact that a retard like Ray Comfort writes for his magazine doesn’t make Billy Graham retarded, or his magazine for that matter.

    Case in point: Ben Stein writes for the New York Times.

    Why restrict public teachers rights of denigration to religion? Why not ALL BELIEFS? Why not ALL SPEECH? Why not ALL EXPRESSION? Why not ALL BEHAVIOR?

    What’s so special about religion?

    How about you go and learn some fucking European history before you start the First Amendment?

  158. #160 Rorschach
    May 2, 2009

    While this kid sounds like a whiny fool,it seems to me that his parents are just as much to blame,not only for brainwashing him,but also for rushing into this lawsuit.
    I dont think it’s wise to call this sort of kid a wanker or publish his details.
    As to the teacher,I think he overdid it and there seems to be a pattern with him being snarky about religion in class,all the more interesting to read what he eventually lost the case on,something that would seeom ok when you look at Dover.

  159. #161 Russell Blackford
    May 2, 2009

    Given that I’m one of the nasty non-accommodationists from last week’s big blow-up at Panda’s Thumb, this may seem surprising … but I think the case was correctly decided, from what I know of the facts.

    http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2009/05/secularism-cuts-both-ways.html

    I’m glad to see a few people above making similar points.

    This case is actually a “win” for our side. Although the party we may be sympathetic to lost the case, it further cements the idea that Creationism is an essentially religious position.

  160. #162 Alex Deam
    May 2, 2009

    Re: my previous comment

    When I said, “How about you go and learn some fucking European history before you start the First Amendment?”

    I meant to say, “How about you go and learn some fucking European history before you start attacking the First Amendment?”

    Anyway, as for number 156:

    All this fuss about infringing on the 1st Amendment — and I’ll bet you they will have prayers at ball games and graduation.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  161. #163 Kel
    May 2, 2009

    This is an absolute joke!

  162. #164 JDP
    May 2, 2009

    Quoting DaveL

    However, this teacher said many other things, some of which are clearly out of line, such as “when you put your Jesus glasses on, you can’t see the truth”

    So in your perfect world, AP European History (1450-present) would not address the Inquisition, Protestant witch-burning, the slave trade, imperialism, the ass-end of the Reconquista, the success of Nazism, Cromwell, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum?

    I’m trying to figure out what AP Euro WOULD cover, if it didn’t cover things that were disparaging towards Christianity and didn’t require that students looked critically at the use of Christian dogma to defend political agendas of questionable ethical status. I think maybe it would have a bit to say about Galileo, but it would probably have to ignore the bit where he ended up being tried for heresy by the Inquisition. There might be a happy little bit about William Shakespeare, too.

  163. #165 RyogaM
    May 2, 2009

    After reading the Judges decision, I find it quite reasonably reasoned. He may be wrong in regards to his finding on the Peloza statement, but he’s not “abuse of discretion” wrong. Personally, I think the statement was secular in nature and its primary purpose or effect neither advanced or inhibits religion. But perhaps I need more context regarding this remark.

    I’m impressed with how well he applies the Lemon test to the more extravagant statements of the teacher. Some of those statements could have been unconstitutional if made under different circumstances. I can’t see a biology teacher getting away with talking about conservative religion’s propensity to keep women barefoot and pregnant in a class on the biology of conception, for example. Here the History teacher gets away with it because it’s a class about history witch includes religion. On the other hand, I think if a biology teacher made the Peloza statement disparaging creationism, the Judge would have let it slide. It’s a very subtle distinction. A statement made by one teacher can violate the establishment clause, while the very same statement made by another teacher right next door may not. Context is key. If he was a raging Conservo-judge, he could have easily gone the other way.

    I’m also impressed, though perhaps I shouldn’t be, with his citation of this past court finding regarding issues like this:

    “A statement by a government official does not violate the Establishment Clause merely because a particular religious group may find the official?s position incorrect or offensive. Such a finding would require a teacher to tailor his comments so as not to offend or disagree with any religious group. This would be unworkable given the number of different religious viewpoints on various issues. This would also be directly contrary to the fundamental principles of Establishment Clause jurisprudence because it would require a teacher to attempt to teach in accordance with certain religious principles.”

    Too right.

  164. #166 RyogaM
    May 2, 2009

    witch=which

  165. #167 Alex Deam
    May 2, 2009

    I’m trying to figure out what AP Euro WOULD cover, if it didn’t cover things that were disparaging towards Christianity and didn’t require that students looked critically at the use of Christian dogma to defend political agendas of questionable ethical status.

    That’s a fairly unwise blanket statement to make about the whole of European history. Religion has played a big role in our history, but it’s not the only thing that’s played a role.

  166. #168 JDP
    May 2, 2009

    My feeling in general on this is this: the problem is not in the judge. The judge seems to have largely made the right decision.

    The problem is with this 16 year old spoiled brat who thinks that he has a RIGHT to take it to court every time he’s a little bit offended.

    Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and just about everyone else are offended from time to time in various classes. Growing up Jewish and an Atheist, I heard a LOT that was offensive to me in school (much more offensive than “lol Jesus glasses”), and I never felt that the world had to stop so that my hurt feelings could be reviewed by a court of law. I am certain that a Muslim in the same position as this little white christian boy would not have the same social opportunity to stand up and whine about his hurt feelings, even if the statements were far far far more offensive.

    The judge did his job, and he should not be faulted for this. This spoiled brat of a child, his spoiled parents (who obviously take the job of parenting quite lightly), these lawyers, and everyone else who made this case happen in the first place need to be smacked upside the head and forced to live in the real world that many of us inhabit. This kid is the epitome of white christian male privilege, and he seriously needs someone to tell him to buck the fuck up and deal with it.

  167. #169 Alex Deam
    May 2, 2009

    Gavinicus said:

    Tis Himself, you are utterly wrong about what the judge said.

    I hope ‘Tis Himself doesn’t mind, but I’d like to defend his honour.

    You said that:

    He said that Corbett’s comments about “Jesus glasses” and how religious belief correlates with higher crime incidence were related to the course he was teaching and thus did not violate the tender student’s constitutional rights, no matter how offended he might have been. His quoting of Twain was part of the class and had a secular purpose thus did not violate the Lemon test.

    But nowhere in ‘Tis Himself’s comment did he deny this. ‘Tis Himself said:

    Corbett made comments like quoting Mark Twain “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool” and “People in Europe who are least likely to go to church…are the Swedes. The people in the industrialized world most likely to go to church are the Americans. America has the highest crime rate of all industrialized nations, and Sweden has the lowest. The next time somebody tells you religion is connected with morality, you might want to ask them about that.”

    You obviously don’t deny that Corbett said these things according to the Judge’s ruling. But you seem to claim that ‘Tis Himself is claiming that the Judge found that those particular comments violated the First Amendment. While it is possible that ‘Tis Himself does think this, nowhere in his comment does he say that he does. He is not “utterly wrong about what the judge said”.

  168. #170 Fl bluefish
    May 2, 2009

    More on Billy Graham and family:

    Ray Comfort said this..

    ” I’m honored that his son Franklin commended my ministry and called me “a seasoned evangelist.” I’m thrilled that James D. Stambaugh (the Director of the Billy Graham Center Museum) commended my Evidence Bible. I am also honored beyond words that Dr. Graham’s Decision magazine asked me to write for their magazine.”

    Ray Comfort’s main schtick is Creationism.
    The Evidence Bible has chapters like this..
    Evolution (back to top)
    Evolution: True Science Fiction page 636
    ?Missing Link? Still Missing Acts 14:15
    Questions for Evolutionists Prov. 3:19

    Billy Graham may not be a Creationist but if he’s using his prominence to give a voice to those that are , that’s not much better.

  169. #171 Ken Cope
    May 2, 2009

    This case happened in Mission Viejo. Near San Clemente, where Nixon counted out his last days. Close to San Diego, but still, mostly behind the Orange Curtain, in the Nation State of Disneyland, home of the John Birch Society, and Camp Pendleton. You would not believe how fucked up Orange County is, or, maybe now, you’ll have a bit of a clue. At least I grew up in the media footprint of LA when nobody knew what FM Radio was or what it would do to their children.

  170. #172 Alex Deam
    May 2, 2009

    My feeling in general on this is this: the problem is not in the judge. The judge seems to have largely made the right decision.

    The problem is with this 16 year old spoiled brat who thinks that he has a RIGHT to take it to court every time he’s a little bit offended.

    If the Judge made the right decision, in which he said the teacher violated the First Amendment, then why does that make the kid a spoiled brat?

    Surely in this case, he was right to take the teacher to court? Sure, the Judge ruled against the kid on most of the teacher’s comments, but that doesn’t mean it was wrong to go to court completely, as you seem to be suggesting by saying that “This spoiled brat of a child, his spoiled parents (who obviously take the job of parenting quite lightly), these lawyers, and everyone else who made this case happen in the first place need to be smacked upside the head and forced to live in the real world that many of us inhabit. This kid is the epitome of white christian male privilege, and he seriously needs someone to tell him to buck the fuck up and deal with it.” Yes, I’m sure most Americans will agree with you that people shouldn’t try and defend their rights in court and should just “buck the fuck up and deal with it”.

  171. #173 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    Would a Muslim have had the opportunity to bring such a case to court? Do not talk about ideally. I don’t care about ideally. I care about the ACTUAL opportunity.

    Would a Muslim have had the ACTUAL opportunity to take this to court, or would he or she have backed down after the first five or ten death threats received by Good Red-Blooded Freedom-Loving Americans?

    I can assure you that, had a Muslim taken a case like this to court, he’d be receiving death threats from Bill O’Reilly and a third of Bill O’Reilly’s fanbase in 24 hours or less. Same thing for a Hindu. Same thing for a Buddhist. Probably the same thing for a Jew or an atheist.

    Just because you can take something to court does not mean you should. Likewise, I don’t think the judge had any choice in making the decision he made…the comment on Creationism was off-topic even though it was relevant to a discussion on events at the school, which was not, as far as I understand, directly relevant to the curriculum. I think the right to free speech should largely extend to teachers so long as it is clear when the teacher is speaking outside of a professional authority and when they are speaking within a professional authority. I think that placing a paranoia of Christianity specifically in your educators is not going to make for a functional educational environment, and while I think the judge fulfilled the letter of the law, I think that the spirit of the law, which is to protect the rights of the few against the asshattery of the many, was not upheld. Minority approaches to spirituality and/or the lack thereof are still largely unable to access the very same legal institutions that this spoiled brat waltzed into, and when they do get the guts up to try, they are immediately intimidated by a vicious media and an even more vicious Christian public.

    The judge’s claim that he followed the letter of the law is true. This does not change the fact that this was a three ring circus that has nothing to do with the spirit of the law, which has already been long put to rest.

  172. #174 Russell Blackford
    May 3, 2009

    Now that I’ve read the whole thing, it looks as if the judge actually bent over backwards to give the teacher some reasonable area for professional discretion. There can be disagreement among rational people about the one statement where the judge held against the teacher and the many statements where the judge held in the teacher’s favour. At the least, this was a case of a teacher pressing his point of view on religion pretty hard in high school classroom discussions. His statements in class openly attacking a colleague are a bit of a problem, too – that was incredibly unwise, even though it wasn’t an issue in the case.

    I really don’t see how we can fault the judge, who tried hard to address some of the issues that people have been raising here.

    It’ll be interesting, though, to see what remedy is given. Although the judge says de minimis shouldn’t apply here, I fail to see what unmitigatable harm was done that should be compensable in damages. I’ll be worried if significant damages are given for something like this.

  173. #175 RyogaM
    May 3, 2009

    Alex @172

    I think you are missing a little of the point here. The problem, as I see it, is that there is the concept of “damages” being lost here. That is, while it is very gauche to say it, just how damaged was this kid in hearing the phrase “religious, superstitious nonsense” as applied to creationism? Yes, it violated his constitutional rights, but we are talking about a minimal infringement. And, since this is court, how much is this minimal infringement worth in DOLLARS, since that’s just about all the court is interested in in a civil action? And we are apparently, talking about just ONE word: “superstitious.” How much should the teacher have to pay for using one wrong word out of the tens of thousands of words he uses every school year?

    Personally, I would award no less than $50 and no more than $500 to the kid for his damages. Now, consider how much it cost in attorneys’ fees, judge’s time, court time, etc. to get that award. Since were are still at pre-trial stage, probably about $15,000-$40,000. Not exactly a good use of court resources, is it?

    As for the other remarks made by the teacher which did not violate his rights, the fact that his cause of action is being dismissed at summary judgment tells me that his case was weak in the extreme, so weak that I hope his attorney made clear to him just how weak and that he would be better off not tying up the courts time with such a frivolous complaint.

  174. #176 Miguel
    May 3, 2009

    Chad Farnan, you’re a whiney-ass douchebag. Drop the fairytales and grow up!

  175. #177 Russell Blackford
    May 3, 2009

    Whoops scratch out my sentence about criticising Peloza in #174: I misunderstood the context there. The rest stands.

  176. #178 JasonTD
    May 3, 2009

    Thomas Lee Elifritz @ 149,
    Why restrict public teachers rights of denigration to religion? Why not ALL BELIEFS? Why not ALL SPEECH? Why not ALL EXPRESSION? Why not ALL BEHAVIOR?

    What’s so special about religion? You idiots opened this can of worms, don’t be surprised when it comes back in your face. The first amendment is about expression too, jackass. These kids are going to take this to the limit, trust me.

    Not only are you a retard, you’re a fascist.

    Only science can fix this.

    What’s special about religion in this context is the Establishment Clause. There is no fundamental right in the U.S. to believe that the government hid the crash landing of aliens at Roswell, but whatever we personally believe about the idiocy of religion, people still have a right to believe what they choose about it. So, for public schools run by government, that means that we must remain secular and not discuss the validity of religious beliefs outside of a legitimate secular purpose relating to the content of the course we are teaching.

    I’m perfectly free in my science classes to point out that no form of creationism has any scientific credibility. The benchmarks students are supposed to meet actually requires me to do so, in my opinion. (Students are expected to be able to recognize scientific vs. unscientific ideas. The examples brought up in the standards are things like astrology, but creationism fits just as well, if not better. I found it particularly amusing that creationist opponents of the newly adopted standards in Florida missed that.)

    Calling me a jackass and a retard is just a sign that you’re letting your emotions get the better of you rather than actually thinking about what I’m saying. But I’m really at a loss of where the fascist comment comes from.

  177. #179 e
    May 3, 2009

    From the article:

    For the other disputed statement ? in which Corbett was accused of saying religion was “invented when the first con man met the first fool” ? the judge ruled in Corbett’s favor, arguing Corbett may have been simply attempting to quote American author Mark Twain.
    Corbett’s full statement was, “What was it Mark Twain said? ‘Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.’”

    If only he had said “What was it P.Z. Myers said? ‘Creationism is religious, superstitious nonsense’” it would have saved him a lot of trouble.
    Or what if he had just said, “To quote my neighbor, ‘Creationism is religious, superstitious nonsense’”.

    And as for the ‘no secular purpose’ ruling, how about ‘to make sure that kids are aware that creationism is religious, superstitious, nonsense.’ After all, the discussion was about a 1933 court case about teaching evolution in the schools, and the judge himself said

    “Corbett’s statement could be interpreted to mean primarily that Peloza should not be presenting his religious ideas to students or that Peloza presents faulty science to the students.

    but the judge chose to interpret it as a religious statement. Should I be surprised that the judge is a Bush appointee?

  178. #180 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 3, 2009

    You know, I think this entire issue needs to be deconstructed a bit. What makes the actions of the teacher, the student, and his parents right or wrong should apply equally in the inverse. That is, a creationist teacher should be able to condemn evolution in the class room without a lawsuit. Whether a Hindu should be able to talk about the narrow mindedness of Coast Salish animism.

    Thus far, we don’t seem to have teachers getting fired over expressing their unique ideas about the origins of chirality in chemistry class. We don’t call in the media circus for an english teacher expressing their distaste for Dicken’s cut and paste style of writing novels. This is an issue of people getting over their petty emotional attachments to their own ideas. In my opinion, it’s a sort of neurosis when an individual attacks another for offering opinions differing from their own. Education its self depends on challenging our ideas about what is. Would you bother sitting through lectures if they only served to confirm what you already believe?

    -FST

  179. #181 e
    May 3, 2009

    1993 court case. I need new glasses.

  180. #182 e
    May 3, 2009

    From the final ruling:

    One could argue that Corbett meant that Peloza should not be presenting his religious ideas to students or that Peloza was presenting faulty science to the students. But there is more to the statement: Corbett states an unequivocal belief that creationism is ?superstitious nonsense.? The Court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.

    This just doesn’t make sense to me. Let’s rewrite that paragraph a little and see what we come up with.

    ‘Corbett states an unequivocal belief that creationism is ?superstitious nonsense,?’ and that Peloza, by teaching creationism, was therefore ‘presenting his religious ideas to students’ and ‘presenting faulty science to the students.’

    There’s your freaking secular purpose, in the judge’s own words! “The Court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context,” because the Court wishes not to.

  181. #183 Ryan
    May 3, 2009

    Two words: ap-peal

  182. #184 Dan
    May 3, 2009

    I’m disappointed. This is the first I’ve heard of this story and naturally the “high school teacher convicted of religious persecution for dismissing creationism” summary got me all raged up, as I’m sure was intended. On listening to the tape, this guy deserves a reprimand. As a left-leaning atheist, I’m happy to say that snarky “jesus glasses” remarks and offhand digs at conservative viewpoints do not have any place in the classroom. Stick to the science! You wouldn’t be happy if some religious nutcase teacher took digs at atheists and liberals as part of his class now would you? Have you listened to the tape, PZ? Why have you been so selective in your reporting? I’m very disappointed!

  183. #185 David
    May 3, 2009

    Wow, sad. This happened in my state.

  184. #186 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    Dunno. Is she [Ann Coulter] highly intelligent?

    Yes. However, she says deliberately ignorant and insane things from time to time in order to play to her audience and sell more books.

    And it works. She makes a lot of money for doing nothing useful whatsoever.

  185. #187 la tricoteuse
    May 3, 2009

    Maybe it’s because I’m hung over and therefore not in full possession of my faculties, so to speak, but I am really really confused by this.

    In what way does saying mean things about religion violate the establishment clause?
    Am I missing some really obvious way you can twist the clause to apply to this case, or did the judge just invoke the establishment clause without any REAL justification as an excuse to stick it to someone for insulting his god?

    Maybe I’m just really, really, really stupid and missing something huge. Am I?

  186. #188 latincrow81
    May 3, 2009

    christianity = creationism is an “us only” thing
    i live in catholic country in south america and unless you’re incredibly uneducated or a crazy person everybody takes evolution as a fact even the local clergyman will tell you that the theory of evolution is not in opposition of the idea of a creating god…is just an approach to understanding a natural phenomenon

  187. #189 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 3, 2009

    In what way does saying mean things about religion violate the establishment clause?

    A public-school teacher is the paid voice of the government, and when the government says anything about any religion, that violates the establishment clause. Calling a religious idea “superstitious” apparently counts.

    (Naturally, this includes putting “In God We Trust” on money, but without a little doublethink it wouldn’t be fun anymore, would it.)

  188. #190 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    Alex Deam #169

    Thank you, Alex, for explaining my thoughts better than I did. In my original post I forgot to write a sentence saying something to the effect of: “While the judge excused most of these comments by Corbett, they are indicative of what he was saying.”

  189. #191 la tricoteuse
    May 3, 2009

    David @ #189

    WHY does it count, is what I’m asking, I think. Criticism of religion, even by a government employee, doesn’t really fall under establishment OF religion unless you’re really really REALLY stretching things. At least I can’t see any way that it counts, unless they’re going for that whole “atheism is a religion” or “having faith in science” type angle that creationists often go for, thus trying to establish the advancement of an atheistic world view (and secular ideas, by association) as akin to an establishment of religion. A secular argument/criticism against a religious idea is not, itself, religious, so it wouldn’t be covered by the establishment clause, really, would it?

    Again, today is a foggy thinking day, so apologies if my logic is faulty.

  190. #192 Rorschach
    May 3, 2009

    Again, today is a foggy thinking day, so apologies if my logic is faulty.

    Re-reading what David wrote might help.

  191. #193 bob
    May 3, 2009

    First let’s look at somethings here:
    1-I wonder what the newspaper left out? Reports are not the best at reporting–often neglecting research and good background and are noted for leaving facts out.
    2-If we want no religion in schools, then the opposite is true-no attacks on religion in schools–this was not teaching it was an attack on a child.
    3-calling something a name-superstition-does not make your argument correct- it just makes you a name caller
    4-teach science–if you have this much time, to do this, then what are you doing?

  192. #194 Rick R
    May 3, 2009

    “4-teach science–if you have this much time, to do this, then what are you doing? ”

    Teaching history.

    And la tricoteuse, the Establishment Clause calls for government neutrality when it comes to religion. No endorsement, no disparagement. A public school teacher is effectively the face of the government, at least during school hours.

    Of course, to a lot of christards in the U.S., neutrality IS disparagement.

  193. #195 John Byrnes
    May 3, 2009

    Research has determined that from the Moment of Commitment (the point when a student pulls their weapon) to the Moment of Completion (when the last round is fired) is only 5 seconds. If it is the intent of a school district to react to this violence, they will do so over the wounded and/or slain bodies of students, teachers and administrators.

    Educational institutions clearly want safe and secure schools. Administrators are perennially queried by parents about the safety of their schools. The commonplace answers, intended to reassure anxious parents, focus on the school resource officers and emergency procedures. While useful, these less than adequate efforts do not begin to provide a definitive answer to preventing school violence, nor do they make a school safe and secure.

    Traditionally school districts have relied upon the mental health community or local police to keep schools safe, yet one of the key shortcomings has been the lack of a system that involves teachers, administrators, parents and students in the identification and communication process. Recently, colleges, universities and community colleges are forming Behavioral Intervention Teams with representatives from all these constituencies. Higher Education has changed their safety/security policies, procedures, or surveillance systems, yet K-12 have yet to incorporate Behavioral Intervention Teams. K-12 schools continue spending excessive amounts of money to put in place many of the physical security options. Sadly, they are reactionary only and do little to prevent aggression because they are designed exclusively to react to existing conflict, threat and violence. These schools reflect a national blindspot, which prefers hardening targets through enhanced security versus preventing violence with efforts directed at aggressors. Security gets all the focus and money, but this only makes us feel safe, rather than to actually make us safer.

    Some law enforcement agencies use profiling as a means to identify an aggressor. According to the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education?s report on Targeted Violence in Schools, there is a significant difference between ?profiling? and identifying and measuring emerging aggression; ?The use of profiles is not effective either for identifying students who may pose a risk for targeted violence at school or ? once a student has been identified ? for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.? It continues; ?An inquiry should focus instead on a student?s behaviors and communications to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.? We can and must assess objective, culturally neutral, identifiable criteria of emerging aggression.

    For a comprehensive look at the problem and its solution, http://www.aggressionmanagement.com/White_Paper_K-12/

  194. #196 Rorschach
    May 3, 2009

    @ 195,

    WTF does your post have to do with this thread?

  195. #197 la tricoteuse
    May 3, 2009

    Thanks a whole bunch for the snide comment, Rorschach. You’re clearly the most awesome guy ever.

    Did read, twice, and what I’m still saying is I don’t really see how saying something that is NOT religiously motivated falls under the establishment clause unless one argues that No Religion is also a religion, and therefore a criticism of religion by someone who is Not Religious counts as religiously motivated. I guess I don’t really see the sense in the position that a non-religious criticism of a religion is also covered under the establishment clause. That’s a leap that I’m having trouble making. It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.

    If you want to actually explain to me HOW or WHY it DOES violate the establishment clause, please do. But just saying ‘hurrr u dun reed so gud hurrrr” is way unhelpful when I am sincerely trying to understand how it fits.

    If it really just is an issue of my brain not making the required connection to see the sense in it today, then I apologize yet again for being tedious. But it’s possible that I’m missing a piece of information, or just need it put to me in different words for it to click, which is why I brought it up.

  196. #198 la tricoteuse
    May 3, 2009

    Rick, thank you. It appears, then, that my problem is just that I don’t quite agree that the ‘no disparagement’ part is necessarily implicit. That endorsement is prohibited is obvious, and clearly stated, of course. I just think that the idea that disparagement is also prohibited is a somewhat creative interpretation.

    Anyway, that’s me sorted. I’m more comfortable with disagreeing than not understanding. Thanks again.

  197. #199 Rick R
    May 3, 2009

    la tricoteuse, I think your confusion might be more at the meta-level. It isn’t the nature of the argument (religious vs. not religious) that is at issue. The issue is, public school teachers shouldn’t be criticizing (or endorsing) religions AT ALL.

    That’s where the Establishment Clause comes in.

    Speaking for myself, when I’m basically part of a captive audience (say in public school classes) and there’s an authority figure at the front of the room, I really don’t give a fuck what his or her opinions on issues are. It annoys me to have to endure it, even when I may agree with the stated opinions. It’s off topic for an educator to do this, and I’m feeling they are wasting my time. As they say, opinions are like assholes- everybody’s got one.

    If I want my teacher’s opinion on religion, I’ll ask to discuss it after class. Or maybe they have a blog.;)

  198. #200 Rorschach
    May 3, 2009

    la t,

    which part of

    A public-school teacher is the paid voice of the government, and when the government says anything about any religion, that violates the establishment clause

    do you not understand? If you read what the guy actually said in class?

    Im not American,but it doesnt seem so hard to follow to me.

  199. #201 thegnu
    May 3, 2009

    The hilarious thing about it is that if Creationism were, in fact, science, like the Creationists claim, it would be acceptable to call it complete and utter bullshit.

    Hmmmm… Also, have you noticed how Creationism is capitalized, while science isn’t?

  200. #202 Rick R
    May 3, 2009

    One of the pet arguments of the “separation of church and state is a myth” crowd is a weird interpretation of the first amendment to mean “The state should stay out of church business, but not the other way around”. For these bozos, church/ state separation only works in one direction.

    But it’s logically incoherent. If separation doesn’t work in both directions, it doesn’t work AT ALL.

  201. #203 Rick R
    May 3, 2009

    Ergo: bacon.

  202. #204 la tricoteuse
    May 3, 2009

    Rorschach,

    Like I said above, I thought I was missing something that was causing me to fail to understand, but it turns out that it wasn’t that I didn’t understand, just that I disagree, which I’m ok with.

    Also, neither am I American. Not exclusively, anyway, and I haven’t lived in the US since 2006.

  203. #205 DaveL
    May 3, 2009

    @JDP #164

    So in your perfect world, AP European History (1450-present) would not address the Inquisition, Protestant witch-burning, the slave trade, imperialism, the ass-end of the Reconquista, the success of Nazism, Cromwell, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum?

    I didn’t say he should censor historic facts that are unflattering to religion. However, the phrase “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth” is obviously not a historical fact in the way that “The Spanish Inquisition put x number of people to death for heresy” is. It’s a synthetic statement which, although well-supported by history, in itself transmits no message to students other than the falsity of religion. That makes it unconstitutional.

  204. #206 Rick T (not R)
    May 3, 2009

    Rorschach,
    I share the same confusion as tricoteuse. I understand the establishment clause as trying to restrict the government from using religion in a way that violates our rights to adhere to a religion (or not) on our own accord. As an example, consider the Church of England and the Catholic struggles for power that went on for centuries. Our founding fathers were trying to prevent this divisiveness.
    That, to me, is the reasoning behind it. I don’t see a teacher as someone who wields the power of the state to benefit or deprive anyone depending on there religious beliefs. Just saying something is not exercising the power of the state, it is simply stating an opinion which is protected under our right of free speech.
    If the teacher was basing grades on religious views, then that would be different, or if the teacher was harassing a student because of their religion then again it would make sense to prohibit that.

  205. A public-school teacher is the paid voice of the government

    And I thought they were supposed to be the voice of reason.

    Do you even have a clue as to how stupid you sound? You really are a fascist.

  206. #208 Rick R
    May 3, 2009

    “Just saying something is not exercising the power of the state, it is simply stating an opinion which is protected under our right of free speech.”

    See, this is where the law disagrees with you. When a government employee says it in the official capacity of their job, it’s government speech. When said employee says it on their own time, it’s individual speech. There really is a legal distinction.

    Whether or not you think there should be a distinction is a different conversation. I’m just saying that’s how the law works here.

    This exact same argument is why what John Freshwater did in his classroom got him in trouble (even without the cross burning crap).

  207. #209 RyogaM
    May 3, 2009

    La Tricoteuse,

    Perhaps I can help. The reason the court says Disparagement or a religion can be a violation of of the Establishment Clause is because of the “Exclusion of the Middle” logical fallacy.

    Suppose you live in a school district that is 95% Jewish and 5% Catholic. If,in the classroom, the teacher says, “Judaism is the one true religion,” he is endorsing Judaism and clearly violating the first amendment. So, the teacher does not do this.

    Instead, the teacher says, “Catholicism is wrong,” disparaging Catholicism and remains silent about Judaism. You seem to think this is fine. But it is not because the teacher, without a secular purpose, by disparaging only Catholics, could be seen by a reasonable observer to be endorsing Judaism as “right.”

    The main purpose of the first amendment is to not allow the government to pick the right or wrong religion belief, even if there are no religious beliefs.

  208. #210 Clare
    May 3, 2009

    Sure, there are the legal arguments and all, but this is ultimately about what is socially acceptable to say. This is the country of free speech, so I’ve always been told, but I never thought about censoring my own speech too much until I moved here. Funny that.

  209. #211 Rick R
    May 3, 2009

    “Sure, there are the legal arguments and all, but this is ultimately about what is socially acceptable to say. This is the country of free speech, so I’ve always been told, but I never thought about censoring my own speech too much until I moved here. Funny that.”

    OK, one more time: flip the situation around. There are many places in the U.S. where it would be socially acceptable to have the bible as a textbook in every class, and to have occasional purges to get rid of gay kids, girls who’ve had abortions, whatever.

    Socially acceptable varies by locale. The first amendment guarantees protection FROM religion equally as much as it guarantees fredom OF religion.
    I don’t really see what’s so complicated about the idea. But that’s just me.

  210. #212 Anonymous
    May 3, 2009

    Having read the ruling, I don’t get it. When “read in best light”, I don’t have any difficulty finding a legitimate secular purpose to the statement: a student wants to challenge the authority and correctness of what a teacher is teaching, in a student newspaper, and the teacher wants an opportunity to respond. That’s a legitimate purpose. Can somebody explain to me how the purpose of a statement like that can be established as a matter of fact in a summary judgement?

  211. #213 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 3, 2009

    @209 (RyogaM)

    I agree with what you’re saying, but only in so far as it applies to the curriculum. What a teacher says in their own commentary, outside of what is formally assigned and graded, is the issue here IMO. So then, the real question would be, are teachers allowed to say anything unapproved by curriculum? Why differentiate religion from personal opinions on esthetics? Should a teacher be fired for saying, “The shade of this desk is repulsive.” on the principle that a student may become offended because they have some sort of fetishistic love for that color?

    -FST

  212. #214 shonny
    May 3, 2009

    Chad Farnan,

    Why not sue your parents for mental abuse, feeding you all that stone-age god crap?
    The bible is an obnoxiuos collection of plageriarized lies, there is no real entity as the biblical god. JC never was real, but merely a figment of many twisted people’s imagination. Churches are really businesses selling mental snake oil or worse.
    Get a grip on life. Look around you, look at reality. Look to science and knowledge, don’t waste your life with godbothering, because it will only make you steadily more stupid and blinkered.Freedom is to be able to think for yourself, and not be blinded by old, dishonest dogma.

    Go outside, look at the sky, look at the trees, look at life around you, and learn from that. See the reality, not dogma. You’ll guarantied be much more satisfied with your life that way!

    Cheers,
    well-wisher who think that so far you sound like a wanker, but believes it is never too late get a grip on life.

    BTW, prayers are mental masturbation, just that nothing comes from it.

  213. #215 Alex Deam
    May 3, 2009

    if the teacher was harassing a student because of their religion then again it would make sense to prohibit that.

    Erm, that’s exactly what this teacher was doing.

    Would a Muslim have had the opportunity to bring such a case to court? Do not talk about ideally. I don’t care about ideally. I care about the ACTUAL opportunity.

    As I’ve said before on this thread, two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because the opportunity for Muslims to defend their First Amendment rights might be restricted due to discrimination, doesn’t somehow mean people should start denying the opportunity of Christians to defend their First Amendment rights in court. You have some kind of weird backwards logic where if one group is denied a right, all groups should be denied that right. That’s even worse.

    Alex @172

    I think you are missing a little of the point here. The problem, as I see it, is that there is the concept of “damages” being lost here. That is, while it is very gauche to say it, just how damaged was this kid in hearing the phrase “religious, superstitious nonsense” as applied to creationism? Yes, it violated his constitutional rights, but we are talking about a minimal infringement. And, since this is court, how much is this minimal infringement worth in DOLLARS, since that’s just about all the court is interested in in a civil action? And we are apparently, talking about just ONE word: “superstitious.” How much should the teacher have to pay for using one wrong word out of the tens of thousands of words he uses every school year?

    Personally, I would award no less than $50 and no more than $500 to the kid for his damages. Now, consider how much it cost in attorneys’ fees, judge’s time, court time, etc. to get that award. Since were are still at pre-trial stage, probably about $15,000-$40,000. Not exactly a good use of court resources, is it?

    I disagree completely. It doesn’t matter that it might have cost the court a lot of money, you can’t put a price on defending people’s liberty.

    And yes, this was just a “minimal infringement”, but a minimal infringement is still an infringement! Your argument is akin to arguing that “Well he just stole a loaf of bread; it’s not like he stole a car”.

    As for the other remarks made by the teacher which did not violate his rights, the fact that his cause of action is being dismissed at summary judgment tells me that his case was weak in the extreme, so weak that I hope his attorney made clear to him just how weak and that he would be better off not tying up the courts time with such a frivolous complaint.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    Look, the kid’s complaint was successful on one point, and fell on all the other points, but that does not mean his case was “weak in the extreme”. It went only to summary judgement, rather than a proper trial, because both parties agreed on the essential facts of the case (i.e. what the teacher said), and the only thing needed to be decided was whether any of it violated the First Amendment. That does not make it weak in the extreme. That just means this kid lost the case. The prosecutors lost the case in OJ Simpson’s case, but that doesn’t mean the case against him was weak in the extreme. If this case was weak in the extreme, it would’ve been thrown out without the Judge really considering their arguments. The Judge didn’t do that. Instead, he wrote a detailed summary judgement, weighing the views of both lawyers in this case. So just to be clear: losing a case at the summary judgement stage, does not entail a weak, or even frivolous, case.

  214. #216 Jack McCullough
    May 3, 2009

    Here’s a post I just wrote over at Rational Resistance that demonstrates why the trial court is clearly wrong.

    If you don’t want to wade through the whole thing, here’s the money quote:

    The court is clearly wrong here in finding no secular purpose because it fails to adequately consider the nature of Peloza’s religious statements that Corbett describes as “superstitious nonsense”. In fact, Corbett’s statement was not a wholesale attack on Peloza’s religious beliefs, but on the factual claims made by creationists. These claims are not only religious in nature, but are demonstrably false, and have been shown to be so by a century and a half of scientific study. Thus, the description of creationism as “superstitious nonsense” is precisely identical to the description of astrology, or the belief that the earth sits on the back of a gigantic turtle, as “superstitious nonsense”. As such, any public school teacher is justified in criticizing another teacher for teaching false and superstitious nonsense in the science classes of a public school. The district court is clearly wrong here.

  215. #217 MosesZD
    May 3, 2009

    I’ve read the whole decision. I think, on appeal, the plaintiff loses. Simply put, there is a valid secular purpose in pointing out that creationism is “superstitious nonsense.”

    I really get the impression that the judges, frankly, didn’t like the defendant’s bashing of religious conduct and religious fact and decided to engage in the Golden Mean fallacy.

  216. #218 MosesZD
    May 3, 2009

    Posted by: ‘Tis Himself | May 2, 2009 1:27 PM

    The article PZ linked to has a link to a PDF file of the court’s summary judgement.

    Corbett made comments like quoting Mark Twain “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool” and “People in Europe who are least likely to go to church…are the Swedes. The people in the industrialized world most likely to go to church are the Americans. America has the highest crime rate of all industrialized nations, and Sweden has the lowest. The next time somebody tells you religion is connected with morality, you might want to ask them about that.”

    The judge found that Corbett was making statements about religion in his class. Thus Corbett was not adhering to the separation of church and statement and was in violation of the First Amendment.

    You fail. The statements you referenced did not violate the Lemon Test and they were, therefore, permissible. In fact, only one statement was “impermissible, the Court seems to be wrong in that.

    Creationism is, in fact, nonsense — superstitious or otherwise.

  217. #219 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 3, 2009

    @214 (shonny)

    Your intentions are good, but if you actually contacted him with this, I’d encourage you to use a bit more restraint with the ad-homs. While people may be idiotically wrong, telling irrational, emotional people this outright doesn’t work so well. Would you tell a hormonal mother that they had an ass-ugly newborn child, in the hopes that they’d stop showing it to everyone? It may be tempting, but rarely does this method illicit the desired reactions.

    -FST

  218. #220 MosesZD
    May 3, 2009

    Posted by: badrescher | May 2, 2009 3:28 PM

    Regardless of your opinions (which I share) about what religion is and is not, I would have more respect for you, PZ, if you’d learn the facts before getting the peanut gallery’s panties in a bunch.

    I am not surprised at how few voices of reason appear in the comments here, but most of you should really re-think your self-identification as rational people and think about whether you spout off before getting your facts straight.

    There is a link in the OC Register’s article to the ACTUAL DECISION, which it would be prudent to read before assuming that an injustice has been done (as some of the more reasonable comments here have noted).

    It’s perfectly ethical (and legal) to laugh in the face of the religious when they are adults, they ask for it, and they have the right to turn away. It is NOT legal or, IMO, ethical, to do so when they are someone else’s children required by law to listen to you.

    The Defendant prevailed on 19 of 20, putting you and your holy roller attitude in the shit right away.

    On the last count, the Court is wrong. Creationism is nonsense within the context of its claims of scientific reliability to various issues and concepts in science which it purports to do.

    So, you’d be fucking wrong. Wanker.

  219. #221 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 3, 2009

    I’d encourage you to use a bit more restraint with the ad homs

    Adh oms? What did he say that is an ad hominem?

  220. #222 Pareidolius
    May 3, 2009

    This whole story is pretty ugly. It’s set in Orange County, ’nuff said. The teacher sounds like a sarcastic dick, the student sounds like a whiny, magical-thinking martyr; there’s really nobody I want to cheer for . . . except for the first amendment and the separation clause.

  221. #223 Alex Deam
    May 3, 2009

    MosesZD:

    You fail. The statements you referenced did not violate the Lemon Test and they were, therefore, permissible. In fact, only one statement was “impermissible, the Court seems to be wrong in that.

    No, you fail. Please re-read comment 36, then read comments 43, 169 and 190. You’ll see.

  222. #224 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    Quoting DaveL

    I didn’t say he should censor historic facts that are unflattering to religion. However, the phrase “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth” is obviously not a historical fact in the way that “The Spanish Inquisition put x number of people to death for heresy” is. It’s a synthetic statement which, although well-supported by history, in itself transmits no message to students other than the falsity of religion. That makes it unconstitutional.

    Wy did the Spanish Inquisition burn heretics? What were the political reasons, and why did ordinary people hop on the bandwagon and turn over their neighbors? Why did ordinary people think it was beneficial to society as a whole to invest huge amounts of money and time into finding heretics, crypto-Jews, and crypto-Muslims and executing them painfully? Why did kindly old monks run horrible systems of torture and execution and really honestly believe that this was for the victims’ own good?

    If you are going to teach history, you need to discuss motives. And the motives behind these horrors of European history are largely describable as “when you put your Jesus glasses on, you cannot see the truth.”

    The function of history should not be to turn human tragedy into dry statistics. The function of history should be to demonstrate how these tragedies made sense at the time to a vast majority of people, so that perhaps we can learn from those mistakes and not make them again.

    This is going to offend some people. So fucking be it.

  223. #225 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    Quoting Alex Deam

    As I’ve said before on this thread, two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because the opportunity for Muslims to defend their First Amendment rights might be restricted due to discrimination, doesn’t somehow mean people should start denying the opportunity of Christians to defend their First Amendment rights in court. You have some kind of weird backwards logic where if one group is denied a right, all groups should be denied that right. That’s even worse.

    See, I don’t think the spoiled white boy had his rights violated. I think he had his feelings hurt because a course disagreed with his fundamental view of how the world ought to work and wanted to get back at his teacher for making him think critically about his worldview. This is a consistent modus operandi of conservative students since Buckley Jr. wrote God and Man at Yale. That’s the central issue here, not that this kid felt oppressed, but that he did not want to have to listen to criticisms of his worldview in general and therefore tried to blacklist his teacher in order to avoid having to question his worldview in light of the course material.

    The difference between Whitey McChristianson and a Muslim student in the same boat would be that the Muslim student is much more likely to be placed in a position where they are being unduly criticized outside of the course content in a manner which is MEANT to marginalize them. THIS is a violation of the student’s rights, because it makes the public school system an unsafe place for that student on the basis of cultural, ethnic, and religious heritage. Ironically, this the precisely the student who will receive death threats as soon as they say do anything to try to protect their rights.

  224. #226 Me
    May 3, 2009

    As usual, the tale told by our host and the facts related in the OC Register article are different. James Corbett, a public employee, repeatedly attacked Christianity in his classroom in many ways; his behavior is both inexcusable and illegal. Separation of church and state is a two-way street. Government functionaries don’t have a blank check to wage war on religion. Three cheers for the federal judge who put this twerp in his place. I hope he has to pay big bucks. If our host does the same sort of thing in his classrooms, I hope somebody sues him.

  225. #227 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 3, 2009

    If our host does the same sort of thing in his classrooms, I hope somebody sues him.

    PZ knows that religion has no place in the science classroom. All he tells his students is that they can still believe in creationism, but must learn enough evolution to pass the tests.

    The class in question was an AP European History class, and I’m afraid that there is no way to teach European history without clashing up against religion. Even my meager knowledge of European history tells me that.

  226. #228 Ken Cope
    May 3, 2009

    That PZ, always reading the OC Register and mangling the facts, all the FCCing time!

    a public employee, repeatedly attacked Christianity in his classroom in many ways; his behavior is both inexcusable and illegal.

    Repeatedly? Illegality was found in only one instance, for every other his behavior was excused.

    The moron posting @226 is a lying sack of shit. What a surprise.

  227. #229 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 3, 2009

    @221 (BDC)

    Take out the presuppositions usually around when talking to another atheist, and then look at the statements about theism within the post as standing on their own grounds. Saying the bible is a pile of plagiarized lies may be true, but without presenting the evidence to prove this, it just becomes an assertion. This makes it a baseless attack of some ones beliefs, rather than addressing the issue at hand. An atheist could do the exact same thing Farnan did, and I’d address them almost identically.

    -FST

  228. #230 Blue Fielder
    May 3, 2009

    Can we get a wholesale ban on single-common-name trolls around here? They are just trying to dodge killfiles, after all.

  229. #231 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 3, 2009

    Ok, that’s reasonable FST but I’m not sure that he was actually ignoring an argument more than just stating a point.

  230. #232 ibtrippen
    May 3, 2009

    I agree that the “Jesus glasses” comment is accurate to historical reality. The thing I have a problem with is–I’ve been reading the filed complaint

    http://www.faith-freedom.com/files/cases/Complaint%20for%20Declaratory%20and%20Injunctive%20Relief_12.11.07.pdf

    –some of the things they claim he said are not fitting of a teacher.

    Comments A, B, D, E, and G all either cover historical realities or have nothing to do with Christianity. In addition, comment D is really funny.

    Comment C: he uses the correlation proves causation fallacy to say that religion causes crime. He does not control for any other factors like per capita income, number of activities that are considered criminal, or government programs to control crime, nor does he consider the possibility that crime causes religion. He also does not give any actual statistics or sources to back up his claims.

    Comment F: he lumps Conservative American Christians in with fundamentalist Muslims. Normally I would not have a problem with this, but here he says their views about women are exactly the same and he doesn’t cite any sources or give any examples or statistics to back up his argument.

    Comment H: I have a personal problem with this because the guy isn’t listening to his students. He’s in OC, a place widely known to be the most conservative part of southern California. He expects them to think that 10 years in prison is too much for a gunman who shoots up a kindergarten with a MACHINE GUN? That’s the kind of thick-headedness that I’d expect from a preacher, but an atheist?

    Comment I: he tries to say that religion causes high crime rates and also high crime penalties. Again, probably true: but he doesn’t cite sources, give statistics, or present any other evidence. Also, even if he had cited statistics then his argument still suffers from the fact that correlation does not equal causation.

    Perhaps these quotes are accurate but have been edited. If he gave evidence for his comments that the plaintiff’s lawyers edited out then all the complaints I’ve listed except for comment H are demolished.

  231. #233 Riman Butterbur
    May 3, 2009

    la tricoteuse:

    In what way does saying mean things about religion violate the establishment clause?
    Maybe I’m just really, really, really stupid and missing something huge. Am I?

    No. This judge ruled against Corbett for disparaging a belief. The same fallacy the Muslim nations recently used in the United Nations trying to get a worldwide ban on disparagement of religion. To disparage a belief does not disparage a person who espouses that belief.

    I saw no evidence that Corbett ever disparaged Farnan, or any other student, or any other person except Peloza, who needed to be disparaged for his unprofessional conduct.

    David Marjanovi?, OM’s response would be correct, other things being equal. But the remark was in criticism of Peloza teaching “religious, superstitious nonsense” when he was supposed to be teaching biology. Corbett was not violating the First Amendment; he was criticizing Peloza for doing so.

    The judge seems to realize this, because he dwells on the “superstitious nonsense” part, not the word “religious”. But both parts of the statement are correct: What Peloza was teaching was scientifically impermissible because it was superstitious nonsense, and also constitutionally impermissible because it was religious.

  232. #234 Alex Deam
    May 3, 2009

    See, I don’t think the spoiled white boy had his rights violated. I think he had his feelings hurt because a course disagreed with his fundamental view of how the world ought to work and wanted to get back at his teacher for making him think critically about his worldview. This is a consistent modus operandi of conservative students since Buckley Jr. wrote God and Man at Yale. That’s the central issue here, not that this kid felt oppressed, but that he did not want to have to listen to criticisms of his worldview in general and therefore tried to blacklist his teacher in order to avoid having to question his worldview in light of the course material.

    You may be right that this kid “did not want to have to listen to criticisms of his worldview in general”, however you have no evidence that this was the case. If there was such evidence, then the Judge would have said so. In light of there being no evidence of that, all the Judge can do is look at what the actions the teacher did, and rule accordingly. In fact, even if this kid was doing it because he didn’t like criticism, and not because he felt oppressed, that wouldn’t change the fact that the teacher violated the First Amendment. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t oppress this particular kid, all that matters is that it could oppress someone in the same position as that kid. If this teacher had been teaching a whole class of atheists instead when he’d said this, that wouldn’t change the fact that what he said isn’t allowable under the First Amendment. Otherwise you’re basing people’s rights on who’s listening. It’s not about who’s listening, it’s about who’s speaking.

  233. #235 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    Quoting Alex Deam

    You may be right that this kid “did not want to have to listen to criticisms of his worldview in general”, however you have no evidence that this was the case. If there was such evidence, then the Judge would have said so. In light of there being no evidence of that, all the Judge can do is look at what the actions the teacher did, and rule accordingly. In fact, even if this kid was doing it because he didn’t like criticism, and not because he felt oppressed, that wouldn’t change the fact that the teacher violated the First Amendment. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t oppress this particular kid, all that matters is that it could oppress someone in the same position as that kid. If this teacher had been teaching a whole class of atheists instead when he’d said this, that wouldn’t change the fact that what he said isn’t allowable under the First Amendment. Otherwise you’re basing people’s rights on who’s listening. It’s not about who’s listening, it’s about who’s speaking.

    You seriously do not think that it is stark fucking obvious that this is an attempt to blacklist a liberal teacher? You really do not think that the fucking involvement of, say, a Conservative Legal Think Tank, doesn’t make this abundantly fucking clear? You really honestly don’t think this wasn’t about making it abundantly clear that any criticism of Christian hegemony in school was a no-no?

    You’re a nut.

  234. #236 Bryan W/a 'y'
    May 3, 2009

    If only the teachers at Franklin County High School in Kentucky would get charged with something for their attempts to ban homosexual students from using the restroom. What kind of world is this?

  235. #237 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 3, 2009

    BDC, my disagreement is with offering an immediate bare assertion counterpoint to the underlying factors in this misguided kid’s actions. Him and/or his parents seem to be knee-jerking fucktards, and judging from their willingness to drag this on to prime time TV, they’re drama whores too. A screaming match is the sort of thing they thrive on; they think it, “deepens their faith” >.< *insert more rambling about playing chess with pigeons here*

    -FST

    If any of the Farnan family happen to be reading along, yes, this is what people think of you. Some of us are just civil enough not to flame you with it.

  236. #238 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    Quoting FlyingSpaghettiTroll

    Him and/or his parents seem to be knee-jerking fucktards, and judging from their willingness to drag this on to prime time TV, they’re drama whores too.

    Oh really? Because I think they know exactly what they’re doing and I think they are acting in a very measured and planned-out manner. I think they think they’re preserving the Christian nature of this nation, and making sure that Christianity as a worldview has a unique immunity to criticism.

    Fuck them and all that they stand for.

  237. #239 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    A quick read-through of the legal group’s webpage shows that they’re Pro-Prop-8, anti-trans-rights, and anti-free-speech for anything that is not Christianity.

    Fuck them all.

  238. #240 FlyingSpaghettiTroll
    May 3, 2009

    @JDP

    I think you just euphemised what I was saying. Of course they want RepubliJeebus 2.0 running an infallible state. It’s a presupposition to most Christians that I’ve ever met. I just happen to think that the way they are doing it is uniquely stupid when one stops to look at the issue. Like most things that make it on major network news, it’s more about circle jerking the big peener o’confirmation bias than evaluating an issue fairly. Challenging sensibilities is bad for ratings, and the mother or the christian meat sack hanging off her teet is almost always right.

    -FST

  239. #241 JDP
    May 3, 2009

    It’s a lot more sinister from where I’m standing, though.

  240. #242 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    JDP,

    “So in your perfect world, AP European History (1450-present) would not address the Inquisition, Protestant witch-burning, the slave trade, imperialism, the ass-end of the Reconquista, the success of Nazism, Cromwell, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum?”

    I think the point you are missing is that the establishment clause, was designed for an imperfect world. This limitation the constitution places upon government, perhaps makes it difficult for government to perform some services well. Fortunately many of those services are performed better by the private sector anyway. I suspect that if the founders had experienced states that used schools as tools of indoctrination as occurred in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the US Constitution would also include separation of school and state.

  241. #243 Ken Cope
    May 3, 2009

    This limitation the constitution places upon government, perhaps makes it difficult for government to perform some services well. Fortunately many of those services are performed better by the private sector anyway.

    So, there we have it, the libertard justification for the elimination of public schools, playing into the hands of the theocrats who want schools to be all private church schools. The glibertarians are all for vouchers for private schools so they can opt out of the public schools, while not having to pay for them, and the result, ultimately, is the dismantling of public schools and the increasing ignorance inflicted on children of parents who can’t afford actual schools.

  242. #244 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 3, 2009

    The libertarians are still morally bankrupt. Hence, we don’t give a shit what they think.

  243. #245 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Ken Cope#243,

    Fear not, the authoritarians won’t let the public schools go, they are too essential to their power. Their followers have already pledged allegiance hundreds of times, led by the government employees. Once pledge wasn’t enough, these are children after all. Too bad it was never nipped in the bud. BTW, do they have some equivilent to the pledge of allegiance led in the schools in Canada? Just curious.

  244. #246 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Nerd the Redhead,

    “The libertarians are still morally bankrupt.”

    Hmmm, evidence please, I’ve never heard of them testing that way.

  245. #247 Ken Cope
    May 3, 2009

    The libertarians are still morally bankrupt. Hence, we don’t give a shit what they think.

    Take the worth of the contribution to society offered by any libertarian, and you’ll find that it doesn’t begin to measure up to their weight in Soylent Green.

  246. #248 Wowbagger, OM
    May 3, 2009

    So, there we have it, the libertard justification for the elimination of public schools, playing into the hands of the theocrats who want schools to be all private church schools. The glibertarians are all for vouchers for private schools so they can opt out of the public schools, while not having to pay for them, and the result, ultimately, is the dismantling of public schools and the increasing ignorance inflicted on children of parents who can’t afford actual schools.

    Ah, and then they can usher in a new feudal system where the rich buy and sell the uneducated poor as they see fit. What a paradise…

  247. #249 Ken Cope
    May 3, 2009

    @245:

    Fear not, the authoritarians won’t let the public schools go, they are too essential to their power. Their followers have already pledged allegiance… etc., etc., blah blah quack.

    I’m too busy to come up with anything original in response to AG’s libertarian Tourette’s, so will have to make do with plagiarizing M. Python:

    “Shut your festering gob, you tit!”

  248. #250 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Uh-oh, mob behavior developing. Getting bolder with increasing numbers. Rational responses have disappeared. Feeling good y’all?

  249. #251 qwints
    May 3, 2009

    There’s a lot of good here.
    1) It unequivocally sees creationism as religion
    2) It’s solid precedent for preventing science teachers from advocating creationism in class on their own
    3) It held a lot of comments to be fair.

    It’s clear that if this had been said in the context of a science class teaching evolution, it would have been fine due to the secular purpose. This was a teacher who enjoyed creating controversy. He allegedly said, “All you Christians can go to Hell,” which really would justify his being disciplined by the school.

    Lastly, I want to remind everyone that the precedent we get on this side can and will be used against religious teachers who try and advance religion in class. For every teacher like Corbett, there a dozen fundamentalists making all sorts of religious inanity. Teacher’s religious views don’t belong in class.

  250. #252 Ken Cope
    May 3, 2009

    Rational responses have disappeared. Feeling good y’all?

    Quite the contrary. Rational responses are displacing AG’s spew, which is typical “I’m right because everybody is against me” FCCtardity.

    Continuing in my unoriginality streak, here is Unca Carl:

    But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

  251. #253 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Quints#251,

    Yes, it establishes a precedent in a another jurisdiction (than Dover) that creationism is religion.

  252. #254 DaveL
    May 4, 2009

    Wy did the Spanish Inquisition burn heretics? What were the political reasons, and why did ordinary people hop on the bandwagon and turn over their neighbors? …

    If you are going to teach history, you need to discuss motives. And the motives behind these horrors of European history are largely describable as “when you put your Jesus glasses on, you cannot see the truth.”

    I absolutely agree the reasons behind the Inquisition should be taught. Let the students hear from those who were attempting to justify it at the time. Let them hear how the church itself rationalized the torture of innocents. That would be teaching history. The “Jesus glasses” comment does not teach history. It papers over the true horror wrought by religion with a gratuitous slur, and plays into the hands of the very people who would enact their own Inquisition if they had the chance.

  253. #255 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 4, 2009

    AG, libertarians are morally bankrupt, as many commentators have consistently explained to you. But you are unable to grasp the concept due to your lack of comprehension. You need to find another blog to inflict yourself upon. We are tired of your idiotic sophistry, and when there is another round of Survivor Pharyngula you will be gone.

  254. #256 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    I think the point you are missing is that the establishment clause, was designed for an imperfect world. This limitation the constitution places upon government, perhaps makes it difficult for government to perform some services well. Fortunately many of those services are performed better by the private sector anyway. I suspect that if the founders had experienced states that used schools as tools of indoctrination as occurred in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the US Constitution would also include separation of school and state.

    Yeah, let’s delete the most successful social institution ever devised: Public schooling. Genius.

    While you’re at it, let’s delete vaccination, the most successful medical procedure ever devised (and especially the pernicious policy of vaccinating the very poor for free: Evil incarnate!) You know, every man for himself! It’s pernicious that public schools require vaccination prior to entry.

    And why not delete the most successful (in regard to improving health) infrastructure as well: Public sewage systems! Make everyone use well and septic, or better yet: Free for all! Building codes are evil socialism anyway.

  255. #257 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    Hello everybody: The First Amendment does not guarantee a right to “not be offended.” If you read the debates on the Constitution, it’s obvious that offense was not considered an issue.

    Here’s the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    I don’t see the word “offense” (or its various forms) in the amendment. I do see freedom of speech.

    Someone disparaging your religion in public does not restrict your freedom to practice it. Religion is not guaranteed to be free of criticism. The founders, without a doubt, would have favored freedom of speech over someone’s supposed right to not be offended.

    Legal sanction for expressing your opinion does, by necessity, impinge on the sanctioned person’s freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, and upon the freedom of speech of all other citizens.

    However, even though the newpaper article makes it sound like the teacher was found guilty of personal offense against the student, the finding was:

    “Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense,’” U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. “The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.”

    He’s applying the “Lemon Test”, which has been used, in for instance, the Dover case:

    The Lemon test, developed during a 1971 federal court case, asks whether a statement has a secular purpose, whether it advances or inhibits religion as its principal or primary effect, and whether it fosters an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    So, he may have firm legal grounding for the decision. (I don’t like the decision one little bit.) Apparently, US courts have considered statements explicitly against religion in a similar light to explicit statements in favor of religion, at least when they are coming from public officials while they are performing their public duties. On the face of it, this seems logical.

    Note that the judge did not consider a large number of other statements by the teacher to be illegal in the circumstances. I suspect that if he had said, “there is no evidence to support Creationism, it’s not science, and it’s nonsense,” that it would not have crossed the line. When he conjoined “religious” and “nonsense” in one sentence, that’s probably the legal point that skewered him.

    Note that there are limitations on what a public school teacher is allowed to say in class (or to students outside of claass.) This is not “academic freedom” such as that enjoyed by college professors. Please remember that justy such a decision as this was what keeps Of Pandas and People out of our classrooms. Remember the film Expelled that claims teachers and professors had their academic freedom violated by the prohibition on teaching their religious views in science class.

    With any luck, the teacher will be allowed to make a promise not to make religious statements and the school district will pick up the fees. Or, even better, it could get overrurned on appeal. There was no mention of plans o for appeal in the article.

    (apologies for length)

  256. #258 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    JBlilie,

    “Yeah, let’s delete the most successful social institution ever devised: Public schooling. Genius.”

    I think you misunderstood when someone said nothing is more successful than public schooling. What they meant by that “nothing” was “unschooling”. “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” is a good place to start if you are interested.

    BTW, I support public health vaccinations. I am not an anarchist.

  257. #259 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    Qwints@251:

    the precedent we get on this side can and will be used against religious teachers who try and advance religion in class. For every teacher like Corbett, there a dozen fundamentalists making all sorts of religious inanity. Teacher’s religious views don’t belong in class.

    I agree completely. Especially the last sentence: That’s the entire point.

    (I retract my previous statement that I don’t like the decision. I don’t like the portayal in the article as the teacher had “denigrated” the student personally. That wasn’t the legal point.)

    Something tells me that Ms. Monk may rue these words some time soon:

    “We are thrilled with the judge’s ruling and feel it sets great precedent,” said Farnan’s attorney, Jennifer Monk, who works for the Christian legal group Advocates for Faith &Freedom in Murrieta. “Hopefully, teachers in the future, including Dr. Corbett, will think about what they’re saying and attempt to ensure they’re not violating the establishment clause as Dr. Corbett has done.”

    I think they are fighting our battle for us …

    It’s kind of nice poetic justice.

  258. #260 Alex Deam
    May 4, 2009

    public schools require vaccination prior to entry.

    Wish we had that here in the UK.

  259. #261 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    AG:

    I think you misunderstood when someone said nothing is more successful than public schooling. What they meant by that “nothing” was “unschooling”. “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” is a good place to start if you are interested.

    I wasn’t reading anyone else’s comments on this. I was thinking of my own reading of history. I’d invite anyone to suggest a social procedure that has raised the prospects and economic standing of more people than universal public education. (Leaving vaccination and sewers aside: They are medicine and medicine by engineering.)

    Private schools (at least in Minnesota, where I live) do not perform better than public schools, when the data are normalized for income level, etc. Not to mention that private schools can boot anyone they don’t like (for instance kids with behavior problems) while the public schools are legally obligated to take all comers.

    Charter schools (in Minnesota, where they apparently were invented) perform worse than “regular” public schools. The supporters of charter schools do a lot of hand-waving when confronted with these data.

    The most significant factor in a child’s performance at school is: Parental involvement. Everyone knows this. It’s the ignored elephant in the room in every discussion about “school” performance.

    My wife has been teaching public school in Mpls/St.Paul for over 20 years. People would be amazed at the crap she has to deal with. Many kids come to school: Never doing any homework, unfed, wearing the same clothes for a week, having stayed up until midnight watching R-rated movies (or having watched parents or other relatives having sex), whose parents never attend conferences (or apparently ever read the materials sent home with their kids), etc., etc.: It’s endless. And: Everyone blames everything on the schools and teachers. Talk about ignoring the data!

  260. #262 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    AG:

    I think you misunderstood when someone said nothing is more successful than public schooling. What they meant by that “nothing” was “unschooling”. “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” is a good place to start if you are interested.

    I wasn’t reading anyone else’s comments on this. I was thinking of my own reading of history. I’d invite anyone to suggest a social procedure that has raised the prospects and economic standing of more people than universal public education. (Leaving vaccination and sewers aside: They are medicine and medicine by engineering.)

    Private schools (at least in Minnesota, where I live) do not perform better than public schools, when the data are normalized for income level, etc. Not to mention that private schools can boot anyone they don’t like (for instance kids with behavior problems) while the public schools are legally obligated to take all comers.

    Charter schools (in Minnesota, where they apparently were invented) perform worse than “regular” public schools. The supporters of charter schools do a lot of hand-waving when confronted with these data.

    The most significant factor in a child’s performance at school is: Parental involvement. Everyone knows this. It’s the ignored elephant in the room in every discussion about “school” performance.

    My wife has been teaching public school in Mpls/St.Paul for over 20 years. People would be amazed at the crap she has to deal with. Many kids come to school: Never doing any homework, unfed, wearing the same clothes for a week, having stayed up until midnight watching R-rated movies (or having watched parents or other relatives having sex), whose parents never attend conferences (or apparently ever read the materials sent home with their kids), etc., etc.: It’s endless. And: Everyone blames everything on the schools and teachers. Talk about ignoring the data!

  261. #263 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    Oops, double entry, sorry!

  262. #264 JBlilie
    May 4, 2009

    Nothing our society can invest in provides greater return on investment than public education. (Seems to me that this is blindingly obvious by now.)

  263. #265 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    JBlilie,

    I have heard good things about your public schoos in Minesota, but I don’t think you should assume they are the norm across the coutry, or that their quality is related to the amount of money.

  264. #266 jj
    May 4, 2009

    Ha funny thing is, a few years back, a bunch of fundies tried to get Mission Veijo HS to changer their mascot – They are called the Diablos! (I went to a rival HS)

  265. #267 Stephen
    May 4, 2009

    “a particular moral philosophy”

    How, exactly, was Corbett’s expressed view a “moral philosophy”? Is expressing the truth now considered a “moral philosophy”? Your view on this, IMHO, sets the stage for “Let’s all just agree to disagree about this”-style apologetics. When expressed personal viewpoints are automatically and without thought categorized as “mere opinions” upon which reasonable people can disagree, then no more progress is possible, and we are doomed to become more ignorant as time passes.

  266. #268 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 4, 2009

    Ha funny thing is, a few years back, a bunch of fundies tried to get Mission Veijo HS to changer their mascot – They are called the Diablos! (I went to a rival HS)

    This would have been my schooling path had I stayed in winston salem through college.

    k – 9th grade – The Satans (I shit you not)
    9th – 12th – The Demons
    If I had gone to Wake Forest – the Demon Deacons

  267. #269 JDP
    May 4, 2009

    Quoting DaveL

    I absolutely agree the reasons behind the Inquisition should be taught. Let the students hear from those who were attempting to justify it at the time. Let them hear how the church itself rationalized the torture of innocents. That would be teaching history. The “Jesus glasses” comment does not teach history. It papers over the true horror wrought by religion with a gratuitous slur, and plays into the hands of the very people who would enact their own Inquisition if they had the chance.

    The reason for the inquisition was that Los Reinos Catolicos were trying to garner overwhelming political support from the Catholic Church and in doing so, clean out any dissent. They justified it at a local level by handing the Inquisition over to people who really truly believed fiercely that they were not only going God’s will, but also that they were doing this for the good of the eternal souls of the people being tortured. As a result, thousands and thousands of people were tortured horribly and put to death horribly….burning alive is not a pleasant way to go by any stretch of the imagination, but was chosen both for public spectacle and because fire would “purify” their souls, allowing them to go to heaven.

    So there are two stories: the story of the central political reason for killing all the Jews, Moors, and remaining Cathars in Spain, and then the story of how the Inquisitors and the townspeople of Spain came up with and justified the atrocities they committed. The former may be best explained with political expediency, but the latter is only explicable with “disparaging” comments about Jesus goggles.

    You can’t teach history without both stories.

  268. #270 DaveL
    May 4, 2009

    The former may be best explained with political expediency, but the latter is only explicable with “disparaging” comments about Jesus goggles.

    Oh? What’s this, then?

    They justified it at a local level by handing the Inquisition over to people who really truly believed fiercely that they were not only going God’s will, but also that they were doing this for the good of the eternal souls of the people being tortured. As a result, thousands and thousands of people were tortured horribly and put to death horribly….burning alive is not a pleasant way to go by any stretch of the imagination, but was chosen both for public spectacle and because fire would “purify” their souls, allowing them to go to heaven.

    I don’t see anything about “Jesus goggles” in there.

    Pardon me if that sounds facetious, but it’s really central to my point. The actual facts behind the Inquisition, the justifications given by the Church, etc. actually educate students about the dangers of tribalism, authoritarianism, and the vacuousness of religious moral authority whereas gratuitous comments like Corbett’s merely identify the teacher as an enemy of the faith, not to be believed by Christian students.

  269. #271 DaveL
    May 4, 2009

    The former may be best explained with political expediency, but the latter is only explicable with “disparaging” comments about Jesus goggles.

    Oh? What’s this, then?

    They justified it at a local level by handing the Inquisition over to people who really truly believed fiercely that they were not only going God’s will, but also that they were doing this for the good of the eternal souls of the people being tortured. As a result, thousands and thousands of people were tortured horribly and put to death horribly….burning alive is not a pleasant way to go by any stretch of the imagination, but was chosen both for public spectacle and because fire would “purify” their souls, allowing them to go to heaven.

    I don’t see anything about “Jesus goggles” in there.

    Pardon me if that sounds facetious, but it’s really central to my point. The actual facts behind the Inquisition, the justifications given by the Church, etc. actually educate students about the dangers of tribalism, authoritarianism, and the vacuousness of religious moral authority whereas gratuitous comments like Corbett’s merely identify the teacher as an enemy of the faith, not to be believed by Christian students.

  270. #272 Will Von Wizzlepig
    May 4, 2009

    From the wikipedia page on the judge:

    “Selna was nominated by President George W. Bush on January 29, 2003, to a seat vacated by J. Spencer Letts.”

  271. #273 Anonymous
    May 4, 2009

    Mission Viejo is so very close to my childhood home, but it is what we would have called “inland” when I was young

    MV is inland if you ask me (I think we’re in the same boat). Wring side of i-5

  272. #274 JDP
    May 4, 2009

    Quoting DaveL

    Pardon me if that sounds facetious, but it’s really central to my point. The actual facts behind the Inquisition, the justifications given by the Church, etc. actually educate students about the dangers of tribalism, authoritarianism, and the vacuousness of religious moral authority whereas gratuitous comments like Corbett’s merely identify the teacher as an enemy of the faith, not to be believed by Christian students.

    The heretic hunts, torture, and auto-da-fe were carried out by ordinary people who thought they were doing good. This is critical context that must be addressed.

  273. #275 Nullifidian
    May 4, 2009

    A least people like the Discovery Institute support academic freedom for those on both sides of the controversy with their academic freedom bills.

    Yes, the Discovery Institute is well-known for its promotion of academic freedom, which is why they censured William Dembski for reporting Eric Pianka to the Department of Homeland Security merely for exercising his freedom of speech.

    Oh wait… Dembski did that without even the slightest admonishment from the DI.

    But perhaps they contributed amicus briefs or petitions in support of professors fired for their speech, like Ward Churchill, Joel Kovel, Chris Knight, etc.

    Oh… they haven’t done that either?

    So what does “academic freedom” consist of for the DI?

    Merely a buzzword by which they can sneak in legislation to undermine education in evolution, apparently.

    But as you say they’re really devoted to the concept of “academic freedom”.

  274. #276 Rox
    May 4, 2009

    I find, “You can’t see the truth with your Jesus Goggles on,” to be a rather apt (if somewhat flippant) description of how so many ‘civilized’ people could be driven to commit the sort of atrocities they did. Sure little fundy OC shitstain & his fellow believers may be too EVOLVED to fall for recruitment into heretic-burning NOW, but that’s in large part due to several hundred years’ worth of secular influence & the diversity of sects in America. He and his parents are the worst sort of whores, right up there with the rest of the salvation-salesmen who’d have the sheeple believe the First Amendment somehow protects them from being personally offended in matters of religious opinion.

  275. #277 Rox
    May 4, 2009

    I find, “You can’t see the truth with your Jesus Goggles on,” to be a rather apt (if somewhat flippant) description of how so many ‘civilized’ people could be driven to commit the sort of atrocities they did. Sure little fundy OC shitstain & his fellow believers may be too EVOLVED to fall for recruitment into heretic-burning NOW, but that’s in large part due to several hundred years’ worth of secular influence & the diversity of sects in America. He and his parents are the worst sort of whores, right up there with the rest of the salvation-salesmen who’d have the sheeple believe the First Amendment somehow protects them from being personally offended in matters of religious opinion.

  276. #278 JDP
    May 4, 2009

    Quoting Rox

    Sure little fundy OC shitstain & his fellow believers may be too EVOLVED to fall for recruitment into heretic-burning NOW

    I strongly doubt that. Have you seen Jesus Camp?

    Also, don’t use the word “sheeple.” It is puerile and contrived.

  277. #279 Felicia
    May 5, 2009

    *sigh* I’ll probably be blasted for this, so before I start I will state that I do not belong to a church, believe in all scientific evidence so long as given without bias, and also believe in the Bill of Rights.

    That being said, I must ask if you and your grouping of scientific followers READ the whole claim against the teacher. I must also further ask if you read about his statement of “Jesus glasses” and the fact that of all the statements brought forth, only two were said to be ‘irreligion’, or defacing religion when it’s against the law to not only promote religion in a government-run area (such as a public school) but also to defame any religion in the same setting. In what context was he saying that creationism is religious, superstitious nonsense? Was he talking about an argument someone made shortly after Darwin promoted his theory of evolution, which was so controversial that it’s still debated today? If it was simply during a random lecture, then it was out of context and wrong. Even I, a non-Christian mild-pagan scientific-thinking oddball would feel uncomfortable hearing it.

    If you are going to promote science and then say that free-speech was infringed on, make sure to check your sources first. To focus on what you think is the only important factor and place blame on the young man who felt he was being abused is not the way a scientific community goes about getting their results.

  278. #280 Steve
    May 5, 2009

    There is still hope for Corbett. Judge Selna’s decision is subject to review by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a good record of righting the wrongs done in the district court. Unsurprisingly, the Circuit has been reversed at the Supreme Court level more frequently than any other Circuit, I believe (I just don’t have time to look it up this morning). But getting the Supreme Court to grant cert is a huge hurdle, so if the Ninth reverses, there’s a good chance this case will die there.

    *fingers crossed*

  279. #281 brightmoon
    May 5, 2009

    “So?where are all the Christians rising in outrage at the slander of their faith?

    right here!!!
    creationism IS pseudoscience nonsence and equating a valid religion with it IS slander

    seriously, who do i write to

  280. #282 Emmet, OM
    May 5, 2009

    Also, don’t use the word “sheeple.” It is puerile and contrived.

    Two excellent reasons to continue using it.

  281. #283 Stanton
    May 5, 2009
    Also, don’t use the word “sheeple.” It is puerile and contrived.

    Two excellent reasons to continue using it.

    But if you type with your mouth full, people will think you’re saying “steeple”

    That, and it also implies that these “sheeple” are people with bodyhair so thick that they can secrete their own yarn to knit their own sweaters.

  282. #284 Great White Wonder
    May 5, 2009

    “Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense,’” U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. “The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.”

    Teaching a fact is not a legitimate secular purpose?

    Jesus Fucking Christ this judge is a motherfucking idiot.

    And so is Chad Farnam, as well as being a whiny pussy with a truly laughable name.

  283. #285 Great White Wonder
    May 5, 2009

    You can’t see the truth with your Jesus Goggles on

    I’m surprised the NCSE didn’t file an amicus brief on behalf of this whining fucktard.

  284. #286 Great White Wonder
    May 5, 2009

    Kid: “My deity can do anything.”
    Teacher: “If you say so.”
    Kid: “My deity can save me if I drink poison and pray.”
    Teacher: “If you say so.”

    Kid is found dead of poisoning on playground an hour later. Odds that religious nutjobs who raised him will file a lawsuit against school? ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

  285. #287 Sven DiMilo
    May 5, 2009

    Holy shit, it’s GWW.
    Long time no see.

  286. #288 anti-supernaturalist
    May 6, 2009

    Defendant ought to have asked for a change of venue. Orange County if chock full of IDiots. He’ll have to move to the appeals court.

  287. #289 Rox
    May 6, 2009

    Yeah, go figure… this case went the way it did in the same county that’s home to Calvary Chapel, Rick Warren and TBN :eyeroll: You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting at least one fundy no matter where you go down there.

    I grew up in OC, but moved away to L.A. for nearly 15 years. I attempted to relocate once again behind the Orange Curtain in 2008, but just moved back to the Valley last weekend because OC’s just too expensive; and quite frankly it’s just a bit too Caucasian Christian Conservative for my taste. Yesterday at the grocery store I found myself thinking, “Hmmm I’ve seen more Black people in this store today than I saw in over a year in OC.” I never thought i’d say it about LA, but Jesus H. Christ it’s good to be HOME!

  288. #290 Michael Martin
    May 8, 2009

    If he spoke with such hate about any other group i.e. Gays, Jews, etc. He’d be fired today.

    But because the Hatred of Christianity is accepted by so many this kid has to go to court to be heard. It’s sad.

  289. #291 Ken Cope
    May 8, 2009

    If he spoke with such hate about any other group i.e. Gays, Jews, etc. He’d be fired today.

    Poor Christians, can’t catch a break for all the privileged Gays and Jews calling all the shots. Poor minority Christians, all outnumbered and persecuted.

  290. #292 Rob
    May 9, 2009

    You talk about Christians crying when things don’t go our way, but your whole page shows how ignorant you are to these statements. You are sitting here because something went our way. You are the most unethical , unpatriotic, sorry excuses for people I have ever heard of. If you haven’t figured out the pilgrims came to this country to escape religious persecution. So now you are trying to persecute for being religious. You sure don’t have a problem spending the money in your wallet that says ” In God We Trust” . What a bunch of morons.

  291. #293 James F
    May 9, 2009

    James Corbett has posted a statement in his own defense over at Sensuous Curmudgeon that is worth reading.

  292. #294 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 9, 2009

    You talk about Christians crying when things don’t go our way, but your whole page shows how ignorant you are to these statements. You are sitting here because something went our way. You are the most unethical , unpatriotic, sorry excuses for people I have ever heard of. If you haven’t figured out the pilgrims came to this country to escape religious persecution. So now you are trying to persecute for being religious. You sure don’t have a problem spending the money in your wallet that says ” In God We Trust” . What a bunch of morons.

    My persecution Boo-Hoo and historical ignorance meters just pegged.

  293. #295 Sven DiMIlo
    May 9, 2009

    Pilgrims?

    Seriously?

  294. #296 HaHaHa
    May 9, 2009

    I am SO proud of Chad for taking this obnoxious, biased teacher to task. The teacher should be FIRED IMMEDIATELY for his arrogant, “my way or the highway” attitude. First of all, your pathetic excuse for your existence — EVOLUTION — is incredibly lame and has SO many holes in it, that’s why it’s called a THEORY! Frankly, it’s nothing more than man’s way of denying the existence of a supreme God to which he will some day have to give an account. People like you are so unbelievable — you’re horrified that Christians dare to demand equality in presenting the origins of life, yet you’re forever claiming “tolerance.” It’s remarkable how this so-called tolerance is a one-way street. You just can’t hack it that some kids are smart enough to see through your trash talk and discerning enough to know that God is their Creator. Whoo-hoo, GO CHAD!!!

  295. #297 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 9, 2009

    HaHaHa, please cite 20 papers from the last five years in the peer reviewed primary scientific literature that directly back up this alleged Xian theory. Otherwise, what you have is a religious idea that you are trying to pretend is scientific. Without any papers it isn’t. Science has a million or so papers directly and indirectly backing evolution. No papers back creationism. Science is only refuted by more science, and religion can’t refute science. Science can’t refute religion, but it makes religion look silly if their ideas don’t correspond the the evidence. That is your problem. You need to change your religion as the science won’t change.

    Don’t worry, we’ll keep our laughter at your idiotic post to a minimum.

  296. #298 Sven DiMIlo
    May 9, 2009

    trashtalk is one thing
    evidence another

    EVOLUTION…has SO many holes in it, that’s why it’s called a THEORY!

    If it didn’t have quite so many holes, and if they didn’t gape so damn wide, see, we wouldn’t be calling it a THEORY.
    It’s always those unspecified “holes.”

  297. #299 Wowbagger, OM
    May 9, 2009

    Can we include in the science blogs update some code which checks against the use of the word ‘theory’ in posts, and prompts the user to select what they believe the scientific definition of the term is and then rejects the post if they answer incorrectly?

    That way ignorant pissants like HaHaHa upthread wouldn’t waste everyone’s time with his moronic ineptitude.

  298. #300 Ichthyic
    May 9, 2009

    is incredibly lame and has SO many holes in it, that’s why it’s called a THEORY!

    you fail at even your understanding of the word theory.

    but then, this is what we’ve come to expect: ignorant folks like yourself are well, ignorant.

    and you like to be so.

    The teacher should be FIRED IMMEDIATELY for his arrogant, “my way or the highway” attitude.

    should your math teacher be fired for insisting that pi doesn’t = 3?

    I mean, that’s what your fucking goatherder-written trash novel says, right?

    a supreme God to which he will some day have to give an account

    then let God fire him. You, OTOH, being the ignorant ass that you are, should STFU lest your god find you prideful and send you to the bad burny place with pointed sticks.

    fucking moron.

  299. #301 Kel
    May 9, 2009

    First of all, your pathetic excuse for your existence — EVOLUTION — is incredibly lame and has SO many holes in it, that’s why it’s called a THEORY!

    I’ll play your game. Firstly what are the holes in evolution? Secondly, do you think gravity has holes in it because it’s a theory? Do you think atomic theory is wrong? Do you think germ theory is wrong? Do you even know what the scientific definition of a theory actually is?

  300. #302 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 9, 2009

    First of all, your pathetic excuse for your existence — EVOLUTION — is incredibly lame and has SO many holes in it, that’s why it’s called a THEORY

    Advice.

    If you are going to come to a science blog and spout off, at least understand what you are talking about before you do because you’ll immediately be pegged as a moron.

    In science a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.

    Translation: not a guess.

    Dumbass.

  301. #303 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    you’re horrified that Christians dare to demand equality in presenting the origins of life

    no, we’re horrified that morons like yourself insist that your delusions should be taught as SCIENCE to kids in public schools, especially given you can teach them nonsense at home or sunday school (even if they then have to unlearn your bullshit later).

    Would you be horrified if we forced all sunday schools to start teaching science alongside bible study?

    I bet you would.

    You see, you just don’t want even the lopsided competition of ideas that already exists: you get all of home time and the weekend to feed your kids nonsense, and we get a few hours of classtime to teach them actual science.

    No, what you want is all your nonsense, all the time.

    It’s quite pathetic that your ideas are so poor, that even given the current lopsided nature of things, you still feel threatened by the few hours we get to teach kids actual science.

    You, and all your fellow god-bothering tub-thumpers, reek of fear.

    and we all know that fearful religiots become terrorists.

  302. #304 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    People like you are so unbelievable — you’re horrified that Christians dare to demand equality in presenting the origins of life, yet you’re forever claiming “tolerance.”

    What’s your take on presenting the Hindu origins of life?

    How about Chinese?

    How about Aztec?

    how about Scientology?

    no?

    Oh why?

    Right because their bullshit. Just like yours.

    I’m awarding you the inaugural BigDumbChimp’s Incredible Comment of Idiocy Award.

  303. #305 Kel
    May 10, 2009

    When Christians come up with a hypothesis that explains the formation of a protocell from organic chemicals that has experimental support, then sure they can have equality in the science classroom. But just saying “God did it” tells us precisely nothing about the origin of life and has no evidential support. Science is done through study of the natural world, so when someone comes along with a theory that has evidential support, regardless of their religion it will get taught.

    Out of the millions of scientists out there, the majority believe in some form of spiritual being that governs the universe. But without evidential support, those beliefs remain personal. Science is only about the natural, it can only be about the natural because the natural is all that we can observe. We can’t test supernatural explanations, so please let us know what natural explanation you have and why it should be in the science classroom.

  304. #306 Stanton
    May 10, 2009

    Out of the millions of scientists out there, the majority believe in some form of spiritual being that governs the universe. But without evidential support, those beliefs remain personal. Science is only about the natural, it can only be about the natural because the natural is all that we can observe. We can’t test supernatural explanations, so please let us know what natural explanation you have and why it should be in the science classroom.

    Because they said God told them to say so, and that God also told them that whoever disagrees with them will be sent to Hell to burn forever and ever and ever and ever.

  305. #307 Brad Adams
    May 10, 2009

    Feel free to check out http://www.mercyhill.net for a free book that may help foster a more articulate discussion than what I have read here so far.

  306. #308 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Brad, if you can’t even post a link, why should we believe anything you have to say. Especially, since the discussion has been very articulate. I think you really meant to say is that the conclusions we arrive at don’t agree with your evidenceless presuppositions.

  307. #309 Tony P
    May 10, 2009

    A good friend of mine is a high school psychologist.

    He and I disagree on the outcome of this. I say the teacher too had first amendment rights and this case should not have moved forward. My friend says you have to tip toe around that in public high schools. That was a true WTF moment for me.

  308. #310 Brad Adams
    May 10, 2009

    It almost seems hard for me to believe that all it would take is a link for someone to be willing to acknowledge the potential of someone else having something that may be relevant to the discussion, nevertheless that seems to be the case so, in order for it not to be a further stumbling block, here is a link,

    http://www.mercyhill.net/

  309. #311 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Brad, you still haven’t given a synopsis of what we would find at the link, so I still consider it to be a pile of viruses and worms. I suspect it is a pile of religious shit, which we have already refuted at one time or another. Convince us otherwise.

  310. #312 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Brad suggests we read:

    “eGod” is a full color, free downloadable ebook packed with 359 pages of information, pictures, graphics, flash video, links and more. A culmination of 20 years of research and study uniquely blended, condensed and streamlined into one easy to read resource that addresses the question, “Does God Exist?”

    I suggest Brad read:

    http://www.harunyahya.com/books/darwinism/atlas_creation/atlas_creation_01.php

    also free (if you can find a copy) and also filled with wonderful color pictures that will delight childish folk like Brad. Moreover, it also addresses the same questions, and claims decades of “research” in its favor.

    so, Brad, what’s the difference between Harun Yahya’s book, and the one you are linking to?

    Would you also then recommend “Atlas”?

    why or why not?

    if you’re smart, instead of reading crap books like the one you linked to, you might try any of the ones listed here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/02/an_updated_book_list_for_evolu.php

  311. #313 Brad Adams
    May 11, 2009

    Fellas, the concern over viruses and worms is a legitimate one, although you will note that I did not use some fictitious handle or name but my actual name. Not the thing that someone with that type of motive in mind would actually do. Secondly, A simple observation would have noted that the site contained a page with the “Table of Contents”, and, that the author’s name on the book is the same, which would help explain the link to that site and that I didn’t just read the book, I wrote it. Gentlemen, I simply came across this site by happenstance, noted some of the posts and thought I would join in having a civil discourse. The tone and tenor however leads me to question that possibility. Quite frankly, character assassinations, demeaning comments, ridicule and the like only weaken any constructive dialog and diminishes the caliber and character of the person who resorts to it. I am inclined, and choose to believe however that this may be due to bitter experiences in past interactions and discussions and not a true reflection of who you really are. Look, the book is free, if interested have at it, you can type in whatever name and made up email prior to download. It is merely a means to avoid web bots and crawlers. If not, simply ignore it.

  312. #314 Chad
    May 11, 2009

    You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes and I pray to the devil you all have a chance to meet him one day.

    Liberal fagots.

  313. #315 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Liberal fagots.

    *giggle*

  314. #316 Chad
    May 11, 2009

    You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes and I pray to the devil you all have a chance to meet him one day.

    Liberal fagots.

  315. #317 Chad
    May 11, 2009

    bundle of sticks for firewood: a bundle of sticks or twigs, especially wood to be burned as fuel
    Encarta « World English Dictionary ę & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    Yes as in BURN IN HELL!!!

  316. #318 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes and I pray to the devil you all have a chance to meet him one day.

    Liberal fagots.

    Do your parents know your using the computer?

  317. #319 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    Make it really sting, Chad. Call us a bunch of godless, fag-loving liberals. That’ll make us cry.

  318. #320 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    MAJeff you liberal fagot!

  319. #321 Rorschach
    May 11, 2009

    Oh,a live one !

  320. #322 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    I don’t know. He is the kind of drive-by screamer — I imagine him to be exactly like some high school kid with his parents’ car, driving through town to yell out the window, “FAGGOT!” at anyone who passes — who ought to be simply terminated without concern. I’ll give him a little more time, but if that’s all there is to his act, I’ll just zap him.

  321. #323 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    I have to have a little respect for Chad. When most christian trolls inform us that they will pray for you, they are using an euphemism. Chad is will to be honest about his feelings.

    I like it when stupid fools are honest about their hatreds, it makes it easier to avoid them.

  322. #324 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Fagot? The King Of The Typos strikes again. Chimpy is trying to spread his cooties again. Can’t we quarantine him?

  323. #325 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    Christian love at its finest! Chad, you’re an embarrassment to whatever social or political demographic think you represent. How ironic that you characterize each of us as “a bundle of sticks,” when in fact the only marionette here is YOU.

  324. #326 Josh
    May 11, 2009

    You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes and I pray to the devil you all have a chance to meet him one day.

    Another fine example of (presumed) Christian love, ladies and gentlemen.

    Is praying to Lucifer a violation of the 2nd Commandment (Exodus 20 version)?

  325. #327 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    Fagot? The King Of The Typos strikes again. Chimpy is trying to spread his cooties again. Can’t we quarantine him?

    Is it possible that my cooties have spread to chad or is it that he’s just a gigantic dumbfuck?

  326. #328 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Watchman, if Chad actually had any intelligence, he could be referring to this bundle of sticks.

  327. #329 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    “Fagot” and “faggot” are both acceptable spellings.

    /pedant

  328. #330 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Chimpy, Chad was a gigantic dumbfuck long before you brought your Typhoid Mary self around.

  329. #331 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Watchman, must you take the fun out of my goading of Chimpy?

    Killjoy!

    ‘pouts’

  330. #332 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    … he could be referring to this bundle of sticks.

    Yes. Or this.

  331. #333 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Are you suggesting that we are a bunch of reed instruments?

    Our reactions to trolls can get down right strange.

  332. #334 Sven DiMilo
    May 11, 2009

    Was going to attempt some sort of esoteric fagots-lead-to-fascism quip, but I see Janine has that angle covered already…carry on.

  333. #335 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    Killjoy!

    Yeah, totally! Worse yet, I think I’m wrong.

    The variable spelling refers to the word as it applies to a bundle of sticks. The derogatory slang term “faggot” seems to have only one spelling, and may or may not be related to the other word. (That’s according to dictionary.com, FWIW.)

    I suppose this Chad may be the Chad named in the original post, in which case he’s just a kid and we shouldn’t be too hard on him.

    Either way, though it’s not the teacher’s place to denigrate religion per se, nothing changes the fact that creationism IS religious, superstitious nonsense.

  334. #336 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall did a great sketch where he determined that the reason for all the homophobia was that the word FAGGOT must be inherently offensive. He went through each letter in turn, finding them all innocuous — except the T, which “reminds people of Jesus hanging on the cross”. He decides to drop the T and ends the sketch with the exhortation, “Come on, faggos!”

    Anyway, this how-many-Gs-fit-one-the-head-of-a-pin wrangling reminded me of that routine…

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