I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Cobb County plaintiffs charged that "theory not fact" statement endorses religion

In preparing for a now-canceled new trial in the defunct Selman v. Cobb County case (the judge granted a motion for a new trial), the plaintiffs made the incredible charge that the textbook sticker's statement that "evolution is a theory, not a fact" constitutes a government endorsement of religion. An expert report written for the new trial attempted to back up the charge by giving a history of the use of this "theory not fact" concept by creationists dating back to William Jennings Bryan, the volunteer prosecutor in the 1925 Scopes trial. Such a farfetched, paranoid presumption of guilt by association has possibly been unapproached in American courts since the Salem witch trials. I think that it is time for the men in white coats to come for some of these Darwinists.

This "theory not fact" charge was possibly a factor in stampeding the Cobb County board of education into copping out and caving in. However, there was really little cause for concern. In the appeals court oral hearings, the judges did not seem to have much sympathy for this charge -- for example, Appeals Judge Edward Carnes told an attorney representing the plaintiff/appellees,

"I don't think y'all can contest any of the sentences. It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that."

Judge Carnes also told the attorney,

"Your difficulty is that you've got to take something that actually is reflective of the content of this textbook you like so much, and say it violates the First Amendment."

Also, a news report of the hearing said,

Judge Ed Carnes, one of the panel members, said the three-sentence disclaimer seemed to him to be "literally accurate." Judge Carnes also chided the lower court for getting "some of the key facts" wrong. Another panelist, Judge Bill Pryor, agreed with Judge Carnes, saying the lower court relied on facts that "are just contradicted by the record." The final panelist, Judge Frank Hull, questioned how the federal district court could have found the sticker's language misleading to biology students when there was no evidence to support that view.

I wish I could get a complete transcript of the oral hearing -- it must have really been something. LOL

BTW, the vote to appeal the case was 5-2. What was the vote to settle the case out of court? I haven't seen that yet.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous captain howdy said...

"In preparing for a now-canceled new trial in the defunct Selman v. Cobb County case (the judge granted a motion for a new trial), the plaintiffs made the incredible charge that the textbook sticker's statement that "evolution is a theory, not a fact" constitutes a government endorsement of religion."

To me at least it's obvious that the purpose of the stickers was to cast doubt on the theory of evolution in the minds of the students. Notice they didn't place any stickers stating that gravity is a "theory not a fact" in any textbooks? That's because they have no religious axe to grind when it comes to the theory of gravity. Same with the Big Bang, relativity, germ theory of disease. These are all only theories, but they didn't get stickers. Why do you think that is?
The school board admitted the reason they placed the stickers there in the first place was to placate creationist parents who were offended by evolutionary theory. That means their intent was religious, which means their actions constituted a violation of the 1st amendment.
The bottom line is: You can have any religious beliefs you want, you can teach those beliefs to your kids, but when you teach your religious beliefs to MY kids disguised as science (intelligent design) or interfere with MY kids' science education, you have crossed the line. The ACLU was right, the school board was wrong. End of story.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 5:01:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Captain Howdy said,
>>>>> To me at least it's obvious that the purpose of the stickers was to cast doubt on the theory of evolution in the minds of the students. <<<<<<

In many cases, that doubt already existed and all the stickers did was acknowledge that doubt. And there is nothing wrong with raising doubt when it is appropriate to do so.

>>>>>> Notice they didn't place any stickers stating that gravity is a "theory not a fact" in any textbooks? <<<<<

There is a "law" of gravitation -- i.e., Newton's universal law of gravitation -- and then there are "theories" of gravitation, which try to refine this law or explain why gravitation exists. So far as I know, the "theories" of gravitation are too specific and/or advanced to be taught in K-12 public schools.

>>>>>> That's because they have no religious axe to grind when it comes to the theory of gravity. <<<<<<

Something should not be considered to be an endorsement of religion just because it happens to coincide with the religious beliefs of some people. And as is shown below, it is arguable that the stickers were constitutional even if their sole purpose was to appease people whose religious beliefs conflicted with evolution theory.

>>>>> Same with the Big Bang, relativity, germ theory of disease. These are all only theories, but they didn't get stickers. Why do you think that is? <<<<<<

Because to the overwhelming majority of people, those theories are not implausible. If large percentages of people found the ideas of a round earth and heliocentrism to be implausible, then there would probably be efforts to put round-earth disclaimers and heliocentrism disclaimers in textbooks.

>>>>>> The school board admitted the reason they placed the stickers there in the first place was to placate creationist parents who were offended by evolutionary theory. That means their intent was religious, which means their actions constituted a violation of the 1st amendment. <<<<<<

On the contrary, the Selman opinion said that this is a legitimate secular purpose (page 30) --

. . . after considering the additional arguments and evidence presented by the parties and evaluating the evidence in light of the applicable law, the Court remains convinced that the Sticker at issue serves at least two secular purposes. First, the Sticker fosters critical thinking by encouraging students to learn about evolution and to make their own assessment regarding its merit. Second, by presenting evolution in a manner that is not unnecessarily hostile, the sticker reduces offense to students and parents whose beliefs may conflict with the teaching of evolution. For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that the Sticker satisfies the first prong of the Lemon analysis. (emphasis added)

An html version of the Selman opinion is here.

Also, the Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish decision came within one vote of getting an en banc (full court) appeals court rehearing and within one vote of a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court, even though the oral evolution disclaimer in that court case actually mentioned biblical creationism.

Furthermore, as I showed above, the appeals court judges showed that they might have reversed the Selman decision even if there had not been a problem with missing evidence.

>>>>>>You can have any religious beliefs you want, you can teach those beliefs to your kids, but when you teach your religious beliefs to MY kids disguised as science (intelligent design) or interfere with MY kids' science education, you have crossed the line.<<<<<<

Now you are really showing yourself to be a Darwinist crackpot -- the stickers did not mention intelligent design and only evolution theory was actually being taught in the Cobb County public schools. The school board had even selected a biology textbook with a very heavy emphasis on evolution -- approximately 110 pages, I believe. A news article reported,

During the county's arguments, Linwood Gunn, the school board's attorney, asked the panel to view the stickers in the context of the time when they were adopted. He contended the board was in the process of strengthening its teaching of evolution at that time. "If they wanted to restrict evolution instruction, they would have done nothing," Mr. Gunn said. "They would have maintained the status quo....All they did was improve evolution instruction." Responding to the board's argument, Judge Carnes appeared to signal agreement, suggesting the court should "look at the whole sweep of events, instead of just 33 words on the sticker."

So even with the evolution disclaimers in the textbooks, it is arguable that the Darwinists still appeared to be the "favored insiders" of the judicial "endorsement test."

>>>>>End of story. <<<<<<

As Winston Churchill said, it is not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.

Friday, December 29, 2006 4:44:00 AM  

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