The "Dover Trap" Myth
Ouachita Parish, a northern county in Louisiana, has bought into the DI's "strengths and weaknesses" position and, as a result, set up a Dover trap for their local school districts to fall into.
Wrong, Ed. The Ouachita Parish School District cannot set up a trap for local districts to fall into, because Ouachita Parish School District is the local school district.
Ed was referring to an academic freedom policy for teachers that was enacted by the Ouachita Parish School District. The rest of Ed's post has the usual Darwinist propaganda about ID.
Anyway, the "Dover trap" is the idea that government entities that enact policies that require, encourage, or authorize criticism of Darwinism in public-school science classes are risking causing lawsuits that could cost taxpayers seven-figure rip-offs in plaintiffs' attorney fee awards (never mind that Judge Jones asserted that his broad ruling in the Dover case would help prevent government entities from running up big legal bills in future cases -- LOL). However, Darwinists do not seem to realize that they had a lot of things going for them in the Dover lawsuit that they would not or might not have in other lawsuits:
(1) The statement read to the science classes gave the appearance of endorsing a specific challenge to evolution, intelligent design.
(2) Some Dover school board members were fundies who made no effort to hide their religious motivations.
(3) The school board members did not bother to learn about intelligent design themselves.
(4) There was a book, "Of Pandas and People," that could be directly linked to creationism.
(5) There was expert witness testimony from a conspiracy theorist, Barbara Forrest.
(6) The judge, John E. Jones III, is a real crackpot (if you want to see proof, just enter "Jones" in the search window that is visible in the top border of the blog screen when you are scrolled to the very top). Even with a good judge, the defendants probably would have lost anyway, though not on such broad grounds.
(7) Because of the changeover in the membership of the Dover school board, there was no appeal, and an appeals court might have refuted some of Jones' gross errors.
Also, the Dover decision does not carry much precedential weight because it is the decision of just a single district court judge. Furthermore, the Darwinists have come very close to losing two big lawsuits, Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education and the Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case, and the latter lawsuit may be lost yet (it is now on remand in district court). Freiler came within single votes of being granted an en banc (full court) rehearing by the appeals court and certiorari by the Supreme Court. Also, at an oral hearing, appeals judges appeared to leaning towards reversal of the Selman decision:
Judge Ed Carnes, one of the panel members, said the three-sentence disclaimer seemed to him to be "literally accurate." . . . . . 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 . . . .
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."
Also, future passage of the Public Expressions of Religions Act -- which would prohibit attorney-fee awards to prevailing plaintiffs in establishment clause lawsuits -- or future passage of a similar bill would take most of the spring out of the Dover trap. This year HR 2679, the House version of PERA, passed by the fairly large margin of 244 - 173. S 3696, the Senate version,
So far as court action is concerned, Darwinists are not sitting as pretty as they think they are.
I do have a criticism of the Ouachita (darn, those Louisiana parish names are hard to remember and correctly spell -- Tangipahoa is another one) Parish School District's academic freedom policy statement, though. This statement says,
WHEREAS, diverse organizations including Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American Civil Liberties Union have acknowledged that “any genuinely scientific evidence for or against any explanation of life may be taught” (5), and . . .
- - - - - - - - - - - -
(5) Joint Statement of Current Law on Religion in the Public Schools (4/12/1995) Religion In The Public Schools: A Joint Statement Of Current Law http://www.aclu.org/religion/schools/16146leg19950412.html (Accessed July 20, 2006).
The specific mention of AUSCS and ACLU as being among the organizations listed in the joint statement was unnecessary. This mention seems to be protesting too much -- it implies that the school district anticipates or fears that one or both of these organizations will sue over the academic freedom policy statement.
Labels: Attorney fee awards