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.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Videos of Kansas U. "Difficult Dialogues" talk series

The Kansas University Hall Center for the Humanities has posted the videos from a fall talk series titled, "Difficult Dialogues at the Commons -- Knowledge: Faith and Reason," which concerns the controversy over evolution theory. The series consisted of lectures by Ken Miller, Judge John E. Jones III, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Os Guinness, and Michael Behe, plus a panel discussion.

If you have a slow dial-up connection, the videos may be frequently interrupted for buffering, depending on the video player that is used. Fortunately, the video image is not continuous motion but consists of sequential still pictures, reducing the amount of buffering required. An alternative is just to wait for the video to load and then replay it.

I was of course most interested in the video of Judge Jones' lecture. Despite the fact that it is now Judge Jones' policy to not talk publicly about the specifics of the Kitzmiller case, the second of two speakers who introduced him made long quotations of the specifics in the Kitzmiller opinion, including quotations of Jones' hallmark expressions "traipse" and "breathtaking inanity."

One of Jones' major themes in his talks is that the Constitution, laws, court rules, and court precedents compelled him to rule the way he did. However, he had much more flexibility than he has admitted and some of his rulings were arguably actually contrary to precedents and court rules. For example, for any of the following reasons, he could have avoided ruling on the scientific merits of intelligent design and irreducible complexity:

(1) He already had an airtight case against the Dover school board members because of their blatant religious motivations.

(2) In accordance with the Supreme Court precedent of Edwards v. Aguillard, he could have refused to hear expert witness testimony on the grounds that none of the proposed expert witnesses had participated in the enactment of the school board's ID policy and so their testimony could not have illuminated the board members' motives.

(3) Courts generally have neither the competence nor the authority to rule on scientific questions and here there was no necessity for ruling on scientific questions such as often occurs in, say, product liability and environmental cases. At most, his sole task was to determine whether the Dover evolution-disclaimer statement constituted a government endorsement of religion. There is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state.

(4) Even if the Dover evolution-disclaimer statement constituted a government endorsement of religion, the statement could still be excused on the grounds that it would reduce offense to students and others who for various reasons reject or question evolution theory.

(5) He could have required that the statement be modified instead of scrapped entirely -- for example, he could have required removal of the words "intelligent design" because they imply the existence of a designer.

Also, many of his most controversial statements -- e.g., his "breathtaking inanity" statement and his claim that he is not an "activist judge" -- were certainly not required.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does this post have the title it does? It's a poor piece of writing, even by Larry's already ridiculously low standards, given the sudden tangent into what is the real point: well, sort of, as, per Larry, there isn't one. But it sort of is that Jones has a policy of not talking publicly about the specifics of the Kitzmiller case and Larry seems to suggest that he breaks that here. Except he doesn't (neither Judge Jones nor Larry). The only mention of his decision was by the people introducing him (as Larry notes), and not the judge himself (the smoking gun). But then Larry provides another loose end, as he provides his own subjective interpretation of how he could be argued as going against the grain, revisiting Dover and looking like a complete half-wit (third? do I hear seventh-wit?), as this point has nothing to do with anything the judge actually said in the video which was supposed to be the purpose of the post (I had even ignored it at first).

Damn. Incoherent, illogical, and mistitled.

Saturday, December 23, 2006 9:50:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...
>>>>> Why does this post have the title it does? <<<<<<

Yeah, maybe I should have put my remarks about Jones' speech in a separate article, but I want to keep down the number of articles because blogger.com lists only 300 articles and I don't know what I will do when I reach that number -- I may have to start a new blog, I'm from MIssouri II.

>>>>>> The only mention of his decision was by the people introducing him (as Larry notes), and not the judge himself (the smoking gun). <<<<<<

The second introducer did more than just mention the decision -- he quoted long passages of the opinion. Did Jones approve of this? According to the Thoughts from Kansas blog, he agreed to come to KU only upon condition that he would not talk directly about the specifics of the Dover case. If the second introducer was aware of this, then I think it was very inconsiderate of him to go into such great detail about the case. Who knows, maybe Jones later regretted some of the things that he said in the opinion that were later used to attack him, like his claim that he is not an "activist judge," which many people think was protesting too much and was a highly inappropriate remark to put in a judicial opinion. Also, as I have shown, his courtroom deputy falsely claimed that he "has always avoided speaking about the case directly." I think that it is fair enough to say that when Jones says things about the Dover case that are not applicable to court cases in general -- e.g., his remarks about (1) "true religion" & the establishment clause and (2) the fact that both sides asked him to rule on the scientific merits of ID -- he is talking directly about the Dover case.

>>>>> But then Larry provides another loose end, as he provides his own subjective interpretation of how he could be argued as going against the grain, revisiting Dover <<<<<

Not publicly revisiting Dover is Jones' policy -- it is not my policy. And I was responding to an indirect remark that Jones made about the specifics of his Dover decision: that he was forced to rule the way he did.

>>>>>> this point has nothing to do with anything the judge actually said in the video which was supposed to be the purpose of the post <<<<<

I don't have a transcript of Jones' KU speech, but this point claiming that he was forced to rule the way he did was also made in his speech to the Anti-Defamation League:

. . . .I will submit to you that had I decided the Dover matter in a different way, I would have then engaged in just the kind of judicial activism which critics decry. That is, to have ruled in favor of the School Board in this case based on the facts that I had before me at the conclusion of the trial, I would have had to have overlooked precedents entirely and thus impressed upon the facts of the case my sense or the sense of the public concerning what the law should be, and not what it is.

A lot of people who do not hold that he should have ruled in favor of the School Board think that the details of his decision should have been different -- for example, many people think that he should not have ruled on the scientific merits of ID or irreducible complexity. Jones has been misusing the judicial independence issue as a smokescreen in an effort to discredit legitimate criticism of his Dover rulings.

Also, here he is waffling again about his definition of "judicial activism" (or "activist judge") -- "had I decided the Dover matter in a different way, I would have then engaged in just the kind of judicial activism which critics decry." In contrast, Jones said on a radio talk show, "People term 'activist judges' judges they don't agree with." Also, Jones had no problem with applying the term "activism" to non-judges -- he said in the Dover opinion, "this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board . . . ." So does the term "activist school board member" just mean a school board member who one does not agree with? Jones doesn't know whether he is coming or going. And the most irritating thing about him is that so many people think he is brilliant.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 5:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> The second introducer did more than just mention the decision <

So what? The introducer is not the judge.

> Did Jones approve of this? <

Why should he not?

> According to the Thoughts from Kansas blog, he agreed to come to KU only upon condition that he would not talk directly about the specifics of the Dover case. <

If he did not have an agreement that nobody else should talk about the case than the rest of your comment is mindless babble.

> Also, as I have shown...<

Making a baseless assertion is not "showing" anything.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...
>>>>>>> The second introducer did more than just mention the decision <

So what? The introducer is not the judge. <<<<<

Judge Jones said that he was not going to talk about the specifics of the case. If he approved the introduction's discussion of the specifics of the case, then he was just approving a "back-door" way of inserting the case's specifics into the presentation. In the Dover trial, Jones rejected a Discovery Institute amicus brief with an expert report attached because he said that the attached expert report was just a "back-door" way of inserting into the record the ideas of an expert witness who had withdrawn from the case.

>>>>>> Did Jones approve of this? <

Why should he not? <<<<<<

See the above.

>>>>>> According to the Thoughts from Kansas blog, he agreed to come to KU only upon condition that he would not talk directly about the specifics of the Dover case. <

If he did not have an agreement that nobody else should talk about the case than the rest of your comment is mindless babble. <<<<<<

Why was an agreement necessary? If I am introducing a speaker who said that he doesn't want to talk about something, I am not going to talk about it either. That is just common courtesy.

>>>>>> Also, as I have shown...<

Making a baseless assertion is not "showing" anything. <<<<<<


Baseless assertion? Jones defined "activist judge" as a judge who one does not agree with. The Dover opinion's statement,

"Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board . . . . . . "

-- can thus be translated as follows:

"Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of a judge who they disagree with. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not a Court that anyone ever disagrees with. Rather, this case came to us as the result of an action by an ill-informed school-board faction which some people disagree with . . . ."

Thursday, December 28, 2006 6:24:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>Baseless assertion? Jones defined "activist judge" as a judge who one does not agree with.<<<

False. He said that some people term it as that, and then explained why that isn't a proper definition for "activist judge." His own definition is even quoted by Larry in this very thread:

I will submit to you that had I decided the Dover matter in a different way, I would have then engaged in just the kind of judicial activism which critics decry. That is, to have ruled in favor of the School Board in this case based on the facts that I had before me at the conclusion of the trial, I would have had to have overlooked precedents entirely and thus impressed upon the facts of the case my sense or the sense of the public concerning what the law should be, and not what it is.

In other words, Jones's definition of judicial activism is ignoring precedence in favor of ideology.

>>>Jones has been misusing the judicial independence issue as a smokescreen in an effort to discredit legitimate criticism of his Dover rulings.<<<

This is utterly false. In the same speech you mentioned, Jones specifically delineated what was and was not legitimate criticism.

What does Jones feel is legitimate criticism? Criticism over whether he applied the proper precedents. (This does not mean that such criticism is necessarily correct, just that it is legitimate). What is illegitimate criticism? Claiming that he should have ruled based on ideology.

Larry lies again.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Kevin Vicklund said,

>>>>>> Jones defined "activist judge" as a judge who one does not agree with.<

False. He said that some people term it as that, and then explained why that isn't a proper definition for "activist judge." His own definition is even quoted by Larry in this very thread:

I will submit to you that had I decided the Dover matter in a different way, I would have then engaged in just the kind of judicial activism which critics decry.That is, to have ruled in favor of the School Board in this case based on the facts that I had before me at the conclusion of the trial, I would have had to have overlooked precedents entirely . . . <<<<<<

That was not all in the same talk.

I think that he mentioned the term "activist judge" in his KU speech, so that would be the place to check to see how he is using the term now.

The meaning of the term "activist judge" has become so mangled that I don't use it myself. I just call them lousy judges, crooked judges, etc..

Also, Jones ignored the fact that many of his critics did not expect him to rule "in favor of the School Board" but were opposed to the details of his decision, like his rulings on the scientific merits of ID. Jones -- like many other judges -- is crafty in a transparent sort of way.

>>>>> What is illegitimate criticism? Claiming that he should have ruled based on ideology. <<<<<

Jones was particularly critical of an article by Phyllis Schlafly, but only in one paragraph did she suggest that he should have ruled on ideological grounds:

Judge John E. Jones III could still be Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board if millions of evangelical Christians had not pulled the lever for George W. Bush in 2000. Yet this federal judge, who owes his position entirely to those voters and the Bush who appointed him, stuck the knife in the backs of those who brought him to the dance in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

The rest of her article contained non-ideological criticism of Jones. And her above paragraph could be interpreted as meaning that the evangelical Christians merely expected Jones to be fair rather than expecting him to rule in a certain way.

>>>> Larry lies again <<<<<

You gotta do something at least once before you can do it again.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 5:14:00 PM  

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