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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Phyllis Schlafly snubbed at honorary degree ceremony


A news article said,

The most sustained applause during Washington University's commencement ceremony went to legendary producer Quincy Jones.

But more than half the crowd stood and turned their backs as a controversial author received an honorary degree.

Phyllis Schlafly, a national leader of the conservative movement who is opposed to feminism, was presented the degree Friday morning at Brookings Quadrangle.

Prior to the graduation, students handed out fliers and white armbands in a silent protest.

They said her philosophies don't follow that of the university's.

In response to week-long protests by students and some staff, the University said they were simply honoring an alumna of the school whose life has had a broad impact on America.

Throughout the presentation and protest, the smile never left Schlafly's face.

According to photos, including the above photo, it appears that the statement that "more than half the crowd stood and turned their backs" is an exaggeration.

Other controversial figures -- e.g., Judge John E. Jones III and Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education -- have received honorary degrees, but I doubt that they have been subjected to this kind of rude treatment.

I know that Phyllis Schlafly is a controversial figure in general, but I know her best for her article that criticized the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision. In that article, she said,

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.

Judge Jones is fond of quoting that statement from Phyllis Schlafly. In a speech to the Anti-defamation League, Jones said,

Ms. Schlafly authored a January 2006 column and within her column she noted that, and I'm quoting here, that I "owed my position as a Federal Judge entirely to the evangelical Christians who pulled the lever for George W. Bush in 2002" and that I, I'm still quoting here, "stuck the knife in those who brought me to the dance in Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District" . . . . .

. . . . .The premise of Ms. Schlafly and some others seems to be that judges can and should act in a partisan matter rather than strictly adhering to the rule of law. Now, to those who believe that judges must cast aside precedents and rule as according to an agenda, let me say that I believe that the public's dependence upon the impartiality and the integrity of judges is absolutely essential to its confidence in our system of justice.

However, IMO Schlafly was only saying that Judge Jones' benefactors were only expecting neutrality -- not favoritism -- from him. Schlafly said in her article,

Contrary to most media coverage, the Dover case was not about whether the theory of evolution or Intelligent Design (ID) is correct or should be taught. The Dover school board did not propose to say ID is scientific or valid, or even to decrease its teaching of evolution . . . . .

Judge Jones exhibited his bias for judicial activism with public remarks that should have caused his recusal . . .

Judge Jones' pursuit of the spotlight illustrates what is wrong with our judiciary today . . . .

He lashed out at witnesses who expressed religious views different from his own, displaying a prejudice unworthy of our judiciary.

It is noteworthy that Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against ID and the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether ID is a religious concept -- by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions:

. . . .this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.

Judge Jones is slated to be a keynote speaker at the "Darwin's Reach" conference at Hofstra University next year. His speech will probably be another harangue about the virtues of "judicial independence."
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