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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.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

ACSI v. Stearns should be declared non-justiciable

This post is derived from a comment that I posted on the Questionable Authority blog.

I reported in the preceding post that the district court judge ruled against the plaintiffs in ACSI v. Stearns.

The concept of non-justiciability is discussed in articles on this blog[1] [2] [3].

I was going to further investigate the details of ACSI v. Stearns, but I now feel that further investigation would be pointless because I feel that trying to resolve this kind of dispute in the courts is not practical or realistic. It is turning the courts into textbook accreditation agencies. For the following reasons, courts are ill-suited for this function:

(1) Fully evaluating textbooks is very time consuming, and the courts must rely to a great extent on the opinions of biased evaluators representing the litigants.

(2) The judges are not experts in the subjects of the textbooks being evaluated.

(3) The evaluations require arbitrary and subjective decisions.
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IMO the main question in these textbook evaluations is whether the books present the core or standard material adequately and just add a religious viewpoint. The plaintiffs charged that UC previously accredited textbooks that have non-Christian special viewpoints (and that therefore might not present the core or standard material adequately), but the judge in this case did not respond to that charge.

The ACSI v. Stearns opinion shows the potential size of the burden on the courts. The opinion says that UC rejected more than 175 courses proposed by ACSI schools (see page 8 of the opinion) during the relevant time period (though some of those rejections might have been for the same reason). The plaintiffs submitted untimely expert witness reports on 38 rejected courses (see pages 8-9 of the opinion) and timely expert witness reports on 5 rejected courses (see pages 12-18 of the opinion). And ACSI v. Stearns cannot possibly be conclusive because each challenge to a course rejection must be judged individually.

IMO the only easy way to assure that the core or standard material is included in the course materials of accredited courses is to require the fundy schools to use standard, non-Christian texts and use supplemental materials to add the Christian viewpoints. Fundy textbooks should not be allowed except as supplemental textbooks. The same goes for all other textbooks that present a narrow viewpoint. IMO the courts should declare ACSI v. Stearns to be non-justiciable and require that UC deny accreditation to all high-school courses that use a narrowly focused textbook as the sole or main textbook.

Why do the fundies insist on having Christian this and Christian that? I think that one of the reasons for that is the extreme hostility that the courts have shown towards religion -- or anything even suggesting religion -- in the public square. Examples: Three court decisions -- Kitzmiller v. Dover, Selman v. Cobb County, and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish -- ruled against evolution disclaimers in public school science classes, though the disclaimers were just sops to the fundies (and other Darwin doubters) because only Darwinism is actually taught. Because of the mere threat of a lawsuit, big bad Los Angeles County caved in to demands for removal of a tiny cross from the county seal.
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7 Comments:

Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

I don't know if this is particularly relevant, but it is a fact that a young earth creationist, Kurt Wise, recieved a Ph.D. from Harvard in paleontology in 1989; and that he studied under Stephen Jay Gould, among others. I wonder if that could happen today?

Since then, Wise has taught at a number of evidently fundamentalist institutions, including Bryan College.

I've read that Gould mildly told Wise that he thought that he was wrong.But his YEC views didn't keep him from getting his Ph.D., from Harvard at that. At least in 1989.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 5:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

"Why do the fundies insist on having Christian this and Christian that? I think that one of the reasons for that is the extreme hostility that the courts have shown towards religion -- or anything even suggesting religion -- in the public square."

Larry,
I think you're putting the cart in front of the horse here. The Christians aren't inserting their faith into everything because of hostility from the courts, the courts are having to deal with these law suits BECAUSE the Christians are constantly inserting their faith.

On top of that, Christians like to claim they're being "persecuted" because they are losing court case after court case while they neglect to mention their actions are the reason for the case to begin with. So, no, the courts aren't hostile to Christianity or religion, they consistently rule on the side of secularism. The fundies know this and I think purposefully push issues into the courts so they can maintain their little pity party (kind of a mass Munchausen syndrome).

Friday, August 15, 2008 8:08:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> The Christians aren't inserting their faith into everything because of hostility from the courts, the courts are having to deal with these law suits BECAUSE the Christians are constantly inserting their faith. <<<<<<

How are the following things intrusive "insertions" of faith into the public square: (1) a tiny cross in the Los Angeles County seal and (2) evolution disclaimer statements in public schools where only Darwinism is actually taught?

>>>>> because they are losing court case after court case while they neglect to mention their actions are the reason for the case to begin with. <<<<<<

They have been losing court case after court case only because of bad luck -- as I pointed out, rulings against evolution disclaimers in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish and Selman v. Cobb County came close to being reversed.

Friday, August 15, 2008 9:01:00 AM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Besides Larry's usual insipid stupidity, he writes -- trying to keep cases such as this out of the courts -- "IMO the courts should declare ACSI v. Stearns to be non-justiciable and require that UC deny accreditation to all high-school courses that use a narrowly focused textbook as the sole or main textbook" (emphasis added).

So your plan to save the court system time and space is to have the courts supervise UC's course approval system (which was, by the way, ruled to be completely constitutional)?

As to Larry's later question (How are the following things intrusive "insertions" of faith into the public square: (1) a tiny cross in the Los Angeles County seal and (2) evolution disclaimer statements in public schools where only Darwinism is actually taught?), the first may be read as an endorsement of religion by a governmental entity (hence the justification for the lawsuit; I'm not saying that it would win) and as for the second: "Darwinism" is the only scientific theory (period). Anything else is a form of religion; hence disclaimer statements are religious statements and have no place on a public school textbook.

Larry objects, "rulings against evolution disclaimers in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish and Selman v. Cobb County came close to being reversed."

But they weren't.

Sunday, August 17, 2008 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Nada Platonico driveled,
>>>>>> Besides Larry's usual insipid stupidity, he writes -- <<<<<<

You are the stupid one, bozo, because you can't see my clear reasoning.

>>>>>> So your plan to save the court system time and space is to have the courts supervise UC's course approval system <<<<<<

Wrong -- my plan is to not have the courts supervise UC's course approval system, except to require that no textbook that has a special viewpoint may be used as the sole or main textbook of any course. The situation we have now is that the court is closely supervising UC's course approval system -- in ACSI v. Stearns, the judge evaluated five UC course rejections and would have evaluated 38 more if the plaintiffs' expert witness reports on those 38 rejections had been timely. There are likely to be more challenges to public universities' course rejections in the future. Each course must be evaluated on an individual basis. This is turning our courts into course and textbook accreditation agencies.

>>>>>> which was, by the way, ruled to be completely constitutional <<<<<<

I never claimed that UC does not have the right to make reasonable grants and denials of accreditations of high school courses.

>>>>>> the first may be read as an endorsement of religion by a governmental entity <<<<<<

Lots of state flags have crosses in them. The Hawaiian state flag has the crosses in the Union Jack and several Southern states have the St. Andrew's cross. Are these flags endorsements of religion?

>>>>>> Anything else is a form of religion; hence disclaimer statements are religious statements and have no place on a public school textbook. <<<<<<<

You Darwinists have this contrived dualism thing about science and religion. Alchemy is not science -- does that mean that alchemy is religion? And under the endorsement test, even an openly religious evolution disclaimer can be constitutional -- the endorsement test says that the government may not show hostility towards religion and should try not to make religious people feel like "political outsiders."

>>>>>Larry objects, "rulings against evolution disclaimers in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish and Selman v. Cobb County came close to being reversed."

But they weren't. <<<<<<

But the idea is that Darwinists have had some very close shaves and could lose in the future. Close splits in court decisions are important -- that is a big reason why there are big fights over judicial nominations. And based on their statements in oral hearings, IMO the appeals judges in Selman v. Cobb County would have reversed the decision had they not vacated and remanded it.

Anyway, there have been no new public-school monkey trials filed in the 3-1/2 years since Kitzmiller v. Dover was filed, and I think the reason for that is that school boards and legislatures have learned how to "lawsuit-proof" criticisms of evolution in the public schools.

Monday, August 18, 2008 3:12:00 AM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Larry wrote, "my plan is to not have the courts supervise UC's course approval system, except to require that no textbook that has a special viewpoint may be used as the sole or main textbook of any course"

So the fundies lose their right to maintain their students ignorant? That was why this lawsuit was filed -- they wanted to maintain their students ignorant and wanted them to be able to go to the UC system. They have to choose one or the other.

Larry wrote, "The situation we have now is that the court is closely supervising UC's course approval system"

No it's not. It was only reviewed during the trial. Now that UC has won, the only review (unlikely) is to come through the appellate courts or even less likely, through future lawsuits.

Larry wrote, "Each course must be evaluated on an individual basis"

They already are -- by UC. The courts will only get involved if someone else sues.

Larry wrote, "And under the endorsement test, even an openly religious evolution disclaimer can be constitutional -- the endorsement test says that the government may not show hostility towards religion and should try not to make religious people feel like 'political outsiders.'"

The same endorsement test also applies to non-believers as well as to believers who don't have problems with modern scientific theories. Is it acceptable to make them feel like outsiders by implying that their scientific theories are "just" theories?

Larry wrote, "Alchemy is not science -- does that mean that alchemy is religion?"

No, but if it is supported by parents and/or school board members and/or politicians who want secular education "balanced" than I might change my mind.

Larry wrote, "I think the reason for that is that school boards and legislatures have learned how to "lawsuit-proof" criticisms of evolution in the public schools."

It's because no one has been stupid enough to act on the so-called criticisms or no one has objected. In Louisiana, they keep praying in schools. Once some one objects and brings in the ACLU, the party's over (maybe for them too, once they find out who objected and subject that person or those individuals to death threats and act on them). Ah yes, Xianity -- love thy neighbor.

Monday, August 18, 2008 7:18:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> So the fundies lose their right to maintain their students ignorant? <<<<<<

No, I only said that special viewpoints -- including non-Christian viewpoints -- should be allowed only in supplemental materials.

>>>>>> Larry wrote, "The situation we have now is that the court is closely supervising UC's course approval system"

No it's not. It was only reviewed during the trial. Now that UC has won, the only review (unlikely) is to come through the appellate courts or even less likely, through future lawsuits. <<<<<<

What makes you think that future lawsuits are unlikely? If each course rejection must be reviewed individually, why would future lawsuits be unlikely?

>>>>>>Larry wrote, "Each course must be evaluated on an individual basis"

They already are -- by UC. <<<<<<<

Duh. That needs saying? That kind of statement is what Judge "Jackass" Jones calls "breathtaking inanity."

>>>>>> The courts will only get involved if someone else sues. <<<<<<

Which is very likely. In ACSI v. Stearns, there were untimely plaintiffs' expert witness reports on 38 UC course rejections in addition to the 5 timely reports -- the courts would have to review those 38 rejections if those 38 reports had been timely. This is what I mean about the courts becoming course and textbook accreditation agencies. And what if, for example, a public university in another state rejected a course because UC rejected it? Would UC automatically be a defendant in a lawsuit against that rejection?

>>>>>> The same endorsement test also applies to non-believers as well as to believers who don't have problems with modern scientific theories. Is it acceptable to make them feel like outsiders by implying that their scientific theories are "just" theories? <<<<<<

Only Darwinism is actually taught, so the Darwinists are treated like "political insiders" even where there are evolution disclaimers.

>>>>>>Larry wrote, "Alchemy is not science -- does that mean that alchemy is religion?"

No, but if it is supported by parents and/or school board members and/or politicians who want secular education "balanced" than I might change my mind. <<<<<<<

There is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state.

>>>>>Larry wrote, "I think the reason for that is that school boards and legislatures have learned how to "lawsuit-proof" criticisms of evolution in the public schools."

It's because no one has been stupid enough to act on the so-called criticisms or no one has objected. <<<<<<

The reason why no one has acted on the "so-called criticisms" is that it would not do any good because -- as I said -- there is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state.

Monday, August 18, 2008 11:14:00 AM  

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