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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.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Judge Jones' Case Western Reserve speech

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For a long time, I did not bother to listen to the video of Judge John E. "Jackass" Jones III's September 25 Case Western Reserve University speech because with my slow dial-up connection the video's loading time is about ten times as long as the video itself. However, there was really no good reason not to listen to the video -- unlike some other videos, I didn't even need to leave the computer idle while loading the video but could do other things on the computer while the video loaded in the background.

Here is my review of the video:
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(1) The introducer gushingly praised Judge Jones and the Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion.

(2) Judge Jones repeated his claim that the work of judges is "workmanlike."[link] He says this to give the false impression that any other judge would have made the same decision and written the same opinion in the Kitzmiller v Dover case as he did. Of course, we know that judges are always disagreeing with each other, often sharply.

(3) None of the decision's critics that he mentioned by name are experts in the law and/or science -- he mentioned Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly, and Ann Coulter. There has been a lot of criticism of his decision by scientific and legal experts -- some of these criticisms are discussed in this blog's two post-label groups titled "Expert opinions about Kitzmiller" [link] [link] (post-label groups are listed in the sidebar of the homepage). Several law journal articles criticized -- sometimes severely criticized -- the decision. Critics included anti-ID legal scholar Jay Wexler, who felt that Jones should not have ruled on the scientific merits of ID.[link]

(4) He repeated his charges that all of the critics of the Kitzmiller decision lack respect for "the rule of law" and "judicial independence" and he repeated his claim that this lack of respect is due to poor "civics education." [link] Those charges are easy to make when he cites only criticisms that do not use legal or scientific arguments.

(5) He praised the US Constitution. IMO it is OK for a judge to say that he believes in upholding the Constitution, but praising the Constitution suggests extreme prejudice against anything perceived as a possible violation of it. Many foreign countries do not have an establishment clause in their constitutions, but that does not mean that people in those countries are less free than we are. I may sound a little paranoid here, but Judge Jones has given good reason for paranoia.

(6) He did not repeat his Dickinson College commencement speech's statement 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. So far as I know, he never repeated that statement, and I suspect the reason for that is that he got a lot of hell for it. Here is what he said at Dickinson College [link]:

. . . 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.

In the speech, Judge Jones claimed that he got this notion from his undergraduate days at Dickinson College, but in fact the above statement is a plagiarized quote mine from a book that was published long after he graduated. [link] And even some ardent supporters of the Kitzmiller decision -- e.g., Fatheaded Ed Brayton -- have found fault with the statement. [link]

There once was a jurist named Jones,
who was known as a real lazybones,
he could not disguise
that he did plagiarize,
and his statements were just full of clones.

(7) The speech at Case Western Reserve was followed by a Q&A period that was as long as or longer than the speech itself. In the Q&A period, Judge Jones complained that the Discovery Institute made ad hominem attacks against him and did not stick to the facts.
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