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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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.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pettifogging Darwinist attorney Timothy Sandefur

Timothy Sandefur is a pettifogging Darwinist attorney who frequently posts articles on the Panda's Thumb blog. He is now in a blog war with the Discovery Institute's Michael Egnor over the constitutionality of teaching criticisms of evolution in the public schools. Sandefur writes on his hypocritically named "Freespace" blog,

The Big Lie of Intelligent Design is that it’s science. It’s not, of course: it’s a religious viewpoint.

Wrong. ID has religious implications, but it is not necessarily a religious viewpoint. Evolution theory also has religious implications. Evolution theory has been called "the creation story of atheism," and the 7th circuit court of appeals said in Kaufman v. McCaughtry(2005), "The Supreme Court has recognized atheism as equivalent to a "religion" for purposes of the First Amendment on numerous occasions . . ." (page 4)

Sandefur continues,
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It’s an effort to say that there are such-and-such problems with the scientific explanation of the origin of species and therefore, God The Designer must have put these things together. (This is called “strengths and weaknesses”.) It’s an effort to say that critters are just too complicated to have evolved, therefore God The Designer must have intentionally devised them. (This is called “irreducible complexity.”)

It is unconstitutional to teach in public schools that "goddidit." However, it is not unconstitutional to teach that intelligent design and irreducible complexity are weaknesses or criticisms of evolution theory.

Sandefur says in a comment thread under his own article on Panda's Thumb,

The Establishment Clause is not an exception to the right of free speech, because government has no constitutional right of free speech; only persons –- not governments –- have that right.

I disagree -- governments also have a freedom-of-expression right, but that right of governments -- just like individuals' freedom-of-expression right -- has limitations. The limitations are different for governments and individuals. The establishment clause is a limitation on governments' right of freedom of expression. Also, the establishment clause does not prohibit government officials from expressing their own religious views just so long as it is clear that those views are not official views of the government.

I think it’s best to avoid using terminology that suggests that governments have rights. Governments have prerogatives, or discretion to act, or sovereignty. But rights are something only individuals can have. Although sometimes terms like “states rights” or “the rights of the government” are sometimes used as a shorthand to mean “states have the authority to do such and such and cannot be stopped by another government when they try to do such and such,” that terminology is misleading.

This is sophistry and pettifoggery. Governments have rights, just as individuals have rights. For example, the US Constitution and its amendments define the rights of governments as well as the rights of individuals.

No legitimate government has rights valid against the people.

Wrong. One of the most obvious rights that a legitimate government can have against the people is the right to tax.

And Sandefur is a real hypocrite. While he pretends to believe in a strict interpretation of the establishment clause, he opposed the Caldwell v. Caldwell lawsuit against the UC Berkeley "Understanding Evolution" website, a publicly-funded website which uses religion to promote evolution theory.
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