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.

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.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Teacher's anti-creationism remark violated 1st Amendment, judge rules

A news article says,

SANTA ANA – A Mission Viejo high school history teacher violated the First Amendment by disparaging Christians during a classroom lecture, a federal judge ruled today.

James Corbett, a 20-year teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, referred to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a 2007 classroom lecture, denigrating his former Advanced Placement European history student, Chad Farnan.

The decision is the culmination of a 16-month legal battle between Corbett and Farnan – a conflict the judge said should remind teachers of their legal “boundaries” as public school employees.

"Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is 'superstitious nonsense,'" U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. "The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context."

In a December 2007 lawsuit, Farnan, then a sophomore, accused Corbett of repeatedly promoting hostility toward Christians in class and advocating "irreligion over religion" in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.

In 2007, there was a rally of 200 protesters who supported the teacher [link] --
MISSION VIEJO – To an almost continuous stream of blaring car horns and cheering, more than 200 Capistrano Valley High School students and alumni rallied outside their school Wednesday morning to show support for embattled history teacher James Corbett, who is being sued by one of his students for making remarks about Christianity and traditional Christian viewpoints in class . . .

“I support Corbett because he’s a teacher who supported free speech and allowed us to discuss in an intelligent way,” said protestor Matt Yee, 17, a junior who took AP European history with Corbett last year . . . .

Down the street from the school, at Via Escolar and Marguerite Parkway, about 10 supporters of Farnan held up signs that read "Freedom from hate" and "Stop Dr. Corbett’s Intolerance." . . .

Corbett's critics say he monopolizes much of his class time promoting liberal viewpoints and leaves little room for students to interject . . . .

Also Wednesday morning, Pastor Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park visited the school, leading a small prayer vigil for Farnan and doing an Internet radio broadcast for RepublicRadio.com on the controversy.

"We object to Mr. Corbett,” said the Rev. Rod McDougal, who came up from San Diego for the prayer vigil. “We don't want him strung up; we want him fired."

IMO the judge's decision is reasonable. The teacher just went too far, and the judge had to draw the line somewhere. There were charges that the teacher made several other statements that allegedly violated the 1st Amendment and the judge dismissed those charges.

The Corbett case is discussed on:

Volokh Conspiracy, a law blog

Religion Clause, a law blog

Sleazy PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog

Fatheaded Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog

Note: this post has been revised since it was first published. The reference to Seiman v. Cobb County -- a reference which I now consider to be inappropriate -- was removed.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

So freedom of speech is gone? What ever happened to the rule that truth is an absolute defense against slander and libel charges?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 7:07:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

No, freedom of speech is not gone, but there are some things that you just can't say in particular situations. For example, you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theatre, and that has nothing to do with libel or slander. However, you can go to a deserted island and shout "fire" to your heart's content. And there are some things that public officials just can't say -- whether true or not -- when speaking in their official capacities. This teacher can still say what he wants when on his own time. If public-school teachers had unlimited freedom of speech, then teachers could teach biblical creationism, right?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:44:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

This is an addition to the original post:

After the Darwinists applauded three decisions that struck down evolution-disclaimer statements in the public schools -- Kitzmiller v. Dover, Selman v. Cobb County, and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish -- it is the height of hypocrisy for the Darwinists to now claim that the courts should have no control over what teachers say in public-school classrooms. Note that the issue of what is actually taught in public-school science classes was not an issue in these lawsuits, since these evolution-disclaimer statements did not actually teach creationism or criticisms of evolution. Nor did these statements -- with the possible exception of the statement in Kitzmiller -- endorse creationism or criticisms of evolution.

BTW, Freiler came within one vote of the four votes required for the granting of certiorari by the Supreme Court. In a very unusual move in a denial of certiorari, Justice Scalia -- joined by Justice Thomas and CJ Rhenquist -- wrote a dissenting opinion. He minced no words:

I would grant certiorari in this case if only to take the opportunity to inter the Lemon test once for all. Even assuming, however, that the Fifth Circuit correctly chose to apply the Lemon test, I believe the manner of its application so erroneous as independently to merit the granting of certiorari, if not summary reversal.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be so quick to defend evolution just because the wingnuts hate it. Darwin led to the worst colonial, militarist, attrocity and stock market abuses in history. Lamarkian inhertiance and mitochondrial DNA show that Darwin was not all he is crackered up to be. So don't defend him! These angry white talk radio males need universal health care so they can finally see a psychistrist. We also need to psychiatrically regulate the preachers and teachers who influenced such creatures. That is what homeland security is really about.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 2:26:00 PM  

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