Thursday, December 22, 2005

A slap in the face with a prehensile tail

I haven't commented on this in awhile and tried to stay away from politics as of late. I grew up in a trailer park a mile down the road from Dover Area High School, so as people across the nation chime in with there opinions on the matter and us people and students from Dover, I feel as if I should say something.

First, I never remember mention or a lesson of evolution from high school biology. I remember fruit flies and DNA. The only discussions I remember having on the matter at all was in my AP American History class (taught by a brilliant and respectable man who is now retired and living in Wyoming) in regards to the impact of The Origin of Species and "The Scopes Monkey Trial." I knew about evolution from a much younger age. I learned of it from trips to science museums, with displays of fossil study, of early hominoids, of ape to man charts. Yet now, when I, and every other student from Dover, apply to college, grad school, jobs where transcripts are required, Dover's reputation will precede us. Are we backwards? Are we uneducated? Are we zealous? Or conversely, are we a people now forsaken?

We may be small, and rural, but we are not people whose views were respected or represented by the former Dover Area School Board. As a graduate of Dover Area High School, I have never been very proud of my school and community, that is not until this November. In an overwhelming landslide, the community ousted the fanatics that seized control of our school board and ousted those who pushed us into nationwide humiliation. The liars and drug addicts whose sanctimonious claims and agendas permeated the national media are not welcome here. We are not a community of "Schmevolution" even though we did make The Daily Show a few times.

As the public has spoke, now so has the court. This week, the legal matter was settled, justly and hopefully finally.

Before I share with you the decision, I would just like to say that fanaticism is a mental defect, an illness, a disease, and a plague. It is obsession beyond all logic and reason that inhibits humanity. Fanatic Muslims and fanatic Catholics have beget bloodshed time and time again through history. Fanatic Protestants scorched the earth of New England with blood of innocent women. Sports fanatics incite riots. Celebrity fanatics instill fear and, in extreme instances, death in the quest to satisfy obsession.

Opinion isn't fact. Denial isn't coping. Belief isn't reason. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

Excerpt of the Decision as printed in The York Dispatch. For the entire decision, click here.

"It is notable that not one defense expert was able to explain how the supernatural action suggested by ID could be anything other than an inherently religious proposition."

"After a careful review of the record and for the reasons that follow, we find that an objective student would view the disclaimer (Dover's ID statement) as a strong official endorsement of religion."

"Whether a student accepts the Board's invitation to explore Pandas, and reads a creationist text, or follows the Board's other suggestion and discusses 'Origins of Life' with family members, that objective student can reasonably infer that the District's favored view is a religious one, and that the District is accordingly sponsoring a form of religion."

"In summary, the disclaimer (Dover's ID statement) singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere."

"We find it incumbent upon the Court to further address an additional issue raised by Plaintiffs, which is whether ID is science. While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six week trial that spanned twenty-one days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area. Finally, we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question which is before us."

"ID, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents', as well as Defendants' argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum."

"It is notable, and in fact incredible that (former school board member Alan) Bonsell disclaimed any interest in creationism during his testimony, despite the admission by his counsel in Defendants' opening statement that Bonsell had such an interest. Simply put, Bonsell repeatedly failed to testify in a truthful manner about this and other subjects."

"Finally, although (former school board member William) Buckingham, Bonsell, and other defense witnesses denied the reports in the news media and contradicted the great weight of the evidence about what transpired at the June 2004 Board meetings, the record reflects that these witnesses either testified inconsistently, or lied outright under oath on several occasions, and are accordingly not credible on these points."

"Although Defendants attempt to persuade this Court that each Board member who voted for the biology curriculum change did so for the secular purposed of improving science education and to exercise critical thinking skills, their contentions are simply irreconcilable with the record evidence. Their asserted purposes are a sham ..."

"The Board consulted no scientific materials. The Board contacted no scientists or scientific organizations. The Board failed to consider the views of the District's science teachers. The Board relied solely on legal advice from two organizations with demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions, the Discovery Institute and the TMLC (Thomas More Law Center). Moreover, Defendants' asserted secular purpose of improving science education is belied by the fact that most if not all of the Board members who voted in favor of the biology curriculum change conceded that they still do not know, nor have they ever known, precisely what ID is. To assert a secular purpose against this backdrop is ludicrous."


At 1:42 PM, Blogger Darren said...

For dinner tonight, we will be serving Chicken Noodle Soup, Boneless Chicken Breast, Stewed Tomatoes, and the former Dover School Board's ass on a plate.



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