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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Ignorance is the handmaiden of prejudice and discrimination.  Here is some more evidence of it at JPL:

Some testimony from Margaret Weisenfelder:

Q. I’m trying to understand why you feel [ID is] a religious viewpoint, not a scientific viewpoint.

A. I’m really not — I’m not clear on the distinction. I’m not well versed in the idea of intelligent design. … I’m not an expert in any of this. (33:9-19)

……

Q. And your understanding of intelligent design what’s that based on?

A. Just my own surmise.

Q. Okay. It’s not based on any literature, is it?

A. No, it’s not. (April 3, 2012, PM, 239:1-11)

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There is a new AP story about the wind up of the trial here.

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David Klinghoffer has a new installment on the Coppedge trial.  Several employees paint a picture of Coppedge as very polite, respectful and not at all pushy:

If Coppedge genuinely was hard to get along with — a “harasser,” who made others uncomfortable with his brusque, confrontational manner — this should have become clear by now, three weeks into the trial. It hasn’t. Instead, Coppedge’s attorney has presented as witnesses a series of individuals who worked with him and don’t necessarily agree with him about intelligent design or related matters (politics, religion), but who agree that Coppedge was an entirely inoffensive and capable colleague.

Jennifer Kesterson, now retired from JPL, worked closely with Coppedge under Chin as an information technology (IT) specialist. Coppedge’s lawyer, William Becker, asked her if his client was “pushy.”

“Not at all,” said Kesterton. “Intense?” Again, “No.” If he talked about politics, it was all “quiet, very polite, courteous, very respectful.” When the subject of pro-ID DVDs came up it was equally casual and low key.

Elgin, like Jennifer Kesterton and Ron Aguilar, said that Coppedge’s interests in ID, in politics and in religion did not interfere with work. Interactions he had with colleagues were “consensual.” He didn’t try to “convert” anyone. Coppedge and Elgin disagreed on politics but in “an agreeable manner.” When intelligent design came up, it was, once more, strictly casual — so casual that Elgin wasn’t entirely sure if ID was even the actual theme of the DVD.

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Perhaps this article and this post help explain why the JPL employees mistakenly believed that David Coppedge had no workplace or Constitutional rights to offer to loan out DVDs discussing evidence of design in nature.  According to Linda Greenhouse, you can throw out journalistic conventions when dealing with intelligent design:

Journalistic convention requires that when there are two identifiable sides to a story, each side gets its say, in neutral fashion, without the writer’s thumb on the scale. This rule presents a challenge when one side of a controversy obviously lacks merit. But mainstream journalism has learned to navigate those challenges, choosing evolution over “intelligent design,” for example, and treating climate change naysayers as cranks.

Ms. Greenhouse does not seem aware that many do not feel the need for an all or nothing choice between evolution and intelligent design.  Michael Behe does not.  Her insistence that journalists must make such a choice suggests an ignorance about intelligent design and the wide range of views held by those who are sympathetic to design arguments.

Could the same brew of ignorance and dogmatism have been driving the employees who went after David Coppedge?  The record seems clear that they were very ignorant of his rights, and did very little when he tried to educate them.

It reminds me of the quote by Pauline Kael:

I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.

As to ignorance of the law, this post discusses the relevant standards for religious expression in the workplace.

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