Saturday, June 20, 2009

The John Freshwater Case: He Doesn't Have One

Steve Goble, writing for the Mansfield News Journal writes that John Freshwater, the fired biology teacher has a case of little merit. Freshwater maintains he was terminated because he had a Bible on his desk and that violated school policy. That is apparently where it breaks down:

Once discussion moves away from the Bible, Freshwater's case wobbles like a Weeble -- and then falls down. Freshwater is accused of teaching non-scientific, religion-fueled creationism instead of science. On this score, the teacher's lawsuit should fail.

Basically, he is accused of undermining legitimate science -- evolution theory -- and pressing make-believe "science" based on Scripture.

Freshwater's lawyers may press an "academic freedom" argument, insisting teachers must be able to discuss a wide range of ideas in order to do their jobs. The argument sounds impressive, loaded with yummy fair-play goodness and seems like a common-sense idea -- until you consider that those who support teaching creationism in public schools want the academic freedom to teach the equivalent of five plus five equals nineteen.

If, indeed, the court can be persuaded that he was teaching creationism, it will be another ruling like Dover, which was narrowly decided. About that, Steve writes:

The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy was thus unconstitutional. The intelligent design and creationism proponents had their chance to make a scientific case, and they flopped.

Freshwater's insistence that his free speech and religion rights are violated just because he doesn't get to teach his religious views in a public school -- supported with public funds -- deserves to flop, too. He has a right to believe whatever he wants and preach whatever he wants on his own time. On the public's time, and with the public's pay, he is supposed to teach science.

The courts now have another chance to make that perfectly clear
This case might not be so narrowly rendered.

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