In Dover: Now we play the waiting game

Yesterday marked the end of testimony for Kitzmiller vs. the Dover area school board, a six week trial in which parents had sued the a school board for trying to introduce intelligent design into science class. The York Daily Record, a local paper, covered the events admirably, and if you?ve been reading, this last week proved quite exciting. That is, of course, if you believe newspapers. ID defenders in this case tend not to. That?s why they called two freelancers, one from the Daily Record

By | November 5, 2005

Yesterday marked the end of testimony for Kitzmiller vs. the Dover area school board, a six week trial in which parents had sued the a school board for trying to introduce intelligent design into science class. The York Daily Record, a local paper, covered the events admirably, and if you?ve been reading, this last week proved quite exciting. That is, of course, if you believe newspapers. ID defenders in this case tend not to. That?s why they called two freelancers, one from the Daily Record, and the other from the York Dispatch, to testify as to the accuracy of their stories. Witnesses for the defense said that reporters Joe Maldonado and Heidi Bernhard-Bubb had conspired to inaccurately state that board members used the word creationism and to characterize board member Bill Buckingham as a zealot. Though the word ?creationism? is only used in paraphrased quotes, both freelancers said that they had indeed heard the word. According to Board members that testified, this is because the two sit next to each other at meetings and share notes. But one direct quote deserves specific scrutiny According to the Daily Record:
Maldonado?s articles quote Buckingham as saying: ?Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can?t someone take a stand for him?? Bernhard-Bubb?s articles state, ?Nearly 2,000 years ago someone died on a cross, shouldn?t we have the courage to stand up for him??
Dover lawyers say the discrepancy in the quotes proves that the stories are inaccurate. Plaintiff lawyers say it proves they weren?t sharing notes. But this discrepancy was only a drop in the bucket compared to the deluge this week. Alan Bonsell, a ringleader in the ID plot was taken to the mat by Judge John E. Jones III who took it upon himself to cross examine witnesses for the defense when stories didn?t seem to match up. And Bonsell?s testimony about the source of money for pro-ID books didn?t match his January testimony. After more than one grilling from the judge the Dover defenders finally got back to expert witnesses, calling Scott Minnich of the University of Idaho. Minnich brought up the bacterial flagellum again. It would have been a good strategy for defense lawyer to drag the testimony away from the fact witnesses that kept contradicting earlier depositions. But lawyers from the Thomas More Law Center then started asking about the mean treatment of a journal editor who had run an intelligent design article in a peer reviewed journal, presumably to paint ID as an underdog science. Minnich?s testimony would have to rely on public record ? in other words, news reports. Judge Jones reminded lawyer Robert Muise that this was at the very least a change of strategy for a group that has a standing objection to reported stories. It was another bold move for Thomas More Law Center, who is defending the Dover school board for free after spending years seeking out a district dumb enough to try and insert ID into science curricula. As the shield of Christianity, it?s apparently their right to pick fights with the First Amendment wherever they see fit, and suffer no repercussions themselves. In Charleston, West Virginia Robert Muise had reportedly approached the school board asking them to impose ID on their students to spur a legal battle. They declined. Defending Dover was riskier, however, because of all those pesky mentions of creationism from school board members. But that?s OK. Even if they lose, this matchup will serve as practice for the Thomas More Center. Of course that?s little consolation for the school board and Dover area taxpayers who may have to pay legal bills for the plaintiffs in excess of $1 million if they lose. By choosing the More center, the board had even waived their right to $100,000 in liability insurance. It could take until the end of the year for Jones to make his decision. But public opinion may weigh in first; most of the board members are up for reelection on Tuesday.

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube
Advertisement
Panasonic
Panasonic

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
LI-COR Biosciences
LI-COR Biosciences
Advertisement
PITTCON
PITTCON
Life Technologies