Monday, January 21, 2013


Of Scoundrels and Flags

Usually, I find David Klinghoffer's lucubrations amusing in their naïveté and transparency, as in these examples here and here.

However, now he has declared himself. As Dr. Johnson said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." It follows that wrapping yourself in the mantle of Dr. Martin Luther King is the last refuge of scoundrels who would deny our Constitutional rights; in this case, the right to be free of government imposition of religious beliefs.

But claiming the legacy of Dr. King is just what the scoundrel David Klinghoffer would do:
The mission of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sounds very commendable, and worthy of a nod on Martin Luther King Day. After all, the whole cause of civil rights that Dr. King stood for is about protecting the freedom to believe, and to be, as you are, safe from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination. Americans United, or AU, focuses on the religious aspect of civil liberties, protecting religion from the state and vice versa, safeguarding freedom of conscience and conviction.

Or anyway, that's the idea in theory.

Meet Cecil R. Phillips, a retired engineer in Louisiana who fell afoul of his local chapter of AU and found himself summarily barred from future meetings, his membership in AU rescinded and membership fee returned. What did he do to merit this treatment?
Well, supposedly, Phillips, (an engineer ... Salem Hypothesis anyone?) voiced his "doubts" about the "standard Darwinian story" in a local chapter meeting of AU in October and that lead to his expulsion from AU.

Well, not quite! As Barbara Forrest demonstrates in detail, Phillips is, in fact, a very vocal advocate for ID in Louisiana with strong ties to the Discovery [sic] Institute.

So, Klinghoffer's characterization of Phillips as a very mild-mannered, soft-spoken and hardly threatening guy, is, at the very least, disingenuous. Worse is Klinghoffer's claim that Phillips' expulsion is "a civil-rights issue as much as it is a scientific one."

AU is a private organization, like the NAACP. AU has taken a strong position that ID is an attempt to inject religion into taxpayer-supported schools in clear violation of the First Amendment. The DI has the right to dispute that position, no matter how naïvely and transparently they go about it, but Phillips has no right to belong to AU while denying a fundamental tenant tenet of the organization. Nor does AU have to allow Phillips access to its organization merely because he claims that ID is science instead of religion, anymore than the NAACP has to admit KKK members simply because they claim that the KKK isn't a hate group and only wants to see good things come to the white race.

Klinghoffer does return to his normal naïveté and transparency when he likens Phillips situation with that of David Coppedge:
Coppedge and his attorney cast the case in terms of religious-viewpoint discrimination. That was because JPL, like Americans United, can't make the proper distinction between intelligent design and religion.
No, they cast it those terms precisely because the only way that the science of evolution could be "a civil-rights issue" is if anti-evolution is a religious position deserving protection under the First Amendment. But the Supreme Court has already decided that teaching science is not a an attack on religion by the government and is, therefore, permissible.

In any event, the DI, with Klinghoffer prominently represented, has repeatedly demonstrated that neither it nor its supporters can distinguish ID from religion.

So if, in fact, the AU "expelled" Phillips, it was for the very good reason that he denied, and actively worked against, the positions and goals of the organization he joined under false pretenses.

Photo "borrowed" from Exploring Our Matrix

I suppose, theoretically, that someone in favor of intelligent design could also be a member of AU. But that would mean they believe ID to be a religious idea, and not science.
I suppose, theoretically, that someone in favor of intelligent design could also be a member of AU.

Sure. There is nothing about AU that prevents theists from being members. In fact, Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. What you can't be is someone who wants ID or (as Klinghoffer calls it) "its close relative the scientific critique of Darwinian evolution," to be taught in public schools in violation of the First Amendment.
You mean "fundamental tenet".
You mean "fundamental tenet".

No, I meant a paying resident ...

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