Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Seduced and Abandoned . . . Redux

I’m with Ken Miller: "I’m really enjoying this."

The Thomas More Center, seeming to sense the iceberg looming out of the darkness ahead of the good ship Dover [1], may be practicing its lifeboat drills . . . err . . . preparing its exit strategy from its role as defender of Intelligent Design in public schools.

It seems that all is not well in Designland. At a forum titled "Science Wars" sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, the Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, Richard Thompson, who has been leading the defense of the Dover Pennsylvania School Board in the suit claiming that its policy to introduce ID to biology students is unconstitutional, had the following to say about the Big Kahuna of the movement, the Discovery Institute:

They wrote a book, titled "Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula." The conclusion of that book was that, um:

"Moreover, as the previous discussion demonstrates, school boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution -- and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design." ...and I could go further. But, you had Discovery Institute people actually encouraging the teaching of intelligent design in public school systems. Now, whether they wanted the school boards to teach intelligent design or mention it, certainly when you start putting it in writing, that writing does have consequences.

In fact, several of the members, including Steve Meyer, agreed to be expert witnesses, also prepared expert witness reports, then all at once decided that they weren't going to become expert witnesses, at a time after the closure of the time we could add new expert witnesses. So it did have a strategic impact on the way we could present the case, cause they backed out, when the court no longer allowed us to add new expert witnesses, which we could have done.

Now, Stephen Meyer, you know, wanted his attorney there, we said because he was an officer of the Discovery Institute, he certainly could have his attorney there. But the other experts wanted to have attorneys, that they were going to consult with, as objections were made, and not with us. And no other expert that was in the Dover case, and I'm talking about the plaintiffs, had any attorney representing them.

So that caused us some concern about exactly where was the heart of the Discovery Institute. Was it really something of a tactical decision, was it this strategy that they've been using, in I guess Ohio and other places, where they've pushed school boards to go in with intelligent design, and as soon as there's a controversy, they back off with a compromise. And I think what was victimized by this strategy was the Dover school board, because we could not present the expert testimony we thought we could present.

Basically, the More Center is finally catching up to the Discovery Institute in the blame game. The DI has been preparing the way for laying any bad result in the case at the doorstep of the Board and, by extension, the More Center. The More Center now appears to be ramping up a charge of cowardliness or even Quislingism against the DI. We can only hope it gets better as time goes on.
Of course, the More Center can’t convincingly play the naïf in this drama. No matter what private advice the DI gave the Board leading up to the lawsuit, it was publicly on record within days of the commencement of the action as opposing the Board’s policy and recommending its withdrawal. The More Center lawyers were certainly on notice that the DI might be less than enthusiastic participants. And it shouldn’t have taken any particular legal acumen to see that the parade of board members they were obliged to put on the stand would wind up embarrassed, at least, if not indicted for perjury. And yet, the More Center lawyers apparently encouraged the Board in its pursuit of its policy. [2]
The last-minute withdrawals of DI witnesses was dirty pool but, as the saw goes: ‘Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.’
[1] I was toying with comparing this affair to stressed-out rats eating their young like they were pizzas . . . but, to my surprise, I do have some shame left.
[2] William Buckingham testified that it was the self-same Richard Thompson who was the one who recommended Of Pandas and People to him as a textbook on ID.

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