Friday, January 28, 2011


The Law of Comedy

PZ Myearshertz has already rained justifiable scorn on Tom Ritter's claims about evolution and his suit against the Blue Mt. School District.

Curious, I got a copy of the complaint. Unlike some creationists, he was admirably brief. His entire complaint reads as follows:

1. The Plaintiff is Thomas J. Ritter, Jr., an adult individual residing at [address omitted to protect the loony].

2. The Defendant is The Blue Mountain School District, 685 Red Dale Rd., Orwigsburg, PA 17961.

3. Logically, The Blue Mt. School District does teach that evolution without the possibility of a Creator is the only explanation for the existence of life.

(The Blue Mt. SD does teach evolution. See BMHS biology teacher Anne Creyer's website @
Kitzmiller v Dover SD forbids any teaching of evolution that includes a Creator: "ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause of... the Constitution".-ID is Intelligent Design).

5. This teaching in unscientific.

6. This teaching is actually Atheism (no Creator = no God).

7. Objectively, Atheism is a religion, albeit a silly and unscientific one.

8. This is like teaching Jesus is Lord.

9. Defendant wants to tax Plaintiff to support its scheme. (See exhibit A)

10. Plaintiff does object to supporting this scheme in any way.

Wherefore, Plaintiff does ask this honorable Court to find the Blue Mt. School District is an illegal body so long as it teaches Atheism, and is thus not entitled to pursue any further actions.

And Colleen Hoptak, the District's tax collector, be enjoined from collecting any /taxes until the District is again legal.
I wouldn't exactly call it the soul of wit, but it packs a lot of humor into a small package.

Federal courts have already addressed Ritter's claim, in a slightly different context, in Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District. There, the plaintiff, a public high school biology teacher, alleged, among other things, that he was being forced by the school district to "proselytize" his students in a belief in "evolutionism" "under the guise of [its being] a valid scientific theory." According to Peloza "evolutionism" is an historical, philosophical and religious belief system, based on the assumption that life and the universe evolved randomly and by chance and with no Creator involved, but is not a valid scientific theory.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals swatted this claim like a fly, quoting the District Court with approval:

Since the evolutionist theory is not a religion, to require an instructor to teach this theory is not a violation of the Establishment Clause.... Evolution is a scientific theory based on the gathering and studying of data, and modification of new data. It is an established scientific theory which is used as the basis for many areas of science. As scientific methods advance and become more accurate, the scientific community will revise the accepted theory to a more accurate explanation of life's origins. Plaintiffs assertions that the teaching of evolution would be a violation of the Establishment Clause is unfounded.
The Supreme Court denied certiorari, which is not as good as an affirmance, but indicates that it considered the issues and found no reason to disturb the Circuit Court's ruling.

Oh, in case you didn't figure it out yet, Ritter is appearing pro se. Fools as clients indeed.

These people never learn do they? But then I suppose that's why they are creationists. How far is this suit likely to get, do you think?
I would be rather amazed if the case got beyond a motion to dismiss in lieu of answer ... that is, that the court doesn't grant judgment to the defendant just on the face of the complaint.
Has someone let the TMLC know this guy needs their help? I figure the more of such nuts' money goes on a case like this the better.
The fallacy of excluding the middle as usual. Evolution HAS to equal atheism and never mind those believers who don't think their god interferes with scientific investigation of the natural world. They're not true Scotsman.
FYI - There are nine local tax collectors employed by the Blue Mountain School District - one for each of the municipalities that comprise the district. Mrs. Hoptak is just one of the nine.
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