Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Can't make yourself look good? Then make someone else look bad!

It looks like American Enterprise has an article up regarding the Dover case that's pretty typical of the blame shifting and uninformed statements that generally plague ID supporters.

It starts off:
If the ACLU happens to sue your small hometown and then demands $1 million dollars for their lawyers, would you call them generous and charitable? Strangely enough, that's exactly what they’ve done to the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania.
Why is it that the religious right always try to villanize the ACLU? Furthermore, are they unaware that the ACLU cannot sue anyone? It is the parents that must file the suit and it's merely the ACLU that represents them. Also of note in this clip is that they say the ACLU is demanding $1 million for their lawyers. This is, as expected, a partial truth. The ACLU is requiring that the Dover School Board pay $1 million, which covers not only the lawyers' fees, but also the court costs. Furthermore, they're not demanding it. It's what they were awarded by the judge. Except that it's not. The judge in this case actually ordered that $2 million be paid for the fees, but the ACLU waived half of it. I'd call that generous.

Later on, the article continues:
The policy also required school administrators to read to students a statement mentioning problems with Darwin's theory and refers students to school library textbooks discussing the theory of intelligent design.
Again, a slanted view on the truth. The policy originally required teachers to read the statement. This was after the teachers had unanimously denounced the curriculum change. The reason administrators were going to read the statement was because the teachers "opted out" of reading the statement. The next part about "school library textbooks" is true on the surface, but readers would do well to remember that these books were specifically purchased for this curriculum change and were paid for by collecting donations at a Church of one of the school board members (who later lied on stand at the trial and said he did not know where the funding for them came from).
Ironically, the policy itself wasn’t favored by such leading proponents of intelligent design as the Discovery Institute, which opposes mandating the topic in public schools and repeatedly urged the Dover board to repeal its policy well before any lawsuit was filed.
This is a fairly popular claim, that the Discovery Institute was opposed to the Dover School Board's actions. However, the Discovery Institute actually encouraged the teaching of Intelligent Design there until they realized the school board had mangled their project.

From there, the article goes on to try to make a claim that the C.A.R.E.S. group that swept the elections, is somehow in cahoots with the ACLU, trying to make them money, because their first action wasn't to rescind the flawed policy which could result in the case settling out of court and potentially cost less money.

However, there's one major flaw in that argument: The trial ended in October, more than a full month before the first meeting of the new school board. All that was left was for the judge to issue his ruling. Thus, the chance that the school board could save much, if any, money for the school is questionable. Furthermore, if the ACLU is really as evil as the article tries to claim, settling out of court is no guarantee that any money could be saved, given that the ACLU could still demand the same amount for fees.

So overall, this article looks like another cheap conspiracy theory.

Lastly it ends with this wonderful logical fallacy:
over three quarters of [the public] want intelligent design taught alongside Darwinism in schools.
Can you say "argument ad populum"?

No comments: