We’re still waiting for the judge’s decision in the trial of the suit filed by David Coppedge, the creationist who claims he was wrongfully demoted and later fired by his employer because he was promoting Intelligent Design (ID) on the job. As you recall, he used to work as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is part of Caltech. He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines — which was recently moved here.
Our last post on this topic was David Coppedge Trial: JPL’s Defense Brief. That tells you all you need to know at this point, but whenever a news article appears, we take a look at it.
In our humble opinion the press coverage of this controversy has been almost entirely inaccurate, repeating the standard misinformation that Coppedge worked for NASA (he didn’t), that the trial was about intelligent design (it wasn’t — Coppedge’s DVDs were excluded from the trial), and that Coppedge was some kind of scientist (he wasn’t) involved in exploring Saturn and its moons (he explored nothing — his job was to maintain JPL’s computer networks). [Addendum: Becker says the DVDs weren't excluded.]
Despite the media’s dismal performance, we can’t help looking for news stories. What we found today is no exception to what we’ve seen before, but it’s worth a look anyway. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Fired JPL worker seeks $1.36M, which appears in the Pasadena Sun located in La Cañada Flintridge, California — where JPL is located. The bold font was added by us:
A man claiming he lost his job at Jet Propulsion Laboratory because he voiced support for the theory of intelligent design of the universe is seeking $1.36 million from the NASA lab, according to court papers filed as the case winds down.
Coppedge wants $1.36 million. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! And observe that this reporter still gives the impression that the claim is against NASA. They just can’t get that out of their heads. Ah well, let’s continue:
David Coppedge, a former lead systems administrator on the Cassini project to Saturn, is seeking $860,000 for lost wages and $500,000 for emotional distress damages.
There’s another unfortunately common press error. They refer to Coppedge as “a former lead systems administrator on the Cassini project to Saturn.” That wording is grotesquely misleading. They write about the guy as if he were Wernher von Braun. The truth is somewhat different. Coppedge had (and then lost) what was little more than an honorary title of “team lead,” but it was in his role as a computer technician. He maintained computer networks for the Cassini project, and the same task could have been performed for a chain of fast food restaurants. As far as his computer work was concerned, Saturn could have been a pizza topping instead of a planet. Let’s read on:
At trial in March and April, attorneys for Coppedge claimed his discussions of intelligent design with co-workers led to discipline that improperly curtailed his speech rights and amounted to religious discrimination.
Yes, so they claimed. We continue:
JPL attorneys, in a final round of briefs filed to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige in May, say Coppedge was a problem employee who failed to prove his case at trial and is entitled to no compensation.
M’god — a reporter read one of the pleadings! Here’s more:
[Judge] Hiroshige is expected to issue a ruling by June 8.
Aha, that’s news! It may or my not be accurate, but it’s something we hadn’t heard before.
The rest of the article is stuff we already know, but go ahead and read it if you need a refresher. We did, and we’ve learned two things: (1) The press is still confused about what Coppedge’s job was and who he’s suing. (2) We may get a decision as early as next Friday.
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