James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett (15 Jul ’09)

YOU remember James Corbett, the California teacher whose classroom remarks that creationism is “superstitious nonsense” were ruled to have violated the Constitution’s establishment clause. Our last post on this topic was here: My Defense, by James Corbett.

We now have some news on this subject. In the Orange County Register we read No injunction against teacher who insulted Christians, judge rules, subtitled: “Judge says no special measure needed to ensure James Corbett follows law.” Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

A federal judge today denied a request by a Mission Viejo high school student to legally prohibit the student’s former history teacher from disparaging religion during classroom lectures.

This is confusing. We thought the case was over, except for motions about legal fees, and then a possible appeal. Let’s read on:

Chad Farnan, a 17-year-old senior at Capistrano Valley High School, had sought a court injunction against Advanced Placement European history teacher James Corbett, to bar the 20-year educator from “expressing any disapproval of religion while acting in his official capacity as a public school employee.”

Corbett, 62, was found to have violated the First Amendment in May when he was recorded by Farnan referring to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a fall 2007 lecture.

That kid, no doubt, has a brilliant future. We continue:

Farnan’s attorney, Jennifer Monk, argued during a 25-minute hearing today that if Farnan wanted to take either AP European history or AP art history during the upcoming school year, he would need to take those courses with Corbett, the only instructor at Capistrano Valley High to teach the classes.

The judge ruled that the proposed injunction was “overbroad” and might have a “chilling effect” on Corbett’s ability to discuss religion.

Okay, we get it. The kid wanted an injunction against Corbett just in case he might decide to take Corbett’s class when the new academic year begins. Uh … that sounds like flimsy grounds for an injunction. Here’s more:

“We have nothing of record to support that he has contemplated or intends to pursue any classes,” [Judge] Selna said. “Without that fact, it’s too speculative to warrant an injunction.”

The kid — whom we nominate for “Future Theocrats of America,” wasn’t even signed up for the class, but still he wanted to control how it’ll be taught. Moving along:

The request for the injunction was one of two issues discussed today in the wake of Selna’s high-profile May 1 ruling against Corbett.

The judge also declined a motion from Corbett’s attorney seeking to shield the teacher from financial liability under a qualified immunity defense. [Judge] Selna said he was dismissing the motion on a technicality, adding he would reconsider it if it were re-filed.

Qualified immunity is a form of federal protection that shields government employees from liability when they are found to have violated an individual’s constitutional rights. Corbett’s attorney, Dan Spradlin, said he would re-file his motion in two weeks.

So it’s still not over. Another excerpt:

If Corbett is granted qualified immunity, it could have an impact on the awarding of attorneys’ fees to Advocates for Faith & Freedom, the Murietta-based Christian legal group representing Farnan. Monk said she does not know yet how much she will ask for, noting her law firm’s legal bill on this case is still running.

Oh yeah. It’s important to know if these people can make a lucrative career out of harassing teachers. If the judge gives her a big fee, it’ll open the floodgates. In effect, the result will be a new Inquisition, funded by the victims. On with the article:

Farnan attended today’s hearing with his parents and his sister, who all sat quietly in the audience. Corbett did not attend.

There’s more to the article, and this case will have ramifications far beyond its effect on Corbett. Click over to the Orange County Register and read it all.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett (15 Jul ’09)

  1. Am I the only one who thinks that calling creationism “superstitious nonsense” is more likely to promote it than discredit it?

  2. Yeah, you’re the only one.

  3. “That kid, no doubt, has a brilliant figure. We continue:”

    Should that be ‘future’, not figure?

    Frank, making a link between creationism and superstitious nonsense may lead more people to consider the relationship, but there are times when not all press is good press and this is one of them.

    It would be very useful if the public saw, heard or thought the word creationism and the first thing that came to mind is superstitious nonsense.

  4. Tundra Boy says: “Should that be ‘future’, not figure?”

    My worst typo ever! All fixed now. Thanks.

  5. b sharp wrote: “It would be very useful if the public saw, heard or thought the word creationism and the first thing that came to mind is superstitious nonsense.”

    While many students uncritically accept anything a teacher says, a lot react the opposite, especially if they dislike the teacher for teaching a subject they find to difficult. I admit basing my speculation in part on my own experience, which I also admit may not be representative. My high school biology teacher was very uninspiring. I don’t recall him ever discussing evolution (though I had heard about it earlier). Had he called evolution “atheistic nonsense” it would have motivated me to seek out anything I could to prove him wrong.