Klinghoffer: Coppedge News Blackout Conspiracy!

OUR last update was here: David Coppedge vs. JPL (21 Apr 2010). Regular readers can skip the background material in these three indented paragraphs:

This is about a suit by a creationist, David Coppedge, who claims he was wrongfully demoted by his employer because he was promoting Intelligent Design (ID) on the job. He works for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines.

This is a big case for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). They’re trying to establish some new kind constitutional right — an employee’s “freedom to promote creationism” in the workplace. One of their top legal talents, Discoveroid Casey Luskin, is advising the lawyer for Coppedge.

To promote the issue, the Discoveroids are waging a public relations campaign which we described here: The Coppedge Case: A Study in Tactics and Strategy. They’ve set up a page devoted to this case: Background on David Coppedge and the Lawsuit Against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Discoveroid publicity blitz is apparently a big disappointment to the creationist puppet masters in Seattle. Now the Discoveroid blog has an article complaining about the fact that no one seems to care about David Coppedge. The article is by David Klinghoffer. Who’s he? Most of you know, so you can skip this indented paragraph:

David Klinghoffer, is a “Senior Fellow” (i.e., full-blown creationist) among the Discoveroids. He has written a series of essays attempting to link Charles Darwin to: Hitler, and communism, and Stalin, and the Columbine shootings, and Charles Manson, and Holocaust Museum shooter, James von Brunn, and the Ft. Hood Massacre, and Mao Tse-tung, and Dr. Josef Mengele, Angel of Death and “Devotee of Darwin”, and most recently Darwin at the Mountains of Madness: Evolution & the Occult.

Okay, that’s enough background. Here are a few excerpts from Klinghoffer’s Discoveroid post, Why David Coppedge’s Story Isn’t Being Told, with bold font added by us:

[H]uman beings are incorrigible storytellers, and information that doesn’t fit our story tends to get ignored. This may explain why news venues have so far mostly declined to report on what happened to David Coppedge.

He is a top-level computer specialist on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Cassini mission to Saturn whose supervisors demoted and humiliated him for raising scientific issues about intelligent design. Last week he sued in the Superior Court of the State of California, complaining of religious discrimination, harassment, and wrongful demotion. Sounds like a news story, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it’s a news story, but it’s of interest only to those who follow the peculiar activities of the Discoveroids. That’s exactly how we’ve treated it. Let’s read on:

Intelligent design isn’t religion, but Coppedge’s supervisor, Gregory Chin, harangued him for “pushing religion” after Coppedge merely offered apparently interested colleagues DVDs of two documentaries on ID, Privileged Planet and Unlocking the Mystery of Life. Coppedge had every reason to think the films related to his work at JPL. Part of Caltech and operated under a contract with NASA, JPL has a longstanding program called Origins that seeks information on the origin of life on earth and hypothetically on other planets.

Let’s not waste time with Klinghoffer’s claim that ID isn’t religion. Experts for ID testified about that in the Kitzmiller case in Dover, Pennsylvania, and they weren’t terribly persuasive.

More interesting is Klinghoffer’s suggestion that Coppedge thought that JPL’s origins research was somehow part of his job. We’ve been told by someone who used to work at JPL that Coppedge was the guy who changed the computer tapes. We don’t know that, of course, but we haven’t heard that he was employed as a scientist whose job was researching planetary origins. These details will come out in the litigation, unless the case is dismissed along the way.

Let’s continue with Klinghoffer’s whine about the lack of publicity:

Anyway, here we have government and government-contracted agencies, NASA and JPL, denying constitutional rights to a citizen, punishing and humiliating him for exercising his right to free speech.

JPL isn’t the government. We didn’t find it listed as a California corporation, but we assume it’s incorporated somewhere. If it’s federally chartered, like the Boy Scouts or a bank, that doesn’t make it a government agency. Whatever it is — even if it’s an unincorporated part of Caltech or NASA — it’s not the government, and therefore we’re pretty sure it’s not restricted by the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The feds can’t censor a newspaper, but your employer can decide what you’re allowed to say and do on the job. Here’s more:

Yet the story as of yet has merited no significant attention from any prominent local or national news source. Why not? Well, obviously because this isn’t a story that fits the larger narrative as favored in prestige circles like those of the media. In that favored narrative, it’s always Darwinists, never Darwin doubters, who fall afoul of censors, persecuted by powerful forces in academia arrayed against orthodox evolutionary theory. Yeah, you know those powerful forces. They’re over there, in a shoebox under the bed.

Amazing, isn’t it? Besides harboring fantasies about their magic Designer who does what natural selection is otherwise capable of doing, there’s also a magic “media narrative” that’s “arrayed against orthodox evolutionary theory.” Actually, there is a magical narrative out there, but it’s quite the opposite of Klinghoffer’s fantasy. It’s the creationist narrative of martyrdom. You can find it in Ben Stein’s “Expelled.”

Klinghoffer than weaves all of creationism’s woes into some kind of sob story about a Darwinist conspiracy, and he ends his rant like this:

I’m not saying anyone was being dishonest, not in any of these instances. The stories we tell ourselves, if they’re false, actually deafen us. A deaf person can’t be blamed for not hearing. Most Darwinists couldn’t hear the truth if it was blown like a whistle right their face.

Really, that’s how the article ends. Upon mulling it over, we see some good coming from this Coppedge case. So far, at least, it’s driving the creationists over the edge. Stay tuned to this blog; we suspect the amusement has only begun.

[Next update: See David Coppedge vs. JPL (25 Apr 2010).]

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Klinghoffer: Coppedge News Blackout Conspiracy!

  1. “A deaf person can’t be blamed for not hearing.”

    I can personally attest to that. But apparently Klinghoffer is not aware that we (and most “Darwinists” as well) are very capable of reading – like reading the EVIDENCE. Typical of Klinghoffer and creationists in general not to be able hear (or read) the EVIDENCE when it is blown like a whistle right in their face.

  2. Keelyn says:

    But apparently Klinghoffer is not aware that we (and most “Darwinists” as well) are very capable of reading …

    Klinghoffer would say that you’re blinded by your presuppositions. You know, that pesky stuff like reason.

  3. Well, some are being dishonest. Regardless of the merits or lack thereof in their discrimination suit, the usual suspects are spinning their usual dishonest stories.

    Just suppose Coppedge won his suit. Then it’d be newsworthy. Until then, it’s just a bunch of dishonest spinners disgorging the usual dishonest spin.

  4. Here’s a bit on JPL and its relationship to the government:

    The 9th Circuit’s decision comes two days after Wright said in a four-page ruling that the scientists failed to show any constitutional violations on the part of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena because it is a private — not a government — entity.

    Caltech manages JPL for NASA, the nation’s space agency.

    More at:


    I don’t know what JPL’s status is, actually, but apparently the fact that it is run by Caltech puts much of what it does into the category of “private.” Since the case in the link is specifically about employment, it is hard to see how this case would come out much differently, or in favor of the IDiots.

  5. JPL is NASA’s only Federally Funded Research and Development Center
    (FFRDC) and is operated under contract by Caltech. JPL is NASA’s
    field installation for solar system exploration and is a major
    operating division of Caltech. Together, these overlapping roles
    contribute to unique JPL management and oversight challenges.
    FFRDCs are operated under agreements funded by sponsoring federal
    agencies to provide for research or development needs that cannot
    readily be met by the agencies or contractors. JPL work is primarily
    funded by NASA; however, other sponsors can fund JPL efforts under
    reimbursable arrangements with NASA. JPL’s total 1994 business base
    was just over $1 billion.
    JPL receives work projects directly from NASA program offices. It
    can also submit proposals to, or respond to non-competitive requests
    from, other work sponsors using up to 25 percent of the JPL direct
    workforce. Both the NASA-directed work and the non-NASA work must be
    determined to be appropriate for JPL to perform based on the scope of
    the sponsoring contract. Caltech has operated JPL for NASA since
    NASA became an agency in 1958 and conducted work at the same site for
    other federal entities as early as the 1930s. The current contract
    is in effect from September 20, 1993, to September 30, 1998.



    It looks complicated, in fact, where legalities are concerned.

    Klinghoffer would say that you’re blinded by your presuppositions. You know, that pesky stuff like reason.

    Oh yeah, and demanding evidence where religion expressly states that it isn’t necessary. How can anyone demand evidence where none is in fact needed, other than “it looks designed to me” (where “me” is a person thoroughly propagandized to believe that function = design)?

    BTW, Klinghoffer has apparently chosen to write on the DI’s blog, where comments can’t be made, rather than at his site, where he allowed comments but could never (intellectually) honestly respond to them.

  6. Glen Davidson says:

    JPL is NASA’s only Federally Funded Research and Development Center
    (FFRDC) and is operated under contract by Caltech.

    I found a lot of that information, but nothing about its status as a legal entity. Doesn’t matter, really. It’s extremely unlikely that Coppedge can prevail on his free speech claim.

    Addendum: I looked at the Coppedge complaint drafted by the team of Becker (and presumably Luskin). Such documents usually say something like: “Defendant, XYZ Corp, is a Delaware corporation.” Here’s what the Coppedge complaint says:

    2. Defendant, JET PROPULSION LABORATORY (hereinafter “JPL”), is an
    operating division of the California Institute of Technology (“Caltech”). JPL is operated entirely by Caltech pursuant to a contract with NASA. The exact name and business form of JPL will be the subject of discovery.

    So they don’t even know.

  7. Two things:

    I don’t know what JPL’s status is, actually, but apparently the fact that it is run by Caltech puts much of what it does into the category of “private.”

    Careful. Private entities that derive revenue from government contracts have to meet very specific requirements regarding non-discrimination and religion is one of those protected categories. It has been a number of years since I managed a workforce, so the details are eluding me beyond what I said above.

    H]uman beings are incorrigible storytellers, and information that doesn’t fit our story tends to get ignored.

    Could Klinghoffer be on the verge of an important realization about the whole ID enterprise?


  8. OH NOES!!!! Media blackout??? Someone call the Waahmbulance!!!!

  9. LRA says: “OH NOES!!!! Media blackout???”

    Just a small hint of the Curmudgeon’s powers.