Coppedge Seems Desperate to Settle

We have no reliable information about how negotiations are going in the case of 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. He used to work as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines [which was recently moved here].

The trial is scheduled to start on 14 December, which is only 18 days from now. If you haven’t been following the case, you can find some background information in this earlier post. Essentially, Coppedge had a ten-year history of harassing his fellow employees about creationism and other issues, before he was finally demoted and later let go in a downsizing. His case won’t be easy to win.

Our assumption that he’s desperate to settle comes from the latest public relations blast from the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

The Discoveroids’ post is Stand Up Now for David Coppedge’s Right to Speak about Intelligent Design! The title is flamingly ridiculous, as Coppedge remains free to speak. He continues to operate his creationist website, and he’s free to wear a sandwich board and go running down the street screaming about the wonders of creationism. But he’s no longer free to evangelize about creationism in the hallways of JPL. Anyway, here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Urgent Action Required: Contact the leaders of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and demand they make things right.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Right, all the brain-dead Discoveroid fans are going to read that and then pester JPL. That’ll have a big effect.

After that strident beginning, the Discoveroid article gives a totally one-sided description of the case, taken solely from Coppedge’s complaint. Their case description ends with this:

Rather than settle the case, the Jet Propulsion Lab has continued to wage legal war on David Coppedge — wasting precious taxpayer dollars in the process.

It’s all JPL’s fault. Don’t they realize that when a creationist files a suit they’re supposed to meekly cave in and settle? Who does JPL think they are? Do they imagine that they know more science than David Coppedge and a pack of Discoveroid creationists in Seattle?

After describing the case, and ignoring JPL’s defenses and evidence, the Discoveroid post returns to a tone of stridency, and to us it also seems tinged with a bit of desperation:

Your phone calls and emails are urgently needed to get NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to stop its discrimination against employees who think there is scientific evidence of intelligent design. Contact these JPL leaders right now and ask them to settle the Coppedge lawsuit and stop discriminating against employees who believe the universe was intelligently designed: [names, phone numbers, and email addresses omitted].

Now you see why we think the settlement negotiations aren’t going very well for Coppedge. The Discoveroid post ends with this:

Be respectful in your message, but indicate that as a taxpayer who ultimately pays for the budget of JPL, you think it’s wrong to use taxpayer resources to promote discrimination against intelligent design.

What do we make of it? We may be reading too much into things, but it looks to us as if Coppedge really doesn’t want this thing to go to trial. His lawyers know that JPL has a ton of evidence about his unwanted approaches to their people over a period of many years. JPL tolerated his behavior as long as they could. Then, after counseling him, all that happened was that he was demoted, with no reduction in compensation. So Coppedge sued over that. Later, when the big downsizing occurred, Coppedge was among those let go, and now he’s suing for that too. But it appears that his lawyers are starting to get worried about their chances at trial.

We’re only guessing that Coppedge’s case isn’t looking very good, but it does seem that he’s having trouble squeezing JPL for the hefty settlement that he (and his lawyers) have been hoping for. That would explain why the Discoveroids are trying to apply some political pressure, which is unlikely to accomplish anything.

Of course we could be all wrong. Maybe JPL is terrified and a big settlement is already in the works. If that’s true, the Discoveroids are just pretending to exert their non-existent influence so they can claim that they too were responsible for Coppedge’s settlement — or “victory” as they’ll describe it.

All we have to go on is the behavior of the Discoveroids, which certainly looks desperate to us. We’ll know soon enough. Stay tuned to this blog.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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3 responses to “Coppedge Seems Desperate to Settle

  1. Poor old Crowther, or Old Crow, doesn’t know very much about legal stuff. He probably learned everything from Luskin the Gerbil.

    Let’s see, who’s waging the war? That would be the plaintiff. Oh, that’s Coppedge! And the war is being waged against the defendant. Oh, that’s JPL. It seems that poor Old Crow has things totally backwards! It’s Coppedge waging the war against the JPL, not the other way around.

    What were Coppedge’s original demands? Now I remember, he wanted his old job back, his team leadership restored and total freedom to express his views in the workplace. I think the chances of that settlement happening are somewhat remote.

    It’s Coppedge who has forced the jury trial, not the JPL. The DI knows that a jury can’t be stacked with creationists, especially in California. Once a jury starts to get a sense of Coppedge’s campaign of harassment, hears his performance reviews (what employee wants those things made public?) and hears from his co-workers who undoubtedly will be called to testify, Coppedge is going to find himself very, very alone. High theater!

  2. It will also be very hard to make a case that he was demoted. A lead position is often simply a work assignment rather than a separate salary grade or formal job catagory. Most likely he had no change in pay or grade – he just had to attend fewer meetings. Selling that to a jury as a demotion worthy of a lawsuit will be difficult. Basically his pride was hurt.

  3. “We have no reliable information about how negotiations are going in the case….”

    At least that line was honest 😛