Day three dawns on the trial of the case 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.
The last time we posted a lot of background information was here: Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: Pre-Trial Perspective. That’s where to go if you need to catch up. But for most of you, we can just continue with the dreary saga of what should never been more than a routine employee discipline case, but which Coppedge and his lawyers are trying to turn into an epic drama about the clash of worldviews between science and … whatever it is that goes on inside the brains of people like David Coppedge.
We’ve already commented on the incompetent, inaccurate, wretchedly one-sided press coverage of this case so far, with virtually all media relying almost entirely on press releases and statements from the Coppedge team and their creationist allies. But now we’re detecting a subtle shift in the news stories. Some of the reporters are dimly sensing that JPL-Caltech is also a party to this case, and their role is not to passively play the part of Darth Vader. They too have a story to tell, with actual witnesses and documentation.
This shocking revelation hasn’t yet penetrated most of the media — who like to have their stories written for them — but a few are starting to figure it out. So when the Coppedge team isn’t telling their tale of woe to the world, some reporters are listening to the other side. Hey, journalists — this isn’t that difficult! It’s like a baseball game — there are two teams, and they each get to take turns. Even if all you know is from the press kits handed out by one of them, you’ve got no choice but to sit there while the other team takes its turn.
Here’s an example of what we’re seeing this morning: In the Burbank Leader we read JPL employee wasn’t fired over religious beliefs, lawyer says.
[A]ttorneys for JPL said in court Tuesday that Coppedge had a history of complaints against him. He was one of roughly 200 JPL workers who were laid off amid steep funding cuts and as NASA started winding down the Cassini project.
Representing JPL, James Zapp said in court that Coppedge was his own worst enemy, and saw himself as the victim of a “war against intelligent design,” starting in 2009 when one of Coppedge’s co-workers filed a harassment complaint against him for requesting she change the “holiday” potluck to the “Christmas” potluck.
More than 15 people had complained to Coppedge’s supervisors over the years about his customer service, saying he was stubborn and hard to deal with, Zapp added. Administrators repeatedly told Coppedge the issue was how he was interacting with people, not what he was saying, Zapp said.
None of this is news to us, dear reader. We’ve been discussing these things for at least a year, because they’re disclosed in the court pleadings filed by the parties. But until now, the press coverage of the case has been totally dominated by the Coppedge team as they cater to the inherent laziness of the press who are all too willing to accept whatever is handed to them. Now, finally, with the trial underway, the media have little choice but to pay attention as each party gets a chance to tell its side of the case.
We could rave on for pages about the press, but it’s best that we stop here. Now that the case has begun, perhaps the public relations efforts of the creationists will have a smaller effect, and the facts of the case will dominate the news. We shall see.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.