Friday, August 19, 2011

Worst Reasoning I've Heard In A Long Time From A US Appeals Court

Usually, when a court issues a ruling I disagree with, I can understand their reasoning. Of course I don't agree with the reasoning if I don't agree with the ruling, but usually I can understand their reasoning.

That is not the case with this 9th Circuit (who else?!) ruling. I'm of two minds about the ruling, leaning towards supporting it, but the reasoning behind it is that of a junior high schooler:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned a lower court ruling. The lower court said the Mission Viejo teacher's disparaging of creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense" violated a ban of governmental hostility toward religion.

The appeals court refused to address the constitutionality of the comments. Instead, it said Capistrano Valley High School teacher James Corbett is protected from such lawsuits because the instructor had a reasonable belief such comments were acceptable in an advanced placement European history class. (boldface mine--Darren)
"I don't like dark-skinned people."
"The teacher is protected from racial discrimination lawsuits because he/she had a reasonable belief that such comments were acceptable in an upscale suburban area in a class of white kids."

Yes, that's what I'm getting out of this case.


Peter Reilly said...

Here is a link to the full text. I think it might be a little more complicated than the summary in the article.

I think the most interesting thing is that the kid or his parents never spoke to the teacher. He just pulled out of the class and sued.

Apparently the remark about creationism came about when he was discussing a lawsuit from 20 years before by someone who was teaching creationism.

Anonymous said...

You should try it and see how it goes.

Darren said...

Somehow I don't think "it goes" for someone with the "wrong" viewpoints, which is part of what makes this ruling (as reported) so bad.

maxutils said...

I was always taught that teachers should not (or must not) advocate a political agenda in class . . . when teaching economics, this is particularly difficult due to the fact that economic theory almost always aligns itself withone party or the other's views. Republican, more often than not, but not always. Sometimes, neither. I always made a point at the beginning of the year to let the students know that this would happen, and that the policy/theory came first and its alignment with aparty platform was coincidental. It strikes me that this teachers comment would be improper regardless of the class; even in a biology class when studying evolution.

Peter Reilly said...

I do think it must be very hard to talk about modern european intellectual history without offending someone. Patricularly if are trying to make it interesting for adolescents.

The fact that they went straight to court (unless I misread the case) indicates something odd to me.

Colin Davies said...

Maxutils: "the policy/theory came first and its alignment with aparty platform was coincidental."

It's not coincidental. Politicians cherry-pick economic theories to support their ideologies. And the economists craft their theories to support their ideologies. Paul Krugman is a prime example of the latter case.

maxutils said...

Colin, I don't disagree with you. But that's not how I teach MY class.