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Dover Watch - Buckingham Caught in Lie
2005.10.28 (Fri) 21:12
You know, we would have loved to say "we told you so" when we read the news that William Buckingham, the apparent senior moron for the Dover School Board, had to contradict his own sworn deposition from earlier this year, in which he had claimed that he never referred to creationism or religion in his bid to shove evolution aside in favor of intelligent design. But quite frankly, it was so obvious that this was coming that we can't even get excited by it.
What was reported way back in June 2004 when this all started? Well, the York Dispatch had this to say on June 15, 2004:
Opponents' position: William Buckingham, a board member and head of the curriculum committee, who brought up the issue last week, stood by his opposition to the [teachers' recommended biology] book and the separation of church and state.
"Nearly 2,000 years ago someone died on a cross for us; shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for him?" he asked.
Board members Alan Bonsell and Noel Wenrich agreed with Buckingham, saying creationism should be taught to balance evolution.
Buckingham apologized for offending any teachers or residents of the community with his remarks but was unapologetic about his belief that the country was founded on Christianity and not other religions and that a "liberal agenda was chipping away at the rights of Christians in this country."
His remarks were echoed by his wife, Charlotte Buckingham, who said that teaching evolution was in direct opposition to God's teachings and that the people of Dover could not in good conscience allow the district to teach anything but creationism.
Pretty straightforward, isn't it? And what was the story from the School Board in January in their deposition? Again, the York Dispatch fills us in:
Attorney Eric Rothschild of the Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton said the decision not to seek the restraining order came because of what was said in depositions this week by school officials, who were questioned about the origin of the curriculum change and statements by board members that were religious in nature.
Rothschild said that during those depositions Monday, district officials said they either had no memory of statements that were reported in The York Dispatch and York Daily Record during June 2004, or flatly denied that they were made.
Those who disputed the statements were: board president Sheila Harkins, former board president Alan Bonsell, former curriculum committee chair William Buckingham and superintendent Richard Nilsen.
For example, as reported on June 15, 2004, by The York Dispatch and by the York Daily Record, Buckingham said "Nearly 2,000 years ago someone died on a cross for us; shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for him?" at a June 14 school board meeting.
Buckingham's denial: Buckingham said he never made that statement in reference to the evolution debate, but in reference to a resolution the board passed to support the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance in November 2003. His testimony was supported by that of Sheila Harkins.
However, the school officials also said that they had never asked the local papers to retract or correct any reports made.
To anyone with even a modicum of intelligence, the "we were taken out of context" argument is pure nonsense. First of all, the people echoing Buckingham's remarks (like his wife) are quite clearly talking about evolution — not the pledge. In addition, the very fact that Christian dogma entered into a discussion about public school curricula at all is damning in and of itself. As we said in January:
It is becoming increasingly obvious why the Discovery Institute is distancing itself from Dover — not only do they have a weak case, they appear to be assholes whose cover stories are about as well-formed as those of a three year old caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Well, the plaintiffs called Willie Buckingham to the stand this week, and what happened? From MSNBC (thanks to Ed Brayton for the link):
A former school board member who denied advocating that creationism be taught alongside evolution in high-school biology classes changed his story Thursday, after lawyers in a federal courtroom played a TV news clip that recorded him making such a comment.
William Buckingham explained the discrepancy by saying that he "misspoke."
Buckingham, who led the board's curriculum committee when it approved the policy a year ago, confirmed Thursday that he said during a June 2004 board meeting that the biology textbook is "laced with Darwinism." The clip that was shown later in the day came from an interview that he gave to a news crew from WPMT-TV in York later in the month.
"It's OK to teach Darwin," he said in the interview, "but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism."
Oops. Not only did lots of people hear this moron spouting his Christian bullshit in the board meeting, not only did the two local papers report what he had said, he also appeared on television saying the same thing. Seriously, how fucking stupid is this guy?
What defense did he offer for the words he now (finally) admits he said?
Asked to explain by a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Buckingham said he felt "ambushed" by the camera crew as he walked across a parking lot to his car and that he had been consciously trying to avoid mentioning creationism.
"I had it in my mind to make sure not to talk about creationism. I had it on my mind. I was like a deer in the headlights. I misspoke," he told U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who is presiding over the non-jury trial.
Ah, so he admits that he was thinking about creationism when he came up with his plan, and that he was trying to refrain from mentioning it. Gee, Willie, if you have to struggle so hard to avoid using the term "creationism," what does that suggest? First, that the creationism on your brain was your motivation for trying to shove intelligent design bullshit down your students' throats. Second, you damn well knew that what you were trying to do is illegal, so you tried to hide your true motives. And third, you're a moron of incalculable magnitude if you managed to erupt in this full-tilt super-Christy Christian diatribe while trying to avoid even the merest mention of creationism. Hell, that was the word you used most frequently throughout the meeting, by all accounts! And we thought Jesus didn't like liars.
For those wishing to follow the trial (as we have been doing), we recommend checking in often with the Panda's Thumb for updates. Ed Brayton and PZ Myers can be counted on for in-depth analysis on their own sites as well. Us? We'll be choking back our own bilious vomit as we watch these idiots continue to march headlong into stupidity.
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In case you missed them, read our other Rants on Dover.
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[ Filed under: % Civil Liberties % Creationism % Greatest Hits % Religion ]
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