ONTD Political

[TW Abuse] Teacher Burns Crucifix Onto Student’s Arms, Sues When Fired

8:54 pm - 11/13/2012
In a case that has been litigated since 2008 (and is still ongoing), John Freshwater, a teacher who previously lived and worked in Mount Vernon, Ohio, insists that his First Amendment rights and “academic freedom” were violated when he was fired by the school district for teaching Creationism in class and burning a cross into the arms of students using a Tesla coil.

From the report that lead to his firing:

Mr. Freshwater was insubordinate in failing to remove all of the religious materials from his classroom as ordered by his superior, Principal White.

-Mr. Freshwater did burn a cross onto the complaining family’s child’s arm using an electrostatic device not designed for that purpose
-The Ten Commandments together with other posters of a religious nature were posted in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom. Most were removed after Mr. White’s letter of April 14, 2008, but at least one poster remained which Mr. Freshwater was again instructed to remove on April 16, 2008, but did not do so.
-Several Bibles were kept in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom including his personal Bible on his desk and one he checked out of the library placed on the lab table near the desk. Other Bibles that had been maintained in the room were removed by the time the investigators viewed Mr. Freshwater’s room.
-Mr. Freshwater engaged in teaching of a religious nature, teaching creationism and related theories and calling evolution into question. He had other materials in his classroom that could be used for that purpose.
-Mr. Freshwater engaged in prayer during FCA meetings in violation of the District’s legal obligations for monitoring such organizations.
-Mr. Freshwater participated and possibly lead a prayer during an FCA meeting that concerned a guest speaker’s health. There is no conclusion as to whether such prayer was a “healing” prayer.
-Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.

It’s important to note that Freshwater did not work at a religious institute but a regular public school (not that branding would be acceptable at ANY kind of school). Freshwater knows, as does every Creationist teacher, that the courts have struck down (over and over again), in the harshest possible terms, any attempt to legally teach Creationism, Intelligent Design or any other phony variation of anti-evolution claptrap in public schools. It’s a direct violation of the Separation Clause in the First Amendment. Freshwater did not care. How do we know Freshwater knew he was breaking the law? Like any common criminal, he tried to hide the evidence:




There is a significant amount of evidence that Mr. Freshwater’s teachings regarding subjects related to evolution were not consistent with the curriculum of the Mount Vernon City Schools and State standards. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement, the evidence indicates he has been teaching creationism and intelligent design and has been teaching the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution. He has passed out materials to students for the past several years challenging evolution and then collecting the materials back from the students. He has done so in spite of specific directives not to teach creationism or intelligent design. He has taught students to use the code word “Here” to challenge scientific process that is considered settled by the high school science teachers.

However, it is equally clear that Freshwater is hoping to be a new test case. His claim of “academic freedom” is simply a new tactic to force religion into the classroom. Via Alternet:

“Academic freedom was once the bedrock of American education,” Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead said in a media statement. “That is no longer the state of affairs, as this case makes clear. What we need today are more teachers and school administrators who understand that young people don’t need to be indoctrinated. Rather, they need to be taught how to think for themselves.”

This sounds like a solid argument but its foundation is pure quicksand. “Academic freedom,” in this case, is the “freedom” to teach whatever one believes regardless of whether it has any basis in reality whatsoever. By this standard, a history teacher can teach that slaves were happy to be slaves and that the Civil War was the worst thing to ever happen to the black population of America. A biology teacher could teach that germs are not the cause of disease but rather an imbalance of the humors. A science teacher can teach that dinosaurs never existed and that fossils were planted by Satan to make us doubt God. All this and more under the guise of “academic freedom.”

What makes this case worth noting today is that, despite having lost in court twice, the Ohio Supreme Court has decided to take up the case. If it fails there, Freshwater will no doubt try to make a federal case out of it (literally). The federal courts are riddled with partisan extremists appointed by the Bush administration, the Supreme Court being the most obvious example. As many times as Creationist anti-science loses, it only needs to win once to set a precedent. In much the same way that Voter ID laws spread throughout the country like a virus, so, too, would a successfully litigated case of “academic freedom” spread to every school district with religious fanatics on its board.

This “academic freedom” bit fails, as all Christian Fundamentalist claims to “religious freedom” do, to pass the Muslim Test. If Freshwater’s children came home with a copy of the Koran and instructions to read up on how Jesus was a prophet and not the son of God, it is inconceivable that he would smile and be happy for the “academic freedom” of a Muslim teacher. People like Freshwater do not want freedom for all, they want special “freedoms” for their brand of twisted Christianity.


source.
roseofjuly 14th-Nov-2012 06:13 am (UTC)
A religious teacher cited multiple times for violating separation of church and state just accidentally happened to brand a child in a shape resembling the cross? Uh-huh.
chantalzola 14th-Nov-2012 06:26 am (UTC)
You really don't think the branding could have been an accident? I'm guessing the guy's not in jail for lack of proof as to his intent. This doesn't necessarily mean it was an accident, as I wasn't there, etc., but there's a definite possibility that it was. Assuming it wasn't just because the teacher is religious, is wrong imo.
angelofdeath275 14th-Nov-2012 01:28 pm (UTC)
how in the hell do you accidentally brand someone in fucking class
chaya 14th-Nov-2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Twice, in opposing directions overtop one another no less
chantalzola 14th-Nov-2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
I just don't see how he has branded 100 plus kids and this is the first time anyone has said anything. Also I wa sunder the impression that the cross was one thing, not two separate things?
angelofdeath275 14th-Nov-2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
I just don't see how he has branded 100 plus kids and this is the first time anyone has said anything.


let's point out what is problematic about this sentence
chantalzola 14th-Nov-2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
Please do. I'm not being snarky. I did just get out of bed after having a migraine and I'm not sure what you mean =(
angelofdeath275 15th-Nov-2012 12:29 am (UTC)
...maybe the kids were afraid of coming forward? could've easily hid the scars from their parents, that is possible
chantalzola 15th-Nov-2012 01:13 am (UTC)
I agree. I responded more with hose I agreed below. My mom is here so I don't have much time to comment, but you are right.
koshkabegemot 15th-Nov-2012 01:53 am (UTC)
mte, tbh.
moonbrightnites 14th-Nov-2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
You really don't think the branding could have been an accident?

No, I really don't.
ragnor144 14th-Nov-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
I have been following this case and I can't recall every seeing where there was any contention that he purposely burned at least one student with a Tesla coil when talking about electricity. And that kind of crap can go on for years. In the mid-80s I had a teacher who would shove sulfuric acid directly under our noses so you didn't have a chance to not get any in your nose. I had a headache for the rest of the day and a sore throat for two days. He kept this up until her retired. These days it is assault, then it was a "learning experience". /csb
chantalzola 14th-Nov-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
It's posisble I've been misreading the articles. My reading comprehension skills have never been great to be honest. So I do concede that. My main problem is basically just how this article is written. I'm so sick of sensationalist journalism when this is horrible enough, it doesn't need sensationalism. It just seems like most journalism these days is going down that path.

That's really awful =/ In high school one of my teachers tied me to a chair, etc. because i fidgeted too much (yay ADD!) and this was a liberal arts school. In public school I was punished for not saying the pledge of allegiance, considered dumb, etc. So I do believe horrible things go on at public school. I guess i just don't want to believe that this guy can get away with branding 100 kids.
pleasure_past 14th-Nov-2012 10:27 am (UTC)
He just happened to brand MULTIPLE children with the exact same shape that just happened to be a cross. Nope, he's not even claiming it was an accident.

Yeah.

Edited at 2012-11-14 10:39 am (UTC)
chantalzola 14th-Nov-2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
I didn't read that as he burned them every time. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I read it as some experiement he did 100 times, not actually leaving a mark that many times, etc.
moonshaz 15th-Nov-2012 12:50 am (UTC)
That was the impression I got as well--that he had done the experiment 100s of times, not the burning.

It would help a lot if any of these articles would actually describe the experiment itself, explain what it consisted of, and tell us EXACTLY how the burn occurred. They're leaving way too damned much out, and I for one am massively confused right now.
chantalzola 15th-Nov-2012 01:13 am (UTC)
Yeah, I really, really, really wish they would explain what the freaking experiment was!
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