From the religion desk:
A computer specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is going to court over allegations that he was wrongfully terminated because of his belief in intelligent design.
Opening statements in the lawsuit by David Coppedge were expected to start Tuesday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court after lawyers spent Monday arguing several pretrial motions.
Coppedge, who worked as a team lead on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, claims he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work.
Look – Coppedge is entitled to any damned fool opinions he wants (although hawking intelligent design in a building full of scientists is either incredibly ambitious or incredibly dumb), but if this guy was handing out DVDs at the workplace and annoying his coworkers his faith doesn’t give him any special protection compared to the person who is trying to get you to go to a weekend Lifespring conference.
An employer has a right to control the tenor of a workplace. That doesn’t mean he gets to fire you if you have a Rick Santorum bumper sticker on your car, but if you spend your days, for example, telling your single coworkers that any sex they might be having is sinful and disgusting, that might not be conducive to the most harmonious office.
I’d feel the same way if someone was pushing Obama literature on dedicated Republicans after they’d asked him to stop. The workplace isn’t Hyde Park; it’s dedicated to a specific set of tasks.
Lots of people are turning the first amendment on its head. The first word in the amendment is “Congress”, for crying out loud. Here it is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Just as Rush Limbaugh doesn’t have a first Amendment right to a nationally syndicated radio show, and Sarah Palin isn’t entitled to spout idiocies without criticism, David Coppedge is not entitled to say anything he wants to anyone he works with at his workplace. He is entitled to say what he wants without the government penalizing him for his speech.
To give you an idea of how annoying Coppedge was, there’s this:
In the lawsuit, Coppedge says he believes other things also led to his demotion, including his support for a state ballot measure that sought to define marriage as limited to heterosexual couples and his request to rename the annual holiday party a Christmas party. [Emphasis mine]
Well, we know where Bill O’Reilly will come down on this one.
I’m sure, had Coppedge’s Jewish colleagues pointed out to him that there’s more than one holiday in December, he would have claimed they were trampling on his religious freedom.
One other thing: hawking intelligent design doesn’t exactly speak well of one’s adherence to the scientific method.
[As a side note, when Dover, Pennsylvania required Intelligent Design in their 9th grade science curriculum, they got smacked down but hard.]