Friday, December 15, 2006

Judges, heal thyselves!

There is an interesting debate going on in the past few days between the Intelligent Design people and the Darwinists. It started when John West, Jr. at the Discovery Institute pointed out that Judge John Jones, who struck down an attempt of a Pennsylvania school district to teach Intelligent Design (saying it was not science) lifted whole sections of his opinion from the ACLU brief against the school district when wrote his opinion.

According the Discovery Institute's press release, "'Judge John Jones copied verbatim or virtually verbatim 90.9% of his 6,004-word section on whether intelligent design is science from the ACLU’s proposed "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" submitted to him nearly a month before his ruling,' said Dr. John West, Vice President for Public Policy."

The Darwinists fired back that it is common and accepted for judges to do this, and that West was betraying his ignorance about how the legal system worked by criticizing the opinion.


West's point was not that the judge was engaging in the illegal act of plagiarism. Rather, he was pointing out the irony that a ruling that had been hailed as "masterful" and the product of an "outstanding thinker" was actually, in large part, the product of someone else. Surely the advanced primates at places like Panda's Thumb can understand West's point and distinguish it from charges of plagiarism.

It may, in fact, be perfectly acceptable in the legal trade to copy sections of opinions, but over 90 percent of an entire section? Surely a judge has an intellectual and moral, if not a legal obligation to think (and write) for himself.

And by the way, while we're talking about ironies, has anyone noticed the glaring one here? That the very people who are given the job of deciding whether others have engaged in plagiarism are apparently allowed to engage in it freely themselves?


Ed Darrell said...

Yeah, legal, and what the lawyers expect. John West, being unfamiliar with how justice works, thinks there is some problem with this system. John West's ignorance of the law does not make an ethical issue for a judge.

Intelligent design as science is still seriously dead. Ethics in intelligent design advocates appears almost as dead, alas.

Better information here:

and here:

and here:

Ed Darrell said...

By the way, how are federal judges empowered to rule on plagiarism? Plagiarism is not a federal crime, nor a state crime in most cases; copyright cases rarely apply. What in the world are you talking about?