Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Last Saturday Larry Elder snagged an exclusive interview with Mount Vernon middle school science teacher John Freshwater. You can see all but a few seconds of the video here. Scroll down on the right and click on "John Freshwater and Attorney on FOX News with Larry Elder."(Thanks to Rawhide on KnoxPages Forum. I couldn't find it anywhere).

I've spoken casually with Freshwater a few times during protests outside the old Capital Care Women's Center in Columbus. He was energetic but not rabid. I was a bit surprised, then, to find him so jacked on Showdown. Freshwater acted like was possessed by Dave Daubenmire. Or one of the umpteenth guys dragged on Maury's Who's the Daddy. The robotic gyrations, finger pointing, wide-eyed incredulity, forced chuckles, third person declamation, and weird vocal inflections were disturbing.

Freshwater was lawyered up with R. Kelly Hamilton who played Paul Winchell to Freshwater's Jerry Mahoney. I could almost see Hamilton pulling a string (or leash?) at the back of Freshwater's head"

"That's a great question!" ka-chink!

"You know what?" ka-chink!

He seemed grateful to tears when Hamilton took over answers.

And Larry Elder did indeed ask solid questions. He seemed to actually want to know what the story is.

Freshwater categorically denied he had ever taught creationism or intelligent design in the classroom. He insisted he was held to teach three "standards," one of which was evolution. What the other standards are were left a mystery. He claimed that no one ever complained about his Bible until April 10, 2008 (!) Both he and Hamilton claimed they had no idea why anybody, in fact, would complain.

As usual, the cross "branding" allegation got played. I believe the branding incident is a red herring for the school board and Freshwater. It makes things easier for everybody, the media loves it, and it keeps the pot boiling.

With this is mind I found the following 3-way Q&A interesting:

Elder: Mr. Hamilton, one of them [allegations] is the allegation that he burned a cross or an X on somebody’s arm. Tell me about that, Mr. Freshwater.

Freshwater: (laughs) I wanna stop that right now.

Elder: That’s why I brought it up. I want to know.

Freshwater: I did not. John Freshwater did not brand anybody OK. This is not...that is not truth. I did not brand anybody.

Elder: So somebody made it up?

Hamilton: Sir, you've seen a picture.

Elder: Right.

Hamilton: that is purported to be a particular mark. Somebody has put the cross designation upon that particular mark. John very thoroughly explained not only to the investigators but to anybody will listen. He has not burned, branded, or made any kind of religious symbol on anybody. Not himself, not his family, and certainly not a student in the public school system. (Freshwater laughs) There's not been any medical evidence deduced indicating...

and a minute later:

Hamilton: Let’s not load the question with an improper premise, that he branded or put a religious symbol on anybody.

This is very close to Dave Daubenmire's argument on his June 29 radio show:

He may have done a science experiment but John Freshwater did not do that to this boy’s arm.

While the real issue is the teaching of evolution in the public schools, Christianity in the classroom, the Bible on the desk, and Freshwater's insubordination, this will play out as an I say/you say with the plaintiff and his family being portrayed as whiney, lying, God-haters going after an innocent God-loving Freshwater through the back door. Expect to see more of this confusion. Who's arm is it? Who took the picture? Has it been doctored? Who REALLY made the mark? As Paul Simon sang, " one man's ceiling is another man's floor." Reality is what you can convince the Mount Vernon Powers That Be is real.

Finally, Freshwater argued that his bottom line was the removal of his Bible from his desk. "That’s how I’m able to teach. It gives me my inspiration. It’s me."

Elder, hardly a raving liberal , closed the segment with his opinion that if he were a teacher and a parent, especially one that is an atheist, agnostic, a Muslim, or of some other faith were offended, he'd remove the Bible. "It seems to me" Elder closed, "that Mr. Freshwater, probably with very good intentions, is trying to make a statement about his Christian beliefs in God, and it seems to me that the pubic school is an inappropriate place for that."

Freshwater obviously should have hooked up with Sean Hannity.

Freshwater's lawyer Kelly Hamilton is located in Grove City. He is listed in the Christian Blue Pages, but the link to his website is dead. He is listed in the ABA Lawyer Locator, but there are no details on him such as years of practice, specializations, professional memberships, and university and law school attended.

NOTES: If you interested in what people in Mount Vernon think about this, go to mvohio.net and Knox Pages.com There are huge discussions on both. These links will take you to the last few pages of the the very long Freshwater forums.

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