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Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Olivia St. John, Propaganda Recycler
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an April 18 WorldNetDaily column promoting the new anti-evolution film "Expelled,", Olivia St. John unquestioningly regurgitates claims to support the film without telling the full story.

The first example, St. John caims, comes from "an April 11 news release by the American Center for Law and Justice," which is representing a college student, Gina DeLuca, who "was penalized by a pontificating professor determined to not only silence her beliefs but also have her renounce her Christian faith." But St. John offersd no evidence to back up her claims. Further, the ACLJ is representing DeLuca and, thus, has an agenda to push -- make DeLuca a victim and the professor a villain, no matter what the actual facts of the case are. That makes it a less-than-reliable source of information.

An April 11 WND article similarly regurgitated without question the ACLJ's side of the story without telling the other side. 

St. John continued:

In another recent case, California high school teacher James Corbett articulated Nazi-style aspersions that Christians are a threat to society. On April 2, Fox News' website reported Corbett's words: "What country has the highest murder rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rate of church attendance? The South!"


Thankfully, 16-year-old sophomore Chad Farnan outsmarted Corbett by tape recording the teacher's lecture for his study notes. And just as the ACLJ threatens to file a federal lawsuit in the DeLuca case in New York, the Farnans are seeking redress through the law firm Advocates for Faith and Freedom. In an amusing twist, Fox News states that the family may consider dropping their lawsuit "if the school agrees to put Corbett through sensitivity training and requires him to apologize to the students he offended." The school district is undoubtedly stunned at having the same tactics they use on students – turned in their direction. What comic justice!

Again, St. John makes no effort to tell the full story. As one student has stated, "The quotes are taken out of context. ... He's sarcastic in a rhetorical way to help prove a point. He tries to inspire free thinking." 

Corbett himself, meanwhile, has defended his teaching:

“Of all classes, we know that kids hate history the most,” Corbett says. “They see it as irrelevant. I’m making it relevant. . . . That really—sadly, on some levels—is the job of a social-science teacher: You must get across to the kids that there are many different points of view. And of course, the problem comes when you start dealing with recent history.

“As soon as you start talking about what’s going on now,” he says, “then there are people who have a position—and they don’t want that position challenged.”


Corbett says he denied Chad permission to record the lectures and encouraged him to take quality notes instead. But Chad hid the recorder and taped anyway, says Corbett—which, he says, violates the state’s education code.


He hands over a statement titled “How to Succeed in European History,” which he sends to students’ homes during the summer before they begin his class. “That’s one of the problems with this whole thing no one understands,” he says. “As you can see there, I spend 10 minutes or so each day, sometimes more, talking about current events.”

He is explicit in the letter: “Discussions will be quite provocative and focus on the ‘lessons’ of history,” it reads. He also explains that his goal for the current-events segment is for students to go home “with something that will provoke discussion with your parents.”

“Students may offer any perspective,” it reads. “I encourage a full range of views.”


Before the lawsuit was filed in mid-December, neither Corbett nor the principal nor the district had heard from Chad or his parents regarding the allegations in the suit. “If his parents had come to me, I think we could have solved all of this without going to court,” says Corbett.


Corbett maintains that his comments in class were and are not hostile to Christianity. “Honestly, I think that most people who hear what I have to say are going to realize that I would never do what they have accused me of doing,” he says. “I don’t care what other people’s religion is. I will admit that I’m intolerant of religious-based racism, misogyny, homophobia and a variety of other religious-based excuses for discrimination.”

One of Corbett’s former students, a staunch Christian who plans to earn a master’s of divinity, recently sent a statement to Corbett about his years as a pupil: “Dr. Corbett does not hate religion or religious people,” Taylor Ishii wrote. “As an educated person, he understands a lot about Christianity and has no problems with pointing out if things that Christians do don’t line up with their core beliefs. Never did I feel like he hated me or persecuted me in class for my beliefs. If anything, he challenged me to think more critically from my given Christian perspective.”

Quite a different picture than the one St. John painted, isn't it? That's what happens when a columnist's blinders are so narrow as to read only what fits into her predetermined biases.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EDT

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