He is a top-level computer specialist on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Cassini mission to Saturn whose supervisors demoted and humiliated him for raising scientific issues about intelligent design. Last week he sued in the Superior Court of the State of California, complaining of religious discrimination, harassment, and wrongful demotion. Sounds like a news story, doesn’t it?
Intelligent design isn’t religion, but Coppedge’s supervisor, Gregory Chin, harangued him for “pushing religion” after Coppedge merely offered apparently interested colleagues DVDs of two documentaries on ID, Privileged Planet
and Unlocking the Mystery of Life
. Coppedge had every reason to think the films related to his work at JPL. Part of Caltech and operated under a contract with NASA, JPL has a longstanding program called Origins
that seeks information on the origin of life on earth and hypothetically on other planets. Neither film includes religious statements or references. In fact, Privileged Planet
explores cosmological issues illustrated by interviews with scientists at NASA and JPL. But since supervisor Chin called this “religion,” and since religious speech is legally protected, Coppedge seeks redress for religious discrimination. If Chin had made no mention of religion but harassed and demoted Coppedge simply for raising doubts about Darwinian evolution, as Unlocking the Mystery of Life
does, that would also violate free-speech protections.
Anyway, here we have government and government-contracted agencies, NASA and JPL, denying constitutional rights to a citizen, punishing and humiliating him for exercising his right to free speech. Yet the story as of yet has merited no significant attention from any prominent local or national news source. Why not? Well, obviously because this isn’t a story that fits the larger narrative as favored in prestige circles like those of the media. In that favored narrative, it’s always Darwinists, never Darwin doubters, who fall afoul of censors, persecuted by powerful forces in academia arrayed against orthodox evolutionary theory. Yeah, you know those powerful forces. They’re over there, in a shoebox under the bed.