Plaintiff Intimidation in Church/State Cases
Ed Brayton printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 11:37:07 AM EST
Anyone who pays any attention to lawsuits involving the establishment clause can tell you one thing for certain: the plaintiffs will be the targets of intimidation and even death threats for complaining about government endorsement of religion. It's not just common, it's virtually automatic. The young man in Kearney, New Jersey who recorded his history teacher proselytizing instead of teaching has gotten them. The Jewish family in Delaware who were hounded out of their homes has gotten them. And yes, the plaintiffs in Dover got them too. Below the fold, I'll post the text of a letter received by Tammy Kitzmiller, the lead plaintiff in the case.
If you speak up you can make a change. You didn't just think of all those schoolchildren that won't hear how God made the world and everything in it because of a dam (sic) dumb fool like you. God says the sins of the parents are passed down to the children. When God decides to strike you or your children down, look out. The ACLU is working all these years to get God out of American and a dumb fool got them to help her. I sure would not want to be in your shoes of your daughters (sic) shoes. God hates sin, all these young people being killed in auto wrecks, but when your day comes you think you are smart for what you did, but you are just a damn dumb fool so ignorant to know what God can do to you and your children. I will be watching in the years to come how God punishes you or your daughters. Madelyn (sic) Murray (a famous atheist) was found murdered for taking prayer and bible reading out of the schools, so watch out for a bullet.

The police never found out who sent the letter, one of two that they believe were sent by the same person. Here's the text of the other one:

When you open your eyes in hell you will think about the time you went against God. The ACLU is trying to wreck our country by getting rid of God and to think that some of the heathen parents are helping them. Does God have to send more tornadoes to wake up our country for trying to get rid of God. How can you be so dam (sic) dumb to think that God did not create this world and the people in it. People like you should get out of the country instead of helping to destroy it. I would be ashamed to walk the street after doing such a wicked thing. Who would ever have thought that the time would come that in America tehy would fight to get/keep God out of school all because of heathen dummies like you, you and your group who live here. God will punish you for doing such a (sic) evil thing. I would hate to be in your shoes. I will be praying that God will make you miserable until you accept him as your Lord and Savior. First you must confess your sins and repent.

I dare say the writer of this letter is the one who needs to repent. Kitzmiller was not alone; several of the plaintiffs in the case received threatening letters. But as i said, this is absolutely predictable. There are some seriously unhinged people in this world. One of them, by the way, is DaveScot, Dembski's faithful boy wonder. Here's what he said in a comment at Fafarman's blog (it's been removed since, but I recorded it at the time on my blog):

I hope someone keeps track of the 11 parents and their children. Everyone in Dover knows damn well that no children were forced to listen to the 60 second announcement regarding evolution and intelligent design. So what you have is 11 parents whose religious hostility extended to such a trivial matter they were willing to make the tiny school district pay a million dollars.

I grew up in a small town and when a few people pull crap like that that hurts everyone there will be payback. I won't be at all surprised if the children of these parents are so badly ostracized and abused by other students that they're forced to find another school and the parents will be snubbed and insulted and their cars keyed and their coworkers and supervisors making their lives miserable that they'll all end up moving away.

I hope that's all tracked so that the next group of parents that gets their panties in a bunch and volunteers to the be the designated shitheads know what it's going to cost them.

Nor is he alone. Nedd Kareiva of the Stop the ACLU coalition actually began something called the "Expose the ACLU Plaintiff" project, beginning with the Dobrich family in Delaware. This Jewish family was hounded out of their homes by locals after challenging the school there for endorsing Christianity in a number of ways. Echoing the theme of the Kitzmiller letter writer, one school board member there suggested that the Dobrich family might "disappear" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair did. Callers to a local radio show reminded them that there was still a KKK chapter active in the area, and the family received numerous threats that eventually drove them out of the community. This is the sort of thing that plaintiffs in these cases face all the time.

This is so important for people to hear and understand.  I hope you will continue to post on this topic.  The intolerance is astonishing, and definitely has the affect of silencing good people.

In the show "Words of Choice," which I produce, we tell the story of Emily Lyons, the nurse who was bombed in Alabama by Eric Rudolph.  I am always surprised by the number of people who say that they have never heard of her, but it reminds me, again and again, how we have to tell our stories and not just our "issues".


by cyncooper on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:39:12 PM EST

Constantly being stoked by the administration and the Religious Right, what's remarkable is that nearly all of it to touch American lives on American soil is domestic and from the Right of the spectrum.  Eric Rudolph and Tim McViegh leap to mind, but the Schleppian (sp?) case sticks out too.

by montpellier on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 02:04:52 PM EST
And there are the people we don't hear about who are victimized in countless ways, big and little.  I listened to a young Midwestern college student explain, somewhat emotionally, the effect of being called out of school for two weeks because the Planned Parenthood, where his mother worked, had an anthrax threat.  Patricia Windle and Eleanor Bader catalog other stories, sad and profound, in their book, Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism. And yet if it's white guys doing it, more often than not, somehow the media doesn't see it as "terror."

I believe that the name you mean (with the question mark) is Slepian -- Dr. Barnett Slepian -- assassinated in Buffalo by anti-abortion activist James Kopp.

by cyncooper on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:05:51 PM EST

Nedd Kareiva still has the address of the Dobriches up on his website.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 02:18:29 PM EST

Ed Brayton, you've written a really good article here and it's great to see that. Some of the essay writers in uk were quite impressed by Ed' work, too. I would certainly love to see more work from Ed in the future. I would love it.

by Pauljason on Tue Jun 12, 2018 at 04:12:50 PM EST

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