I Said What I Meant, and, So Far as I Can Tell, I Didn’t Say What I Didn’t Mean


The First Amendment


Some, responding elsewhere to my “Stand with Crystal Dixon” post, below, are claiming that I’ve cast her case as part of the presumably fictional, overwrought, and paranoid “war against Christianity,” and that I’m attempting to drum up hysteria against the imposition of “secular humanism.”


People who read without preconceptions what I actually wrote will notice that I’ve done nothing of the kind, and that, in fact, I’ve expressly said that the specific content of Ms. Dixon’s opinion is essentially irrelevant to my concerns.


My worry is rooted in my support of the First Amendment — but not merely the portion of the First Amendment that guarantees the “free exercise” of religion (which I do indeed take to apply even to employees of public universities when they’re acting as private citizens).  No, primarily I’m concerned about “the freedom of speech,” which the authors of the First Amendment seemed to believe should not be lightly “abridged.”


Liberty is a big deal with me.  I’m weird that way.



Catholics and Mormons in Utah: An interesting though sometimes inaccurate article about their cooperative, competitive relationship
New Testament 197
"This song was originally going to be the 'Jaws' theme until John Williams changed his mind at the last minute"
"Is this the worst academic journal ever?"
  • Sam Smith

    One reading the links I placed below might note that this was a Freedom of Speech case, not a Free Exercise of Religion case.

    The question remains, should a government employee be able to say anything she wants and still remain in government employ?

    My opinion in the Dixon case would be that since her letter to the newspaper made no reference to her position at the university, she should not have been fired.

    But the appeals court, as can be noted from the links, was faced with a very narrow precedent from its own Circuit. If the employee was in a policy making position, she could be fired. Based on her job description and the power that had been delegated to her, both the trial court and the appeal court found that she was a policy making employee. What she actually said was not the issue. In view of the precedent and a non-activist court’s desire not to interfer with the university president’s decision, it let the firing stand.

    I would suggest that one’s fire power be directed at the university president and at the precedent concerned, not at the Dixon case itself. The only option now would be to have the Dixon case reviewed by the US Supreme Court. Dixon would then be a mere vehicle to have the extremely narrow precedent reviewed and hopefully reversed.

    • danpeterson

      I’ve said as clearly as I know how that, from my perspective, this is a Freedom of Speech case and not a Free Exercise of Religion case. I don’t think I need to say it again, but I will, once more:

      From my perspective, this is a Freedom of Speech case and not a Free Exercise of Religion case.

      • Sam Smith

        And we’re in clear agreement, and with the judges as well.
        But I’m wondering, how would one state a neutral legal principle that would apply to:

        1. A policy making government employee
        2. Who publicly contradicts her superior
        3. On an issue of public policy
        4. All of which relates to their jobs.

        Right now in the 6th Circuit, the government employer will always win against a fired policy making employee. I think the employee should get more leeway in view of Free Speech. But how much leeway? And how to reduce that to writing so that trial judges will get it right?

        • Sam Smith

          Grace In Action Crystal Dixon Defense Fund
          c/o End Time Christian Fellowship
          2902 Auburn Ave.
          Toledo, OH 43606
          Attorney contac:t Thomas Sobecki (419) 242-9908

          • danpeterson

            Thank you for posting that.

  • Sam Smith

    Will you be contributing?

    • danpeterson

      I don’t announce my charitable gifts publicly. It might be fatal for the causes I favor, and it would certainly violate the precepts of the New Testament. Besides, I can’t really afford to hire trumpeters to accompany me everywhere.

      • Sam Smith

        Although perhaps not taxed, I don’t know that this would be considered an alm, but a statement of support for a cause in which one believes.

        • danpeterson

          I’m just not going to announce my charitable donations publicly. It doesn’t matter a fig to me how much you want me to do so.

          • Sam Smith

            I said nothing about figs. I just asked if you would be supporting a just cause financially.

          • danpeterson

            And I replied that it’s none of your business.

            And, of course, I never said that you ever said anything about figs.

            Enough of this.

  • Sam Smith

    Do you treat all of the people who agree with you so bruskly?

    • danpeterson


      But then I’ve never had one of them repeatedly and publicly demand to know details about my charitable giving.

      • Sam Smith

        Question = demand?

        • danpeterson

          When repeated several times, yes.

          • Sam Smith

            “Will you be contributing?”

            I count but once. How many question marks from me regarding contributing do you find in this post?

          • danpeterson

            Strictly speaking, you asked only once. But you kept bringing the topic up.

            You’re still bringing the topic up.

  • Sam Smith

    “Strictly speaking, you asked only once.”

    There we go, agreeing again.