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NASA on Trial: Persecution of David Coppedge Was a Preview of Creeping Totalitarianism

David Klinghoffer

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Whether the context is media or academia, a creeping totalitarianism is hard to miss in our public life. Its signature move is to suppress controversial or disfavored views with appeals to what sound like reasonable legal or journalistic standards. The flavor of the day is “fake news,” which follows in the footsteps of buzz phrases like “anti-science,” “science denial,” and the like. The point is to shut down discussion and intimidate dissenters without admitting that that is what you are doing.

The story of David Coppedge and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a case in point. It was back in 2009 that the mild-mannered team lead computer administrator on the Cassini Mission to Saturn was demoted, shamed, and later fired. His workplace offense? Lending out documentaries on DVD favorable to intelligent design. His persecution, far from the first or last such case we’ve seen, was a preview of much that was yet to come.

Coppedge speaks out now in a series of ID the Future podcasts, “NASA on Trial.” The second episode in the series is up and available now.

Download the episode by clicking here:

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Phony allegations of “harassment” and of pushing his “religion” were lodged against him. But as we documented at the time, the sole problem with Coppedge and his behavior was that he was innocent enough to think he could share relevant science on intelligent design with co-workers without getting punished for it. This guileless individual sought to defend himself before his supervisors, but was met at every step by wily administrative subterfuge.

After seeking legal help, he finally did get his day in court. That will be the subject of an upcoming podcast.

I’m on Twitter. Follow me @d_klinghoffer.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.

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