Banned Book Week and Intelligent Design Part 1: Darwinist Law Professor Supports Library Censorship of Pro-ID Books
"Consider the experience of two librarians who received copies of two intelligent design books, Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe and Darwin on Trial by Philip Johnson, as donations to their high school collections. When the librarians refused to put the books on the school library shelves, they were accused of censorship. In fact, exercising their professional judgment, they concluded that these books had 'little or no value to our students and come from those with ulterior motives.'""Accused of censorship"? I wonder why! Newman praises the librarians for using their "professional judgment"--but we will analyze his endorsement of their censorship in more detail below.
(Stephen A. Newman, "Evolution and the Holy Ghost of Scopes: Can Science Lose the Next Round?," 8.2 Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion (Spring, 2007), internal citations removed.)
In George Orwell's famous book 1984, the authorities create a new language called "Newspeak," which changed the meaning of English words in order to control the thoughts of the people. For example, according to the Newspeak Dictionary, the "Chocorat," or chocolate ration, was defined as follows:
"1: The chocolate ration in 1983 was 30 grams per week. (standard Hershey Bar is 43 grams)As another example, "Crimestop" was a new word which meant to stop one-self from thinking "any dangerous thought." Thus thought control was redefined as a virtue (stopping a crime) rather than a vice. Here, we present some similar examples of Stephen Newman's own "Newspeak":
2: In the year 1984, the chocolate ration went up to 25 grams per week."
- Phillip Johnson believes that "students should learn the orthodox Darwinian theory and the evidence that supports it, but they should also learn why so many are skeptical, and they should hear the skeptical arguments in their strongest form rather than in a caricature intended to make them look as silly as possible." (Phillip Johnson, The Wedge of Truth, pg. 82 (InterVarsity Press 1999).)
- Michael Behe encourages schools to "[t]each Darwin's elegant theory. But also discuss where it has real problems accounting for the data, where data are severely limited..."
- Discovery Institute's Science Education Policy similarly recommends the following: "Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned."
"Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."If you truly seek policies that would give students "access to ideas" and "prepare [students] 'for active and effective participation in the pluralistic, often contentious society in which they will soon be adult members,'" and you aren't interested in buying into Newman's Newspeak, then you need look no further than the educational approaches endorsed by the leaders in the ID movement.
(Conference Report of the No Child Left Behind Act)
Final Commentary on the Librarians' Rationale for Censorship
According to Professor Newman, the librarians rightly justified their censorship of Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box and Phillip Johnson's book Darwin on Trial from the school library as follows: "The books did not meet the usual selection criteria, which required that books 'support the curriculum, receive favorable reviews from professional journals, and be age-appropriate.' Noting that intelligent design theory had been 'repudiated by every leading scientific organization, including the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences,' the librarians determined that teaching intelligent design 'would be tantamount to teaching about the existence of Santa Claus.'"
Against such Darwinist censors, these books need no defense, but nonetheless it's worth keeping the following points in mind:
Finally, as for the "teaching intelligent design 'would be tantamount to teaching about the existence of Santa Claus'" comment, this not only hints that these librarians have anti-religious bigotry, but it shows that they are not even capable of treating those who support intelligent design with respect. It's no wonder that Newman liked their approach: he too bashes ID proponents as "Consciously favoring ignorance over reason" and says ID "should grate on anyone who values knowledge and uses his brains for a living." It sure sounds like Newman is trying to encourage the practice of crimestop to me.
The fact that such abrasive language and support for outright censorship is acceptable in a respectable legal journal should concern those who oppose things like banning books and support things like intellectual freedom.