Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Academic Freedom/Free Speech NEWS

Why the Situation at Amarillo College Matters

I wanted to draw special attention to Casey Luskin's meticulous unmasking of the situation at Amarillo College in Texas. Darwinist bullies, assisted by National Center for Science Education deputy director Glenn Branch, succeeded in intimidating a teacher and administrators into canceling a course on the intelligent design v. Darwinism debate.

Why does this matter? What, you've never heard of Amarillo College? I never did either until a few weeks ago. But that's the point. Intimidation applied to teaching and research about ID now extends up and down the scale of academic prestige. Pretty much the only way you can get away with saying anything remotely candid is if you're a tenured professor at Harvard or Berkeley, you've climbed all that way while unexpectedly retaining your independence of thought. You've already made it and you're safe. Of course, however, then you also have to worry about protecting your grad students from the taint of being associated with you.

What happened at Amarillo College is a thug, Jamie Farren, representing the wonderfully named "Freethought Oasis" scared initially the teacher of the course -- scared him so badly he went to the police -- and then the administration, so much so that the college canceled the class.

Here is a basic takeaway lesson. When you hear that the question of Darwinian evolution versus ID in the academic setting has been definitively settled in favor of Darwinism, keep in mind that this has been accomplished by the application of horrendous career pressure to genuinely free-thinking scientists and other scholars everywhere along the academic scale.

On the Darwinist side, you have thugs like Jamie Farren, and frightened quislings like the administrators at Amarillo College. You also have guys like Jerry Coyne at the University of Chicago, notable for his detonation of Ball State physicist Eric Hedin's freedom to teach, endangering Hedin's career. As you know, Coyne is a bully and coward, who writes books, articles and blog posts about "Why Evolution Is True" while refusing to debate or directly engage the strongest critiques of Darwinian theory (even as he has lots of time to write on the crucial theme of adorable wild animals that befriend people though they were previously thought to be incapable of domestication).

Here's another lesson. Darwin's enforcers care little about who they associate with, as long their associates are untainted by ID. When I last took note of Glenn Branch of the NCSE he was implicitly declining to renounce his intellectual association with anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist James Fetzer. These guys have plenty of tolerance for rotten apples like Fetzer or Farren, even as they serve as apologists and enablers for bullies like the Freedom from Religion Foundation, or "Freethought Oasis."

Look, the persecution of ID advocates is a story that goes on and on. I'm trying hard not to draw a comparison to the treatment of Jews in some ungentle eras in Western history.

Or forget Jews, how about homosexuals? Iran's then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University back in 2007 and drew (unintended) laughter from the crowd when he avowed that his country has no homosexuals. The audience laughed because they knew that open gays in Iran would face the prospect of dire punishments for making themselves known.

The claim that ID has been rejected by mainstream science is a joke -- for the very same reason. Darwin skeptics and ID advocates are silenced by the fear of being outed and having their careers destroyed. President Ahmadinejad's assurances notwithstanding, they are out there, quietly biding their time, nevertheless.