Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Equivocation from the ID Crowd as U of Vermont Rejects Ben Stein

The IDers are at it again, equivocating with the best of them in their latest bit of progoganda on the recent and very correct revocation of an invitation to Ben Stein to speak at UVA's commencement. John West spouts thusly:

Apologizing for inviting gifted actor and writer Ben Stein to be commencement speaker at the University of Vermont, University President Daniel Fogel has highlighted what he called Stein’s “highly controversial views” about “evolutionary theory, intelligent design, and the role of science in the Holocaust.” Fogel went on to express penance for inviting Stein by claiming that “Commencement should be a time when our community gathers inclusively, not divisively.”

I guess inclusivity is why in 2007 Fogel chose as commencement speaker Democratic congressman John Lewis, who in 1995 compared Republicans to Nazis (last year Lewis compared John McCain and Sarah Palin to segregationist George Wallace and racist church bombers). Or perhaps President Fogel’s concern for inclusivity is better demonstrated by his 2006 commencement speaker, Gustavo Esteva, a far-left activist and advisor to the radical Zapatista National Liberation Army in Mexico.

This is a typical apples-and-oranges straw man. The problem with Ben Stein is not that he had inflammatory political views. College is rife with those. Stein is against everything a university is supposed to be about. He thinks science leads to killing people. He is dismissive of the college experience. He participated in the production of an anti-science propoganda film. Having someone like that speak at a college commencement would be like having an arsonist speak at a firefighter's convention. The Discovery Institution of course misses this point entirely as West blathers on:

In today’s academic double-speak, invitations to far-left revolutionaries and race-baiting Congressmen are apparently “inclusive,” while inviting a speaker who favors free speech on the issue of evolution is beyond the pale.

If Ben Stein favored free speech on the issue of evolution he would be in the mainstream of science. What he actually favors, however, is politicizing the science of evolution to fit the religious whimsy of a small but vocal group of fundamentalists and cranks. Ben Stein is as free as anyone to speak on evolution (you'll notice no one has suggested arresting him for his views), and to submit scientific papers on that topic to the appropriate journals. He is as free as anyone to attend scientific conferences and pose questions there. I note with interest that he has attempted neither, which makes him fit right in with the rest of the ID crew. West finished with a flurry that would have made George Orwell proud:

Fogel’s spinelessness in the face of the Darwinist thought-police is equaled only by his tone-deafness to his own rhetoric. After disowning Stein, Fogel has continued to insist: “I am firm in my belief—profoundly held—that, as a university, UVM is and must remain a marketplace of ideas.” Fogel's ideal marketplace must have a lot of empty shelves.

On the contrary, Fogel prevented Stein from presenting an empty shelf as if it were full, and from taking up valuable space actual ideas could have occupied.

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