Freedom of expression?

February 13, 2009 • 4:03 pm

Just when I settle down to write in this venue about some real biology, somebody calls my attention to another example of creationists acting up. This time it’s the Discovery Intitute’s Casey Luskin, who has been given the prestigious platform of the U.S. News and World Report to attack evolution (see here). Darwin Day, says Luskin, is evolutionists’s “holy day,” which they use to brutally suppress the freedom of expression of creationists.

His example is P.Z. Myer’s protest to the University of Vermont about their selection of Ben Stein (creator of the egregious creationist movie “Expelled”) as a graduation speaker. Stein subsequently withdrew for reasons that are unclear. Luskin is incensed; he claims that the president of the University of Vermont was guilty of “discriminating against scholars who hold a minority scientific viewpoint.” To complete his tirade, Luskin throws in the usual irreducible complexity arguments for intelligent-design creationism.

Let’s be clear: creationism is not a “minority scientific viewpoint.” It is not a scientific viewpoint at all. Protesting creeping creationism is not suppression, it is our duty as scientists. And we’re not helped by “reputable” venues such as Forbes and U.S. News and World Report, who are eroding their reputation by giving creationists some credibility by providing a platform for their lies.

Meanwhile, over at The Independent, columnist Johann Hari describes all the flak he has taken for defending the right to criticize religious views. It’s a very good column, but a scary one.

Finally, a friend sent me the following:

The BBC America broadcast last night had 10 minutes on Darwin’s birthday. Matt Frei spent the time interviewing Francis Collins who said God, who is out of time, is behind all of it [evolution]. Frei nodded in agreement. Frei also noted that there are exremists on both sides of the question, and in the middle are the sensible centrists like Francis Collins, who believe in God and science. (I gather that rationality is now an extremist view.)

So, on Darwin Day three respected news sources, Forbes, U.S. News, and now the BBChave bruised journalistic integrity in the name of “balance.” Shame on them.

2 thoughts on “Freedom of expression?

  1. Frances Collins? Good grief, if they felt like they had to have some false sense of “balance” in some misguided pretense at “objectivity” by having a woo-addled scientist on the show, why not pick Kenneth Miller? He’d at least make some effort not to come across as insane as Collins does.

  2. It is disappointing that journalists attempt to provide “balance” to Darwin Day articles by including the opinions of creationist. They totally miss the point that it is a day for the world to celebrate science and reason. For them to including the pseudo-science and irrational conjecture of those with an overtly religious agenda is not only bizarre but unfair and probably offensive to many.

    Imagine the outcry that would happen if whenever media outlets published articles about Christmas or Easter they included “balancing” opinions from Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I certainly would enjoy their published opinions, but I am absolutely sure that those religious voices out there in the public would denounce it as persecution and call it deeply offensive. “balance” in the opposite direction would never survive in the media.

    Again we are see religious mythology receiving special treatment a modern secular society.

    The same media standards for everyone please!

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