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Did the Smithsonian Bully the California Science Center to Expel Intelligent Design Film?

Robert L. Crowther, II

The knee-jerk response of Darwin’s defenders is to suppress any message that challenges Darwinian evolution’s orthodoxy. Case in point, this past week the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the California Science Center, a “department of the State of California,” banned the screening of the new intelligent design film, Darwin’s Dilemma, after the screening became public knowledge and there was intense pressure to cancel.
And get this, from what we’ve heard the intense pressure came from the Smithsonian Institution with which they are affiliated. That’s right, the very same Smithsonian Institution that trampled evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg’s academic freedoms. The very same Smithsonian Institution that apologized for allowing another ID film, The Privileged Planet, to be shown at the Institution’s Museum of Natural History.
In this instance the American Freedom Alliance entered into what was presumably a legally binding contract with the California Science Center when it rented its facilities. That they would be a screening a pro-ID film was never a secret. The Science Center apparently had no problem with the film being screened there and okayed the contract. So, who did have a problem? Why did the screening have to be canceled?
Earlier this week, Discovery Institute issued its own press release (independent of AFA) announcing that the AFA would be hosting a screening of the film, followed by a discussion with Discovery scientists at a Smithsonian affiliated museum. That is apparently when the screening became a problem. The LA Daily News reports that Smithsonian spokesman Randall Kremer said “he saw the press release a few days ago and was concerned by its reference to the Smithsonian.” It certainly seems that the Science Center didn’t have a problem until the Smithsonian had a problem.

“The only reason I spoke with anyone at the California Science Center is I was concerned by the inference (in the press release that) there was a showing of the film at a Smithsonian branch, which is how the California Science Center was portrayed in the news release,” Kremer said. “Of course, that is not the case. They are independent and any decisions they make on this are on their own.”

Really? The Science Center had already made the decision to allow the screening. Canceling it only happened after the Smithsonian saw the press release and at least one Smithsonian official called the Science Center in concern.
It seems pretty clear that here you have a department of the California state government –a science center clearly affiliated with the Smithsonian– that is breaking a legal contract (for undisclosed reasons) because someone (the Smithsonian?) was upset that a pro-intelligent design film was about to be screened at a well-known science center that is a Smithsonian affiliate.
We’ve contacted the Science Center by phone and e-mail and they have so far refused to answer any questions about pressure they may have received from the Smithsonian or indeed provide any concrete reason that the screening should be canceled. Their only response was to reissue their singularly uninformative talking point:

“The American Freedom Alliance event at the California Science Center was canceled due to issues related to the contract. With regard to your other questions, we do not discuss contract issues.”

As a state government entity, the Science Center surely can do better than that (especially since a number of the questions we asked did not deal with “contract issues” but rather the Center’s position on intelligent design.)
I’d wager good money that the American Freedom Alliance doesn’t have time to return all the calls from attorneys wanting to take this case.
This isn’t the first time a major academic or scientific institution has trampled academic freedom of scientists who are proponents of intelligent design. Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez was the victim of very shameful treatment by the faculty and board of regents at Iowa State University. Dr. William Dembski was hounded out of Baylor University for his views on intelligent design. There’s an entire film that millions of people have seen, Expelled starring Ben Stein about what happens to people who are advocates of design theory. Even Stein was later sacked from his position at The New York Times, in part, according to him, for his having made that film.
Rather than debate the science, Darwinists try to suppress it. They simply can’t stand to let people know the truth about the shoddy case for Darwinian evolution.

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.