Finally, it seems that the filing of two separate lawsuits against the California Science Center for its blatant viewpoint discrimination when it censored Darwin’s Dilemma has caught the attention of the mainstream media. The Los Angeles Times is now reporting on the story.
Strangely, the California Science Center (CSC) claims to have cancelled a contract with the American Freedom Alliance not because of something the AFA did, but rather because they didn’t like the press release put out by Discovery Institute. It might come as a shock to the CSC, but free speech is still protected in this country. The Institute can, and will, say whatever it wants to about the public activities of its scientists and researchers. The CSC has no right to limit our speech, and they have no leverage to bring to bear against the AFA and punish them for something they also have no control over. That is just a ploy to avoid the real issue, theviewpoint discrimination engaged in by a department of the state government.
We’ve covered this story since the beginning , especially the part played by the Smithsonian, which The Los Angeles Times is also focusing on. I asked in a blog post on Oct. 10 whether the Smithsonian bullied the CSC into cancelling the film. It sure looked like it then.
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.
And it looks even more so now that the Times is revealing that yet another person at the Smithsonian was complaining to the CSC, though he claims to have stopped short of ordering them to cancel the film.
On Oct. 5, the science center, one of 165 national affiliates of the Smithsonian that enjoy special access to loans from its massive collection, received an alert — and a complaint — from Harold Closter, director of the Smithsonian’s affiliates program. Closter gave the science center the head’s-up about a news release that had been issued not by the AFA but by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that promotes intelligent design and whose researchers are featured in “Darwin’s Dilemma.” In an e-mail that’s an exhibit in the lawsuit, he wrote that the news release wrongly implied that the California Science Center is “a West Coast branch of the Smithsonian, and that the film showing is a Smithsonian event.” Closter asked science center officials to correct the error but did not mention canceling the screening.
And of course there was the little fact of a VP at the CSC admitting that just scheduling Darwin’s Dilemma to be screened at the science center damaged its reputation and its relationship with the Smithsonian.