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Do the JPL Supervisors Who Demoted Coppedge Know Who Appears in The Privileged Planet?

The current travails of David Coppedge at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory hit close to home. He’s being unjustly, perversely punished simply for lending copies of two ID documentaries, Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet, the latter based on the book by Guillermo Gonzalez and yours truly. Guillermo, of course, suffered similar bigotry at Iowa State a few years ago, and endured (among other things) a barely disguised campaign to deny him tenure led by, among other people, an atheist professor of religion at Iowa State.
It’s hard even to figure out what David Coppedge is supposed to have done wrong. There were no complaints against him by people to whom he had lent these documentaries. He wasn’t proselytizing. He wasn’t even, so far as I can tell, actually doing anything naughty that he had been told not to do. It’s not like he had been told not to lend out copies of the documentaries and had continued to do so (even though such an order would itself have been outrageous). Can you imagine any other legal subject on which such an action would be treated as anything other than unjust discrimination?
This is yet another case of the materialist zeal for punishing thought crimes, and exhibits, yet again, the metaphysical insecurity of many who claim to be defending science. They are reduced here to the raw and preferably secret exercise of power against the very presence, apparently, of people who might voluntarily commend ideas they don’t like. Well, the secret’s out. This unjust exercise of power is no longer under the cover of darkness.
There’s an irony in this. Since 2004, The Privileged Planet has been broadcast around the country on various PBS stations, has been broadcast widely on private cable channels, and has been translated into several foreign languages and shown to public gatherings around the world, including in China. You know, that’s that big, censorious, Communist country on the other side of the world. And guess what? Several scientists affiliated with JPL are featured prominently in the film itself–about a fourth of the featured experts, in fact. (These scientists, so far as I know, disagree on the question of intelligent design.) I wonder if Coppedge’s persecutors even know who is in the film?

Jay W. Richards

Senior Fellow at Discovery, Senior Research Fellow at Heritage Foundation
Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and the Executive Editor of The Stream. Richards is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated (2013) and Indivisible (2012); The Human Advantage; Money, Greed, and God, winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award; The Hobbit Party with Jonathan Witt; and Eat, Fast, Feast. His most recent book, with Douglas Axe and William Briggs, is The Price of Panic: How the Tyranny of Experts Turned a Pandemic Into a Catastrophe.



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