Series of Costly Case Settlements Warns Darwin’s Bullies: Stop Censoring Intellectual Freedom
“Three case settlements this year show that it is a costly mistake for intolerant academic elites to suppress the viewpoints of Darwin-critics,” said Casey Luskin, an attorney and policy analyst with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “The growing trend is that those who discriminate against intelligent design face stiff penalties.”
This month, the state-run California Science Center (CSC) paid $110,000 to avoid a public trial and settle a lawsuit by American Freedom Alliance (AFA). The suit was filed because CSC violated AFA’s First Amendment right to discuss intelligent design (ID). As part of the settlement, CSC has also invited AFA back to present the ID event CSC previously cancelled. The case number is BC 423687.
This case reflects the ongoing trend of discrimination against intelligent design. In January, the University of Kentucky paid $125,000 to settle a lawsuit by astronomer Martin Gaskell who was wrongfully denied employment because he was perceived to be skeptical towards Darwinian evolution. (Gaskell actually considers himself a “theistic evolutionist,” but he stated “there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory” and respectfully cited the work of intelligent design proponents Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson in online notes for one of his talks.) Soon after the settlement of Gaskell’s case, Applied Mathematics Letters paid $10,000 and publicly apologized to avoid litigation after it wrongfully withdrew mathematician Granville Sewell’s paper critiquing neo-Darwinism.
This case is merely the latest in a long line of well-documented incidents of discrimination against proponents of intelligent design. In 2004, biologist Richard Sternberg was ousted from a research position at the Smithsonian Institution after he allowed a pro-ID paper to be published in a Smithsonian biology journal. Two government investigations found he was the victim of a campaign to investigate and intimidate him due to his skepticism of Darwinian evolution.
In 2006, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University in large part due to his work developing arguments for intelligent design from cosmic fine-tuning. E-mails uncovered during a public records request showed that Gonzalez’s colleagues engaged in secret tenure deliberations where support for ID was counted as an automatic negative.
In 2007, distinguished professor of electrical engineering Robert Marks was forced to shut down a research lab at Baylor University because it investigated intelligent design. There have been multiple similar well-documented cases around the nation.
CSC rented its IMAX theater to AFA to show Darwin’s Dilemma, a science documentary advocating ID. However, when CSC learned the film would portray ID favorably, CSC cancelled AFA’s event. AFA filed suit in California Superior Court alleging viewpoint discrimination and breach of contract.
“The CSC settlement puts another high price tag on Darwinian censorship of the ID viewpoint,” said Joshua Youngkin, Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs. “The going penalty for viewpoint discrimination against ID is about $100,000, though successfully defending freedom of ID expression is priceless.”