ENV commented earlier on the move by the National Center for Science Education to expand its mission from squelching academic freedom on evolution to squelching it on climate change. It’s an important development and you can only hope that climate skeptics get it too.
There’s been a tendency among some especially on the right side of the political spectrum to grasp what’s happening on the climate issue while failing to see what there is to care about on evolution. The NCSE has now underlined the answer with a bright red pen.
Stamping out open discussion of legitimate scientific questions about Darwinian theory will have ramifications in fields other than biology, fields that seemingly have nothing to do with evolution. The situation reminds me of the famous words of the German Protestant pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller, who criticized the Nazis and then spent seven years in concentration camps for having done so.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
Niemöller is quoted perhaps to excess but his point remains crucial, with applications even in a free society like ours. Censorship, once indulged and condoned, doesn’t end just because one taboo debate has been suppressed. The censors soon find that other debates are going on that should not be happening, and they move to suppress those too.