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Dear Bill Moyers: An Open Letter

Joshua Youngkin

Dear Mr. Moyers:
Recently on Moyers & Company you interviewed science education activist Zack Kopplin. After watching the interview, which addressed the subject of academic freedom legislation in the states, I see why you picked Zack. He is young, articulate, and bold.
These qualities partly explain why in 2012 Zack won both the Friend of Darwin Award and the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award. The latter honor puts him in the company of Bill Maher (2003), Michael Moore (1999), the ACLU (1997), and Ed Asner (1981), to name a few.
And it can’t hurt that Zack plays for the right team. A brief look at your show’s guest list shows there is such a thing. That’s not to say it is wrong to have a point of view or unnatural for birds of a feather to flock together. What good is life without strong moral and social commitment, the ties that bind?
My former teacher Stanley Fish is famously (or infamously) known for arguing for favoritism and against fairness, for privileging one’s own community and against high-minded universals that supposedly call us to treat everyone the same. To thine own team be true! From that standpoint it is understandable why you spoke only with Zack about academic freedom.
But why not have your producer now give Discovery Institute a call? Zack is a torchbearer for his cause. But he is also an outsider to the academic freedom lawmaking process, and so understandably missed the ball a few times, leaving your viewers in the dark.
Discovery Institute, on the other hand, is on the inside, and ready to shed light from a privileged vantage point. We draft and amend academic freedom language, counsel lawmakers privately, testify publicly, and are otherwise intimately acquainted with the intentions behind and likely effects of academic freedom legislation.
Don’t call us to grant equal time or strike viewpoint balance. This is no appeal to fairness. Rather, call us because you, and your viewers, are curious to learn about academic freedom from the inside. Since you are a journalist, that value — curiosity — must ring most true to you.
Joshua Youngkin
Program Officer, Public Policy and Legal Affairs
Discovery Institute

Joshua Youngkin

An attorney, and previously, Discovery Institute Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs.