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If Your Free Speech Is Threatened, Let Us Know

Sarah Chaffee
college campus
Photo credit: Ryan Jacobson, via Unsplash.

It’s September, and students are heading back to colleges and universities to start or continue their degree programs.

A recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal raises the question, How far should free speech go? Wherever we set the bar, intelligent design clearly falls within what should be the parameters of academic freedom. 

The Paradox of Free Speech

In “Free Speech Absolutism Killed Free Speech, Tony Woodlief argues paradoxically that an extreme insistence on academic freedom in the past led us to the “cancel culture” of today, with free speech squelched in pursuit of power, with academic freedom itself undermined. He asks:

How can we hold anti-free-speech ideologues accountable? While federal courts properly protect the rights of professors to associate with unpopular organizations and disseminate radical views to the broader public, they’ve also made clear that the classroom is not a fiefdom and students are not a teacher’s ideological playthings. The judicial system typically obliges institutions to uphold their own standards, and the stated standards of universities are solidly in favor of free speech.

Woodlief argues that “everybody should be allowed to express his views.” Unfortunately that is not currently the case when it comes to criticisms of evolutionary theory and arguments for ID. But let’s look beyond that. Evolution News has shown that, in a legal context, “[W]hen an idea meets scholarly standards of professional care, it’s acceptable to discuss even if it is controversial.” Read more here about how intelligent design meets scholarly standards.

We’ve Got Resources for You

The Center for Science & Culture has resources for students and professors seeking the freedom to air their views on intelligent design. “The College Student’s Back-to-School Guide to Intelligent Designequips young people to understand and engage the issue on their campuses. Our website Free Science recounts the history of academic freedom disputes over intelligent design. And it provides practical action steps. 

As the school year starts, I’m wondering how many students and professors will find themselves in difficult positions, their universities in the vice grip of ideology. How many calls and emails will we receive from academicians whose views on the origin of life and of biological diversity are being silenced? If you find yourself in that situation, please get in contact through our Helpline page.