SMU Prof: OK To Ban Speech If Speaker Is Not "Forthright"
In another remarkable statement of Darwinian Fundamentalist conviction, an SMU professor is asserting that it is just fine to shut down an academic conference if a powerful majority believes that the speakers have not been completely "forthright" about all their motivations and "intent" as reflected in their promotional materials. He also seems to suggest that speakers who hold certain personal religious convictions must fully disclose such convictions in the promotional literature before being allowed speak on a university campus.
It is hardly censorship to demand both intellectual honesty and forthrightness in any public program on a university campus.
It is censorship when that "demand" is backed up with an attempt to shut down the conference. Let's look at the context: This statement is being made in defense of a group of established professors who tried to shut down a conference on Intelligent Design because, in their opinion, the speakers lacked sufficient "intellectual honesty" and "forthrightness." The attempt to "shut down" the conference is the language of The Dallas Morning News:
Professors opposed to the Bush library aren't the only angry faculty members at Southern Methodist University this week.
Science professors upset about a presentation on "Intelligent Design" fired blistering letters to the administration, asking that the event be shut down.
It should be obvious to all that this standard would have an enormously chilling effect on free speech and academic freedom in this country and in the university setting. If his standard were applied generally, nearly every politician in America would have to stop giving speeches immediately.
What is the dangerous idea that these professors want to ban from their campus? The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection, and that such inquiries can be considered scientific in some sense.
The eminent professor's opinion piece is full of dubious opinions about the conference speakers' motives and mischaracterizations of the nature of the conference. I wish I had more time to tear it apart bit by bit. If one were to apply the professor's standards to his own article, it would be banned as well. I, for one, am glad it is not.