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Stifling Free Speech in America

I’m seeing a disturbing trend in the world of science to muffle dissenting ideas from the public debate.  Thanks to the online revelation of emails that resulted in “Climategate,” we’ve seen just how far global warming proponents were willing to go to stifle dissenting debate and discussion from peer reviewed journals and conferences.

A year or two ago we saw the documentary film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” released on the subject of how major university professors are systemically disciplined or silenced when they stray from Darwinian orthodoxy.  Now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that L.A.’s California Science Center, under pressure from the Smithsonian Institution has cancelled the screening of the film “Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record.”  The American Freedom Alliance has filed a lawsuit in LA Superior Court to allow the film to be shown.  The filmmakers had contractually rented the center’s IMAX theater for the film showing, but after the Smithsonian’s intervention, plus emailed complaints from USC professors and others, the contract was abruptly cancelled.

From my perspective – in all these cases – it’s not about whether you side with global warming, Darwin, Intelligent Design – whatever.  The issue is how we are losing the ability to even have an public discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each side.  In these specific situations we aren’t talking about nut-cases, we’re talking about legitimate professors, scientists, researchers, and filmmakers trying to get their voices heard.  I’m especially mystified that college professors – like those at USC – are leading the charge to suppress and censor these types of events.  We used to think of the academy as the last bastion of freedom of speech, but now universities and colleges across America have become centers of “politically correct” speech – where you don’t get heard unless you toe the party line.

I’m not sure what can be done, but believe me – if we don’t keep this conversation going, who knows what will be censored next.

Perhaps our ability to follow the religious faith of our choice?

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4 Comments

  1. Well said.  

    Selective censorship is becoming more and more prevalent in our society.  It’s frightening to see the systematic stripping of freedoms, under the guise of what’s “healthy” or “good for us”.  

    The problem isn’t whether they’re on the right or wrong side of the issue.  It’s that government, scientists, etc, are dictating what we CAN and CANNOT do, not just what we “should” do.

    Great post

  2. If you’re attending university, don’t voice your religious views if you’re a Christian. Regardless of your intelligence or grades or how sound your emotional health, you will be labeled a wacko. Stay away from ethics classes – or at least what you base your moral judgement on if you’re forced into one of these no-brainer classes. It can get ugly. 

  3. Unfortunately, extremists of all political persuasions appear to be less and less interested in intelligent or rational discourse.  “I’m right, you’re wrong, shut-up, get out”.

    Technology has made it possible for “information” to spread around the world almost instantaneously – where 300 hundred years ago most false-hoods and half-truths didn’t spread much farther than the next village.  And if it did go further, it was a slow process, allowing for more examination and natural filtering before it became “common knowledge” or “generally accepted” in the society.

    Great example – a few days ago I received a link to a video created by someone 2,500 miles away purporting to debunk global warming.  In my limited understanding of the topic this video did not disprove anything, its science was incomplete.  But already hundreds or thousands of people have forwarded this link on, giving it distribution and credibility that in MHO it doesn’t deserve.

    You take this spread of “information” and add some level of active response – ranging from court challenges to picketers to bombers – things spiral out of control.  With each side of an issue marshalling their resources to stifle, whack or censor the other guy.

    Whatever the action or event, the “information” again spreads instantaneously – getting more people involved, influencing more opinions and decision-making, PACS, political parties, etc. – and the next wave of reaction starts, all based on incomplete data.

    A feedback loop with no volume control, a mental kline bottle.

    The resulting polarization has probably led to the migration of left/liberal leaning persons to gather with others of similar beliefs, a fairly ‘human’ tendency, at many public institutes of higher-learning. And on the flip-side, the creation of many conservative private universities, Christian and secular. And PACs, think-tanks, etc.

    I don’t yet have great fear for the loss of the freedom to follow the religious belief of my choice but it’s wide open where the increasing polarization will lead.

    More immediately we are seeing the dehumanizing of the ‘other guy’ (insert your choice of enemy here).  Shout them down, lock them out, scan’em, jail’em, deport’em, blow them up.

    Phil, I don’t know what the answer is – but I totally agree with you that the apparent move away from public discussion, freedom of speech, is kinda scary.

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