Discovery Institute: “Darwin’s Dilemma” and VD

Yes, dear reader, the scourge of VD — that’s our abbreviation for “viewpoint discrimination” — is everywhere. Fortunately, there are those who struggle to cleanse this blight from our fair land.

Leading in this holy crusade against VD is none other than Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. He has written a fine essay which appears at the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Casey’s Should it Matter that the California Science Center was “Unaware of the Nature of the Groups Involved”? Casey says, with bold font added by us:

In a prior post, I noted that California Science Center (CSC) vice president Christina Sion wrote regarding the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) that “the main problem is that it is an anti-Darwin/creationist group.” This is clear evidence of viewpoint discrimination by the CSC in its decision to cancel the AFA’s screening of Darwin’s Dilemma.

Okay, before we get to Casey’s latest evidence of VD, we want to be sure we’re all together here in order to appreciate what Casey’s talking about — it’s what we’ve been calling the “Darwin’s Dilemma Exhibition Case.” Our last post on this topic was Blood in the Water? In addition to that movie trailer linked at the top of this post, the next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

A lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) charges that the California Science Center (CSC) violated both the First Amendment and a contract to rent its theater when it canceled a screening of Darwin’s Dilemma. The AFA is an outfit promoting “the controversy” about evolution — in the interest of what they call “academic freedom.” The film they wanted to show includes appearances by Richard von Sternberg, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen Meyer, all “senior fellows” with the Discovery Institute, discussing that the Cambrian “explosion” is evidence of intelligent design.

The theater owner getting sued is the California Science Center, which canceled a contract for showing the film, alleging that a Discoveroid press release (which the Science Center hadn’t approved) violated a contract clause requiring their prior approval of all promotional materials. Technically, although two Discoveroid “senior fellows” were scheduled to conduct a discussion session after the showing of the film, the Discovery Institute wasn’t a party to the exhibition agreement.

Thus there’s an issue as to whether the unauthorized publicity sent out by the Discovery Institute gave the Science Center grounds to cancel the contract. It’s also an issue whether the Discovery Institute was working so closely with the AFA (the plaintiff) that their unauthorized publicity notices were issued with the AFA’s knowledge and tacit consent, breaching the contract.

The AFA alleges that the contract violation was a “false pretext” for cancellation of the exhibition contract. It’s really discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment, thus a violation of the AFA’s constitutional rights. The Science Center thinks this is a contract case; the AFA is treating it as a civil rights case.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has all the court pleadings available online. See: American Freedom Alliance v. California Science Center et al.

We’ve written before about some of Casey’s shocking findings of VD in this case. See Discovery Institute Finds “Viewpoint Discrimination”. Let’s continue with Casey’s latest blog article:

More evidence [of VD] comes in an e-mail from Joe DeAmicis, CSC’s [that’s the California Science Center] vice president of marketing, to CSC curator Ken Phillips. DeAmicis implies that had the museum known of “the nature of the groups,” they might have acted differently:

Oooooooh! What did Casey find? Warning: What comes next is a Discoveroid quote. We always advise that all creationist quotes should be carefully checked, both for accuracy and for context. We haven’t done that here, so we’re giving you Casey’s “quote” in the raw:

[Casey’s quote:] This screening event was booked through the Events Dept., and they were unaware of the nature of the groups involved. It has come to Jeff’s attention and he is “working on it.” That’s about all I know.

Powerful stuff, huh? It looks like a very advanced case of VD. Here’s what Casey says about it:

Why should it matter to CSC staff that CSC’s events department was “unaware of the nature of the groups involved”? It matters because no one there likes intelligent design (ID) and no one wants to be caught appearing sympathetic to ID; if they weren’t aware of the pro-ID nature of the groups involved, then they can plead ignorance to their friends who were angry about the event. In this culture of intolerance, the rule is this: don’t get caught anywhere near ID.

Wowie! We’re impressed! Let’s read on:

This is a textbook example of viewpoint discrimination. In the primary case where the U.S. Supreme Court explained the jurisprudence of viewpoint discrimination, Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches School District, a public school district in New York refused repeated requests from a religious group that sought to rent district facilities for after-hours use.

That’s an interesting case. You can read about it here: in this Wikipedia write-up. They provide a link to the actual decision, if you want to read it.

Of course, even if Casey has found evidence of the Science Center’s negative attitude about creationism, it’s irrelevant. The key issue in this case is whether the exhibition contract was breached by unauthorized publicity. As we’ve said before (see our 03 Sep ’10 Update), if the Science Center was justified in considering the contract breached, it wouldn’t matter if they were happy to cancel the show, nor would it matter why they were happy. If you want still more of our thinking on VD in general, see The Rational Necessity of Viewpoint Discrimination.

So the Darwin’s Dilemma Exhibition Case continues. Our last information was that there’s a post-mediation conference set for 29 October 2010. Our guess is that mediation will fail to resolve this litigation. That’s because one side (the Science Center) sees it as a simple breach of contract case and the other side is presenting itself as a civil rights victim of VD. The trial is set for 13 June 2011.

Update: See Discovery Institute: Could They Win in Court?

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Discovery Institute: “Darwin’s Dilemma” and VD

  1. I would like to know if what these IDots claim by VD and violation of the first amendment they think they have the right to come into my house and tell me force me to hear their creationist propaganda.

    Or if they think they can come to my company and be allowed to force us to hear their creationist propaganda.

    They have the right to voice their propaganda. But they don’t have the right to force institutions whose purpose is scientific education and outreach to give them a forum for their propaganda.

    I know laws are much more complicated than this, and that the problem is much more complicated than this. But I wonder if a jury would see the faulty logic.

  2. gabo says:

    But I wonder if a jury would see the faulty logic.

    I don’t think this is a jury trial. They’re not only asking for damages, they want an injunction for something or other. Juries don’t decide such cases.

  3. They have the right to voice their propaganda. But they don’t have the right to force institutions whose purpose is scientific education and outreach to give them a forum for their propaganda.

    I don’t think its that simple. While the CSC does have a science mission, they seem pretty open to hosting non-science-related events. Their web page, for instance, advertises their services for client receptions, awards banquets, and employee parties to name a few. That leaves them open to the discrimination charge.

    Now, I certainly hope CSC wins the case. To my mind the discoveroids were intentionally deceptive and because they told CSC one thing and then advertised another (without CSC approval), they’re at fault. However, having said that I don’t think the case is cut and dried. It depends on whether the judge thinks the advertising dispute is the actual problem or merely a pretext for content discrimination. If the judge sees it as a pretext, CSC will lose. If it really was a pretext, CSC ought to lose.

  4. That silly viewpoint that science ought to be truthful is the source of problems for the Dishonesty Institute.

    Why should a mere prejudice in favor of the truth get in the way of the propagation of ID?

    (Yes, I know the legalities are more involved, but the propaganda from the DI often amounts to just that, minus the acknowledgement of the dishonesty of their “viewpoint”).

  5. The DI has probably not considered that by pushing “viewpoint discrimination” that they are confessing that ID is an opinion, not science. They are saying that ID is “greenish” where science says evolution has a wavelength of 510 nm.

    Therefore, according the the DI in this upcoming court case, it will be demonstrated that ID is not science but, rather, opinion. Well done, DI !!! We really do appreciate your efforts.

    I also noticed that the court date for this important legal action is June, 2011. According to the Inverse Square Law of Relevance the outcome is likely to be – meh.

  6. The discovery process has shown that the DI and AFA were working as one on the invite/press release that is in question. (they were lying of course ) It would be hard for them to win this one. I bet at this point the AFA is hoping to get away with attorney’s fees. That way they can fly back to the pigeon coupe and claim victory. To go to trail would be very expensive for all.

  7. You know, Luskin, attorney at bar in California, and legal gerbil, it doesn’t matter in a court of law what people think. Haven’t you learned that or were you in the exercise wheel in your cage that day? What matters, Luskin, attorney at bar in California, is what the evidence shows and what the judge rules.

    In this case, dear Luskin, it is breach of contract, not viewpoint discrimination. Am I right, Luskin, or am I right? The DI screwed this pooch. You, Luskin, need to deal with the litter.

  8. California SCIENCE Center (emphasis added)

    “SCIENCE Center” – not “RELIGIOUS MYTH Center”

    Does the California Science Center not have a charter, a mission statement of some kind? Does it not have somewhere in either (or both, or whatever) of those (or such as those) some statement to the effect that it exists for THE PROMULGATION OF SCIENCE? I would be surprised if it des not.

    If so, then, the CSC can reject, exclude, decline, s**t-can the showing of DARWIN’S DILEMMA on the simple premise that the film does not promulgate science, it promulgates religion.

    Then let the IDiots go into court and on the stand argue that Intelligent Design is science and not religion. As this is a palpably false argument, the fools would again – as in DOVER v. KITZMILLER – find they had put themselves in the position of arguing an unarguable position. And, in doing so would expose themselves, their argument, their process, their agenda and their “theory” of god-driven evolution to exposure as liars, obfuscation, illogic, politics and fantasy.

    And wouldn’t THIS be to the good? It was when they hung themselves out to dry in DOVER

    I say, let them go to court as often as they wish. Court proceedings, troublesome and expensive as they usually are, are, in this country, often the best venue for bringing to the public forum issues of this nature. After all, The Discovery institute is not a scientific institution; it is a political institution pushing an anti-science, anti-knowledge, anti-reason agenda political agenda through the courts. Let them. Let them hoist themselves with their own petard. be hoist with their own petard.

    “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
    – Louis Brandeis, Other People’s Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914)

  9. JOHN THOMAS GILLICK, both of your comments were delayed by the abusive language filter. All cleaned up now. I assume the second comment, being more extensive, is the one you want to go with. Sorry for the delay.