Discoveroids: Academic Freedom, Not Integrity

We have recently posted a series on the hypocritical, one-sided approach to the topic of academic freedom taken by the Discovery Institute. Starting with The Reality of Creationist “Academic Freedom”, followed by “Academic Freedom” for Creationists Only, and then “Academic Freedom” for the Inquisition, we’ve pointed out that the Discoveroids — who pretend to be champions of academic freedom — scream to the sky when a creationist is disciplined for promoting his religious views in a state school’s science class; but they’re always silent when someone is stopped from teaching evolution at a creationist school.

The one time the Discoveroids ever mentioned the other side their embarrassing moral dichotomy (without even recognizing their inconsistency) was in this Discoveroid post: Has the Darwin-Lobbying National Center for Science Education Gone Wobbly on Us?, where Klinghoffer discussed the creationist witch hunt against faculty members who teach evolution at Bryan College. There he casually threw academic freedom under the bus when he said:

Now, as a matter of pedagogy, exposing students to varying perspectives is a winning method. On the other hand, a private institution like Bryan with a religious or philosophical mission inevitably draws lines for its teachers. If you want to retain the mission, you can’t at the same time tell faculty that “Anything goes.”

Today the Discoveroids are once again promoting their own version of academic freedom. This new post appears at their blog: In Twin Cases, “Academic Integrity” Is Newspeak for Speech Code. It’s written by Joshua Youngkin, one of their staff lobbyists.

He mentions “twin cases.” Are the Discoveroids finally dealing with both sides of the issue? Alas, no. Youngkin says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

If you’re familiar with the news we report at ENV [the Discoveroids’ creationist blog], you probably know that Indiana’s Ball State University and Texas’s Amarillo College each cancelled a course treating the subject of intelligent design.

You’re familiar with the situation at Indiana’s Ball State University. The last time we posted about it was Ball State Imbroglio Heats Up Again. We previously wrote about the other case at Amarillo College — see Discoveroids Suffer a Crushing Defeat, which was followed by Discoveroids’ Crazed Reaction to Amarillo College. As expected, neither involves a creationist school that discriminates against science. Youngkin goes on:

You probably don’t know that critics of the courses on both campuses dismissed concerns about academic freedom with a cursory appeal to “academic integrity,” a noble-sounding phrase that has been used in these twin cases to mask less-than-noble behavior.

This is good! Youngkin is going to trash the concept of academic integrity. And why not? They don’t care if someone is hired to teach biology at a state school, and he spends his time lecturing about Adam & Eve. The instructor’s freedom should prevail over his obligation to teach the subject. But if someone teaches evolution at a religious school, then: Off with his head! Youngkin continues:

Academic freedom doesn’t just sound noble. It has long made higher education capable of good. …

[Blah, blah, blah]

“Academic integrity,” on the other hand, has neither the pedigree nor utility of academic freedom. The American Association of University Professors has never used “academic integrity” to limit the protective reach of academic freedom. The law, too, has never recognized “academic integrity” as a counterweight to the burdens its doctrine on academic freedom places on school administrators.

There’s no doubt about it, freedom sounds good — except in those cases where “Darwinists” dare to each science at creationist schools. No freedom for them! Here’s more:

The use of “academic integrity” as a constraint on academic freedom is unprecedented, exotic, and suspicious. It is risky, too. As the Adams case illustrates, judges and juries will take a keen interest in a school’s departure from the requirements of academic freedom and due process as written into a school’s handbook, particularly when specific promises in a handbook are made binding on school administration by the strictures of contract and employment law, as is often the case. Such departure from established procedure is made all the more risky when coupled with anything that looks like administrative retaliation against a teacher for expression of a minority viewpoint, such as class cancellation or denial of tenure.

We don’t know much about the Adams case, but Youngkin’s link, which we omitted, indicates that Adams was represented by the the Alliance Defending Freedom. We wrote about them in Alliance Defense Fund Changes Its Name, where we noted that they’ve been involved in assisting creationists like David Coppedge, John Oller, and Ray Comfort. They describe themselves as a “legal ministry.” Back to Youngkin’s post:

Ball State University and Amarillo College were each pressured by a militant atheist group to cancel a class based on its subject matter. Both schools cancelled the targeted course as advised. Both received letters outlining concerns for academic freedom. Each school defended on the grounds of “academic integrity” though neither school has replied in writing as requested to the points raised in the letters.

Those letters were undoubtedly from the Discoveroids. How else would Youngkin know about those schools’ unanswered mail? Moving along:

This not only creates impasse; it signifies disrespect.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Another excerpt:

The president of each school, Dr. Gora for Ball State University and Dr. Matney for Amarillo College, each announced their respective intent to resign about six weeks after receiving letters about academic freedom.

Jeepers! What are the odds against that? On with the article:

These resignations may not be a bad thing. Dr. Gora’s and Dr. Matney’s curious reliance on “academic integrity” to justify imposition of a speech code suggests a dangerous unfamiliarity with academic freedom literature. Even so, Discovery Institute has never suggested in its letters or other communications that either president should resign as a consequence of the impasse on academic freedom or even as a consequence of class cancellation.

Ah, so they were Discoveroid letters. What’s Youngkin’s point — that the Discoveroids are so powerful and feared that a mere letter from them is sufficient to make a school’s president resign? Somehow, we doubt that a letter from Youngkin, or Casey, or any of them, has the same terrifying effect as a letter from the Spanish Inquisition — not yet, anyway. Here’s the finish of Youngkin’s post:

In the end, what matters is not which school president we work with, but that we get these things right.

The Discoveroids won’t begin to get things right until they show enough integrity to address the flip side of their concern for academic freedom. We refer to the freedom of professors to teach science at creationist schools. Or, more logically, the institutional freedom of both secular and religious schools to determine what their schools’ curriculum should be. For some reason, we doubt that the Discoveroids care about anyone’s academic freedom except those who teach creationism. The others are headed for the Lake of Fire anyway.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Discoveroids: Academic Freedom, Not Integrity

  1. I’m beginning to see why several of this blog’s commenters don’t shy away from calling some of the Discorrhoids out-and-out liars. It is increasingly hard to believe that the slanted babbling ejected by some of them is entirely sincere and without duplicity. Against that background, I think the best attack is repeatedly to expose these self-appointed beacons of uprightness and integrity as being very much belly-crawlers in the distant foothills of the moral high ground.

  2. LadyAtheist

    Their shills in the Indiana legislature called their conversation with Gora “productive” which in creationist oppositespeak probably means “yeah we were wrong”

  3. @ LadyAtheist: Hope you also saw, ahead of that meeting, poor Klingderella’s whining about not being invited to the Ball: Free Speech at Ball State: Let’s Have It in Writing, Please.

    We have a copy of Dr. Gora’s letter of invitation. There’s one apparent reason for preferring to answer lawmakers’ questions in a private, off-the-record setting instead of in writing: because Gora and Ball State want their responses to be private, off-the-record and thus inaccessible to concerned parties who won’t be in the room that day.

  4. You quoted Klinghoffer as throwing academic freedom under the bus with this:

    . . . a private institution like Bryan with a religious or philosophical mission inevitably draws lines for its teachers. If you want to retain the mission, you can’t at the same time tell faculty that “Anything goes.”

    The DI’s hypocrisy is nicely illustrated here. We can rephrase Klinghoffer to see it:

    A public institution like Ball State with a science educational mission inevitably draws lines for its teachers. If you want to retain the mission, you can’t at the same time tell faculty that “Anything goes.”

    Challenge the DI to explain why pseudoscience and other forms of disproven nonsense like ESP, homeopathy, astrology, geocentrism or flat-earthism ought to be excluded, and you’ll never get a straight answer. Of course, such challenges are not even possible on the DI’s website, since they don’t allow comments. More hypocrisy.

  5. @ Megalonyx
    I suspect that Gora’s preference for off-the-record discussion was largely for political self-defense: to shield legislators from public exposure of their having been taken in by the DI, with the potential for political backlash.

  6. I think the most shocking thing is that a school like Bryan College can be accredited to grant degrees in Biology while pursuing a policy of preventing their faculty from teaching the most basic biological principles. Could a ultra religious school teach physics based on the actions of different types of angels, rather than Godless Newtonian forces, and still grant degrees in Engineering?

  7. Ladyatheist

    hah! yes I did! How disappointed they must have been that the letter they wrote resulted in a visit with the shills they probably bribed to send it. Unintended consequences!

  8. @AlanF: Masterful job re-writing Klingflinger’s piece of hypocrisy.

  9. paulpfish writes, “I think the most shocking thing is that a school like Bryan College can be accredited to grant degrees in Biology while pursuing a policy of preventing their faculty from teaching the most basic biological principles.”

    Excellent point. If they demand their faculty to disavow science, they should lose their accreditation. Heck, they should lose it anyway, just for this act of intimidation.

  10. Youngkin of the DI whines, “Each school defended on the grounds of “academic integrity” though neither school has replied in writing as requested to the points raised in the letters.

    This not only creates impasse; it signifies disrespect.”

    Disrespect? Ha! What has the Discovery Institute EVER done that would EARN respect?

  11. Its hard to think of someone without any redeeming qualities whatsoever, but that is what I see when I look at the people at the DI. They remind me of mobsters who engage in selling narcotics and human trafficking. You just know that they understand what they do is wrong, but they just don’t give a damn, as hard as it might be to understand that. These people are bald faced liars, know that they are making the world around them just a little more dead with every move they make, and yet they probably sleep just fine at night as long as the money keeps rolling in.

    You always hear about how everyone is the hero in their own stories and nobody thinks of themselves as the bad guys. Supposedly we just aren’t wired like that. The DI is proof that this is not always the case. Or am I just being cynical here?

  12. Justin says: “You just know that they understand what they do is wrong, but they just don’t give a damn, as hard as it might be to understand that.”

    It’s possible that they’re sincere. That’s hard to believe, but it’s possible. Assuming that’s the case, the big difference between them and someone like ol’ Hambo is that he earns his money by providing a roadside attraction people are willing to pay to see. He takes contributions too, but I’m guessing that his operation is mostly self-supporting.

  13. Justin, when you think about it, where else could Casey get a job? His reasoning skills and knowledge base, as shown by his feverish scribblings, are both deficient. Klinklepooper is merely, as our esteemed Curmudgeon so eloquently puts it, a journalistic slasher and poo flinger. How could such creatures find work in an organization that actually makes contributions to society?

    The Discoveroids are a frothy mixture of deluded fools with delusions of adequacy and professional liars and propagandists that would make the old Soviet rag Pravda writers look like Sunday School teachers.

  14. The Discoveroids are right! There is a difference between academic integrity and academic “freedom.” In what we all ought to consider more than a mere analogy, it’s like the difference between “shopping integrity” and “shopping freedom.” The former means that merchant and customer exchange merchandise for money at a fair market price, even though one or both might not be pleased with the price. The latter means freedom to shoplift or ripoff the customer with merchandise that is not what it was advertised to be.

  15. SC: “It’s possible that they’re sincere. That’s hard to believe, but it’s possible.”

    My usual 2c on that, with my usual caveat that only a mind reader (God?) knows for sure. In terms of personally believing:

    (1) …that evolution (& sometimes common descent) is “weak”: Insincere.

    (2) …that God is the ultimate cause of life: Sincere, but the point is moot because so do some of their staunchest “Darwinist” critics, and at least one of them (Berlinski) is on record as being uncertain that God exists.

    (3) …that they caught any designer (God or otherwise): Insincere.

    (4) …that the “masses” need to reject evolution in order to behave properly: Sincere, if in an unhealthy, paranoid way.

  16. At my university, “academic integrity” is also called a “contract”. When you are hired, they make you sign these unprecedented, exotic, and suspicious documents that specify what work you’ll do in exchange for the salary you’ll get. And then, if you don’t teach the subject specified in the contract, they fire you!

    Shameful suppression of academic freedom.

  17. Whoops, it’s academic *integrity* that’s called a contract.

    I tried teaching alchemy once in my inorganic chemistry class, and they pulled that on me…..

  18. “It’s possible that they’re sincere.”
    Don’t forget the option that the IDiots from Seattle have since long passed the point of no return where there is no difference anymore between self-delusion and lack of integrity.
    I mean, what sense does it have to ask if these guys are sincere?

    http://news.sky.com/story/1096687/former-it-specialist-claims-to-be-jesus-reborn
    http://diggerfortruth.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/10-reasons-why-hitler-was-one-of-the-good-guys/
    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/arnold2.htm

    Klingy falls in the same category as far as I can see.