Outrage of the Century — Hambo Expelled!

We were alerted to this by our clandestine operative in Kentucky — code named “Blue Grass.” The headline at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia — is certain to infuriate you: University Denies Free Speech to Ken Ham and Boots Him from Speaking.

It was written by Patrick Kanewske — we think he’s the director of operations at Ark Encounter — and Mark Looy, who is co-founder of AIG and their chief communications officer. With those two authors, you know this is important. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis. It begins ominously:

Increasingly in the United States, religious freedom is being denied to Americans in their work place, at businesses, during public gatherings, and in holiday displays. A recent hotbed of anti-Christian activity is in tax-funded universities, where freedom of speech, including the free exercise of religion as specifically guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, is being trampled upon by intolerant groups.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] What happened? We’re told:

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), a school located in a region informally known as The Bible Belt, has booted Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, from speaking on the Edmond campus next month. UCO has reneged on a contract it signed that allowed Ken to give a talk on March 5. Ken’s presentation in the school’s Constitution Hall, titled “Genesis and the State of the Culture,” was objectionable to a campus LGBT group, which put heavy pressure on the UCO Student Association (UCOSA) to cancel Ken’s speaking engagement. In his proposed talk at UCO, Ken would have discussed the two different worldviews and their starting points when interpreting scientific evidence, as he did in his classic evolution/creation debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy” four years ago.

We’re shocked — shocked! Then they say:

Paul Blair, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, and who worked through a campus group to arrange to have Ken appear in Constitution Hall (and was successful initially), has agreed to let Ken speak instead at his church near the UCO campus on March 5. Here is a copy of the press release distributed by Pastor Blair to the media this morning:

They quote extensively from the rev’s press release. Here’s a bit of it:

Nationally renowned Christian speaker and author, Ken Ham, has been uninvited from a scheduled forum at the University of Central Oklahoma. Ham had planned to speak about the science behind Darwinian ideas, but objections from a campus LGBT group prompted UCO to cancel.

[….]

“It’s another case where the First Amendment seems to exist everywhere except on college campuses,” declared Pastor Blair. “According to its Campus Expression Policy, UCO is committed to ‘fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged’. But apparently that only applies to speech that echoes specific beliefs. The irony is, the groups promoting ‘tolerance’ are the most intolerant forces on campus.”

Ghastly indeed! AIG continues:

Pastor Blair presented AiG with a chronology of the events that led up to Ham’s cancellation:

[From the rev’s chronology, with bracketed material in the original:] Recently, a tenured professor, who serves as sponsor of the campus LGBT clubs, rallied support and put intense pressure on the students in the UCOSA to rescind the invitation, which they reluctantly did. This is another case of bullying by those that decry intolerance.

[…]

This tenured professor, who organized the resistance against Ken, also sponsors a Safe Sex Carnival. Their Facebook page showed, among other things, learning games where UCO students could throw [word deleted] at cardboard cutouts of [words deleted].

Let’s read on:

Throughout its history, Answers in Genesis has come under attack for its Christian beliefs. Even before we opened the Creation Museum in 2007, AiG received tremendous opposition when an atheist organization with the ironic name of Free Inquiry Group tried to stop our privately funded museum from being built on private property. A few years ago, AiG had to take the former Kentucky governor and his administration to federal court to preserve our constitutionally guaranteed religious rights, and thankfully we won.

That last item was a reference to AIG’s sales-tax kickback — see Ken Ham’s Ark Will Get State Tax Funds. One last excerpt:

The belief of a “separation of church and state” (a phrase found nowhere in the US Constitution) has been used as a justification to eliminate Christianity from the public arena and be replaced by the anti-God religion of secular humanism.

Groan — we’ve debunked that silliness a few times before — see Ken Ham Unhinged: Creationism & Theocracy Too.

Anyway, that’s the news from Hambo’s world. But no worries! He’s still going to be delivering his remarks at the rev’s church, so all is well.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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33 responses to “Outrage of the Century — Hambo Expelled!

  1. Michael Fugate

    They should have let him speak, but give qualified people on campus a chance to rebut – not just questions from the audience.

  2. @Michael Fugate
    I disagree. Firstly, that would give Ham equal status to proper science. Secondly, chances are that the local science guy is not such a polished debater as Ham.

    I am all for free speech, but universities have the obligation to uphold true facts. You can’t have somebody preaching that the universe is 6,000 years old.

    A pity that the objection to Ham came from the campus LGBT group. The science departments should have protested unanimously.

  3. There actually is a University of Central Oklahoma (UCO)? I haven’t looked it up, but I have thought it would be interesting if there were a Farmers’ University of Central Kansas.

    Anyway, and more to the point of this post, Pastor Blair brings up the tenet that “UCO is committed to ‘fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged.” (Italics added.)

    The key word is “learning”. It’s not in the interest of a state university to give a platform to a man well-known for demanding that institutions follow his ideas of religious dogma that have no relationship whatsoever with “learning”.

    That said, I agree with Michael Fugate above. Let him speak, but follow with concise rebuttal by qualified faculty. That would be in line with the school’s commitment to “fostering a learning environment.”

  4. hans435:
    “A pity that the objection to Ham came from the campus LGBT group. The science departments should have protested unanimously.”

    The science departments may well have protested as well. We are only seeing AiG’s side of the story, and they would surely highlight the fact that the LGBT group protested, even if they were but a small part of the protest.

    And I would agree that Ham is a polished debater. That’s why any rebuttal should follow Ham, and not be in the form of a debate. After all, science is not decided by debate, but by evidence.

  5. The details of how and why Ham was to speak, and then was denied, may be many and varied. Possibly, we don’t know the full story/facts; I would certainly not rely on AIG to tell the truth. However, generally speaking I would not ban him.

    However were Ham to speak, I would most definitely counsel against trying to debate him. This does nothing but provide oxygen and a false credibility to Ham and co. The intellectual rigours of science are nothing to Ham; he is not interested in the logic and disciplines of the scientific method. He and AIG deserve ridicule not respect.

  6. Michael Fugate

    From the title, I would suggest it wasn’t a science talk – it was a morality talk. That said, him speaking on campus has nothing to do with science. Of course, AiG’s message has nothing to do with science and never has.

    The thing to do is go to the talk and write a point by point rebuttal. Get it published in the campus or local paper. You fight this with more speech not with less.

  7. The school has a department of philosophy and humanities. Of course, they could always invite another outsider, like a local pastor.

  8. A “learning environment” is not the same as an” indoctrination environment.”

  9. Should somebody from the “Church of Bad Math” be allowed to present their belief that 1+1 == 3? In the interest of free speech? No, we have to filter idiots who are just plain wrong based on the facts. And that’s where Ken Ham is. He has ridden this con job farther than ever should have been allowed.

  10. I don’t think they should have canceled his appearance. He wasn’t invited to teach a class nor was the school implicitly or explicitly endorsing him.
    Protest him, fine. Let him bloviate, don’t allow him to Gish gallop, point out his ignorance when he’s done.
    It’s not like he’s going to gain followers, and there’s nothing you can do about the ones who’ve already drunk the Koolaid.

  11. I graduated from that school in 1972.

    I think that was the first year it had “university” status.

  12. Just whipping up the faithful regarding another discriminatory event barring THE TRVTH !

  13. Did I miss it somewhere? Why was Ham invited in the first place? Everyone knows he detests science and evolution, except for evangelicals of course. So what would he add to the school in terms of knowledge and learning. He’d just give his standard anti-science diatribe and praise for his sky god.

  14. Michael Fugate

    I agree that Ham has nothing to contribute in an academic setting and never should be invited to any college campus except if they need someone for a dunk tank fundraiser. But given that he was invited by someone and given permission to speak, then the university should honor that commitment.

  15. Why attend when you can watch it (turn down the sound?) on YouTube.

    I regret to say that this video seems to have been recorded in Australia. My head is hanging in shame.

  16. Like Hans435 I think creationists should not speak at universities at all. Much more than the Ham-Nye debate this would suggest that creacrap has scientific value and give it totally undeserved legitimacy. The free speech nonsense of Pat and Mark only demonstrates creationist hypocrisy. I am pretty sure they won’t allow me to hand over anti-creationism folders at the entrance of their non-museum and non-ark either. It’s a very popular habit in our days, but those “freedom fighters” only want freedom for themselves, not for the ideas they oppose.
    Ol’Hambo will speak right where his speech belongs: in a church. State (ie university) has no say here, just like pastors don’t have any say regarding universities.

    @MichaelF: “The thing to do is go to the talk and write a point by point rebuttal.
    Thanks for confirming that I need to stress it over and over again. You can’t refute creacrap. That’s what it’s pseudoscience for. Creacrappers and especially Ol’Hambo don’t obey the rules of rationality. That’s what his beloved “Biblical lens” is all about. Rationality can’t beat irrationality. Thinking it can ironically is unscientific.
    Your proposal hence is a colossal waste of time. The only use Ol’Hambo’s speech will have is training material for recognizing logical fallacies. Then Ol’Hambo’s own creacrap website AIG works much, much better pedagogically speaking.
    You make exactly the same mistake as AR Wallace in the 19th Century when he made a bet with Flat Earther John Hampden.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace#Flat_Earth_wager

    Letting Ol’Hambo speak at a university will cost more to repair the damage he will inflict than the gains you picture, most of which are imaginary.

  17. PaulS: “He wasn’t invited to teach a class”
    Wrong. Speeching at a university, invited by that university, is a form of teaching.

    “point out his ignorance when he’s done.”
    Nobody who desires to do so needs Ol’Hambo speeching anywhere. His own site AIG is more than sufficient. You can use the video provided by Tedinoz as well. It’s a good training for first year students: visit the AIG website and find ten points of ignorance, wrong facts and/or logical fallacies. That’s far more educational than a public speech.

    DavidK asks the right question:

    “Why was Ham invited in the first place?”
    Indeed. As any information is lacking my guess it’s more or less like that IDiot conference in Portugal: the invitation was issued before the university bureaucracy realized it was legitimizing pseudoscience.

  18. “Paul Blair, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church … worked through a campus group to arrange to have Ken appear in Constitution Hall.” If Ham was duly invited to speak by a legitmate campus organisation, he should not have been disinvited, least of all because another campus organisation considered his views objectionable.

    However, if (as the reference to “contract” suggests) it was more like someone having hired the hall for the occasion, then the University was quite right to protect its good name by disinviting him, although he may have the right to sue for civil damages.

  19. I’m going to have to take it up for AiG here.

    University organisations like student clubs regularly invite speakers on a variety of, sometimes controversial, themes. As long as it’s clear that the university does not endorse their standpoints, and within the boundaries of the law, these people should be allowed to speak. It’s also important to notice that attending such lectures must be completely voluntary, as I think the AiG meeting would have been.

    The past few years we’ve seen an insurgence of talks being cancelled by a virulent strain of ‘regressive leftism’. Jerry Coyne has reported on many of these. What the censors, often just a small number of vocal students, seem to want to attain is an environment free of anything remotely offensive or challenging, called a “safe space”.

    As a result, not only obviously wrong people like Ken Ham, or agents provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulis and Ann Coulter have been banned, but also conservatives like Ben Shapiro, people critical of feminism like Suzanne Venker, clumsy tweeters like Richard Dawkins, and philosophers like Sam Harris and even grandpa Dennett, as well as (IIRC) Steven Pinker.

    The list takes no end and giving a finger (other than the middle one) to Generation Snowflake will end in tears- of those who love freedom of speech and inquiry. Therefore AiG should not have been disinvited, whether they’re right or wrong.

  20. I have to agree with Draken. The best thing to do with bad ideas, damnfool notions, unreason, ridiculous non-sequiturs and all-round nonsense is to put it out there. If UCO students aren’t able to see through Ham’s standard bafflegab, they shouldn’t be at any college. A childminding service would be more appropriate – but, for all I know, that’s what UCO is.

  21. De-platforming is intellectual laziness at best, and the same kind of dishonesty as Hambo sells at worst.

    Debating issues involving the supernatural can be like playing catch with jello, but this blog has demonstrated that the deceptive statements made by these charlatans can be picked apart to their core. Screeching words like bigot and nazi only stifles discussion.

    People need to be exposed to snake oil salesmen/women/(current gender here) first hand in order to actually learn how to spot their deceptive methods.

    I’m sure Hambo wouldn’t invite someone to explain the world of logical fallacies to his flock and use similar reasoning to justify it. He’s just protecting his flock from the devils tongue and stealing their agency at the same time.

    Being appalled by someone doesn’t grant anyone the right to behave in a appalling manner themselves.

    Hats off to Micheal Fulgate and Draken!

  22. I agree with Draken. I’d add that even liberal comedian Bill Maher was restricted from speaking at a University.
    The best solution isn’t to deny a speaker, but for the university to not promote it in anyway, not even by complaining (or protesting) about it. The only thing that should be banned is the “safe space”.

    I’ll add that if the local university had Hambo as a speaker I might even go to it. It would be cool to view a creationist in his natural habitat.

  23. I’m with MF and Draken. Universities should be forums for open discussion. Hambo offers a teaching moment. I once saw Duane Gish in a debate. Read all you want about his “gallop”, one has to see it to fully understand its effect on the crowd.

  24. Retired Prof

    Troy remarks, “The only thing that should be banned is the ‘safe space’.”

    Interesting thing about this concept: Once when I made a comment similar to Troy’s, a faculty member at Notre Dame explained that Safe Space was originally a notice at a professor’s office indicating it was safe for gays and lesbians to discuss their troubles there without recriminations or danger of outing. I guess it’s an example of mission creep that it morphed into a term designating a space where ideas that make certain people “uncomfortable” are suppressed.

  25. After reading all the comments and looking at both sides, I still believe that cancelling Ham’s talk was the best solution.

    We people here on this blog are logical and we see that creationism is nonsense, but many students will be wavering, those brainwashed at home, their Sunday school and from their friends. There are many students who are not exposed to the natural sciences. And don’t get fooled by Ham’s title of the talk – Genesis and it’s literal meaning will be the focus.

    I had discussions with ID people (Stephen Meyer himself) in front of an audience favouring ID. Very little issues with science and logic. The main problem is philosophical: the question of whether or not to admit supernatural causation into science. Michael Behe doesn’t even deny common descent.

    Young Earth Creationism is a totally different kettle of fish. My first and only debate with one of those guys was a total disaster. You cannot come with facts and logic when you argue with these people. Watch the exchange between Richard Dawkins and Wendy Wright. Ham is an experienced and smooth talker. Many people sitting on the fence will be turned around and will join his camp. You cannot undo the damage afterwards with facts and logic.

    Yes, he shouldn’t have been invited in the first place, but better cancelling than sowing his ideas around. Creationism shouldn’t even be a debate at university level.

  26. Here is an excellent analysis of the legal and scientific issues. Written by a law professor. Explains why universities can limit free speech in order to enforce legitimate pedagogical interests. Pertains to ID but still applies here.

    https://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/facpubs/90/

  27. Just for good understanding, Ken Ham was not deplatformed for telling porkies about evolution. He was deplatformed for his stance on homosexuality.

    As for many students not being exposed to the sciences- that’s why some student clubs will invite Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins; to enable all students to be exposed to all sort of views.

  28. Matt: reading the abstract, I don’t think Ravitch’s argument pertains to extracurricular, invited, talks like Ken Ham’s.

    A more dubious case would be when, for example, DI rents accommodation at a university to hold an Intelligent Design seminar, possibly even targeting non-students. In that case the name of the university could be mistaken to be an endorsement of the content.

  29. “Ken Ham was not deplatformed for telling porkies about evolution. He was deplatformed for his stance on homosexuality”

    There won’t be a talk by Ham where he doesn’t insist on the literal reading of Genesis. And if you don’t take it literally, you are not a Christian. That’s a strong message which will resonate with every believer who is uncertain about those issues. He will start with St Paul and his stance on homosexuality, then move to Jesus who, according to the bible, points to Genesis “male and female he made them”.

  30. Draken, you’re right; I had skimmed this post and had assumed the talk was another attempt to teach religion as science. Still, I’m not convinced the university didn’t have the legal right to cancel the talk: 1) they were paying for it and 2) students asked it to be canceled and 3) the article didn’t mention any students demanding to let Ham talk.

    I’ve been unable to find any explanation from UCO.

  31. He should be allowed to speak. Students need to learn to discern sense from nonsense and how can that be if nonsense is not available to examine. I cannot think of one thing I agree upon with that man, but he should have the right to speak if someone empowered to invite him does so.

  32. he belief of a “separation of church and state” (a phrase found nowhere in the US Constitution) has been used as a justification to eliminate Christianity from the public arena and be replaced by the anti-God religion of secular humanism.

    The phrase may not be there, but the idea certainly is, not only in the First Amendment but also in Article Six, which expressly bans the use of religious tests for public office. It’s hard to believe the Framers would have written that if they didn’t want to keep government and religion separated.