Is there a major piece of litigation brewing in Australia that gives hope to the Discovery Institute? Judge for yourself, as we present to you a new post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. It’s titled In Australia, Academic Freedom Case Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences. Ooooooooooooh! Far reaching consequences!
It was written by Sarah Chaffee, whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” This is her bio page at the Discoveroids’ website. Here are some excerpts from her post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Until Covid came along, evolution and climate change were at the top of the heap as controversial issues at the intersection of science and culture. Despite the newcomer, they remain as charged with potential for battle as ever.
Wowie! Evolution remains charged with potential for battle! Savvy Sarah says:
That’s, of course, not only in the United States but internationally. In Australia, as I’ve written here before, a prominent professor who critiqued climate change research has been in the spotlight for the past two years. The case, however it turns out, will have profound consequences.
What’s going on here? The Discoveroids don’t write about climate change — at least not very often — and neither do we. So why are they worked up over this? Savvy Sarah tells us:
So, can academics voice controversial viewpoints on scientific topics, or not? [Sure, they do it all the time — but not wacky viewpoints like flat Earth and creationism.] Peter Ridd, head of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, published a chapter in the book Climate Change: The Facts 2017. He doubted that the Great Barrier Reef was almost dead due to global warming, and argued as much. Then, he talked about the chapter on TV and his university got wind of it. He was hit with charges of academic misconduct.
Interesting — to climatologists — but we don’t see any possible connection to the hopeless situation of some drooling professor who wants to teach creationism. But let’s not judge too quickly. Maybe Savvy Sarah has something here. We’ll soon see. She continues:
After very tense interactions with the university and demands he was unwilling to meet, he raised funds to pursue the matter in court. Ridd ended up [Link to a Discoveroid post omitted.] winning $1.2 million (Australian). Judge Salvatore Vasta [apparently a trial court judge] offered this endorsement of academic freedom:
[Savvy Sarah quotes the judge:] That is why intellectual freedom is so important. [Ooooooooooooh! Intellectual freedom!] It allows academics to express their opinions without fear of reprisals. It allows a Charles Darwin to break free of the constraints of creationism. It allows an Albert Einstein to break free of the constraints of Newtonian physics. It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about. To suggest otherwise is to ignore why universities were created and why critically focused academics remain central to all that university teaching claims to offer.
Grand sounding language! But does it let un-tenured university professors say literally anything in class? That’s what would be required for a professor to teach creationism. Let’s read on:
Following that decision, the Federal Education Minister requested [Link to a Discoveroid post omitted.] a model academic freedom and freedom of speech code, which ended up being drafted by a former member of the High Court. [Sounds lovely.]
Then everything started falling apart:
But this July, the court’s decision was overturned by the Federal Court, 2-1. [Oh the horror!] Ridd decided to appeal the case to the High Court — Australia’s highest judicial body. I hope the High Court takes the case.
We shall see. And now we come to the end:
A decision in favor of academic freedom would have far-reaching implications for Australian universities, and in particular the scientific establishment. It would echo in other countries, too, including ours.
Do the Discoveroids seriously think that even if Ridd wins his climatology case in Australia, it will reverberate in the US courts? Not only for climate science, but all other sciences too. Then — at last! — creationism will become a protected topic in public schools. Who knows? Maybe they think it’ll work that way. What do you think, dear reader?
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