A response to Ed Brayton's post, found here
By Kevin H. Wirth
Brayton and a host of others in the blogosphere have made much ado about the alleged persecution of ID and creationist educators and scientists ever since the dismissal of Guillermo Gonzalez last year from Iowa State University (ISU) and the release earlier this year of the movie 'Expelled'. It seems some critics of the Gonzalez incident and the movie have taken the position that the claims of rampant discrimination and persecution against educators, students, and scientists by Darwinian supporters is just a manufactured form of psychological hype concocted by ID advocates to get some unwarranted sympathy for their cause.
After investigating many case studies and publishing some, I can say with some degree of confidence that contrary to what these critics suggest, this isn't about hype at all, and in fact, the full extent of this situation remains largely under-reported. The practice of discrimination and elimination of Darwin skeptics from our science labs and academic institutions is widespread and, contrary to Mr. Brayton's implacable assertions, shows no signs of dropping off. In fact - the situation is becoming worse thanks to folks like Brayton who view it as a non-issue.
For example, Brayton claims that the ID movement "has a long history of false or unsupported claims of persecution (which shouldn't surprise us, I suppose; after all, their religion has its origin in an act of alleged martyrdom)."
Thanks to the newly released book, "Slaughter of the Dissidents", those claims are no longer unsupported. Of course, I'm pretty sure Brayton and other critics of his ilk will do their best to show us all how the case studies in that book are not really good examples of persecution at all. Go ahead Ed. Have at it.
In his blog, Brayton brings up the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, who was let go from ISU last year after his release of the film "Privileged Planet," and a no-confidence vote from his faculty peers. Gonzalez and his supporters claim that he was targeted for tenure denial because of his ID views, which have been characterized as "religious" by both his critics and former faculty.
Brayton goes on to say
"Here's what those screaming persecution won't say: they have not one iota of evidence that tenure was denied because Gonzalez is an ID advocate. None. They are presuming that to be the case because it fits the story they've been falsely claiming for years, that the evil Darwinian priesthood is out to destroy anyone who believes in God. It is convenient for them to cry persecution, but there simply is no evidence for it. And here's something else they won't say: people get denied for tenure every single day, all over the country, for a million different reasons, some fair and some unfair."
These statements bear taking a closer look.
Was there really "not one iota of evidence that tenure was denied because Gonzalez is an ID advocate"? I'll let readers judge this one, and refer to the spate of emails that were obtained through the Discovery Institute's Freedom of Information Act request. You can read those letters online  and also in Dr. Bergman's just published book on the subject. Those emails reveal not only a degree of hostility towards Guillermo's views, but also includes some insight into their voting intentions based on how his views were perceived. Consider the following email excerpts between some of Gonzalez's colleagues:
Harmon to Franzen 09/23/05: "...you have a nice writing touch and produced the best letter to the editor on intelligent design... It is a topic that is simmering in my blood, but as a colleague of Gonzalez, I am uncertain of how best to react. He will be up for tenure next year, and if he keeps up, it might be a hard sell to the department... By the way, I don't have trouble voting for tenure based on his astronomy...but here he is claiming ID is a proper branch of science, and so I think he opens it up in his tenure consideration."
Wilson to Struck 02/17/04: "In less happy news, Guillermo has a book coming out in April on Astronomy, Earth's privileged place in the universe and intelligent design. Steve K. is very upset about possible impacts. I guess I'm rather sad that he wants to be so very public about something that I see as intellectually vacuous, though it may be spiritually satisfying.
...I am not exactly thrilled. I talked with him last year about perhaps waiting with the public bit until he gets past tenure review, but I gather he feels strongly enought to be willing to take the risk... He's definitely a mixed bag, and who knows how this will go. At least it will get full daylight at the 3yr review, not hit folks as a surprise at the final tenure decision."
These comments (and many others that I urge you to read) don't exactly indicate that Guillermo's views were not going to pose "one iota" of a problem for his then upcoming tenure review. If you believe that then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you... These and other comments were made by many who were going to vote on whether to approve tenure for Gonzalez.
So did Gonzalez's views on ID play a role in his tenure denial? I think the email evidence alone makes it pretty clear that yes, they not just kinda did, but they absolutely did. We don't need to know what the actual faculty vote was... it's pretty evident from reading those emails and noting the declaration against ID that was circulated and supported by many of his ISU faculty colleagues.
But then there's the other interesting comment from Mr. Brayton...
"They are presuming that to be the case because it fits the story they've been falsely claiming for years, that the evil Darwinian priesthood is out to destroy anyone who believes in God."
Brayton cavalierly dismisses complaints about persecution against Darwin skeptics as patently false on it's face, claiming that "the evil Darwinian priesthood" is just a conjured up boogeyman in the IDers overly imaginative Monsters Inc. closet.
I guess Brayton isn't aware of the numerous comments made by many prominent Darwinians that actually take aim at people who do believe in God (which, by the way, is illegal discrimination if such comments form the basis for denying someone a job, a place to live, etc. etc.). A lot has been said on this topic by many Darwinians, but I'll pull out two choice examples - just so everyone clearly understands that this concern is not just another figment of ID imagination gone wild or another manufactured plot to gain sympathy.
Both James Watson and Francis Crick used the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their discovery of the structure of DNA in 2003 as an opportunity to "mount an attack on religion" as one observer put it. 
Watson: "There is a conflict between truth by revelation and truth by observation and experiment. I think the big fight eventually in our country is not going to be between Republicans and Democrats, but between those who think secularly and those who think in a fundamentalist way.'
Speaking to The Telegraph, Crick, 86, said: "The god hypothesis is rather discredited." Indeed, he says his distaste for religion was one of his prime motives in the work that led to the sensational 1953 discovery.
His co-discoverer, Watson, 74, told the Telegraph that religious explanations were "myths from the past".
"Every time you understand something, religion becomes less likely," said Watson. "Only with the discovery of the double helix and the ensuing genetic revolution have we had grounds for thinking that the powers held traditionally to be the exclusive property of the gods might one day be ours." 
For such venerated men of science to come out and publicly underscore not only their distate for religion, but their hope that their work clearly shows that religion has no merit, places ID concerns outside of the boogyman category and into the real world.
Crick and Watson's commentary is just a mild reflection of other sentiments I've run into from other Darwinians, but they will suffice to make the point that Brayton is off key in singing his tune.
Of the many Darwinians who have gone on record with anything to say on this subject, few comments are more clearly anti-religion than the one made a few years back by Richard Lewontin, who famously said:
"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." 
This comment makes it pretty clear that Lewontin (and many other scientists) value their approach to viewing the universe far beyond any other consideration, and especially any evidence indicating the universe might reveal the handiwork of an intelligent designer. I think he makes it pretty clear that EVEN IF the evidence indicates something contrary to what the scientific assumptions of naturalistic materialism dictate, then we need to hold on to those assumptions anyway, and furthermore, at any cost.
So much for the integrity of science.
You can't find a much better example of straight talk about what we should do with any ideas coming from those crazy fundies. I hold this up as exhibit "A" that scientific integrity gets thrown out the window simply as a matter of philosophical convenience by many Darwinians. In other words, what Lewontin and others who are completely committed to naturalistic materialism are saying is, even if an Intelligent Designer were to show up and demonstrate in a one-time instance how he could create a living machine, they would have to disallow it just because it doesn't fit within their framework of naturalism. If it can't be explained by a naturalistic process, then it simply need not be contemplated, period. And furthermore, anyone who argues about it or says wait a minute -- goodby and good riddance, 'cause we don't need to hear any more of your blathering.
Of course these quotes simply serve to light the fuse for the more heinous acts of discrimination endured by many Darwin Doubters who have been victimized over the years.
IDers and creationists have been maligned over the years for their beliefs, and I think it's well past time for everyone to recognize that this is not acceptable, and yes that includes you as well Mr. Brayton. I'm not talking about teaching religion in a science class, I'm talking about everyone's right to hold whatever 'religious' views they want, and the right to express those views appropriately. And I'm talking about going where the evidence might lead us, regardless of what assumptions most other scientists may have. Science does not always move forward on the basis of a democratic vote of the majority, nor is it advanced by the malfeasance of elitists who think they know better than everyone else. Science advances through the introduction of novel ideas, not the outright rejection of them.
SIDEBAR -- I find it fascinating that most ID critics take the position that ID isn't science, and therefore we shouldn't contemplate any of the ideas advanced by ID supporters. If inquiry were really at the core of the approach used by such critics, you would think they'd at least be willing to consider finding a way to investigate ID concepts in a manner that suited them better. But I don't see any of that going on, in fact, I most often see a very strong animus towards anything remotely suggestive of ID notions. Not exactly what you'd expect from people who claim to be interested in what really makes the universe tick.
Finally, Brayton does us the service of bringing to our attention the unfortunate account of Dr. Sean Carroll, another professor who was denied tenure at the University of Chicago simply because some of the UC faculty didn't like the way he brushed his teeth, evidently, because for all appearances, Brayton thinks he seemed worthy of being granted tenure. Brayton goes on to say that Carroll didn't 'whine' about being 'persecuted', but got on with his life, and advises others who find themselves in a similar pickle to simply "Get over it and get a new job."
That's well and good for a professor who doesn't mind starting another 5-7 year cycle attempting to gain tenure somewhere, if he can. Carroll probably won't have a problem with doing that, but you can be sure that's not going to be true of many Darwin skeptics -- they often find it much more difficult to find another really good position at another University, even if they are able to teach their subject material competently. But for those who worked hard, and like Carroll, were not expecting any problems gaining tenure, there is a HUGE issue here, and Brayton blithely passes over it like it was nothing at all. If you were told you had to do xyz to gain tenure at any academic institution, and then met all of those criteria, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to expect to gain tenure. In nearly any other circumstance where the terms of achieving advancement are defined, failure to deliver it when the criteria are met would be considered a breach of contract, except, of course, in academia. That Carroll did not complain is his choice, but that doesn't mean everyone else in a similar circumstance should respond in exactly the same manner he did - especially if discrimination was involved. No one who works hard and meets the expected criteria for tenure, and has good reviews along the way, should have to wake up one day only to learn he's going to get the axe just because the people he worked with didn't like something as inconsequential as the way he parts his hair or the color of his socks. Much less what his personal religious beliefs happen to be. Keep in mind here that Gonzalez did not teach his religious views to his students -- his only "crime" was writing a book and kicking out a movie that claims our planet enjoys some rather unusual and improbable characteristics. That his conclusions would contribute to the decision to terminate him from his position at ISU is unthinkable.
When a prof is on tenure track, I think he/she has the reasonable expectation of knowing what is required to achieve it. If all the requirements are met, then tenure should be granted, pure and simple. No faculty vote by jealous or sanctimonious peers should in any way challenge that achievement. Unfortunately, as we see in Brayton's own example of Carroll, such is not the case. Rather than suggesting someone who has been unjustly denied an earned tenure should "just get over it", I would prefer to see a different course of action undertaken -- one that calls for a correction in an obviously flawed tenure process. And while yes, it is healthy to move on, it's not at all healthy to let someone beat on you and go their merry way without any consequences -- especially if discrimination was indicated.
This is where the example of Carroll diverges from that of Gonzalez. Technically, Brayton is correct - people are denied tenure all the time who seem to deserve it. But when there is evidence of illegal discrimination, that's a horse of a different color. And as I have already demonstrated, it appears certain that Gonzalez was a victim of discrimination, and the emails clearly show that he was in a very hostile work environment. His colleagues made it very clear that they didn't appreciate his 'religious' views. If they ousted him because of his alleged 'religious' views (real or not), then it's religious discrimination, period.
Brayton characterizes Gonzalez and others who have been denied tenure as "whiners," which places an unsavory label on educators who protest when they've been unjustly discriminated against. Victims of discriminiation have every right to cry 'foul!' as loud as they want to when they suspect their rights have been violated. To characterize this as 'whining', as Brayton does, is a slap in the face to everyone who values the supposedly protected freedoms we all assume each of us is entitled to.
Brayton's comment is like saying "I just saw someone mug and beat Joe Blatz -- but he should just get over it and move on."
I wonder, would Brayton say the same thing to an Indian population who complained because their treaty rights had just been violated? Or would he say the same thing to a black person who was denied a place to live simply because of the color of his skin (and had biting emails from neighboring property owners talking about how uncomfortable they would feel living around a black person)? Evidently he would.
Shouldn't we at least be speaking out against those who we know very likely perpetrated a crime, and maybe even see what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again? In my view, it's at least immoral to deprive someone of something they've earned, even when discrimination is not part of the picture. It's even more immoral, in my view, to suggest that we should ignore or dismiss the plight of those who have a reasonable expectation of rights (i.e., protection against illegal discrimination) granted to us all.
There's a difference, Mr. Brayton, between whining and standing up for your rights.
And if we keep handing out "get out of jail free" cards to perpetrators of discrimination today (as both Gonzalez and Carroll eventually did), it will only embolden them to continue doing more of the same tomorrow. So Mr. Brayton, you'll pardon those of us who don't agree that this is all about a bunch of "whiners" complaining about a "persecution complex." This is about a very real wrong in need of radical correction before it gets worse. And don't think you're immune just because of the side of the fence you're sitting on either. The very same freedoms Gonzalez is entitled to apply to you as well. If you fail to honor the protection of those freedoms for people you disagree with ideologically, you also fail to protect them for yourself and the rest of us as well.
 see the newly released book "Slaughter of the Dissidents" by Dr. Jerry Bergman, which presents several case studies of educators and students who have faced discrimination and persection. You can order a copy here.
 you can download the Gonzalez emails online at: www.slaughterofthedissidents.com/cases/gonzalez/emails.zip
 Do Our Genes Reveal the Hand of God? In the London Daily Telegraph, by Roger Highfield, 3/20/2003
 Nobel Laureates Opine on DNA, Politics, and the Christian Right. http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev0803.htm
 Ibid, at 4.
 Lewontin, Richard. Billions and Billions of Demons in New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.
Seattle area writer and Darwin skeptic Kevin Wirth is a founding member of ARN (formerly Students for Origins Research). He is also the Senior editor and publisher of the book "Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters" by Dr. Jerry Bergman (2008). This is the most comprehensive book published to date documenting the extent and types of discrimination against Darwin skeptics.
To read more essays by Kevin Wirth, click here.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Kevin H. Wirth, all rights reserved. Quotes and links are permitted with attribution.
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