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Darwin, with disclaimers

Posted on October 8th, 2009 Uncategorized | No Comments »

Next month, The Origin of Species will be distributed to students at the top 100 universities–by a Christian organization called Living Waters.  But these copies will include a “special introduction” about Darwin and his theory.  Inside Higher Education describes the introductory disclaimer with the following:

Materials being used in fund raising by the group say that the introduction “gives a timeline of Darwin’s life, and his thoughts on the existence of God. It lists the theories of many hoaxes, exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything, points to the incredible structure of DNA, and notes the absence of any undisputed transitional forms. To show the dangerous fruit of evolution, it also mentions Hitler’s undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin’s racism, and his disdain for women. In addition, it counters the claim that creationists are “anti-science” by citing numerous scientists who believed that God created the universe….”

I’ve previously argued how evolution disclaimers enhance academic freedom and critical thinking in public schools, and I have no doubt this effort to reach out to college students will bring great value to the marketplace of ideas.  In fact, scientific theory is a prime example of the Left’s choke hold on higher education.  Students who offer reasonable, but unorthodox views on evolutionary theory are cast aside and mocked for their “childish” views.  And don’t even think about mentioning religion….

It will be interesting to see how universities react when Living Waters begins handing out the free books.  We’ll be watching with interest, and hope that the academy embraces the debate.

Author

ADF Senior Legal Counsel - University Project

Weekly media roundup: Sept. 27 to Oct. 2

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 Uncategorized | No Comments »

We’ve decided to start posting each Friday a roundup of media coverage of ADF Center for Academic Freedom cases. We hope this provides you greater insight into and understanding of our efforts to protect Christian students on America’s college and university campuses.Without further ado, here are the media outlets that covered ADF Center for Academic Freedom cases this week, September 27 to October 2: 

Sept. 28
The University v. Christian Belief - The Christian Post Blog
Despite controversy, FLiC is still a FLO - The Battalion Online

Sept. 29
Spokane Community Colleges Settle Lawsuit Over Discrimination Against Pro-LifersLifenews.com

Oct. 2
Paper’s lawsuit claims OSU biasThe Register Guard
Conservative student newspaper sues OSU over distribution restrictionsThe Oregonian

Author

ADF Senior Legal Counsel - University Project

David French on the Michael Medved Show

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 Uncategorized | No Comments »

Yesterday, David French discussed the ADF Center for Academic Freedom’s new case at Oregon State University, OSU Students Alliance v. Ray, et al., and the recent settlement in Sheeran v. Shea, et al., on the Michael Medved Show.

You can listen to it here.

Author

ADF Legal Counsel - University Project

LACC in more hot water over student speech rights

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Why punish speech after the fact, when you can censor it before it happens? That is the attitude of Los Angeles City College. According to the LA Times and Student Press Law Center, LACC is attempting to assert control over the student newspaper, The Collegian, by combining its operations with the student activities department. LACC cites budgetary concerns, but the student journalists and their advisor are concerned that the move will give the administration editorial control of the paper.  All this comes on the heels of LACC punishing Jonathan Lopez for expressing his religious beliefs on campus and attempts by the administration to belittle student reporters at public hearings.

Author

ADF Senior Legal Counsel - University Project

Engage in political speech and be convicted of a crime?

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 Uncategorized | No Comments »

That’s what happened to a University of Nebraska student in 2006. The student, whose case is now on appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court, was convicted of breach of the peace after he wrote some rather…er, “harsh” emails to his professor (who was also running for the Nebraska legislature). While I do not agree with the student’s tone, lack of manners, and approach to discussing issues with his professor, UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh (his attorney) is right that the student’s speech is constitutionally protected nevertheless.  Here is a snippet from Volokh’s brief to the Nebraska Supreme Court:

And the approach adopted by the opinion below poses a serious danger of viewpoint discrimination. Just before it found Drahota guilty, the trial court said, “Let’s be a little bit more tolerant, Mr. Drahota, of people who you don’t agree with.” If Drahota had expressed intolerance of people who hold intolerable viewpoints — rather than of a mainstream figure such as Professor Avery — a “toleran[ce]” test (apparently used by the trial court) or “civil[ity]” test (apparently used by the Court of Appeals) might have come out in Drahota’s favor. Judgments about an argument’s civility are often influenced by how sound it seems; even harsh insults may be treated as being within the bounds of civility when aimed at people whom the observer sees as meriting harsh condemnation.

Volokh’s remarks reminds me of the California State University System’s former requirement that students “be civil” on campus. A federal court struck down that requirement as unconstitutional in 2007 in a case handled by the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.

It is interesting that the professor went to the police instead of campus administrators to stop the student’s speech.  Some universities, like James Madison University, believe that no matter where a student speaks, whether off-campus or on, they can regulate the speech.  But University of Nebraska has a green light rating in FIRE’s speech code database, meaning that their student conduct policies comply with the First Amendment. 

So the professor went to the police, the student admitted sending the emails, the student was charged with breach of the peace, and a judge ultimately found him guilty and fined him $250.  On appeal, the Nebraska Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court went too far in punishing the student’s political speech.

Author

ADF Senior Legal Counsel - University Project

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