I have more substantive things to post today, but stuff like sick kittens, and now this Big Announcement, keep getting in the way.
In this case I’m so proud I could bust a button! Reader Doc Bill just informed me that I was selected from a field of stiff competitors (including anticreationism activist Zack Kopplin) to be the Discovery Institute’s (DI’s) “Censor of the Year.” They even made a cool poster of me!
Liar Fellow David Klinghoffer wrote the encomiums at Evolution News & Views, although he somehow fails to grasp that such a prize really is an honor, coming as it does from an organization devoted to spreading lies to schoolchildren (all bolding is from the DI announcement):
Let me make clear at the outset: In naming University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne as “Censor of the Year,” we at the Center for Science & Culture are not bestowing an honor. While the idea of giving out a “prize” for something so malignant as censorship may sound like a lark, it’s not. As CSC associate director John West points out, “This is very serious business. Censorship retards the search for truth and hurts innocent people.”
And says Dr. West, “Among die-hard defenders of evolutionary orthodoxy, it’s now standard operating procedure.” This is how the scientific “consensus” against Darwin skeptics and intelligent-design advocates is maintained — by fear.
The “award” will be distributed this Wednesday, February 12, for Darwin Day.
I hope the prize includes money: it’s cassoulet season and I’m hankering for a good French meal. If not that, then I’d really like a copy of the poster shown above.
The achievements which garnered me this prize appear to consist solely of helping stop Dr. Eric Hedin from pushing religion in his physics and astronomy class at Ball State University in Indiana. So I’m a wee bit hurt that the DI didn’t also laud me for getting the “Creatures of God” plaque taken down at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. The fact that they left out that signal achievement shows that what they’re really peeved about is having Intelligent Design expelled from a university. As Klinghoffer notes, it’s also about my using the power differential between Hedin and me to “bully” him:
Coyne was pivotal in stampeding Ball State University president Jo Ann Gora to issue a campus-wide gag order on teaching about intelligent design in science classrooms. This involved intimidating and silencing a young Ball State physicist, Eric Hedin. That’s censorship. But something that really stands out about Coyne’s effort is the power differential between himself and his victim.
Here’s Coyne, comfortable as could be in what sure sounds like an easy yet highly prestigious position at the University of Chicago. His workload is evidently so light that he has time to blog at Why Evolution Is True what seems like around the clock about frivolous pet topics. While he’s ostensibly a scientist, his main passion is bashing religion. Coyne is protected by tenure. He’s safe.
On the other hand we have Eric Hedin, at a state school, Ball State in Indiana, with considerably less cachet. Hedin is actively publishing in his field, unlike Coyne, but he is not tenured, and so his professional future is really on the line. His prospects are now far more fragile, thanks to Professor Jerry Coyne. Frittering away time blogging about cute animals and posting cartoons insulting various religions — as Coyne does — was not, I’m fairly sure, something that Dr. Hedin would have felt free to do if he was (highly unlikely) inclined to do it.
So we have the powerful, prestigious and above all safe Jerry Coyne, swooping in from the next state to rile up Hedin’s employers, Ball State’s administration. Why? Because Hedin included a bibliography in an interdisciplinary class that listed some books that were favorable to intelligent design (and others that were critical of it).
Coyne was not only successful in shutting down Hedin, and getting intelligent design shut down on the campus as a whole. He was also a bully, exploiting the difference in power to tyrannize and dominate a vulnerable younger scholar.
Perhaps I’m being churlish at this wonderful moment, but I would like to correct two things. “Easy yet highly prestigious position” is not quite an accurate description of my job. I write on this site between 6 and 8 a.m., before work hours (posts are spread throughout the day), devoting the rest of the time to academic duties and writing a book. And I work 7 days a week, certainly more than the “scientists” at the Discovery Institute do. Finally, I am deeply grieved if Dr. Hedin feels “tyrannized,” though somehow I think that’s a bit of DI hyperbole. Nevertheless, I’m proud to be disseminating kittens rather than lies.
But really, Discovery Institute: you like me! Right now, you like me! And honestly, while I’m the recipient of this honor, many of us share in this victory, for my tyranny could not have been successful without the help of many others. In particular, I’d like to thank the anonymous student at Ball State University, who, filled to the craw with Hedin’s Jesus talk (“No Hindu monkey god could do that”), reported Hedin’s shenanigans to another anonymous informant, who brought them to my attention. I’d also like to thank the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and especially staff attorney Andrew Seidel, for calling Hedin’s behavior to the attention of the President and academic officers of Ball State University. And, most of all, I’d like to thank Ball State President Jo Ann Gora (now retired) for taking a stand against teaching disguised creationism at her University. In fact, Gora deserves this award far more than I do, for she is the one who took action and took an uncompromising stand against ID nonsense and in favor of real science.
Thank you, Dr. Klinghoffer—the award is even more meaningful coming from a fellow Jew—and thanks to all the people at the Discovery Institute. I will cherish this honor immensely, and will put it on my desk right next to my “Emperor Has No Clothes Award” from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
My people have already issued a more formal thank you, but you’ve made my day!