Ken Ham de-platformed at an Oklahoma University

Lots of religious sites have picked up the news that evangelical Christian and Ark-Park magnate Ken Ham has been deplatformed at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), but what they report is pretty similar to what more mainstream media say (for the latter, go here, here, and here; for Answer in Genesis‘s take, go here). The report below was taken from the three “secular” sources:

The upshot: Ham was scheduled to speak at the University on March 5; the topic was “Genesis and the State of the Culture,” and you can imagine what the content would be.  Answers in Genesis, however, says that “Ken Ham 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.” That sounds more like a creation/evolution debate than a discussion of how anti-Christian our culture is, but who knows? I suspect that, given the title, Ham would have discussed more than creationism!

But that’s irrelevant to the issue of free speech.

At any rate, Ham apparently was invited to speak by both the student government at UCO and a religious group called “Valid World Views”, so the invitation had the student government’s imprimatur.  There’s some dispute about whether a contract was signed with Ham (he says there was, UCO student body president Stockton Duvall says the negotiations for a contract were underway) and whether there was an initial vote by student government approving the invitation.

Then, the UCO Women’s Research Center and the BGLTQ+ Center objected to Ham’s visit because of his views on gay marriage (which, of course, are that it’s immoral, since marriage should be between one man and one woman). Duvall claims that these groups got wind of the contract negotiations and then ten students and two faculty members met with Duvall and, he says, “bullied” him into rescinding the invitation to Ham (they deny any bullying). There’s some difference in reporting here, as two sources says that student government voted to disinvite ham.

Nevertheless, Ham was disinvited. He’ll still speak on March 5, but at the Fairview Baptist Church near the University, which is in the city of Edmond.

Then UCO not only issued a statement favoring free speech, but said it “had encouraged the event before the student association voted to cancel under unspecified pressure”.  Here’s the President’s statement (my emphases):

Statement from University President Don Betz on Freedom of Expression

“Recent statements on social media and in the press have reported on the decision by the University of Central Oklahoma Student Association (UCOSA) to withdraw from negotiating a contract with Mr. Ken Ham of the organization Answers in Genesis. While we understand and appreciate the many points of view being provided on this topic, we wish to clarify for the community our view and practice of speech.

“The University of Central Oklahoma supports the democratic processes guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution by ensuring that all groups have the right to access a venue for free speech on our campus. We are a marketplace for the exchange of free ideas and we embrace the opportunity to do so. That’s what makes us free.

“As a public institution whose campus is public property, our doors are open to any who wish to express their ideas so long as student and public safety is preserved. A variety of groups representing a full spectrum of ideas and opinions regularly come to our campus and speak freely, and we have public spaces for them to do so. That includes demonstrators that support a variety of sometimes controversial positions.

“Our campus community is composed of many people and organizations that offer various viewpoints on many topics. A diverse group of students posed questions about the decision to invite Mr. Ham to campus. While any reports of bullying will be and are being investigated, it is important to state that reports that the LGBTQ community prevented Mr. Ham from being invited to campus are inaccurate and unfair to members of our campus community.

“As we reflect on the conversation that has emerged during the past two days, we expect the outcome of that discussion to only strengthen our resolve to remain the inclusive and diverse community we have become, and will remain, at UCO.

No one has the ability, nor has UCO ever attempted, to limit speech on our campus. All who wish to freely express their ideas in a peaceful and civil manner, including Mr. Ham, are welcome to do so at the University of Central Oklahoma.”

This is a weaselly statement trying to appease everyone (sometimes “inclusivity” is at odds with free speech), but the penultimate sentence is wrong, for the student government, who first invited Ham, did indeed try to limit speech on the campus. It’s not clear whether the invitation was extended by vote of the student government and then rescinded by another vote, or whether the invitation was issued without their approval, and, if so, whether that constitutes a valid invitation. (Ham says that the university gave permission for Ham to speak.) This is relevant to the issue of whether Ham was really “deplatformed,” and whether that is indeed a violation of the First Amendment (UCO is a public university).

My view is that even if the invitation was done on the sly, if it had some kind of student and university approval, students should still have voted to allow Ham to speak, even given his odious views on gay rights and same-sex marriage, not to mention evolution. If only speakers who approve of the Women’s Research Center and BGLTQ+’s views were allowed to speak, that amounts to limiting what students can hear to a set of ideologically approved positions. Why not let the students hear not only the arguments against evolution, but the religious arguments against gay marriage? What’s to lose? Are they afraid that Ham will actually change students’ minds, making them oppose gay marriage and reject evolution? If so, then they don’t value open discussion of controversial issues. The fact is that evolution, though opposed by many Americans, will become more widely accepted as American becomes more secular, and gay marriage is already a settled issue in law.

These days it’s hard to imagine students who find Ham reprehensible nevertheless voting to invite him, but that’s the traditional Leftist view, and I support it.

The limitation of what one is allowed to hear is one downside of such deplatforming. The other downside is that Ham now gets to trumpet that his views, and Christianity in general, are being persecuted, making him look like a victim of the Left. And he’s already doing that. This is Ham’s reaction as published on the Answer in Genesis website:

[R]eligious liberty in America is under increasing attack by some very intolerant people. In this case of discrimination, I find it highly ironic that after being scheduled to speak in the school’s Constitution Hall, our constitutional right to free speech and the free exercise of religion, guaranteed under the First Amendment, have been denied with the school’s cancellation. Small but vocal groups on campus put up a fuss about my talk, and the university caved in, tearing up the contract and contradicting its own policies of promoting “free inquiry” and “inclusiveness” on campus. Apparently, free speech at UCO is protected only if it is the “right kind” of speech.

And I think he’s right about freedom of religion being trampled on here, much as I despise Ham and what he stands for.  But progressives shouldn’t try to censor those with “offensive” views. I suppose being against gay marriage counts as “hate speech.”

Now I won’t in general debate creationists, as I think the best way to fight them is to write and speak on one’s own, let the other side do the same, and let people judge on their own. (The courts will also weigh in if this becomes a constitutional issue.) Too often debates are an exercise in rhetoric and tactics, and things like the “Gish gallop” aren’t easy to handle in front of an audience that’s sympathetic to creationists. But one must let the other side speak, at least on its own.

That said, I wouldn’t allow a creationist to speak in my classroom.  The courts have decided that “free speech” does not include the promotion of religious views in the classroom, and the courts have further ruled that both creationism and its sophisticated version “Intelligent Design” are not science but religion. It’s also a waste of time to teach students lies when you have limited classroom time, and I’d rather omit creationism than teach it in detail and then show why it’s wrong. (That’s like teaching alchemy in chemistry class and then debunking it.)

Doubtless Michael Egnor, who reads this site obsessively, will call me out for hypocrisy for arguing that Ham should be allowed to speak publicly at UCO but not in my evolution class. But that’s because Egnor, who lacks the neurons to understand nuance (and this isn’t rocket science) can’t conceive of the difference between free speech in public and the right to say anything in a public school classroom. Fortunately, the courts have already decided that one.

72 Comments

  1. Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    It occurs to me to wonder: who’s worse, a nazi who promulgates mostly notions that are morally incorrect, or Ken Ham who promulgates mostly notions that are factually incorrect?

    My instinct is that the latter is worse, but I’m having trouble articulating why that would be, so it’s probably wrong.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      @Malimar I think you are asking yourself a bad question once you introduce Nazis & Ken Ham! There should probably be a rule about it 🙂

      Nazis were immoral & amoral, but also they believed [or cynically promoted] stuff that was factually incorrect if it suited their ‘ideals’: scientific racism & their fake, ahistorical Aryan identity comes to mind.

      Ken Ham not only spots nonsense untruths about The Flood & Evolution, but also babbles about Western moral degeneracy for which he blames women ‘gettin uppity’, gays, trans etc. Ken Ham is first & foremost all about morals. And money.

      • Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        I probably didn’t mean actual historical nazis, I meant more like “what SJWs mean when they say ‘nazis'” — which can refer to anything from “person I disagree with on some issues” to “actual literal neo-nazi”, so it’s not a very useful word.

        I do recognize that each side bleeds into the other, which is why I said “mostly” on both sides.

        Pretend I didn’t use the nazi/Ken Ham shorthand and focus on the question at issue: Which is worse, people who espouse morally repugnant views, or people who espouse factually incorrect views? (Setting aside the notion that it’s possible for moral repugnance to be a fact about the universe.)

        My sense is that morally repugnant views erode the walls of society, whereas factually incorrect views are more insidious and erode the very foundations of society.

        • Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          And of course that question is somewhat separate from the more pressing “is it reasonable to censor one or the other or both?”

          My sense is that a place of learning and facts such as a university should not be inviting anybody who promulgates objective falsehoods to speak and confuse the masses, whereas there’s more wibbliness when it comes to moral repugnance.

          If I’m at all close to correct, then the thing where Ken Ham was deplatformed on the basis of moral repugnance and not on the basis of factual falsehoods is doing it exactly wrong.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          Well, I agree with you then. Because knowledge of the world [truths] is required before morals [above & beyond our programmed instincts/drives] can come into play.

        • Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          Are you then proposing that “morally repugnant views” should not be afforded free speech protection, or at least should be deplatformed?

          If so, how do we determine which views are morally repugnant?

          • Rita
            Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            +1

          • Posted February 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

            That’s pretty close to the opposite of what I’m proposing.

            If it’s reasonable to withdraw free speech protection from either of the two categories, then we should do it to the worse of the two before doing it to the less bad of the two; so, if my sense is right, then we should censor purveyors of factual falsehoods before censoring purveyors of moral repugnance. (And I don’t actually know if that antecedent is even true.)

            • Helen
              Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

              So confused about your moral compass. And your sense. Who set it, what is the basis for it? How are you able to make distinctions about bad or less bad?

          • Helen
            Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            Exactly

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          It is hard to answer which is worse, and further, within each are different degrees of harmfulness. So its’ even harder.

          On speaking about factually incorrect stuff, a presentation about evidence for a biblical flood is less harmful than a presentation about the global warming hoax.
          There are also different degrees of harm when one spouts immoral points of view. I hesitate to get into this but… a presentation that claims gay marriage is sinful is less harmful than a presentation that says it is gods’ law to subjugate women.

        • glen1davidson
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Is the claim that the earth is flat insidious and erosive of the very foundations of society? Or geocentrism?

          Are Oxfordians a particularly grave threat to society? How about Baconians? I don’t think much of anti-Stratfordian claims, but I’ve never thought they were especially dangerous.

          Can we survive with Ancient Aliens on TV?

          Were Truthers a grave threat to society?

          Are conspiracy theories behind the JFK assassination threatening our society? The latter, by the way, have been rather popular, with a majority of 20th century Americans believing that their favorite baddies were behind it, commies, mafia, CIA, FBI, Johnson, etc.

          I don’t know, I think there’s quite a difference in the dangers of anti-factual nonsense. None of it is exactly positive, but AGW (anthropogenic global warming) denialism seems one of the more dangerous, with others far less, with something like flat earthism being fairly non-dangerous, mainly because it’s so clearly wrong (we’ve got the pictures now). But even global warming seems not to be something about which we should prevent discussion, no matter how dishonest it gets. For one thing, make it illegal and people really are going to think there’s something sleazy being protected.

          Cognitively, though, I do think that ID/creationism is one of the more insidious assaults on proper thinking, for those who know little about science and evidence. First there are the conspiracy theories about the “Darwinists,” then there’s the BS about “materialism” and the like, when the real issue is simply evidence, which they don’t have. Then they simply decide that functional complexity is the mark of design, and they’re almost impervious to the fact that some of this complexity is actually due to evolution reworking ancient organs and systems into different ones, and all of it is marked by evolutionary patterns and constraints. It is like a different epistemology/epistemics, only one not based on evidence and productive means of interpreting that evidence, but something entirely based on a priori criteria that are deliberately chosen to lead to the conclusion of “design,” notably by forcing design into the premises.

          That said, Ken Ham is probably one of the least persuasive of the IDists/creationists. In the end, he resorts to the Bible, and if you’re going to be persuaded by that, you’re not much of a thinker to begin with. And I really don’t think that more persuasive IDists should convince many at university either, other than those who would almost inevitably believe anyhow. The faults of ID thinking are exactly the sorts of things that faculty and students at university should be able to discuss and show to consist in fallacies and poor analogies.

          Glen Davidson

    • Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      But the Nazis introduce factually incorrect notions and Ham (as we saw) also introduces morally incorrect notions.

      The two go together.

      That said, Ham is no Nazi, but …

      • Helen
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        Ham introduces factually incorrect notions.
        Nazis introduced not only morally incorrect notions but a genocide that will never be forgotten.

  2. sensorrhea
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I’m against this kind of censorship, but it should always be pointed out that conservative institutions don’t suffer from this because they never invite liberal firebrands in the first place. Not inviting controversial speakers is a priori deplatforming and is worse.

    Don’t tell me Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty. He was running for president and is in no way comparable to Coulter, Milo, etc.

    In any case he’s the exception that highlights the rule.

    • Sastra
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I think the Bill Nye debate qualifies as an example of a conservative Christian invitation to a liberal firebrand. It was their territory and audience.

      • sensorrhea
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        You honestly think Bill Nye is comparable to Milo? I can’t agree with that.

        Also that makes two (2) examples.

        • Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          Milo is much smarter and funnier.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

            Also, Nye hasn’t boned any alter boys (that we know of, anyway).

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

              Plus, Milo ain’t funny; he’s a bitchy little poser.

              He seems funny to Young Republicans only because they’ve never met a funny, bitchy echt cross-dresser (except maybe for the time they got drunk and unknowingly took one back to the frat house).

    • tomh
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      @ sensorrhea

      “I’m against this kind of censorship”

      How is this “censorship?” The Student Association invited Ham to speak, some students complained about using student funds to bring a homophobic speaker, student leaders listened and cancelled the invitation. This is how it’s supposed to work. The administration (government) didn’t cancel it, which would have been censorship, if it were cancelled on account of his viewpoint, the student group cancelled it. How do you get from there to censorship?

      • Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        “The Student Association invited Ham to speak, some students complained about using student funds to bring a homophobic speaker, student leaders listened and cancelled the invitation. This is how it’s supposed to work.”

        One group of students invited him. Another prevented them from hearing him, because of his views. If this is not censorship, what is? And trhe fact that the censorhip came from within the student body itelf doesn’t make it any better

        • tomh
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          “One group of students invited him. Another prevented them from hearing him, because of his views.”

          Because that’s not what happened. The Student Association is not “one group of students.” It’s the student government, representing all graduate and undergraduate students. “Another” group didn’t prevent them from hearing him. Students expressed their views on using student funds to bring him to speak, student government listened, decided it was a mistake to have him speak, and decided to rescind the invitation. The administration (government) said they would support the student government whichever way they decided. This is not censorship, this is how things work, how decisions are made.

        • Curt Nelson
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          I guess once an invitation has been issued and accepted that the dye is set and no effort should be made to get the invitation rescinded since it would constitute censorship. I agree with that.

          What can and should be done, however, is to speak out against the group sponsoring the speaker and, of course, in opposition to the speaker’s bad ideas.

    • BJ
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty University, during the Democratic primary, to a very respectful audience. This is just one of many examples.

      • BJ
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        And I know you spoke of this example in your comment. Sorry, I wasn’t trying to pretend otherwise, if that’s the way it came off. I was just noting that it’s not like it can be discounted, and the fact that everyone was so respectful to him should be noted as well.

        But, regarding places like Liberty University: such places aren’t universities like most, where academic freedom supposedly takes precedence and there should be a free exchange of ideas.

      • sensorrhea
        Posted February 13, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        What are these “many examples?” And, as I said, Sanders was a presidential candidate, hardly a controversial firebrand akin to Ann Coulter or Milo.

    • BJ
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Of course, both sides have done it, but if you look at this study, it’s far more often speakers viewed as conservative who are disinvited, and we can assume that it’s left-wing students and faculty who are causing this.

      https://www.thefire.org/disinvitation-season-report-2014/

      Of course, the problem seems to have worsened in the three years since that study.

      This analysis of trends should be of even greater interest, demonstrating that a significant majority of disinvitations come from the left, and nearly all event disruptions come from them: http://heterodoxacademy.org/campus-speaker-disinvitations-recent-trends-part-2-of-2/

      • sensorrhea
        Posted February 13, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        My point is entirely about conservative campuses like Liberty University.

  3. Stephen Caldwell
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I think Ham should have been allowed to speak—and thereby been given the privilege of being challenged.
    But here’s a personal question, Jerry: have you ever been invited to speak at a evangelical or religious university? It’s kind of off topic I know, but I’ve often wondered.

    • Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      No–no way. I’ve spoken in two churches, though, but both were way liberal, and one was Unitarian Universalist. I also debated a theologian from Chicago on science versus faith at a church in Charleston; that’s the opening bit of Faith versus Fact.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        I spoke at a UU once. I told them I was opposed to organized religion. They said not to worry; they were poorly organized.

        • Walt Jones
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          You know why Unitarians are such bad singers? They’re reading ahead to make sure they agree with the words.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted February 12, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

          Years ago I was involved in some community organizations that met in a Unitarian church. I rather liked the vibe of the place, I must admit.

  4. glen1davidson
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    It sounds like there might be a problem with one or more faculty members, who would rather intimidate Duvall than go through the horror of allowing someone to make a speech disagreeing with them.

    It’s hard to believe that anyone would find Ham so worrisome that he can’t be allowed to speak on campus. Not that he should be kept out even if he were good at making arguments, but, given his debate with Nye, it doesn’t seem like he’s really better at making good arguments than your typical censor is.

    Presumably, Ham would end up resorting to the Bible, notably Genesis, as the “authority” for all of his claims. If they can’t counter such a lame thinker as Ham, what does the censorious left think it can do against someone who can think better than Ham?

    Of course I guess the plan is just to block anyone with a different point of view.

    Glen DAvidson

    • BJ
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      “It’s hard to believe that anyone would find Ham so worrisome that he can’t be allowed to speak on campus.”

      Indeed. Ken Ham is a buffoon and rarely sounds as if he’s making any sense to anyone besides the already initiated. The only thing deplatforming him accomplishes is giving yet more ammunition to the right and religious conservative.

  5. Sastra
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    A speech on campus given by Ken Ham would have provided students with an excellent opportunity for writing up pamphlets, papers, and posters with bullet point rebuttals. You really don’t understand your own position until you have to defend it against attack.

    As you say, a public talk sponsored by student groups doesn’t grant scholarly legitimacy for the topic, it only accepts the casual legitimacy of it being an opinion.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 13, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      I agree. Some have argued that student funds being used to have Ham speak is a sound reason to dis-invite him. I think that’s exactly wrong. It’s hard to think of someone that could have given them more bang for their buck. All the student engagement activities you mentioned, plus he’s a fairly soft target.

  6. drew
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I’m not certain how I feel about this. On the one hand, the student government spending money to bring in a speaker who’s espousing a religious viewpoint seems problematic. On the other hand there was another sponsor lined up for the talk.

    Is the “Valid World Views” group a recognized student group? If so, then they should be able to bring in whichever speakers they want (assuming they have the budget to pay the speaker’s honorarium). However, if the student government is the only on-campus sponsor, the concerns of the student body seems like a valid thing to take into account when choosing which speakers to invite.

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Most universities require students to pay activity fees. Some if this money goes to student government.

      If they invited a speaker who believed that 2+2=5, would students have a right to object that their money was being spent on someone promulgating incorrect information?

      I think free speech is generally to be defended, but I’m not altogether sure about using my money to pay unicorn-believers.

      L

      • drew
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Perhaps I was unclear but the point I was trying to make is almost completely in line with what you’ve written.

        With the exception that I would add that if another student group on campus wanted to invite him (i.e. a special interest club and not the student government) there should be no issue with it (again assuming the group has the money to pay the speaker’s honorarium).

  7. Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Let’s propose a “Freedom of Hearing” amendment to the Constitution!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Although SCOTUS hasn’t yet weighed in on the issue, lower federal courts have held that those who invite speakers onto state-university campuses have a First Amendment right to hear them speak. See Brooks v. Auburn University.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        This is a good thing to know.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Back in the 1960s and 1970s when SCOTUS was considering a series of obscenity cases, the justices used to meet in the basement of the Supreme Court building on Friday afternoons to review the films claimed to be obscene (where, according to Bob Woodward’s reporting in The Brethren, they would giggle like schoolgirls while watching). Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas — the high-court’s two great free-speech absolutists — would always skip these Friday afternoon screenings, on the basis that, whatever was in those film canisters, it was protected by the First Amendment.

    I feel much the same way about invited campus speakers. Although I can imagine speech that would be unprotected under the “imminent incitement to lawless conduct” standard set by the Supreme Court — a Klansman standing on a soap-box in front of a share-cropper’s shack by the light of a burning cross exhorting a rope-wielding crowd to “teach the niggers a lesson,” for instance — I can conjure no scenario in which an invited campus speaker’s presentation would not be protected by the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment.

    Accordingly, my response in all these cases is always the same regardless of the speaker’s identity or the specifics of the case: Let them be heard.

  9. Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    If Ham was/is allowed to speak it would weaken his case, especially if he was invited, then de-platformed, then re-invited. The air would be crisp with embarrassment and shame if you actually wanted to attend.

    Kids in college may be children, but word on the street is Ham is either intentionally scientifically illiterate or willfully delusional. I would personally advertise his factual inadequacies spurred by religious insecurity, but I would not protest his invitation.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 13, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      I think he’s nuts. A bit scary too. It wouldn’t surprise at all if he were to snap one day and do something very violent.

  10. William Bill Fish
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Egnor actually talks to you after that slam. I’ve been blocked on Twitter for a lot less. Of course I don’t have your vocabulrly and perhaps Egnor doesn’t get it.

    • Posted February 12, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Egnor has insulted me so much on the DI site that I felt entitled to diss him a bit.

  11. Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “…ten students and two faculty members met with Duvall and, he says, “bullied” him into rescinding the invitation to Ham ….

    Tyranny of minority rules.

    • d McCallum
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Maybe. Lets try to parse what happened .
      Duvall and friends invite Ham.
      Ham agrees but wants $$$.
      Duvall asks for the cash and is rejected.
      Moans I’m being bullied.
      Is it tyranny or democracy ??

  12. d McCallum
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to really see what’s happening here with the different versions . I would like to give you a pro dis-invite view.
    New student president invites his hero Ham to speak and gets shot down by student government at large. Democracy in action. Also while there might be a paucity of’Milo’s ” and “Coulters” speaking at Berkeley do you rally think you need to spend student funds to get a conservative christian view in central Oklahoma?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Just sticking with the Ham-ster, the argument is not about him being denied a soapbox and bullhorn to be heard. Of course he will still be able to babble about what ever he wants.
      There are indeed salient reasons to block Ham from giving his factually and morally wrong presentation on a University campus They are good reasons, and their existence must be admitted.
      But among the comments above are numerous explanations for why, on balance, it does more harm than good to dis-invite him. And with the dis-invite, a lot of students are now being denied the opportunity to see that balance brought into play. If he talked, he could be questioned and possibly debated. And if that happened, students might see that Ham is wrong about everything.

      Rather than come to that conclusion by articulating facts and reasoning, students are experiencing only the blunt and crude instrument that is the hecklers’ veto.

      • d McCallum
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        If this Valid World Views group were doing this on there own with their own money I would agree with you 100%. LGBT groups should not be allowed to block Ham. When the student government gets involved other groups have the right to demand accountability.
        Reading all the reports I think that’s what happened. Duvall , in one report said the contract negotiations were leaked. Odd word unless they were trying to keep things quiet.
        Why? And when have any of these groups walked back so quickly when confronted? Something smells wrong and my guess is it about the money.
        As far as exposing Ham’s trash your right if there was an honest debate. It won’t happen at an event like this. He is far to slippery and his fans will be in control
        Seems like a lot of words to disagree with someone I agree with completely.

  13. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I am for gay marriage.

    I do not believe being against it is “hate speech”.

    I am personally acquainted with 3 opponents (all female) of gay marriage, all of whom have gay parents.
    One of them gets along really well with her parents, one has minor friction with them, and one loathes her parents…for very valid reasons.

    It’s a spectrum folks.

  14. Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Occasionally students would bring up the issue of free speech in my classes. I’d say, You are mistaking this class for a democracy. My class is a dictatorship. A benign dictatorship, I hope, but we are not going to discuss that here.

    Students usually chuckled as we turned to the intended topic.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      😊 In my shtick on science and the scientific method, I like to refer to science and science education as a meritocracy, not a democracy. No idea where I had heard that, but it works.

  15. Clare45
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Ham shouldnt have been invited to speak in the first place, but as he was, it is just plain rude to “disinvite” him.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      It’s not so much that it’s rude but that it’s censorship (a much bigger violation) to disinvite him.

  16. Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I would agree that deplatforming Ham is generally a bad idea, but only on one condition: that all the proper procedures were in place for inviting him in the first place. That is, the student club follows the by-laws (particularly with regards to external funding sources), that the university itself is not involved (that a student club is), that students who object to clubs like the one in question be allowed to voice ideas like whether or not religious clubs should be funded, etc.

    Finally, the *university* administration should make sure that Ham (or the clubs) does not take advantage of the situation to claim that the *university* is responsible for the event: I’ve seen too many charlatans holding fake conferences and such in ways to make it sound like an *academic* unit was involved.

  17. nicky
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I cannot fathom what a crackpot like Mr Ham could possibly contribute to a university. Maybe as illustration of what a crackpot is for psychology students? Note, I doubt he really is the crackpot he pretends to be. I think he is a shyster, having found a niche providing a steady source of tax-free income.
    That being said, I think that once invited he should not have been disinvited, not just for ‘free speech’ reasons, but also, as Clare pointed out, it is profoundly shabby and rude.

    • Posted February 13, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Universities and colleges often have student religious clubs, including often (in my experience) some that are quite extreme (I encountered some at CEGEP that were explicitly creationist). I take it that’s what is involved here.

  18. CJColucci
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    students should still have voted to allow Ham to speak

    If the question is left to students to vote on — a big “if,” to be sure — there’s no “should” about it. They can vote any way they damn please and are not obligated to invite anyone they don’t want to hear.

    The problem here is that it isn’t clear what the procedures are at this campus for inviting speakers. Who gets to invite? Who, if anyone, has any standing to do more than say “we don’t lie this person, please reconsider?” If nobody has any standing to do more than complain, can the inviters change their minds (subject to any legal remedies for breach of contract) in response to complaints — as long as the complaints are merely complaints and not threats, etc.?

  19. Jake Sevins
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get why anyone would compare the public square to a classroom. The former is a public space where people can say whatever they want (with a few limits) and listeners can come and go as they please.

    A classroom is a space where there is a stated objective (learn math, history, science) and not a platform for whatever special interest decides to intervene. Climate deniers don’t get equal time in a climatology class. Vaccine deniers don’t get equal time in a pharmacology class.

  20. glen1davidson
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Egnor earlier:

    But Coyne is not interested in an open classroom discussion of the theist and atheist implications of science.

    OMG, not interested in an open discussion in the classroom of theistic fantasies vs. the actual facts of science (forget Egnor’s misrepresentation)?

    Next thing you know, Coyne favors the teaching of deep time and the (roughly) spherical) earth in the classroom, without debating flood theory and flat earth models.

    You can discuss your fantasies by bringing in speakers (at least in many places–fortunately, a lot of “dissenting speeches” are not deplatformed or shouted down) or in Bible colleges I don’t think that there is no place in college for discussion of ID/creationism (not a bad way of showing how superior the science answers are) in the classroom, but there’s certainly no excuse for wasting a lot of biology time discussing sheer nonsense.

    Glen Davidson

  21. Kevin
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Science doesn’t really have theist and atheist implications: it “implies” nothing.
    The danger is where theism or atheism “imply” something in relation to science.

    There is space (but where exactly?) to discuss certain issues:
    this is what happened when the Church didn’t like Galileo’s latest research;
    this is what happened when Darwin proposed his theory of evolution;
    this is what happened in Dover when illegal attempts where made to introduce religious ideas into the science classroom.
    this is what happened when the (Christian) religious ascendancy of the city came into conflict with scientists in Alexandria;
    this is what happened when S. Meyer tried to get peer review;
    this is how certain people wish to lie to children about history by building a theme park in which dinosaurs cohabit in the same time period as humans;
    this is what happened to Ken Ham in Oklahoma;

    All those things can be discussed in schools in the appropriate forum, though probably best not inside the science class itself.

  22. mirandaga
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    “That’s like teaching alchemy in chemistry class and then debunking it.”

    I agree that creationism shouldn’t be taught in science class, but this is a bit specious as an argument. The number of people who believe in creationism (roughly half the population—75% if you count people who believe in evolution that God had a hand in) is hardly as insignificant as that of people who believe in alchemy (roughly zero). The real reason creation myths (other than the Big Bang Theory) should not be taught in science class is that science has nothing of value to say about the topic.

    • PeteT
      Posted February 13, 2018 at 2:57 am | Permalink

      Did you really mean that science has nothing of value to say about creation myths? Surely the converse is the relevant point; creation myths have nothing to contribute to science (because the method used to derive their assertions is non-scientific) and so have no place in a science classroom. Science has plenty to say about when the universe began, how many humans existed 7000 years ago, whether or not the world is currently balanced on a giant turtle etc etc.

  23. Posted February 12, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I’d be disappointed if this happened at my university. I’d love to ask him a few questions.

  24. eric
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    My view is that even if the invitation was done on the sly, if it had some kind of student and university approval, students should still have voted to allow Ham to speak

    My opinion is that there should never have been a vote in the first place. If I’m part of a student club, and some of us want to bring in Ham to speak to our club + guests, why should anyone outside our club have any say in it?

    IMO the administration should have a limited veto power, essentially to ensure the room reservation system is not abused and that rules on things like room occupancy, openness of lectures to the entire student body, and ticket fees are obeyed. Beyond that, I don’t think either the administration or the greater student body should have any say on who gets invited. Now, if this was about politics internal to the student club that did the initial invite, sure. A disinvite in that case may be bad behavior, but I think that group has the right to do it. But IMO nobody else does.

    • tomh
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      The “club” was the student government, representing all graduate and undergraduate students.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 13, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        I’m still not clear on the timeline, who did what when. Generally speaking I don’t think an invitation should be made until the governing person or group has approved it. That may include putting it up for a student body vote, or not, before the invitation is issued. But once an invitation has been issued that should be it. Protesters calling for dis-invitation should not get their way.

        Like I said, I don’t know who did what when, but it seems to me the problem with this incident was either someone issuing an invitation they weren’t authorized to, or not following proper procedure, or that their isn’t a good or clear SOP for inviting speakers.


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