Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is anyone actually censoring the Discovery Institute?

It's coming up on Feb 12th, a day referred to as Darwin Day.  Wikipedia calls Darwin Day:

"a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin on 12 February 1809. The day is used to highlight Darwin's contribution to science and to promote science in general. Darwin Day is celebrated around the world." (Wikipedia: Darwin's Day)
Of course, you know the Discovery Institute (DI) doesn't celebrate Darwin the way the rest of the world does.  They try and co-opt the day and celebrate what they call "Censor of the Year".  While Darwin Day celebrations go back pretty far, sporadically since 1882.  The DI's version is only a few years old.  But before discussing that, I would like to discuss Censorship.  I have a feeling that the DI's idea of censorship and the rest of the world is quite a bit different . . . just like Feb 12th. is celebrated differently.

Just to start on a level playing field, here is the dictionary definition of Censor:
"a person who examines books, movies, letters, etc., and removes things that are considered to be offensive, immoral, harmful to society, etc." (Merriam-Webster: Censor)
We have all seen the effects of censorship.  Prior to a film's release, it gets edited to conform to rules concerning objectionable material.  During wartime, correspondence to and from people within the war zone was censors to prevent the release of sensitive material.  When I was stationed in the Republic of Korea, I purchased albums . . . yes, actual vinyl . . . that were censored by the South Korean government to eliminate objectionable material.  Based on all that, I have a question, just who is censoring the Discovery Institute?

I know they have accused two people as their 'Censor of the Year' previously, and they are currently looking for nominations for this year.  But, based on history, are they being censored?  Is someone taking their publications and videos and removing anything?  No, no one is.  If that was so, don't you think they would be raising an actual hue-and-cry, instead they are inventing things to cry about?

The two previous 'winners' for 'censor of the year' are Jerry Coyne and Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Coyne's 'crime' was encouraging Ball State University to stop teaching Intelligent Design.  That's not exactly true.  What Ball State University did was stop teaching Intelligent Design as if it was science.  Not that you would expect the DI to get the facts straight.  They used their usual tactics, claiming that the University was violating 'Academic Freedom', but as we, and many others have said, actual academic freedom does not include teaching pseudo-science is if it was science.  They certainly targeted Coyne, more as sore-losers than anything else.

But before moving on to Tyson, what is the evidence that Jerry Coyne censored the Discovery Institute?  None at all.  It seems that the DI wants to ability to say whatever they want, but when anyone voices any form of opposition, that's not free speech, but censorship!  How Marie Antoinette of them!  It is not censorship to speak out against something.  Like I said earlier, the DI and the rest of the world have a different definition of censorship.  No one is stopping them from giving presentations, releasing videos, or publishing articles and books.  What they are upset about it that no one is buying into their marketing efforts which means mainline scientific conferences, actual science journals, and most university science programs ignore them.  That's not censorship!  You have to earn your place in science, and to date, marketing is not science.

Now, what did the DI claim Neil deGrasse Tyson did to offend them?  He hosted  the updated Carl Sagan series Cosmos.  Yes, the DI didn't like Cosmos, why?  I'm sure they had lots of reasons, but their main objections seems to be that several segments dealt with some of religions' negative impacts on scientific inquiry.  Of course while they officially claim not to be a religious organization, this shouldn't have bothered them.  But since we all know that's not true, I bet it really aggravated them.  Tyson also had, what I considered, an epic take down of Bill O'Reilly (You know, the Ann Coulter for people who cannot read)  when he said "God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance"
So, once again I would like to ask the DI, just what censorship did Neil deGrasse Tyson do against the DI?  There doesn't seem to be much evidence of censorship at all, just opposition.

So I think we now have a pretty good idea of what the DI calls 'censorship', it is saying anything that the DI doesn't like.  Based on that, I am willing to bet the United Methodist Church will be one of the nominations.  I would have to assume that folks like PZ Meyrs, Larry Moran and Jerry Coyne are perennial nominees.  So will they be predictable, or will they really piled on the silly crap on some other unsuspecting 'honoree'.  I know I won't be, my little corner of the web just doesn't have the readership to really get their goat.  I can only hope that one day I might be so awarded!  That would be fun!

So there we have it.  While the rest of the world celebrates Darwin Day, including many Darwin-centric presentations in Church Pulpits from many of the signatories of the Clergy Letter Project.  The DI will be spinning up a new set of lies against someone who isn't censoring them, just exhibiting some vocal and visible opposition to their version of Creationism.  Whoever they are, I hope they pay as much attention to it as it deserves, nothing at all.


  1. There seems to be a trend of people claiming that not being allowed to use someone else's private space to post your message is the worst kind of censorship. They are the kind of people who don't understand what "free speech" actually means. They don't get that you don't have a right to use someone else's soapbox to preach from.

    1. Agreed! To often free speech means they are free to say what they want, where they want, and when they want with absolutely no responsibility for what they say. Any attempt to not allow them this imaginary freedom is met with cries of censorship and a whine about free speech. As I have said before free speech comes with responsibilities, and it's the acceptance of those responsibilities that help make your speech effective.