Monday, I posted an entry here that discussed, in part, a Discovery Institute blog article claiming that the Dover ruling qualifies the cdesign proponentsists textbook Of Pandas and People as a “banned book.” As I explained at the time, the claim is complete and total nonsense, so I suppose I really should have guessed that the anti-evolution movement would get behind it in a hell of a hurry.
That appears to be just what’s happening. The latest twists involve the Uncommon Descent blog and the Wikipedia entry for banned books.
Over at Uncommon Descent, Dembski posted an item noting that, “A colleague of mine added Of Pandas and People to the Wikipedia’s list of Banned Books,” and citing as justification for this the American Library Association’s definitions for challenged and banned books:
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.
The claim that Pandas fits this definition is based on the ruling in the Dover, PA Intelligent Design lawsuit. It is probably worth noting at this point that Of Pandas and People was not a part of the curriculum in Pennsylvania, and that the decision did not require that the book be removed from the library. (Of course, it’s not like these folks have ever been willing to let facts get in the way of their persecution complexes.) Strictly speaking, it’s hard to see how this particular ALA definition could be stretched far enough to include the Dover case. However, I’ve emailed the ALA to see if they might be able to shed some light on the matter. I’ll let you know what, if anything, the ALA has to say about this.
Presumably after reading Dembski’s post, someone added the following statement to the Wikipedia entry:
(This book was listed on Wikipedia by a colleague of William Dembski after advocates of “intelligent design” claimed that Pandas was a banned book due to the Kitzmiller vs. Dover decision. However, this view has been challenged  on the grounds that the Kitzmiller lawsuit did not challenge the book’s placement in the school library, and this precise point was explicitly clarified by the Court in a pretrial ruling in March 2005, which stated, “It is therefore clear to the Court that Plaintiffs only seek to remove the book Of Pandas and People from the Dover Area School District’s science classrooms, and not from its school libraries.”)
Personally, I think that statement is a reasonable compromise – at least until the ALA weighs in. However, someone using the same handle as a commenter in the Uncommon Descent thread quickly removed that note from the entry. At least for the time being, I’m going to leave it that way, and I’d encourage everyone else to, as well. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained from an add-delete war right now.
The claim that Of Pandas and People is a “banned book” is ripe nonsense, but it’s not going away anytime soon, so I’ll probably have more on the topic later on.