Casey Luskin has finally recognized that he completely misread my post about Rob Pennock’s speech at UCSD and retracted his post, but in the process he’s still making a mountain out of a molehill and inventing a controversy where there is none. He writes:
It’s interesting that certain Darwinists seem obsessed to prove that the Pennock lecture wasn’t required for all students. Maybe that’s because even they understand–at least subconsciously–the problem of imposing such one-sided indoctrination on students at a taxpayer-funded university. In any case, whether all first-quarter freshmen at UCSD were required to attend (as stated on the UCSD website), or merely first-quarter freshmen in the 6th College at UCSD , the problem is the same: Students at a state university who are compelled to attend a one-sided polemic against intelligent design without being afforded the opportunity to hear the other side of the debate are being subjected to indoctrination, not education.
I think it’s interesting that he doesn’t bother to name who those “certain Darwinists” are. What I’ve seen, in fact, is that the obsession is on the ID side trying to prove that all freshmen were required to attend the speech. But the reality is that it just doesn’t matter whether it was mandatory or not. It’s not at all unusual for universities to require students to attend certain presentations, if nowhere else than at graduation ceremonies where they invite someone. Luskin and his pals would have you believe that anytime a university invites one person to speak at such an event, if they don’t provide a counterpoint to whatever they say, then they’re “indoctrinating” the students. This, of course, is nonsense.
The ID side has been frantically trying to sell the notion that the UCSD administration took a poll, found out that many of their incoming freshmen didn’t believe in evolution and then scheduled Rob to speak to change their minds. This is utter nonsense. What they have neatly tried to avoid admitting is that Pennock’s speech was part of a whole series of addresses that the university has every single year. It’s called the Convocation Series and it involves a different speaker every quarter from a wide range of fields.
If Luskin were to apply his reasoning (yes, I know I’m using that term loosely) in a consistent manner, then he would have to argue that every single one of those speeches amounts to “indoctrination” because only one scholar is invited to speak, without anyone to dispute what they say. When Frank Rich is there for the next Convocation Series speech, will we hear him complaining that UCSD students “are compelled to attend a one-sided polemic…without being afforded the opportunity to hear the other side”? Highly unlikely. Because it’s only “indoctrination” if you don’t like what’s being said.
The fact is that universities invite scholars to speak on campus all the time. When they invite a cabinet member to address a graduation ceremony are they engaging in “indoctrination” if they don’t also invite an administration critic to provide “balance”? Of course not. And contrary to Cordova’s assertions and Luskin’s implications (he doesn’t come out and say that such a speech is unconstitutional, he just says it’s a “problem” – for him, apparently), there is no constitutional issue here.