The detritus of the Bush era continues to wash ashore, but some of it has decomposed sufficiently that it isn’t as noxious as when first dumped into the sea. One example is what was left of a Federal lawsuit filed by a creationist post doc against the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution alleging he was fired for his religious views. Those views were of the Creationist variety, and the job he was fired from was research involving development in zebra fish, specifically involving evolutionary processes. His views, per se, had nothing to do with it, of course. It was that his views prevented him from doing the necessary work. I didn’t write about this at the time because it was well covered in the scientific press and I know the researcher who allegedly discriminated against the complainant (he is an occasional commenter here, as a matter of fact). As one of my colleagues said of him, one cannot imagine a more unjust and perverted accusation, since this person is the soul of fairness, kindness and helpfulness, besides being one of the best scientists I know. So the accusation of religious discrimination lodged against him was so outrageous it didn’t seem it had a chance of succeeding.
And it didn’t succeed. It was denied on the merits by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) (and adopted by the federal EEOC), which found a lack of probable cause and ruled that the postdoc’s “attitude towards evolution was clearly in conflict with” the research, and the complainant “was involuntarily terminated based upon his own actions rather than any discriminatory animus due to his religion.” But the complainant post doc, Nathaniel Abraham, had the resources of the anti-evolutionists behind him and a case was filed in Federal court. That court was not interested and dismissed the case on the grounds that it was filed too late, a technical argument. The appeal of the dismissal has now been unanimously upheld by a three-judge apnel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. I can’t imagine the Supremes will take this if appealed one last time. It’s over. All of us heave a sigh of relief for our friend and colleague Mark Hahn at Woods Hole who had to suffer this egregious attack on his integrity
We will undoubtedly continue to feel those twinges of pain reminding us of past injuries, but we can hope that with a new generation in charge, the attitude toward science will right itself and this kind of crap will be just an unpleasant memory.