This post is going to be a touch of a stretch for ERV. I normally dont write about theology. Mostly, because I dont care. I think the cultural phenomena surrounding ‘theology’ or Harry Potter or Twilight is far more interesting than the ins-and-outs of the magical creatures at the center of the phenomena itself.
But I do enjoy learning new things about anything, so I was *very* much looking forward to seeing the video of Jerry Coynes exchange with a
Muggle Twihard ‘Systematic theologian’, John Haught.
They ‘debated’ earlier this year, and video was taken under the understanding that it would be posted online for public consumption. I was looking forward to learning something, and looking forward to seeing Jerry speak again (its too rare). And, growing up in 1337 culture, the two prniciples I hold most dear are 1) freedom of expression, and 2) free dissemination of information and ideas. I LOVE IT when conferences are recorded and put online for *everyone* to enjoy. That is the way things *should* be. And that was the way things were supposed to be with Jerrys debate. No big deal.
Unfortunately, John Haught and his enabler, Robert Rabel, made an active, conscious decision to violate both of those principles, turning the situation into a Very Big Deal, and I cannot let it stand.
I mean, it was cowardly enough to refuse to let the video of the debate be posted in the first place. I debated a YEC a while back. Parts of it I find embarrassing because I made mistakes. But I can do better now. My opponent was a slimy turd. He was aggressive and combative with Average Joes and Janes in the Q&A– I almost walked off the stage when he was making fun of a questioner with a speech impediment.
I never, ever, ever want that debate taken down from YouTube.
And you know what? Neither did my slimy turd YEC opponent.
So, again, its bad enough John Haught now wants to stop the free dissemination of information and ideas. HIS information and ideas. Im assuming, because he made a fool of himself, and is too arrogant to say “You know what, I didnt prepare well, and it showed. I didnt take this debate as seriously as I should have. I have learned something. I will do better in the future.” (btw, remember its atheists that are the arrogant ones).
Of course, John Haughts desire to not let the video see the light of day would be pointless if the organizers of the debate were academically honest. The debate was recorded for the purpose of letting everyone/anyone watch it, if one participant throws a tantrum later, too bad, so sad, they knew what they signed up for.
John Haught has a partner-in-crime: Robert Rabel, head of the Gaines Center for the Humanities. Rabel has not only enabled Haughts childish behavior, but has unquestionably crossed over a very, very dark line by thinking he had the right to threaten Jerry Coyne with legal action, simply because Jerry (politely, and appropriately frustratedly) told his side of the story:
I have received an email from Dr. Rabel, asserting that I have instigated people to write him emails, and some of those emails have been abusive, calling him a coward and so on. I did not of course ask readers to write any emails, nor did I provide any email addresses. But if you write to Rabel on your own initiative, please be polite! There is no point in name-calling in such emails; the issue is one of free inquiry, and if you expect to achieve a result (and you won’t anyway, I suspect), you have to be polite. Anyway, he’s threatened legal action against me, so don’t make it worse!
I do hope Rabel calls the internet police. Here, I will even helpfully provide the appropriate forms he needs to fill out before they arrive.
John Haught is a coward.
Robert Rabel is a coward.
Pathetic cowards actually, thus fine voices for a pathetic god.
And a fine lesson John Haught and Robert Rabel have taught me, Jerry, everyone, about the kind of academic integrity, honesty, and respect one can expect from ‘debating’ theologians.