Inside Higher Ed this morning has a story about a mock trial to be held at Northern Kentucky University:
The trial centers around the termination of fictitious biology teacher Susan Scott (a traditionally trained evolution adherent), who according to her complaint, encouraged students to “explore creation theories.” Scott, who will be played by Simon Kenton High School teacher Heather Mastin, is suing the fictitious Chandler County School Board for wrongful termination and seeks reinstatement, compensatory damages and a judicial declaration that the school board violated her First Amendment rights.
Scott will be represented by local attorney Phil Taliaferro, who will argue that teaching creation theory is not only permitted in Kentucky, but legally protected. The defendant, Chandler County School Board, will be represented by local attorney Margo Grubbs, who will argue that Scott’s termination was justified under existing law.
Sounds like a great idea for a mock trial event, right? It’s got that “ripped from the headlines” quality that will draw people in, and some good meaty legal stuff to provide academic content. It’s even got community connections, which is always good for town-gown relations.
So, why is this written up in Inside Higher Ed?
James C. Votruba has received hundreds of e-mail messages this week telling him that he should call off a campus event at Northern Kentucky University, where he is president. Has the institution invited Bill Ayers to speak? Actually, the conservatives aren’t complaining — scientists are.
[...] [T]o many scientists at Northern Kentucky and elsewhere, the university has oversimplified the questions. These critics would never question the right of a creationist to speak at the university, whatever his or her views. But for the university to create a special forum in which evolution and creationism will be presented on equal terms is in fact to take a side, they say. Creationists want the public to believe that their views and those of scientists are two competing opinions, both of equal scientific merit — and this forum will advance that view, they say.
That’s just fantastic.
Essentially, this is John McCain’s foreign policy, applied to creationism. According to this line of thinking, the whole creationist/ “Intelligent Design” crowd is so bad that even talking to them is out of the question. Actually, it’s even worse– this is a mock trial. This is like the McCain campaign denouncing the Northern Kentucky Model UN chapter because the student playing the US ambassador sat down and talked with the student playing Iran’s ambassador.
It pains me to be associated with these people, in even a minor, peripheral way.
(If you agree with what I wrote above, let me note that we’re currently in the middle of a DonorsChoose fundraiser, and nothing says “thanks for writing” like a donation to help education. It’s a noble cause.
(If you disagree with me, and would like to punish me for my views, let me note that if my DonorsChoose challenge passes $6,000, I will be forced to dance like a monkey, and post video of it on YouTube. It’s within $1,000 of that, so just a small donation can force me to suffer humiliations galore. Now that’s a noble cause!)