It’s been days since the public became aware that Chris Comer, an award-winning science educator in the Texas Education Agency, was fired for daring to forward an email announcement of a talk about why intelligent design isn’t science. Coverage of the story has hit the AP wires, the pages of USA Today, the New York Times, Nature’s news blog and many other sources. The Times editorial page even weighed in with concern over Ms. Comer’s firing.
The Disco. Inst., usually quick to complain about any academic personnel decision touching on ID in the least way, has remained totally silent. Actually, that’s wrong. They are incapable of silence. For the last few days they’ve been working themselves into a frenzy over a department of physics and astronomy not granting tenure.
No, it’s not a protest over Rob Knop leaving academia, nor of Sean Carroll’s tenure denial at the University of Chicago. It isn’t concern for John Wilkins. It surely isn’t concern for Chris Comer, nor for Steve Bitterman, an Iowan community college instructor fired for arguing that Biblical accounts of the Garden of Eden are not historically accurate.
It was all a protest over Guillermo Gonzalez, a founding member of the Wedge, a regular contributor to the magazine produced Reasons to Believe, an old earth creationist group. Gonzalez was denied tenure earlier this year at Iowa State University, and Disco decided to put on a show about it. Coincidentally, Gonzalez is featured in the DI’s forthcoming movie: “Expelled: No intelligence?.”
This whole song and dance is too absurd for words. Gonzalez had a poor record of grant-writing, a poor record of graduating students, limited telescope time, and his record of publication tailed off since he started working on his ID creationist book. He even submitted that book as part of his tenure file, yet he and the DI are shocked (shocked!) that his department would consider his ID work. At the very least they are shocked (shocked?) that his colleagues were unenthusiastic about that work.
If the Discovery Institute were truly interested in academic freedom, and were truly concerned about political interference with people’s ability to explore ideas, they’d be demanding that Lizzette Reynolds be fired, and that Chris Comer be brought back to replace her. But they’re too busy doing the hustle in Iowa.