21 March 2011

Why do intelligent designer researchers need a law to protect them?

This Mother Jones interview with Texas representative Bill Zedler is interesting. Zedler is the author of a bill that would prohibit discrimination of academics conducting research on intelligent design.

MJ: The bill basically deals with the treatment of creationists as a matter of workplace discrimination. It got me thinking about other efforts to deal with that issue, such as legislation that prohibits workplace discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. A lot of states have laws outlawing that type of discrimination, but Texas doesn’t. Do you think that it should?

BZ: Gender identity? You know, yeah, before I authored the bill I would have to think about it a little bit.

MJ: Do you see a reason to protect creationists but not...

BZ: Here’s the deal: We have college professors that will defend Hugo Chavez, ok? You have college professors that will espouse communism despite all the evidence of its overwhelming failure. And yet they are tolerated, but someone who even dares to mention intelligent design or who questions the idea that life could begin by chance, they are kicked out, lose their tenure, all kinds of discrimination working against them. I think that flies in the face of academic freedom.


MJ: Is banning discrimination “political correctness”?

BZ: Not at all.

MJ: So banning discrimination against gay people, in your view, is not a reflection of political correctness?

BZ: Well, here’s the deal, all we are saying is that you should be able to debate it. There is a difference between having a law to do something and a law where we ought to be able to at least discuss it.

Zedler consistently dodges the question about why this form of workplace discrimination is so much worse than other kinds of workplace discrimination that affect so many more people that it needs a law and the others don’t.

Zedler also provides no public cases where anyone has been discriminated against.

BZ: Let me tell ya, I have had people already contacting me as far as they would be willing to get lots of people to come down and testify when the bill goes before committee regarding the discrimination and persecution that they have already faced. So there won’t be any problem there...

“The lurkers support me in emails!”

I still cannot see this bill getting any traction. It’s nothing but lawsuits waiting to happen.

Additional: Zedler’s bill is atrracting national attention, judging by stories in the Miami Herald and The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Christian Post cites a case from Baylor University (which is an avowedly Christian university), which claims “shut down a lab” in one sentence, before describing it more accurately in a later sentence. No lab was shut, nobody lost their job, and nobody was told they couldn’t conduct or publish research.

A web page moved off the Baylor University server.

This is discussed here. Professor Marks provides clear evidence that intelligent design is, for him, about God, in this interview.

Update, 15 April 2013: Representative Zedler has at it again and has revived the bill.

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