Columnist Rekha Basu has apparently joined in on the attack of Gonzalez. She wants Iowa State University to issue a decree that defines science and then "make sure faculty uphold it."
It would be interesting to see this effort to freeze the definition of science in 2005 and then compare it to the works of philosophers of science and use it in the context of the history of science. Right or wrong, the picture of university professors engaged in this activity will remind many people of clergy defining and enforcing their dogmas.
More importantly, her article contains some illuminating passages that further creates the impression that Guillermo Gonzalez is being targeted for removal.
They're worried because an ISU astronomy professor, Guillermo Gonzalez, is a national leader in the Intelligent Design movement, and has said publicly he wants to find a graduate student to pursue that line of study.
Notice the Catch22 strategy that is in play. Gonzalez is not allowed to say ID is science because, according to Basu, "it's not provable or researchable." Well, I suppose so. If Gonzalez's attempt to find a graduate student to help him further his research is going to get him kicked out of the University of Iowa, of course ID is "not researchable." Y'see, Gonzalez is supposed to confess that ID is not science and once the confession paper is signed, he would not be allowed to approach ID as a scientist on ISU time. That way, critics of ID can now point to Gonzalez and claim that he has not been able to use ID to produce any research or new findings.
Basu then writes:
He's also been quoted as saying Intelligent Design isn't creationism. But ISU religion professor Hector Avalos says that's exactly what it is, just marketed differently: "I know religion when I see it," said Avalos. "I'm a Biblical scholar."
The Creationist Fabrication at work again. But this time, ID = Creationism because Avalos says so and because he is a "Biblical scholar." Case closed. Is this what academia is coming to?
But here's the key admission that helps to fuel the impression that this is Scientific McCarthyism in a Cheap Tuxedo.
Though he doesn't know if Gonzalez is teaching Intelligent Design in his classes, Avalos notes there's a movement afoot to place advocates of Intelligent Design in universities without revealing their true agenda. "I am afraid this has happened at ISU," he said, referring to Gonzalez.
As you can now see, Avalos looks like a true conspiracy theorist who believes the DI has secretly planted Gonzalez at ISU while hiding his "true agenda." This is the ring leader who is now trying to organize an effort to get Gonzalez to appear before something that is, for all practical purposes, a hostile tribunal.
Gonzalez said he doesn't teach about intelligent design because it's controversial and because he doesn't want to teach about an idea that's not yet accepted.
Of course, this is not good enough for Avalos. He is motivated by a vague and unsupported paranoia concerning one possible future:
"We don't want to be known as the 'Intelligent Design University,' " Avalos said. "We don't think this is science."
It's this type of paranoia that sets the stage for a witch hunt. It doesn't matter if Gonzalez is an established scientist or doesn't teach ID in his classes. All that matters is that people like Avalos have some irrational fear about the reputation of their school. In other words, the critics demand to see ID research, but they are now demanding that it not be done at their schools. "Show me the research!," they exclaim, "but not in my department and not at my school."
Rekha Basu says this isn't an academic-freedom issue, but that is exactly what it is. The whole idea behind academic freedom is to create an environment where controversial and unpopular ideas can be explored. If ISU seeks to cleanse Gonzalez from their ranks simply because they "don't want to be known as the Intelligent Design University," they will set a precedent that goes beyond ISU and ID. It will become clear to the public that "˜academic freedom' is a selectively appreciated value, used to protect some and abandoned to banish others. Do the faculty at ISU really want to open this Pandora's Box? Let's imagine that they do.
More people might begin to reconsider Ward Churchill and whether the University of Colorado, Boulder has chosen to be the University that advocates the 911 victims deserved their fate. They can no longer claim "academic freedom" as ISU would have shown a willingness to abandon it. Oxford University will become the University that advocates it is better to sexually molest children than raise them as Catholics. We could go through all the universities looking for controversial claims and arguments and then define those schools in light of such examples. And ISU? We could define it in the image of Hector Avalos, who has written a book blaming religion for violence. His solution? According to one reviewer: "but he ultimately concludes that eliminating religion from human life is the correct solution."
If Avalos gets his way, he'll sleep better knowing ISU will never be The Intelligent Design University. But he might wake up one morning to find others defining ISU as the University that Wants to Eliminate Religion. ISU will not be able to distance themselves from Avalos' attacks on religion in the name of academic freedom, as they would have demonstrated a previous willingness to walk away from it.