Friday, June 24, 2005


Are ID's First Ammendment Rights Being Violated?

We often hear the argument from intelligent design proponents and creationists that they are victims of censorship because scientists, educators, and parents have resisted efforts to teach ID's criticisms of evolution or the biblical story of Genesis in public school science classes.

Recently, when the Smithsonian Institution withdrew its sponsorship from a showing of the ID film "The Privileged Planet" we heard more cries of censorship.

Joanne Mariner, a human rights attorney based in New York has taken a look at the issue of censorship and intelligent design creationism in the Index on Censorship, a magazine that covers free expression issues.

Here's what she has to say,

Supporters of intelligent design have mustered up their own First Amendment arguments, however. They claim that the classroom monopoly enjoyed by evolutionary theory violates students’ right to obtain information about intelligent design and other alternative explanations. By teaching only evolution, they assert, the public schools are improperly restricting the amount of information available to students.

There are unquestionably First Amendment interests on both sides of the equation. But a classroom is not a public forum analogous to a street corner where someone should be free to speak without constraint. It is a forum, instead, in which a teacher is given considerable authority over a captive and impressionable audience.

Because students are coercively subject to a teacher’s authority, and because a teacher’s pronouncements carry with them the additional power of the state, the classroom is no place for religious proselytising. Moreover, students are required to attend school for a specific reason: to learn. Teaching necessarily involves choices: the decision to spend time addressing one topic takes away time from another.


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