I was a little startled to learn that DDF has been banned over at the Why Evolution is True blogsite.

This is the on-line home of Jerry Coyne, one of our nation’s most outspoken  public intellectuals. He is a Harvard trained evolutionary biologist. Along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, Coyne is one of the world’s most prominent “New Atheists.”

Coyne’s blogsite, Why Evolution is True, reportedly has over 50,000 e-mail subscribers. Lately, Coyne has been especially supportive of Luana Maroja, a fellow biologist. He has used his highly visible site to bring the free speech standards of the Chicago Principles to Williams College.

Earlier, Coyne cited a number of my comments on the Sawacki Report and published them on his site. I was surprised when DDF subsequently went after Coyne and accused him of being a fool. What?! I later got an e-mail from Coyne indicating he was offended by DDF’s words and that the intellectual skirmish had continued over at Why Evolution is True. Coyne posted the following statement on his blog:

After letting you use my site to direct traffic to yours, I will ban you for insulting the host (what a rude person you are in your post, a characteristic you must have gotten from the woke Williams students).

First, though, since you had the temerity to call me a fool, let me reply that you are an arrant jackass. The only “mistake” I made in my post was characterizing the universities who use the Chicago Principles as “adopting them” rather than, as the FIRE site says, the 65 schools “Have adopted or endorsed the Chicago Statement or a substantially similar statement.”

According to Coyne the Amherst statement is virtually the same as the Chicago Principles anyways. Coyne writes,

Here is from the 2014 Chicago statement, for instance:

The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University. But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression, and it is vitally important that these exceptions never be used in a manner that is inconsistent with the University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas.

And here’s from the 2016 Amherst statement:

Even the most vigorous defense of intellectual and creative freedom knows limits. The College may properly restrict speech that, for example, is defamatory, harassing, invades a protected right to privacy or confidentiality, constitutes incitement to imminent violence, or otherwise violates the law. It may place reasonable limitations on the time, place, and manner of expression, and may restrict speech that directly interferes with core instructional and administrative functions of the College. But these restrictions and limitations must be understood as narrow exceptions to the College’s overriding commitment to robust open inquiry.

And you say this isn’t a copy of part of the Chicago statement? Don’t make me laugh. It could even be construed as plagiarism.

Oh, and the Amherst website says that its own committee joined Chicago in endorsing free speech:

During the AAS meeting, Douglas, a member of the Committee of Six, began by reading a statement prepared by the committee about the Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom. Over a year ago, the Committee of Six received a letter from Trent Maxey, professor of history and Asian languages and civilizations, asking the committee to draft a statement on academic and expressive freedom. After deliberation, the committee drafted the statement, joining other universities such as Purdue, the University of Chicago and Princeton in doing so.

Note that, of course, Amherst’s statement came two years after Chicago’s.

Now begone to your own blog to entertain your three or four like-minded equine readers. I have better things to do than swat down odious Ephs.

Ideally, we will eventually see peace between DDF and Jerry Coyne. I would hate to see folks lose their focus on protecting free speech advocates like Luana Majora because they are aiming their lances at each other in an unproductive inter-group joust.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. 

Print  •  Email