Re: Viewpoint discrimination or careless reading.

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Thu Oct 06 2005 - 00:03:47 EDT

More on the issue of viewpoint discrimination, the following expresses
my position quite well

<quote>It is conveniently forgotten that science IS viewpoint
discrimination because scientific explanations generally must meet
certain common sense criteria. Scientists routinely reject certain
hypotheses from immediate consideration if they have not been framed in
a way that allows them to be empirically tested. For example, the notion
of continental drift was generally rejected until data suggested a
testable explanation of how the continents might move.

Interestingly de Wolf has a book on ARN in which he clearly describes a
contrary position namely that Intelligent Design (alternative
"theories") should be allowed to be taught under the claim of 'viewpoint
discrimination'. Thus the legal Amicus brief departs from letting
scientific venues decide if ID is scientific or not.


The Court's position on viewpoint discrimination allows two exceptions.
First, the government may control access to a non-public forum based "on
subject matter and speaker identity" if the government's action is
reasonable given the forum's purpose and if the action is viewpoint
neutral.134 This means that the government can suppress speech in a
non-public forum if the speaker wants to discuss "a topic not
encompassed within the purpose of the forum,"135 or the speaker is
outside of the special class for whom the forum was created.136 Second,
if the government is charged with viewpoint discrimination, it can clear
itself of that charge by showing that to permit the speech in question
would violate the Establishment Clause.137

Neither of these exceptions applies to the teaching of design theory.
The overwhelming majority of public schools address the subject of
biological origins in their science curricula. Thus, for public schools
or other governmental agencies to bar the teaching of design
theory-which clearly addresses that topic-undermines the right to free
speech.138 While it is true that the courts have limited the free speech
rights of teachers in the public school context,139 the Constitution's
free speech provisions still apply behind school doors.140 When public
schools censor a scientific theory like design theory, they discriminate
against both students and teachers by unfairly depriving them of the
opportunity to examine the full range of scientific theories about
biological origins.

So in order for their viewpoint discrimination argument to stand, they
have to show that ID 'theory', and so far there is really no such
theory, makes ID vulnerable to being rejected in a scientific setting.
So in other words, based on the subject matter, ID can so far be
excluded, after all it has yet to present itself as a scientifically
relevant explanation.

The Court found that the First Amendment's guarantees apply to our
school systems, where it is "essential to safeguard the fundamental
values of freedom of speech and inquiry and of belief."149 Quoting
/Keyishian v. Board of Regents,/ the Court made clear that "the First
Amendment 'does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the
classroom.'"150 Most significantly, the Court found that the
government's power to determine school curricula does not give it the
power to prevent "the teaching of a scientific theory or doctrine where
the prohibition is based upon reasons that violate the First
Amendment."151 The same freedoms that apply to teaching students about
Darwinian evolution apply with equal force to teaching them about design

But there is no Design theory....
So if the forum is to discuss science, then by all means one can exclude
scientifically vacuous or irrelevant ideas without a claim of viewpoint
Received on Thu Oct 6 00:05:02 2005

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