Academic freedoms said to be stifled in areas beyond science


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The April 18 release of the Ben Stein documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," may be highlighting accusations of widespread censorship involving Intelligent Design, but professors and attorneys say the bias goes much wider.

"For every hole we plug, one or two pop open," Nate Kellum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said. "We are dealing with situations all across the country."

Kellum, who works in ADF's Center for Academic Freedom, said the academic bias involves "any thought, any idea that would cut across the grain of the leftist view.

"They exalt the idea of tolerance," he said. "There is absolutely no tolerance."

The center, launched several years ago because of the escalating amount of academic cases, takes calls daily from faculty and students who are concerned about censorship issues. From the calls, Kellum said the center's six full-time lawyers accept between 50 and 70 cases annually.

"We're scrambling," he said.

The center recently announced that it had reached a settlement with California State University system officials to eliminate problematic restrictions on student speech at all of its 23 campuses.

According to EP News Service, a federal judge suspended or limited aspects of the CSU speech policy last year, saying it contained serious constitutional problems.

As part of the settlement, portions of the Cal State system "speech code," the San Francisco State University Student Organization Handbook "speech code," and the SFSU harassment policy will be modified to eliminate unconstitutional restrictions that have been misused by university officials.

"The problem with public universities today is that it's departed largely from what it was supposed to be—a place to teach students to think, a marketplace for ideas," Kellum said. "Instead, what we see today is more of a place of indoctrination, an incubator for leftist thought. They have very little patience for any view other than their own."

Christians and science
Paul Nelson, a biology professor at Biola University, agrees, calling the practice "old fashioned bullying." Nelson was among numerous academics who were interviewed and featured in the Expelled movie.

"It runs right across all the disciplines," he said. "Dissension on some topics is just not tolerated.

Even so, he said he's most personally acquainted with censorship involving Intelligent Design and science.

"There is a view that science and religious faith are inherently hostile to each other," he said. "I think that is not historically accurate and reflected in the scientists that I know best in 2008. Within the current science community I know many first-rate scientists who are devoutly religious believers."

He also cited the Christian faith of scientists he labeled as Hall of Famers: Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Louis Pasteur and Georges Cuvier.

Both Kellum and Nelson praised the documentary for shedding light on the stifling effects of speech codes, hate speech policies and non-discrimination requirements. Kellum said it's especially insidious for Christian students who have been taught since children to respect authority.

"It's vitally important because I don't think a lot of people realize the severity of the problem. I don't know if people realize how difficult it is for a Christian conservative professor or student."

Arrest threat
Evan Coyne Maloney, a documentary filmmaker who last year began holding screenings for his full-length work, "Indoctrinate-U," said Stein's movie will further elevate debate on the issue.

"The real way to fix the problem isn't to legislate against it but to continue to expose the intolerance of intellectual freedom," said Maloney, whose film also explores political correctness and speech codes on a wide variety of topics, including the treatment of the military, conservatives and racial and ethnic policies.

In several instances, Maloney was ordered off of university campuses under threat of arrest. In February, members of the Los Angeles-based pro-life group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, were arrested for the third time at Cypress College for distributing literature outside of a "free speech zone." Although the earlier arrests were dismissed by the District Attorney's office, the students have filed a civil lawsuit against the College.

"If people become aware of the situation within the schools which they are affiliated, they might not be inclined to write that check," Maloney said. "Merely asking the questions and speaking out will rectify a lot of these situations."

A student at Buchnell University, Maloney denounces suppression as having a corrosive effect on the pursuit of higher education.

"I discovered very quickly on that there was a severe double standard on campus," he said. "At orientation they would stress tolerance and diversity, but while I was there, there was very little tolerance for intellectual diversity."

"It was the time when political correctness and speech code, used to stifle open debate, were bursting into the national consciousness."

Maloney's film is now available for download purchase online and DVDs are expected to be released within weeks.

"I wanted to produce a film that was going to reach across the aisle so to speak and say, 'You don't have to agree with my view to understand the importance for free speech. Tolerance has to go beyond respect for different appearance to include respect for different opinions."

While the debate goes on, Professor Nelson urges students with differing views to stand up for what they believe.

"One of the most precious things you have is your intellectual freedom and no one can take that away from you," the professor said. "It's a divinely inspired freedom. We don't grant them to one another. Hang on to it. It's precious."

For more information on the documentaries and groups who are involved in academic freedom issues, visit the Web link list posted at

For more information on the two documentaries and groups who are involved in academic freedom issues, visit: