Wednesday, December 22, 2010

University of Kentucky: Higher ed's poster child for religious discrimination

When the Ben Stein's movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" came out several years ago, Darwinists, critical of the movie's portrayal of several cases in which believers in Intelligent Design were discriminated against by the Darwinist establishment, denied that scientists who differed from the prevailing consensus were discriminated against in academia.

All of a sudden comes the case of Martin Gaskell, who was the top candidate for the position of observatory director at the University of Kentucky until a few professors, mostly in the biology department (New motto: "No Christians need apply"), got it in their heads that he was a creationist--or Intelligent Design advocate, they don't appear to know the difference-- at which point his candidacy was effectively over.

The main argument used by the Darwinists against "Expelled," was that the cases didn't actually constitute discrimination based on Darwinistic dogmatism. In the Gaskell case, their main argument is that they should be discriminated against because of his religion because his religion forces him into something less than Darwinist purism.

The irony of the case is that Gaskell is not a creationist. He has said he thinks creationism is bad science and that he has no problems with the standard theory of evolution. The worst thing he said about the theory of the theory of evolution is that it had some flaws.

But dogmatists brook no dissent, nor do they tolerate anything but complete acquiescence.

Had Gaskell been some sort of secularist, he might have gotten by with the remark and gotten the job. But Sally Shafer, who apparently acts as UK science's heresy hunter, determined, according to an e-mail now made public, that Gaskell was a "potential evangelical."

The University is claiming, in the face of the facts, that it didn't do anything wrong. And, of course, they're getting support from those we could have predicted would stick their heads in the sand, primary among which is P. Z. Meyers:
Of course, Gaskell has a predisposition: he's a devout Christian, so that persecution complex is rooted deeply. He claims he was denied the job because he's an evangelical Christian. I say he's just inventing rationalizations…something else his religion has made him very good at. And the newspapers are helping him out.
Never mind those damning e-mails and the entire discussion attested to by witnesses that it was his religion that did him in. And never mind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that some of these same people would club you over the head with if the institution had discriminated against a minority.

In fact, one of the arguments used to defend UK's actions in the Gaskell affair is to say that he would have public outreach responsibilities and that his religious views would embarrass the University. Okay, let's just simply apply this to a similar discrimination case against, say, an African American, another group protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Let's say that the University of Kentucky was looking for an agriculture extension officer for a certain part of the state. The job obviously involves public outreach. And let's say that this part of the state had few if any black population and a history of racist sentiment. And let's say an African American man applied for the job and was clearly the most qualified applicant on paper.

And let's also say that at the University there were faculty and staff in the agriculture department who indicated in their e-mails that they didn't think highly of blacks and that there was a concerted effort to torpedo his candidacy for the job, and that one of the reasons they gave for saying he was not qualified--in spite of his expertise and experience--was that they felt that his race would impair his ability to do outreach in this part of the state.

What then? Well, I think we know what would happen then: there would be an outcry the likes of which we have seldom heard.

The case has now gone viral. The New York Times covered it on Saturday, and the Washington Post on Friday.

Now the University that talks a good game about Tolerance and Diversity in its press releases is about to become higher education's poster child for religious discrimination.


Unknown said...

Hey Mr. Cothran,

I'm working on a paper about American education. I'm supposed to discuss the effects of the Enlightenment and Christianity on American education from America's founding to contemporary times. I was wondering if you could help me out.

First, what are the major turning points of American education?

Who's works should I study/read that affected American education?

Last, what are your thoughts about contemporary education?

I would really appreciate your insights.


Martin Cothran said...


The most cited books on the history of American Education are those by Lawrence Cremin. He wrote a series of three books that are very well-regarded: American Education: The Colonial Experience; The National Experience; and the Metropolitan Experience. They all have a good index to find your way around.

There is also a one-volume abridgment of this series by Cremin called Traditions in American Education. But his best book is probably The Transformation of the School. That one covers the rise and fall of the Progressive Education movement, which incorporated a lot of Enlightenment elements.

I would also recommend E. D. Hirsch Jr.'s The Schools We Need. He covers Romanticism specifically in there. Also Mortimer Adler's Reforming Education. There is also a two-volume history of Western Education that I have at home that I think would be very helpful. I'll give you the authors when I have those in front of me.

I have all these books, but am working on a book to be released next year on classical education, so some of them I am carrying around with me. I don't know which Philip this is, but if you are local, I could loan some of them to you for a few days.

Also, remember that the literature on this will not likely be using the word "Enlightenment," but more commonly words like modernism or rationalism.

I'll post more as I think of it.

Unknown said...

This is Philip Vogel from Mars Hill. I'll be working on this paper through January, so if I could borrow some of those books when we go back to school that would be great. Thanks.

Lee said...


Thomas Sowell, Inside American Education