Sunday, October 07, 2007
It is part of the job of attorneys in high-profile cases to attempt to influence public opinion in favor of their client. A common tactic is to paint one's client as a victim. A neat example of this sort of extra-courtroom representation is on display in a public relations piece, "Mob rule, not academic freedom, at Baylor," in the Waco Tribune-Herald by John Hugh Gilmore, the attorney for Robert Marks in his kerfuffle with Baylor University over Marks' ID-friendly website and the attempt to give William Dembski a backdoor connection with the school.
I should amend that a bit. It is not at all clear that Gilmore is, in fact, representing Marks. In almost a sotto voce aside at the end of the article, Gilmore notes: "Though tenured, [Marks] does not know what the future holds." It doesn't take an expert in contract law to know that the future holds guaranteed employment for life for Marks. Gilmore, an attorney notably based a good distance away from Waco, in St. Paul, Minnesota, casually drops in the comment that he has "represented academics sympathetic to ID for almost a decade." It turns out that Gilmore represented Dembski during his dispute with Baylor over the Polanyi Center. Funny how this whole thing keeps circling back on Dembski ...
In any event, the upshot is a torrent of invective by Gilmore against shadowy conspirators who, therefore, conveniently cannot contradict the charges. Gilmore invokes such bogeymen as Darwin's intellectual shock troops; campus intellectual fascists; McCarthyite liberal secularists; and my personal favorite for the name of a new rock band: the "praetorian guard of Darwinian orthodoxy." He even tries to tar these ghosts with the brush of "that dwarf from Tehran" who spoke recently at Columbia University. Of course, the analogy of Marks' situation to calls to muzzle Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is inapt, since no one has suggested that Marks cannot speak anywhere he likes about ID, even in his classroom, or to have his website. The only thing that has been denied him is the use of the university's computers to host it. If, as many believe, ID is nothing but a personal religious tenet, it is within Baylor's rights to deny permission for the promotion of it on its facilities. Baylor can certainly control who becomes affiliated with the school in either official or semiofficial status and has every right to reject Dembski's attempt to become associated again with Baylor on the sly. Appealing to PZ Myers' understandable willingness to err on the side of academic freedom does not change that.
Next up: how the Illuminati, the Priory of Scion and the Elders of Zion have combined to suppress ID ...