Skip to comments.Discrimination Against Intelligent Design Film Cited in California Science Center Lawsuit
Posted on 11/25/2009 10:15:23 AM PST by GodGunsGuts
More details are now coming out from the lawsuit filed against the California Science Center by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA), filed in the Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Los Angeles (Central District). AFA's lawsuit contends that the California Science Center engaged in viewpoint discrimination when cancelling AFA's contract to screen the pro-intelligent design (ID) documentary Darwins Dilemma at the Centers IMAX Theatre on October 25th. As discussed below, AFA's complaint contains e-mails from California Science Center staff revealing that the Center cared more about how it would be perceived by ID-critics in the scientific community for renting its facilities to screen a pro-ID video than it did about AFAs constitutional rights.
The abrupt cancellation of AFAs event was first reported by the Los Angeles Daily News, and has previously been covered by Discovery Institute here, here, here, and here.
The complaint corrects a common misstatement about this case, accurately noting, Discovery Institute was not a party to the contract between the Plaintiff [California Science Center] and Defendants [American Freedom Alliance] for the screening of Darwins Dilemma.
E-mails Show Viewpoint Discrimination
Most importantly, as noted the complaint contains e-mail documentation exposing the actual reason that the California Science Center cancelled AFAs contract to screen Darwins Dilemma. As the complaint shows, the California Science Centers e-mail officially cancelling AFAs contract unashamedly reveals that the Center was most concerned about its reputation in the scientific community and its relationship to other scientific groups after having rented its facilities to a pro-ID group, throwing AFAs constitutional rights under the bus. The complaint states:
On October 6, 2009, Christina M. Sion, Vice President of Food & Event Services at CENTER, (hereinafter SION) wrote an e-mail to DAVIS [President of the AFA] stating that we are cancelling your event at the California Science Center. SIONs e-mail stated:Before going further we must clear away some errors in Sions e-mail. First, the October 5th press release referenced by Sion wasnt issued by the AFA, it was issued by Discovery Institute, and AFA had no control over that press release. Second, Discovery Institutes October 5th press release didnt claim that the California Science Center was co-sponsoring the Darwin Debates but quite plainly stated, The screening is sponsored and hosted by the American Freedom Alliance. Third, Discovery Institutes press release was hardly inaccurate to observe that the California Science Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian. The California Science Center has a conspicuous page on its website, Smithsonian Affiliate Designation, touting at great length the Centers status as a Smithsonian Affiliate that enjoys the benefits of becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate, even boasting that, for certain exhibits, the Center is now authorized to use the tag line in association with the Smithsonian Institution.It has come to our attention that in a press release issued October 5, 2009 by the American Freedom Alliance, it is inferred that the California Science Center as [sic] a Smithsonian Institute affiliate is co-sponsoring the Darwin Debates. Your event is a private event held on the California Science Center property but is not affiliated in any way with the California Science Center or the Smithsonian. This press release has damaged our relationship with the Smithsonian and the reputation of the California Science Center. According to the Event Policies and Procedures that you signed to reserve the date for the event, you agreed to submit all promotional materials to the California Science Center for review and approval prior to printing or broadcast. Because you did not obtain this approval and the press release has had significant negative ramifications, we are canceling your event at the California Science Center. (emphases added)
Thus, the October 5th Discovery Institute press release which Sion complains about not only wasnt issued (or controlled) by the AFA, but it also wasnt inaccurate. Thus, AFAs lawsuit correctly notes that The contract states nothing concerning promotions of the event by third parties nor requiring the monitoring, oversight, management, or control of third-party promotions.
That being the case, what was the real reason the California Science Center cancelled AFAs contract?
Sions e-mail unwittingly also exposes the real reason AFAs contract was apparently cancelled: The California Science Center was worried that publicity about its rental of facilities to screen a pro-ID video had damaged our relationship with the Smithsonian and the reputation of the California Science Center. And consider Sion's closing statement: Because you did not obtain this approval and the press release has had significant negative ramifications, we are canceling your event at the California Science Center.
Just what are those negative ramifications? And do they offer just cause to breach a contract? Weve already established that the AFA didnt need approval for a third party publicity statement it didnt control. All thats left is the California Science Centers concern that public knowledge that a pro-ID event was going forward was perceived to have significant negative ramifications.
Is that a valid reason to cancel a contract? The California Science Center is a department of the State of California that rents its facilities for use by private groups. As a government facility, the First Amendment prohibits it from refusing to rent to private groups based upon a distaste for the viewpoint of the speech expressed by the group. Thats called viewpoint discrimination. Yet the California Science Center seems more concerned about purported "damage" to its "reputation" and perceived "negative ramifications" stemming from AFA's pro-ID viewpoint than it does with AFA's constitutional rights to express that viewpoint at a government-owned forum. AFA appears to have a strong case that the Center engaged in viewpoint discrimination.
(It goes without saying that the California Science Center has long-hosted exhibits promoting evolution. I personally remember visiting the Center in the elementary school when it was known as the California Museum of Science and Industry. My public elementary school took a trip to the museum and we were taught about the evolution of dinosaurs.)
AFAs complaint further elaborates on the negative ramifications felt by the California Science Center. It turns out that various Los Angeles area academics had expressed strong opposition to the California Science Center renting its facilities for a pro-ID event. As Hilary Schor, USC professor of English, Comparative Literature, Gender Studies and Law stated in an e-mail that was forwarded to a curator at the California Science Center, Im less troubled by the freedom of speech issues than why my tax dollars which support the California Science Center are being spent on hosting religious propaganda.
AFAs lawsuit complaint aptly observes that [t]his sentiment, written by a law professor, sadly demonstrates a purposeful indifference to constitutional protections enshrined and safeguarded in the Bill of Rights.
The complaint also shows that a curator at another Los Angeles area museum expressed angst that the California Science Center was renting its facilities for a pro-ID event.
There is also evidence that the Smithsonian Institution itself intervened in the situation and may have pressured AFA to cancel the event. After detailing the Smithsonians long history of opposing academic freedom for intelligent design, the complaint quotes a Los Angeles Daily News article where Smithsonian spokesman Randall Kremer acknowledges that he spoke with the California Science Center after becoming concerned by the inference there was a showing of the [Darwins Dilemma] film at a Smithsonian branch. Kremers statements directly suggest that the Smithsonian opposed any inference that it was connecting to the showing of Darwins Dilemma.
AFA's lawsuit complaint sheds more light on what occurred. The day before Chris Sion cancelled AFAs event, Smithsonian Affiliates Director Harold Closter wrote to a California Science Center staff member that expressing concern that a press release (the one issued by Discovery Institute) made it appear as if the Smithsonian was linked to AFAs event. He wrote, We are concerned that [the EVENT] not be represented as a Smithsonian event or program or anything with which we have any involvement.
Feeling pressured by the Smithsonian, it seems that the California Science Center decided that the easiest way to solve the problem was simply to breach contract and cancel AFAs event.
Based upon this and other evidence, the lawsuit argues that the California Science Centers complaint about press releases was contrived as a pretext by Defendants for cancelling the event when the real reason for cancelling it derived from hostility to the viewpoints expressed in Darwins Dilemma By asserting a breach of contract argument, Defendants sought to shroud themselves within a cloak of plausible deniability for violating Plaintiffs constitutional rights.
And all AFA wanted to do was rent a facility to show a pro-ID video. Imagine that.
Those of us who have carried on debates on highly charged subjects here on FR have pretty much seen it all.
The “you are an idiot compared to me” tactic is played all the time, and easily recognizable. Usually the poster wants you to respond by claiming you are ‘smarter’, or ‘know it all’ so they then can try to prove to you how they have this one niche of expertize which should cause us all to go prostrate at their feet.
They come here (FR) to ‘teach’, not to ‘learn’. And that is their loss.
And right you are, the contract was valid from all reports and whatever someone else says about the event has nothing to do with it.
I suppose the Center agreed before they rec'd their orders from above (The Great Mythsonian).
It do get funny after a while. Cheers!
It depends in how you define anti-American. Besides, elections have consequences. If we want to change government policy we need to change those we elect.
So is the complaint about a contract being broken or that id/creationism don’t belong in a scientific forum?
“More details are now coming out from the lawsuit filed against the California Science Center by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA), filed in the Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Los Angeles (Central District). AFA’s lawsuit contends that the California Science Center engaged in viewpoint discrimination when cancelling AFA’s contract to screen the pro-intelligent design (ID) documentary Darwins Dilemma at the Centers IMAX Theatre on October 25th.”
The California Science Center relies on California General Fund support. By California state law the charter of the CSC prohibits nonsecular activities and programming. This mandates "viewpoint discrimination". As a California taxpayer I do not want my hard earned money going to promote any secular activities or, in the case of the California Science Center, non-science related materials like YEC and other "Chariots of the Gods" like pseudo science.
Perhaps you can quote or show that “state charter”? The school has a state charter and the foundation by law has it’s bylaws but what is the charter of the Center that prohibits “non-secular” activities?
Either you are sloppy or intentionally misrepresenting my statement;
1) There is no "state charter". There is the CA constitution and CA state law. You can find it all at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
2) The California Science Center is NOT a school.
“The California Science Center relies on California General Fund support. By California state law the CHARTER of the CSC prohibits nonsecular activities and programming. This mandates “viewpoint discrimination”. AND
“1) There is no “state charter. There is the CA constitution and CA state law.” 2) The California Science Center is NOT a school.”
That's good since I didn't say it was a school.
“You can find it all at
I'm not going to wade through the entire California legal code to find what you say is there but cannot produce.
However a 30 second search of google produced:
“Science Center School
Learn about the elementary school located on our campus.....
Imagine an elementary school with all of the resources a teacher or parent could ever want. Its located near world-class museums, a major university and a state-of-the-art teacher professional development center. The school features an integrated curriculum emphasizing science, mathematics and the use of technology. Its teachers are fully credentialed with a demonstrated ability to make science and math engaging and accessible to their students. And its not a magnet school but, rather, a neighborhood school for underserved groups of children and their parents. While such a school seems like a dream, it is a dream that has become reality in South Los Angeles, the result of more than a decade of collaborative work between the California Science Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
PS...IT'S A CHARTER SCHOOL! On the grounds!
I don't think it's me that is sloppy or misrepresenting.
Your post: "The school has a state charter and the foundation by law has its bylaws."
There’s been a lot of bad blood between the Smithsonian and the Discovery Institute for quite some time. Illustra Media, the production company that produces this film appears to be a shell company created by the Discovery Institute, so I’m no surprised that the Smithsonian isn’t happy about it.
But where is this mandate that requires discrimination on the basis of the renter's beliefs and opinions? Basically when it comes to public facilities being rented out it's rent to all or rent to none.
I can rent a publicly funded library room or tax supported school auditorium when not in use if others, Hare Krishna's, Darwin doubters and believers, Prayer clubs, or whatever are allowed to and I don't have to meet an ideological test.
If I'm not allowed then no one is allowed.
And what relationship or ‘bad blood’ exists between the Smithsonian and the Discovery Institute is also irrelevant as the contract wasn't between the Discovery Institute and the Smithsonian.
They do indeed. Sometimes those "certain purposes" are honorable, and other times not so much.
Hopefully the Science Center will do the right thing and honor its contract but if not then the courts will have to sort it out.
And hopefully they will act in accordance with the law.
Hoepfully, justice will be done.
David Berlinski, Ph.D. Philosophy (Princeton University) and post-doc fellow in mathematics and molecular biology (Columbia University) speaks about flaws in Darwinism and peer pressure among scientists to conform to the “party line” in science.