TO: Dr Daniel Fogel
President, University of Vermont
Dear Dr Fogel
BEN STEIN COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
I was astonished when I heard that the University of Vermont has invited Ben Stein, an up-front enemy of reputable science, to deliver its commencement address. I do hope that you, or whoever else might have made or endorsed this decision, took into account that Mr Stein has publicy blamed the Darwinian account of evolution for the Nazi Holocaust in his efforts to undermine well-corroborated biological science. He has been the front man for a meretricious campaign attempting to demonstrate that proponents of Intelligent Design are somehow being victimised in the academy. These claims have repeatedly been shown to be without substance. See for example the excellent "Expelled Exposed" website:
I hope you imagine the embarrassment of your science faculty at the prospect of your giving such a person a prominent soapbox for his views.
The invitation to Mr Stein has tended to bring the University of Vermont into disrepute. Unfortunately, the university is now in a no-win situation: if you revoke the invitation, Mr Stein will claim that he has been "expelled" from the academy and his freedom of speech suppressed. Of course, he has ample opportunity to put his views in many forums; you are under no obligation to provide him with another, highly prestigious, one. Although there is now an obvious downside, I urge that you seriously reconsider the invitation. The danger to your university's reputation if you go ahead outweighs even the propaganda value for Mr Stein and his allies if withdraw the invitation and find another commencement speaker.