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Interview: Colorado lawyer Barry Arrington on recent “free speech about Darwin’s errors” win at Colorado university


Barry Arrington is our boss here at Uncommon Descent and he is talking about a successful case on behalf of a student who was verbally attacked by a Darwinist.

UD News:  Barry, when advertising the recent contest for a reply to “Professor Pompous”‘s sneery pretend apology to a student that he had treated with disrespect – an apology you negotiated – you wrote, “A couple of months ago a young university student contacted my law office seeking help in a dispute she was having with a university here in Colorado.”

Had she contacted your office because she knew that you had represented the families of victims of the Columbine massacre (Colorado 1999), where Darwinism was an issue? Or are you known to take civil rights cases in general?

Arrington: Actually, there is a Columbine connection. My client’s pastor was a first responder at Columbine and we have known each other for many years. She came to him with this matter, and he referred her to me.

UD News: You noted that the previous week she had voiced opposition to Darwinism to her biology professor. Is there any information available about the basis of her opposition? Was it skepticism of vast Darwinian claims? A strongly held opposing view?

Arrington: During a private discussion with the professor at the front of the class the student told the professor she had gone to a Christian high school. From this he undoubtedly deduced the obvious (that she was a Christian) and the probable (that she did not agree with Darwinian orthodoxy). For reasons that remain a mystery this just set the professor off and he launched into a highly unprofessional tirade denigrating the student, her prior education and her religious beliefs.

UD News: Many sources have observed that universities have morphed in the last 50 years from havens for free thought to havens for thought police. I was at university forty years ago, and can testify that profs, no matter how much they despised a given opinion, would simply not behave that way. Our whole concept of a prof was of someone who did NOT behave that way. In your view, what has changed?

Arrington: I am currently reading Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, in which he makes a strong case that liberalism (modern liberalism, not classical liberalism) should be placed on the same pole of the political spectrum as fascism, not the opposite pole as is commonly done, because there is a strong authoritarian/totalitarian streak running through modern liberalism/progressivism.

Ironically, those liberals and progressives who agitate most strongly for “personal autonomy”
when they are pushing for special civil rights protections for persons engaging in deviant sexual behavior, really only believe in personal autonomy for their friends. If you try to express views counter to theirs, they will use every means at their disposal to silence you.

Witness the so-called civil rights commissions in your country, which have effectively made it a crime to teach certain parts of the Christian scriptures.

UD News: Yes, they made it a “human rights” crime even to warn the public about extremist anti-civil rights tendencies (but the traditional Canadians are winning so far!).

But now, the prof’s letter of apology is curious because he seems unaware that his behaviour, not his opinions, prompted the legal issues. It’s as if people don’t think civility matters any more. Is there a connection between civility and civil rights?

Arrington: Well, if the incivility is extreme and prompted by the fact that his target has exercised her constitutional rights, the incivility can in some cases, amount to a breach of civil rights.

UD News: Some people say these situations are common, but that most students are afraid to speak out. Caroline Crocker‘s book, Free to Think, provides evidence for that position. What’s your view?

Arrington: Yes, for every student with the courage to speak up, I suspect there are dozens who have been effectively cowed by the high priests of liberal orthodoxy.

UD News: Do you think the ID community is making headway in enabling responsible discussions around the origin and nature of the universe and life forms? Are there things we should be doing that we are not doing?

Arrington: Yes I do. For example, US presidential candidate Michelle Bachman recently came out for teaching the science on both sides of this issue and letting students make up their own minds. We are making headway. I believe we are doing everything reasonably possible. There are so many talented and energetic people involved in this issue. In my view, we don’t have to force it. All we have to do is keep the issue out there, and sooner or later it will prevail, because of the obvious intellectual bankruptcy of the opposition.

Still time to enter the “Response to Prof Pompous” contest. Free copy of the indispensable The Nature of Nature mailed to your home.

Note: “Traditional Canadian” does not mean “member of privileged group.” Canada was founded in 1867 as a multicultural country (English, French, Aboriginal). The traditional peoples are happy to welcome new immigrants to ancient rights going back to Magna Carta (1066). Not so happy with the few who seek to undermine those rights, in favour of theocracy or scientism.

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That's interesting - I'm reading the same book. It's revelatory and a must-read for anyone who is concerned about the ongoing erosion of liberty. The left wing media complex has completely invented a false historical narrative in order to frame all political debates and discussions into a "heads I win, tails you lose" scenario for the advance of socialism. Meleagar

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