On the advice of a friend in the legal profession, I've turned on comment moderation. I've had some commenters who have left obscenities or who've attempted to imply that I'm doing things which are illegal in the classroom---which, as far as I'm concerned, is obscene in itself. I've decided the prudent thing to do is to at least screen comments before allowing them, because I have no desire to defend the bad behavior of others.
I enjoyed it, I suspect you will, too, but a rant? As if somehow these guys are biased against the beer-addled sociopaths behind the ivy? Get real. There is a reason why they are called the Bleacher Bums, after all. The Tribune management needs to quit selling alcohol to this group, period, and to put in extra security to deal with the problem.
There has been much discussion behind the scenes about 'what should be done' regarding the appearance of the YEC Don Patton at my public school site. I am most appreciative of the input and information and I'm sorting through it.
It is important, I think, for all of us to reflect on the above question but recognize that since this is a public space, it is not up to any individual or group to make the determination unilaterally. If appearances like this create (as I believe) potential conflicts between the school's mission and protected speech, the best solution is probably not to repress the speech, but to have policies in place that help the public distinguish between science and non-science, between what the schools actually teach and what others fervently believe as a personal matter.
After all, repression of speech plays into the rhetorical framework of the creationist who believes that they have been prejudicially 'Expelled' from the conversation by some sort of worldwide scientific 'conspiracy.' I personally want to avoid feeding that impression, and so the response that I am recommending is two-pronged:
1) More speech at the event itself from those who work at or who have children attending the school site, respectfully pointing out the incompatibility of YEC views with the state science standards and the potential for mischief posed by having events on public school campuses;
2) Working within the district to provide guidelines for facilities usage that provide more transparency for the public, more accountability on the part of the groups using the facilities, and less vulnerability for the district
Now, I am not attempting to tell other people who are similarly appalled by this event what kinds of questions they should ask! Really, others should feel free to 'fire away!' The First Amendment protects Don Patton's speech, and Sun Garden's speech, and it also protects your speech. If others want to argue with Patton about this or that, I think they should be free to do so. But as a district employee at my own school site, I'm going to focus rather narrowly on questions that are directly tied to the science standards.
OK, with respect to the prior post, it turns out that the dog-and-pony show which is Don Patton WILL be at Bullard, after all....only it will not be in the theatre, but in the cafeteria, for three successive evenings, during STAR testing. My administrators, who seem equally appalled and frustrated by the whole thing, told me something different this morning but this seems to be along the lines of wishful thinking. They confirmed that Patton will be here on the 23rd through the 25th.
As one of my senior colleagues at CSU Fresno said in an e-mail, 'the plot thickens'. That colleague also forwarded a rather assertive reply from Sun Garden Church of Christ preacher Randall Jerrell that I won't quote without his permission, but essentially it boils down to the old charge that science educators are close-minded elitists with no stomach for honest debate.
As Mel Blanc once drawled, 'he don't know me very well, do he?'
OK, with regards to this matter, what I now know:
The church in question WILL be appearing at my campus (Bullard High School).
They will, however, NOT be in the theatre, which was reserved, but in the cafeteria.
My school site administrators are aware of the problem, and are concerned that advertising is going out identifying Bullard as a host site, when the church in question was informed two weeks ago that the Bullard site was not available.
Finally, I have received much information and helpful suggestions from many sources. Much of this help, no doubt, was funneled through a post at PZ Mwahaha's. As always, Professor Myers, thank you for making common cause with me against a common foe. At this point, I think I owe you a couple of pitchers of beer.
My relaxation seems to be unwarranted. I guess I just wanted it to be untrue, and when administrators said it wouldn't, they were similarly engaging in wishful thinking. It's not a site decision, it's a district decision, so Patton and Company WILL apparently be at Bullard, just not in the cafeteria. See the above post..!