Ben Stein backs out as Univ. of Vermont commencement speaker
The choice of media personality Ben Stein as commencement speaker at the University of Vermont generated such a furor that Stein backed out, UVM President Dan Fogel confirmed Monday.
Fogel picked Stein largely because Stein had received an enthusiastic response from students at a lecture at UVM last spring. That talk, part of the Kalkin Lecture Series, focused on economic issues. . . .
After UVM announced Stein's selection Thursday, Fogel said in a written statement, "profound concerns have been expressed to me by persons both internal and external to the university about his selection." Fogel said he received hundreds of e-mails beginning Saturday -- including only about a half-dozen from people at UVM -- contending, generally, that Stein's views of science were "affronts to the basic tenets of the academy."
Once I apprised Mr. Stein of these communications, he immediately and most graciously declined his commencement invitation," Fogel's statement said.
"I did not ask him not to come," Fogel said in an interview Monday, adding, "I was not going to let him be blindsided by controversy. . . . ."
Another news article, titled "Ben Stein responds to UVM flap," says,
Ben Stein described the brouhaha over his selection as commencement speaker at the University of Vermont as "laughable" on Tuesday called the whole episode “pathetic.”
In a phone call to the Free Press on Tuesday, Stein said that describing his views as “antithetical to scientific inquiry” was “a wildly unfair characterization.” He said he was by no means “anti-science,” as some of his critics have described him.
“I am far more pro-science than the Darwinists,” Stein said later in an e-mail. “I want all scientific inquiry to happen — not just what the ruling clique calls science” . . . . .
Fogel said he had invited Stein — a comedian, lawyer, commentator and financial columnist — to speak about the economy . . .
Stein called the university’s response to the furor “chicken sh**, and you can quote me on that.”
“I like Dr. Fogel,” Stein wrote, “and feel sorry he is caught in the meat grinder of political correctness. My heart goes out to him. He’s a great guy trying to do his best in difficult circumstances.”
As for the commencement speech, he said, “I didn’t really want to do it in the first place.”
“Mr. Fogel endlessly, endlessly asked me to do it” for a discount — roughly 80 percent cut in his usual fee. No sum was ever agreed on, Stein said. The only reason Stein finally agreed, he said, was that Fogel is the brother-in-law of “my best friend" . . . . .
Stein said he has spoken at many universities, including Columbia, Yale, Stanford, and American University, “and no one has said boo. Somehow at UVM, it has become a big issue.”
It appears that Ben Stein's withdrawal was voluntary. He said that he was reluctant to come in the first place and maybe he saw an opportunity to make a martyr out of himself by withdrawing. However, an article on Evolution News & Views contains statements by Pres. Fogel that suggest that he pressured Stein to back out. Fogel should have accepted Stein's withdrawal graciously and not gone into a big song and dance over how Stein does not deserve an honorary degree. What a stupid idiot.
If it was OK for Judge John E. Jones III, the biased activist judge who decided the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, to be a commencement speaker at Dickinson College, then why shouldn't Stein be a commencement speaker? And whereas Stein was to speak about economics, not the evolution controversy, Jones spoke directly about his controversial decision. And Jones showed extreme prejudice against Intelligent Design and the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept -- by saying that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. Jones said,
“. . . . this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”
William Dembski wrote on Uncommon Descent,
Judge Jones, whose distinction prior to the Dover case was running the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, now has multiple honorary doctorates for rendering his decision, which he cribbed from the ACLU’s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Ben Stein, who is an acclaimed actor, author, and economist, on the other hand, has just been denied an honorary doctorate at the University of Vermont . . .
Some people in the audience stood and turned their backs when Phyllis Schlafly received an honorary degree at Washington University in St. Louis.
This UVM incident shows the tremendous power of the Internet to mobilize hundreds or even thousands of protest emails in a few hours. Another big email protest -- orchestrated mainly by demagogic Darwinist blogger Sleazy PZ Myers -- caused the Cincinnati Zoo to cancel a combo ticket deal with the Creation Museum  . Sleazy PZ also had a hand in the protest against UVM.
Pres. Fogel's email address is Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu
The email address of the UVM board of trustees is firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: PZ Myers