The political left, which holds itself as progressive, rational and fact-based, is becoming an enemy of academic inquiry, and a practitioner of thought control on a wide variety of issues. Increasingly, from the left's perspective, there is just one acceptable viewpoint.
Consider the subjects of evolution, global warming, special rights for homosexuals and abstinence education. Consider efforts of the left to silence conservative talk radio. Consider the mainstream media's arrogant denial of its transparent liberal bias, pronouncing itself to be above politics and inherently objective and its critics somehow skewed.
Consider the leftist refrain that red-state conservatives do not merely possess a different worldview, but are not part of the "reality-based community." Consider the near monolithic liberalism and secularism of our university faculties.
The U.S. House is expected to pass a landmark federal law that would expand hate crimes legislation to include attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. Opponents argue that it's conceivable under the bill that if a rabbi, priest or pastor reads to his congregation a passage from the Bible condemning homosexuality, he could be considered an accomplice to any parishioner who later commits a "hate crime" against a homosexual.
Various activists are behind legislation that would prohibit public schools from continuing to teach Abstinence Until Marriage (AUM) in North Carolina and would force them to teach comprehensive sex education.
In my book "Persecution" I described the trials of a university professor who was disciplined for making available, but not mandating, materials in her class that deviated from the dogma of homosexual activists. One school administrator, in defending the school's chilling action said, "We cannot tolerate the intolerable."
Global warming alarmists tell us there is an overwhelming consensus on the issue and further debate is pointless. Yet there are a significant number of genuine dissenters in the relevant disciplines. Many more would doubtlessly emerge from the closet but for the potential financial consequences that might ensue. Plus, many of those counted as experts by the alarmists are scientists with no appreciable expertise in the field. Despite arguably insufficient data and questionable techniques to measure climate change historically, not to mention questions concerning the extent of man-made warming, the global warming zealots brook no dissent. They ridicule and castigate anyone, including those every bit as credentialed as they are, who refuses to imbibe their Kool-aid.
Their uncompromising certainty demonstrates staggering hubris, especially considering the track record of many scientists who have issued unequivocal conclusions, for example, in the health field, only to retract them a few short years later.
By pronouncing an end to debate -- just because they say so -- they betray the very principles they claim to uphold: an adherence to scientific inquiry and a commitment to facts and reason in favor of ideologically and politically driven conclusions.
Tom Bethell, in his "Politically Incorrect Guide to Science," quotes author Michael Crichton as saying that consensus science "is an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had."
We are witnessing a similar phenomenon on the subject of evolution versus intelligent design. Evolutionist Richard Dawkins, explains Bethel, believes that evolution is not a debatable topic. "I'm concerned about implying that there is some sort of scientific argument going on," said Dawkins. "There's not." Meanwhile the Intelligent Design movement is gathering courageous and impressive adherents who would debate the notion that no debate is going on.
But when these recalcitrant upstarts refuse to toe the line, they sometimes pay the price. Bethell tells of the publication by the peer-reviewed "Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington" of an article on the Cambrian Explosion by the Discovery Institute's Steven Meyer. Though Meyer relied on the work of respected scientists in the article, its subject matter did not sit well with the "consensus" gods. Richard Stenberg, the editor of the journal, was virtually accused of being a religious fundamentalist and a right-winger for publishing the piece. He was required to "surrender his office and keys to the department floor, denying him access to the specimen collections he needed." And, according to Bethel, "A senior Smithsonian scientist complained that publication of the article 'made us into the laughing stock of the world, even is this kind of rubbish sells well in backwoods USA.' Notice," wrote Bethel, "it was not the substantive claims about the Cambrian Explosion that caused such fury, it was their publication in a peer-reviewed journal."
If this trend continues, it's hard to imagine what we'll see in next decade. How the left can consider itself fair and open-minded in view of such developments is beyond comprehension.