Hopefully the University of Vermont’s president, Dan Fogel, has heard of Dawkins as well as Daniel Dennett, both of whom have written to Fogel note the alarming inappropriateness of a mendacious, saber-rattling loon delivering a commencement speech at this or any university where faculty and staff do not routinely dress in clown costumes.
I’m smiling as I write this because with two of the “Four Horsemen” already on the case, I’m naturally imagining what a letter (or simply a belch) from Christopher Hitchens to Fogel would look like.
Dr Daniel Fogel
President, University of Vermont
Dear President Fogel
I am dismayed to learn that the University of Vermont has invited Ben Stein to give the Commencement Address, and to receive an Honorary Degree. I can only presume that neither you, nor anybody else responsible for this lamentable decision, has seen the film ‘Expelled’. Was anybody in the Biology Department consulted before you issued an invitation to a notoriously mendacious propagandist for creationism? Was anyone in the History Department consulted before you issued this invitation to somebody who seriously tries to blame Darwin for the Holocaust? For a deplorable consequence of the latter, see [this]. What kind of a signal do you think you will send to the world about the University of Vermont, if you honour this man?
You may think I am personally biased, as I am one of several evolutionary biologists who, in good faith, agreed to be interviewed by Stein and his team, on the basis of what turned out to be flagrant lies as to the true purpose of the film. In my case, Stein and his team then went on deliberately to distort my words, as I explain here.
So do not take my word for it. See the film for yourself and then consider whether you do not have a duty, to your university (whose reputation is in danger of being besmirched), to your graduating students (whose big day is in danger of being sullied), and to the other recipients of Honorary Degrees (who would have to shake hands with this odious liar), to withdraw your invitation.
Yours very sincerely
Richard Dawkins FRS