Another Dini update

The United States Department of Justice, acting at the behest of a fundamentalist pro bono (or should it be pro malo?) law firm, has opened a formal inquiry into the letter-of-recommendation policies of Texas Tech Professor Michael Dini. Attorneys from the Civil Rights Division have demanded a bunch of documents from the university, which will certainly make them sorry for having hired someone the fundies dislike. I’m waiting for the screams of outrage from conservatives concerned about academic freedom, frivolous litigation, and states’ rights. [Good thing I’m such a patient fellow; I might have to wait a long time.]

In an earlier post , I argued that Dini’s previously stated policy of requiring of requiring his students to affirm a Darwinian view of human origins was wrong-headed. (That policy has since been modified to a much more sensible and less objectionable requirement that students state a scientific explanation of human origins.) But if Prof. Dini’s policy was in need of modification, the proper way to change it was by talking with Dini, and if necessary his department chair and university president, not by — literally — making a Federal case out of it.

Attorney Gernal Ashcroft’s apparent inability to exercise any self-restraint in using the awesome powers of his department to harass those of whose actions he disapproves (also exemplified in his threat to revoke the drug licenses of physicians acting lawfully under the Oregon assisted-suicide statute) is one excellent reason to wish him, and the man who appointed him, speedy promotion from the subordinate role of public official to the supreme office of citizen and voter.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: