The California Science Center in Exposition Park is being sued after it pulled out of a deal to screen a documentary that question's Darwin's theory of evolution. The center shelved the screening after a pro-intelligent design group issued a press release promoting the event and falsely linking the center with the Smithsonian Institute.

The Smithsonian, which had received a black eye over anti-Darwin presentations in the past, sent a letter to the center asking it to correct the release's contention that the Exposition Park institution was an extension of the Washington, D.C.-based institute. The next day the science center canceled its screening of Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record. The center cited breach of contract, arguing that its deal with the the film's American Freedom Alliance called for all promotional material to be approved by the center. Problem is, it was a third party that issued the release, not the Alliance.

The Alliance contends that the center used the press release as an excuse to pull out of the screening because it felt pressure from the Smithsonian and other scientists to distance itself from anti-Darwin sentiment.

The documentary attempts to poke holes in the Darwinist contention that fossils point to clear and steady evidence of evolution. Its supporters are crying fowl, saying a third party has the right to say whatever it wishes about an upcoming event under the First Amendment. (Eh, we're not sure the First Amendment covers willful factual errors, if indeed that is the case here, but we'll let the court sort that out).

The Discovery Institute, which put out the release, stated Tuesday that “it might come as a shock to the CSC, but free speech is still protected in this country. The Institute can, and will, say whatever it wants to about the public activities of its scientists and researchers. The CSC has no right to limit our speech, and they have no leverage to bring to bear against the AFA and punish them for something they also have no control over. That is just a ploy to avoid the real issue, theviewpoint discrimination engaged in by a department of the state government.”

[More at the Los Angeles Times].

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