There are more, and even worse, details at WEIT. It’s all really quite astonishing.
Well, you’re not going to see that tape—ever. After agreeing to be taped, Haught decided that he didn’t want the video released. Here’s what happened:
- Dr. Robert Rabel, head of the Gaines Center for the Humanities, which sponsored the debate, informed me on Sunday that Haught had requested that he did not want the video posted. Note that Haught had already agreed to be taped, so his appeal that it not be made public was a post facto decision.
- Rabel decides to honor Haught’s request on the grounds that he didn’t get permission from Haught in advance to post the video. I find this bizarre because the whole idea of taping the event is to make the debate more public, and because previous debates in this series have been posted. The idea of posting is implicit when one agrees to be taped, and, believe me, I would not have gone back on that agreement even if I had lost badly. That is not only bad form, but intellectually dishonest.
- Eager to at least get my part out, I asked Rabel to just edit the tape omitting John’s talk and his answers in the question session. Rabel refuses, saying that it would be too much trouble.
- I ask Rabel for Haught’s email address so I can try to persuade the theologian to change his mind, or at least find out why he won’t sanction posting of the video (Rabel, Haught, and I had all exchanged three-way emails before the debate, but I lost Haught’s address). Rabel refuses to give me the email address because he wants to “stay out of it,” telling me that I can search for it online. I find the address and email Haught, asking politely if he won’t change his mind about releasing the video, and, if not, requesting his reason.
- Unwilling to give up, I ask Rabel for a copy of the tape—offering to pay any expenses for it—so that I can edit out Haught’s part and just post mine. Rabel refuses, saying that he “didn’t think that would work.”
- Haught responds to my email asking him to change his mind. His short response says that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange,” and that he would have no further comment.
Extraordinary! Rude, obstructionist, disobliging, uncollegial, unfair, not to mention obviously uncourageous.
And in an update, we learn that Rabel is even threatening Coyne with legal action.
UPDATE: I have received an email from Dr. Rabel, asserting that I have instigated people to write him emails, and claiming that some of those emails have been abusive, calling him a coward and so on. I did not of course ask readers to write any emails, nor did I provide any email addresses. But if you write to Rabel or Haught on your own initiative, please be polite! There is no point in name-calling in such emails; the issue is one of free inquiry, and if you expect to achieve a result (and you won’t anyway, I suspect), you have to be polite. Anyway, Rabel has threatened legal action against me, so don’t make it worse!
I wonder if Rabel will threaten Coyne with further legal action because I said all this was rude, obstructionist, disobliging, uncollegial, unfair, and obviously uncourageous. I don’t know – what do you think? Is it libelous to call a set of actions rude, obstructionist, disobliging, uncollegial, unfair, and obviously uncourageous? Or is it within the limits of free speech to call a set of actions rude, obstructionist, disobliging, uncollegial, unfair, not to mention obviously uncourageous. I think it’s only accurate to say these actions were rude, obstructionist, disobliging, uncollegial, unfair, and obviously uncourageous.