Saturday, May 28, 2005

Contact the Smithsonian

As the Panda's Thumb reports what TfK readers knew days ago (that's centuries ago in intarweb time!), Red State Rabble issues a Reader Alert. The Smithsonian policy on events holds that events of "a religious or partisan political nature" cannot be held on Smithsonian property. Now whether this is a "partisan" political issue is tricky, but it is definitely political. But how could anyone think that a movie named "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe" isn't of a religious nature?

RSR says we should complain and ask the Smithsonian to return the $16,000. I say they should use the money to fix the rust on planes, fix the roof leaks, and repair the water-damaged books, and tell the DI that they used false pretenses to get the screening, so the money is forfeit.

In any event, you should politely let the event staff at the Smithsonian that they may have overlooked the political and religious content of the event, and suggest that the abuses of the Smithsonian's name by event promoters may have breached their agreement.

I did say politely, right? These people are not professional scientists, and may have been genuinely unaware of the controversy they stepped into. Educate them gently and ask that they review the situation. The worst outcome of all this for the science side would be if this smacked of censorship. The best outcome is for the public to be reminded that DI doesn't play by the rules, and tries to sneak its ideology around the rules.

Surely claiming that the Smithsonian endorsed the ideas in the movie violates the requirement that "The Special Events Coordinator will be required to approve all event plans, including invitation text, speaking program, the use of logos, and vendors. The name of the Museum and the Smithsonian Institution may not be used on any document without prior approval by the Museum."

National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20560-0135

Phone: 202-633-2950
Fax: 202-786-2982

Randall Kremer, 202-633-0817
Michele Urie 202-633-0820
Special Events e-mail address: