Earlier I noted how the Discovery Institute is trumpeting young Jesse Kilgore's suicide as evidence that public school science classes need to teach "both sides" of evolution.
John G. West, the DI's Associate Director of the Center for
the Renewal of Science and Culture, has upped the ante. He's sent out a fundraising letter by mass mail to DI supporters exploiting Kilgore's suicide in a naked plea for funding:
Dear [name redacted]:
Jesse Kilgore was an earnest young college student who loved to debate issues. But just a few weeks ago, Jesse killed himself.
According to friends and relatives, Jesse had read biologist Richard Dawkin's book The God Delusion and was devastated by it. One of Jesse's relatives recalled a recent conversation:
When I read Jesse's story, my heart broke - not only for Jesse, but for all of the other students who are facing similar despair right now.
Ideas do have consequences, and the Darwinists' assertion that life is the product of an unguided process can have a devastating impact on young hearts and minds.
Although West's statements so far are misleading at best and manipulative at worst, they pale beside the most execrable part of the letter:
*$200 will fund the production of an episode of our internet radio show.
*$50 will enable us to send free educational materials to a teacher.
There used to be a series of ads with the slogan "a mind is a terrible thing to waste." That statement is true for Jesse Kilgore, and it's true for the millions of young people right now who remain unprepared to face the claims of the Darwinian atheists. Please enable us to challenge these claims head-on in the coming year with a message of hope.
(letter p.1) (letter p.2)
West uses the tired "evolution=atheism" argument once again, an argument neatly refuted here. He ignores the millions who haven't committed suicide after reading Dawkins' best-selling book. West omits the fact that young white men are more likely to commit suicide than non-whites or females, and that teen homosexuals are more likely to commit suicide than teen heterosexuals.
Of course the Discovery Institute is in dire straits right now. Our president-elect has shown no sympathy toward teaching intelligent design in public school classes and has appointed pro-science advisors to his Cabinet. The DI's much-vaunted "Academic Freedom" initiatives they pushed in Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina all failed, with bottom-ranked Louisiana as their sole victory. The impact of Kitzmiller v. Dover has been felt in Ohio and Kansas as those state school boards overturned the DI's pet science standards with their so-called "criticisms of evolution."
Maybe West feels that desperate times call for desperate measures. It's a measure of his desperation that his personal integrity has gone the way of his academic integrity.
Update: Mousie Cat offers a brilliantly blistering dissection of this latest DI tactic.