Ben Stein is one of the smartest guys going today. Fascinating to listen to. A funny guy, too. And he comes from good stock -- his father was an oft-quoted economics professor and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Any college would be fortunate indeed to have someone of Ben Stein's caliber as a commencement speaker.
Sadly, students at the University of Vermont were supposed to have that opportunity this spring, but Stein withdrew. The economist's son, it turns out, can put two and two together, and it was clear from angry e-mails to the university that he wasn't going to be welcome there.
Stein is, you see, guilty of heresy for the high crime of questioning the tenets of evolution and being a believer in Intelligent Design -- which holds that the universe was designed by an intelligent creator, rather than a series of wildly random coincidences of chaos.
Off with his head!
How sad that liberals such as those in Vermont have spun themselves into such an impenetrable cocoon that they fear and loathe outsiders with radical ideas -- so much so that they won't deign even to listen to them.
How sad that a college campus, which one would think would aspire to introduce students to mind-stretching ideas and people, would essentially pull the welcome mat out from under someone because of his beliefs.
Many believe the silencing of conservative views is only in its infancy. Leading Democrats in Washington, for instance, have made it clear they would like to reinstitute the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which would require conservative speech on broadcast stations to be matched by an equal amount of liberal speech -- regardless of what listeners and viewers want in the marketplace of ideas.
How intolerant will the American left become of views they disagree with?
And how self-defeating is it to block out great thinkers such as Ben Stein?
Where will it end?