Dr. Nicholas Gotelli of UVM got a request from David Klinghoffer, a member of the Discovery Institute to be invited to an academic debate on the UVM campus, in light of UVM's recent dismissal of ID champion Ben Stein as commencement speaker. Gotelli had written an op-ed about why Ben Stein was inappropriate. The Discovery Institute news blog posted what Gotelli termed "sneering" coverage of the decision and of his op-ed. So hearing that Klinghoffer wanted to engage in academic debate was both surprising and ironic. The whole response and the comment thread are pretty good reading; as was pointed out, there are plenty of available forums, but ID stays online or in fringe science periodicals for debate because it can't make it. However, no one is preventing members of the Discovery Institute from submitting to a major peer-reviewed scientific journal or attending science lectures and public discussion forums. Asking to appear in a scientific forum as a guest of the university, however, is seeking validation. There is no free speech issue involved, as Klinghoffer replied in an blog response to Gotelli's rejection. As mentioned, no one is preventing anyone from debating evolution, or Darwinism, as IDers call it. What is being prevented is the acceptance of ID among topics worthy of being discussed in a scientific forum. Until it passes the test of the peer-review forum, and adheres to the scientific method, it can't be included. This is not a free-speech violation; free speech does not mean you can say whatever you want and force people to listen to you in the forum that you choose. It means you have the right to say whatever you want and not be shut down for it. And as the popularity of ID books and websites proves, ID is definitely not being shut down. If the scientific community was suppressing ID publications and research in order to maintain the paradigm of "Darwinism." But despite what the Discovery Institute says, this is not happening. No scientific discoveries have been made that lend credence to ID that are being downplayed by "evolutionists." ID journals and studies get published. The only thing that's happening is that some ID articles have been shut out of scientific journals -- but only because they failed peer review.
And despite the general lack of interest from the creationist community in places where debate can happen, as mentioned, Klinghoffer writes, "These guys always run from debates as fast as they can manage, hiding and shivering behind the excuse of not wanting to grant public recognition to doubts about Darwin -- doubts shared, of course, by most Americans," linking to a Gallup poll to support the latter.
The actual Gallup results, while revealing the sad news that only 39% of Americans believe in evolution, show that 36% of Americans have no opinion. You cannot lump that in with those who do not believe in evolution and say that all but 39% is "doubtful" about evolution. (The results are still interesting, though, so check it out.)
In short, there's nothing for Klinghoffer to be upset about except that his ego got bruised.